Writing with gas
For my summer vacation, I'm writing "Quonnie: The Musical 2012," teaching voice and acting classes at three different summer camps, prepping new classes for the fall in three different locations, and communing with my fellow Somatic VoiceWork voice teachers in hot, humid Virginia. I'm trying to brush the mats out of my 19 year old cat's fur. I'm ordering books for my high school freshman son. I'm cheering my daughter as she practices ice hockey. I'm also doing some weeding in the garden, growing pumpkins and radishes (I ate my own radishes yesterday!), doing some weeding, trying to grow sweet potatoes, and doing some weeding.
I haven't written much since I completed the first "Quonnie" script a year ago. I was looking forward to researching the history of my area again, and actually yes, that part is fun. But the scriptwriting has been difficult. I told myself the only way to improve on last year's show was to write my own music, in addition my own lyrics. I forgot that Elton John had Bernie Taupin, Lennon had McCartney, and even the Captain had Tennille. I was alone and adrift.
Seeing my distress, my husband asked, "Why are you trying to write a first draft perfectly?" He had described my thought process exactly. I gave up trying to control what came into my head, and as soon as I did, ideas and lyrics pushed their way into my brain and onto the page. I may still have time to write the music, but if not, there's always next year.
In the rear view mirror, all writing is easy. I wrote Bride and Flatulence three years ago and finally got a performance of it up on YouTube. I had read Austen's books, and wondered about the private lives of all the genteel men in her literary universe. I wondered what they were like when the women were off catching butterflies and planning balls. Then I stumbled onMr. Darcy Takes A Wife, an R-rated fan fiction sequel to Pride and Prejudice. The Darcys' "compleat delight" in each other, energetically expressed in several locations in and around Pemberley, resulted in the production of an heir, plus a few more progeny. Instead of exploring their most intimate pleasures, I imagined Darcy and Elizabeth's most intimate . . . embarrassments.
Looking at the video, I think it turned out well. I look at the video and recall happy rehearsals and sentimental thoughts. But, digging a little deeper into my memory, I also remember writing feverishly through the night before the play's due date. I emailed updated versions of scenes into the wee hours, until my future husband finally said, "Good night, and send me the rest at 6am!" I remember the first reading was at 9am and even the adrenaline could barely keep me awake. I was out of . . . gas?
Writing is like childbirth -- you forget the pain, but if you think long enough, you'll remember it. (And still be glad you did it.) And, there's no way to do it perfectly -- just get on with it, take all the help you can get, and hope for a happy ending. It usually works out.
And now, back to writing . . or teaching . . or weeding.