So I’ve been relegated to my old paperweight of a laptop for the very best reason: C jr is typing out her play on our big ol’ desktop. Yes, she’s got a verbal stream of consciousness thing going, but I’m going to attempt to write while sitting next to her.
Okay, just paused to discuss how her lead character should die. This is important, I say. Do you want the death to be tragic? Funny? Mysterious? We discuss Othello. To C jr, that was a ridiculous death. True. I’m interested to see what she decides.
It’s a ghost story she’s writing, for herself and her cousins to act out while we’re all gathered on a balmy beach in North Carolina.
Okay, just had another discussion about focus while writing. As if I’m a paragon of THAT. Her typing skills are still coming along, so tapping out two pages of pencil-written dialogue and stage directions has proved to be a multi-hour event. Peppered with the occasional lolling next to me as I read on the bed. During which we discussed the Sponge Bob dance and vendettas.
I’m reading Working, that amazing collection of interviews done by Studs Terkel. The guy was just really brilliant at keeping his dang mouth shut. So he got all these amazingly honest accounts of people’s daily lives. The mundane, the horrifying, the exciting, the cynical. Of course, the parallels are staggering. A hooker’s interview is next to that of a woman who writes/produces at an LA advertising agency. They’re almost interchangeable.
Now C jr is playing with the idea of making it a musical. The debate: to use original or sourced music? Some of both, she decides.
The anticipation of working with her easily distracted cousins is providing a spoonful of reality…but C jr is a match for that. She’s written to their strengths – the youngest, age three, has been given no dialogue and whether he decides to run into the scene or run out, both choices work with the plot.
I wrote a lot of plays when I was a kid. Many of them were for a cast of puppets. My short works generally had a spike of conflict and then fizzled into pedestrian dénouement. But the thrill of the perfectly leaded pencil scratching onto the paper was beyond the beyond for me. It was a profound introduction to power. The creation of a world, a story, that you peopled with grumpy aunts, tyranical teachers, twitchy shop owners, long-suffering orphans. And they did what you said. They said what you said. Well, sometimes.
I’m waiting for the day when C jr comes to me, frustrated, and says Character A won’t do what I want her to! It’s like she’s rebelling! I want her to say this…and she says this, instead! That day, for me, will be a kind of heaven. Because then I’ll know that writing is a living thing for her. A breathing, pulsing, stubborn son-of-a-bitch that often refuses to obey. It’s that particular struggle that will either lure her like a prizefighter to the ring, or just piss her off permanently.
I hope it’s the former. I hope she gets into the ring with her writing and dukes it out. I hope it takes some punches at her, and that she swings back, hard. And I hope she keeps up the fight for as long as possible.
We’re taught to be humble, pacific, to let go of grudges or sweep things under the rug. Fine, sometimes. But writing has given me permission to be rude, a pugilist, a seeker of revenge.
Update: C jr is printing her play. Three copies. Let the fight begin.