Hang on, I promise this isn’t a woe-is-me post…but I also promise it’s a bit self-indulgent and schmaltzy. I’m writing out the morning monkeys before I buckle down for the rest of the day.
It’s been a mighty strange few weeks, writing-wise. In a fit of reckless optimism, I submitted some writing to a website with a large readership. I wanted to start going through the exercise of submission. I wanted to start racking up a series of rejections, as writers do, and know that each gets me closer to publication.
It was accepted and will be published next week. My pride is offset by the reworking in my brain of one phrase that I’m pretty sure will be misinterpreted by that suckhole known as the Internet Comments Section. Don’t read the comments, don’t read the comments, don’t read the comments.
I’m totally going to read the comments.
I reworked a longer piece for submission to a magazine from which I would be honored to receive a rejection letter on official letter head. My first stone on a beautiful paved path to dream fulfillment. Rejected or published, the work is happening.
The loss of my friend and mentor Jason was and is still a devastating part of my life right now. I’ve been working on a musical he was in full support of, even excited about. At a minimum, he would have been a guide through the process, finding the funny in the script, tightening it up, pointing out what didn’t need to be there. Beyond that, I was hoping he would have directed it. He had not only the sensibility and experience, but the understanding that this show needs a quick pace and a leader who is familiar both with pop culture, social trends, and American history.
Writing it alone has not been the same. Because the show has a lot of the theater equivalent of television “fast cuts,” writing it has been a lot of interesting formatting and thinking about the play as spinning plates rather than a journey. I’ve broken a lot of plates.
My focus has been getting lyrics down, as a wonderful friend has helped me find a composer. I want to get at least a draft of the lyrics to the composer next week. No big whoop, right? I’ve had three weeks.
My plan was an hour a day. Just an hour…maybe two. On weekends, when my husband could take on more of the full-frontal parenting responsibilities, I could sneak in more hours.
Anyone who understands that Murphy beta-tests his laws on me understands that in the last three weeks, the kids have been sick almost constantly. Not sick enough to sleep during the day (which means a lot of clangy television) but too sick to sleep well at night. My daughter has been unusually fussy and clingy for the last week…literally not leaving my side and talking/whining for hours a day. We learned she has an ear infection yesterday. Clingtastic.
Add to that the usual stampede of volunteer responsibilities, special projects for the boys’ classes, piles of laundry, and apparently my kids need to eat three times a day…and that hour got very hard to come by. Too often, it was at 9 or 10 at night, when I am pretty useless creatively. Always have been. I was that jerk who did her homework right after school, not because I was such a nerd (ok, I was) but more so because after a certain hour my creative brain is like this.
So this morning, as I am on the last three days of the deadline I imposed on myself (to give the composer plenty of time to meet our March 29 actual time), I of course awoke with body aches and feeling generally floopy.
I started looking at my notes and my scribbles and all that I’ve been working on for three weeks, ready to self-flagellate and scream into the wind at the unfairness of it all.
Because I’ve been working every day, even with hamster-brain, I’m in good shape. (WHA????) Today and tomorrow and Sunday I can clean it up and put it together…and it doesn’t have to be anything beyond a first draft of lyrics. If this composer is good (and he is), we will work together. The music will be great. He can work some magic and ask questions and I can rewrite as needed. And if I have to give him four songs rather than seven at this time, that’s ok.
Once the lyrics are handed off, I will get back to piecing the show together. It’s also in good shape, actually, but nothing I can show to anyone quite yet because in its current form, it’s a bit of an incoherent mess. I don’t want to have to attach a decoder to the writing.
I also look forward to getting back to having some time to unwind. To knit. To read. To play music. To play anything, really.
It’s pretty cool to be at the point where I can be ok letting people see less-than-perfect writing. Drafts. Incomplete thoughts.
It’s very cool to be at the point where I ask for help.
There are still times I wonder what Jason would do at a particular moment in a scene. I ask. Sometimes I get an answer…
The work is happening.