You know me well enough by now, Constant Reader; most of the time, when I’m writing these blog posts, I’m doing so to deliberately avoid working on something else. That’s absolutely the case this week. Next weekend is the submission deadline for an upcoming ten minute play festival, of the sort where they offer you a specific prompt or set of production parameters which you need to follow. I have an idea – have had it for a few months now, actually – and I think it’s pretty decent as far as these things go. A ten page rough draft exists; all that remains is for me to give it a proper revision. Not a big deal – when I write a full-length play, the major revision pass usually takes a week or two at the most. Occasionally I can – and have – done it in a day. It’s certainly possible to do it over a weekend.
The weekend has come and gone, and I’ve gotten nothing done on this project. Didn’t get anything done last weekend, either – though I was still recovering from covid at the time, so at least I have a doctor’s excuse there.)
The fact of the matter is, for a lot of us, working on a ten-minute short play is harder than working on a full-length piece. This shouldn’t be surprising. You have to do similar amounts of prep work in terms of research, brainstorming, character prep work, and the like. And when it comes time to write, the limited space in which you have to work actually makes things more difficult. It’s a precise little miniature you’re trying to craft, so naturally the precision requires time.
The trouble is, we’ve evolved a whole little ecosystem – I like to call it the ten minute play-industrial complex – by which these plays are meant to be presented as a writer’s calling card. A means of getting one’s name out into the world, getting the attention of an agent or producer who might then become interested in one’s full-length. In one’s “real” work, so to speak. But the creation of these calling cards winds up taking more time than the creation of the “real” work. I could have been outlining one major project or researching another in the time it’s taken me to bash my head against my desk, trying to wrestle this one recalcitrant ten page draft into shape.
It doesn’t make any sort of logical sense. So naturally, I’m doing neither, but am instead writing a four hundred word blog post to complain about it. (Hey, whatever works.)