Paradox at a Witches’ Sabbath

It was Walpurgisnacht – a night spoken of in whispered tones throughout European folklore, feared as a night when devils walk the earth.  As the night wind howled outside, I was engaged in devilish work of my own.  In those last few hours of April 30, I was seated at my desk furiously typing away.  Forcing myself into a final burst of creative energy before the stroke of midnight came, I was able to type out those magical words, “End of Play.”  My eyes were bleary, and I was only half conscious of what I was actually writing, but I had succeeded in my task.  As I mentioned last week, April was the month in which I needed to put together three ten-minute plays for a variety of projects.  And with the final minutes of April ticking away, I frantically completed my self-appointed task – or at least, had a rough draft of the third piece in the triptych.

The next day – May Day, Beltane, whatever you want to call it – I looked over the draft from the night before.  It was the part of the writing process I enjoy the most – when you look over what you were certain would be incomprehensible garbage and decide it isn’t entirely bad after all.  It still needed work – but by the end of Sunday night, the work was completed, the revisions were finished, and I didn’t have to worry about writing anymore.

(Well, except for this blog post, but that goes without saying at this point.)

Now, next month, I’ll be going to a theatre conference.  I’ll have further details in a few weeks, Constant Reader, but for now the important thing to know is that this is a significant opportunity for me.  I’ll be presenting one of my recent-full lengths; I might be presenting one of the three short pieces I wrote last month.  (Which is why I needed to finish it last month, you see.) I’ll be networking with fellow playwrights, and potentially producers and directors as well.  There will be drinking, it should be fun.

Now obviously, since this is a fun and important opportunity, I’ll need to prepare for it.  And I’ve done the basics – my plane ticket and accommodations are booked, my paperwork is all taken care of.  But I’d like to do a little more research on my fellow conference-goers, to know what their pieces are about and have a better sense of how we can support each other.  I’d like to get business cards made up.  I’d like to get back into slightly better shape – it’s been a rough pandemic, after all.  I’d like to prepare for panels and readings and make sure I’ve made the most of this upcoming week in June.

And I haven’t been able to do any of that this past month, precisely because I’ve been writing those three short one-act plays.  There are, after all, only so many hours available in the day.

And I mention this, not because you need to know every detail of my upcoming itinerary, but because I think there’s an issue here that the theatre is going to need to address at some point.  Namely, that the fundamental act of writing makes it harder to be a writer.  It takes time away from the development and the workshopping and the networking and all the miscellaneous housekeeping and other busywork that we’ve made a part of the process.  If you can’t devote the necessary time to these additional steps, you can’t properly sell our work – but then you don’t have the time to write that work in the first place.

At any rate, these are the demonic thoughts that go through my head at midnight on Walpurgisnacht.

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