Finally a measure of progress to report, Constant Reader, at least for myself. (Progress in the rest of the world sadly does not appear to be forthcoming.) The play I’ve been working on, An Arctic Confederate Christmas, is finally finished. It had a reading of the current draft last weekend with my theater group over Zoom. This weekend I’ll attend to some revisions of the piece, but the feedback to the piece suggests that it works the way I want it to and that those revisions will be comparatively minor. I should be delighted, right?
I started working on this script back in December of 2018. The draft, at the moment runs to 96 pages. If you do the math (which is never something I recommend when it comes to creative work, and yet somehow I always find myself doing that), it means that I managed to draft five pages a month. That’s a page a week. On average, that’s maybe four or five lines of dialogue a day.
Now, it’s not like I haven’t had interruptions during that stretch of time. I had a workshop of a play of mine in the Hamptons. I became co-Creative Director of the Tuesdays at Nine cold reading series. A freakin’ pandemic hit, and like most of us I’ve been a little bit busy trying to deal with that. So when you factor all that in, it’s amazing I’ve gotten any of my own writing done at all. Once again, shouldn’t I be happy?
I have playwright friends, whom I follow on social media (with social media proving the undoing of all creative activity). I’ve lost track of how often I’ve seen them say that they’ve tossed off a new one-act over a weekend, or finished their most recent full-length with a one day burst of fifty new pages. Arthur Miller famously wrote Act One of Death of a Salesman over the course of a single weekend. It’s not supposed to be a competition, and there’s nothing more fruitless than comparing your writing process with that or another, but sometimes it’s impossible not to.
And this is one of those times.
Quite apart from the sheer number of stories that need to be told right now, in these perilous times, with precious little time left in which to tell them; I was just about finished with my most recent draft when I learned of an opportunity for plays written specifically for the Zoom format. They’ll be going up later in the summer; the submission deadline is this Tuesday. That gives me two more days to finish a draft of a one-act. I have an idea, I’ve been working on it assiduously for the last week or so.
I’m still only about half-way through this draft. Maybe two-thirds.
Do I have enough time to actually put this together? I should, but I do have a (remote) day job and other obligations and only so much mental energy to devote to anything during this aforementioned global pandemic. There’s a part of me that desperately wants to throw up my hands, say “forget about it, it’s not happening” and be done with it; I have to try and convince that part of myself to shut up for just a little while longer. Convince myself that somehow, it can be done.
Of course, I’ve written this five hundred page blog post in two hours, so that’s…encouraging? I guess?