The First Twelve Pages

Happy New Year, Constant Reader!

As mentioned last week, there’s a submission opportunity I’ve been eyeing which has a deadline of February 1st.  I’ve been doing my customary research and prep over the last few weeks, but if I want to submit a draft I’ll need to actually, y’know, write the draft.  As a result, my 2022 New Year’s Resolution has been an atypically pragmatic one – write a play (a long-ish one-act play, but still) in the month of January.

As with any proper New Year’s resolution, I started promptly on the first of the month.  Best time to start something new, right?

In some ways, New Year’s Day was the perfect time to start the project.  I had the day off, with no other obligations; it was raining here in New York, so I had no incentive to distract myself by going outside.  A day for nothing but writing.  And I was, I suppose, successful – by the time I was done I had twelve pages drafted.  Essentially, the whole of the first scene.  If I were able to maintain that pace indefinitely (which, spoiler alert, I can’t), I’d be finished with the draft in a week and a half.  So far, so good.

And yet…

For a good chunk of the day, I wasn’t doing much writing at all.  There were the usual household chores to distract me, of course, and the online researching and online searching that comes up once the typing has begun.  There were the typical moments of conscious procrastination.  But mostly, there were long stretches throughout the day of pure, unadulterated stupor.  Of me knowing that I had a deadline (self-imposed though it might be), of knowing exactly what story I wanted to tell and why, but being completely unable to do anything about it for long stretches at a time.

Now, of course, you have to take those moments of not doing anything; it isn’t possible to write at a furious clip indefinitely.  Your brain has to recharge from time to time. And when it comes to the need for the brain to recharge, especially in relation to time, there’s a hard truth for people starting a New Year’s project to face.  New Year’s Day is perhaps the absolute worst day to start something new.

Not because of the day itself, but because of the week before it.  The holly jolly week and a half before it, actually.

For myself, I had a holiday reading series to run on December 21st (the solstice!), then a day after that to wrap up as much as I could at work, then a full day of driving after that down to my mother’s house for Christmas.  Then five days of presents and holiday sweets and family business and all the usual sorts of Yuletide mayhem, and then another day of driving back home, and then a day of confused errands, and then the festivities (such as they were) of New Year’s Eve.  A disorienting whirl, unmoored from normal routine, surreal even in times when you’re not trying to avoid the killer virus that’s been tearing through the country for two years.

It’s hard to commit to that big New Year’s project – to do much of anything ­– when every atom in your body is screaming at you to stop, to take a day to breathe, to recharge, to sleep after everything it’s been through during December. Well, I managed to scrape together enough moments of lucidity on the first to get the project started.  I doubt I’ll have enough such moments over the next week – as we all get back to work and our regular routines, while still attempting to avoid omicron – to maintain that sort of a pace.  But then again, there’s always the Martin Luther King weekend!

Leave a Reply