Write It Out
Right now for me it's about the pages. And I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't having a battle with the side of my brain that wants to exercise aesthetic, impose strucuture and qenerally question everything I'm writing and measure it against what I really want this play to be. I feel like I'm walking through the jungle with a machete, trying to find the play. The great leveler is time. There is no time for second guessing or third guessing or doubting whether this crazy, haphazard structure I'm building/imagining is going to work. I only know this: it interests me. I want to see it. I know it is there, inside me and I will get it out.
Leagal made a good point yesterday in the Forums. This isn't about perfection, it's about pages. And there is freedom in that while there's tyranny in perfection. It's easy to get paralyzed by integrity. Be kind to yourself, give yourself the benefit of the doubt. When you write fast you are listening to impulses and capturing first thoughts and impressions. Embrace it and go for broke every time you come to the page. Do it in small bursts. Set the timer for five minutes and write, get it as much as you can out there on the page. Do not save anything for later.
This speaks to a habit I have: holding back. I tell myself, I'll save this scene for later. It's so juicy and rich, I'll use it later in the play because it will be better or more appropriate. Oh I can come up with a million rationalizations. When I find myself wanting to hoard my words that's my cue to let go. Write that scene now. Write myself over the edge into nothing. It usually turns out that there is something on the other side of the abyss. It reveals itself, paradoxically it can only reveal itself, after I've written myself into what I think will be a corner. It's good to know that I am not alone in this. This quote speaks to exactly that. It's my favorite quote about writing from my favorite book about writing from one of my favorite writers.
"Push it. Examine all things intensely and relentlessly. Probe and search each object in a piece of art. Do not leave it, do not course over it, as if it were understood, but instead follow it down until you see it in the mystery of its own specificity and strength. Giacometti’s drawings and paintings show his bewilderment and persistence. If he had not acknowledged his bewilderment, he would now have persisted. A twentieth- century master of drawing, Rico Lebrun, taught that “the draftsman must aggress; only by persistent assault will the live image capitulate and give up its secret to an unrelenting line.” Who but an artist fierce to know — not fierce to seem to know — would suppose that a live image possessed a secret? The artist is willing to give all his or her strength and life to probing with blunt instruments those same secrets no one can describe in any way but with those instruments’ faint tracks."
"Admire the world for never ending on you — as you would admire an opponent, without taking your eyes from him, or walking away."
"One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes."
"After Michelangelo died, someone found in his studio a piece of paper on which he had written a note to his apprentice, in the handwriting of his old age: “Draw, Antonio, draw, Antonio, draw and do not waste time.” - Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
I'm working on a Bake-off exercise for tomorrow. It'll be fun and hopefully will give you some inspiration. I'll also post the times for the Hangout on Thursday.
Go Rhinos! Write it out!
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Machelle Allman, Holly Arsenault, Will Bond, Karen Chandler, Michael Lee, Leslie Liautaud, Jeff Mackey, Maggie McAleese, Marian McNamee, Marla Porter, and all our anonymous donors.