In which Christmas occurs and not much gets done.
This is going to be a short one, naturally enough, and I’m writing this a full day early as my good friend Adam is coming to stay for a couple of days which promises to be almost too much fun. Anyway, Christmas is over and done with for another year and I have taken time off from submissions, have received no rejections, have tried instead to have a lovely relaxing time. And I have, for the most part. I am mildly ashamed of my pessimism in the last post in this series (go read for some mawkish whinging, if that is your thing) but I feel much better after getting it all out. As a good friend of mine used to say, it does you no good keeping it inside– get it out, walk around it, see how small it really is. Maybe she was talking about gallstones or something but I think it applies to this situation as well.
So I am in a much better place to attempt an honest next week’s end-of-year retrospective thingy which you won’t want to miss! (Feel free to miss it. I won’t mind! I won’t even know!) Anyway, with the understanding that I have done very little this week, let’s still ask– what have I done this week?
Earlier in the week we had our first cast readthrough of High Five, Danny O’C! While it went very well and I have high hopes for the piece, the text itself still needs quite a bit of work. I am still very much learning how to adapt a short story into playscript. The priorities are very different. I have to remind myself to makie space for the physical, to allow stillness and silence, to remember that it bodies rather than words tell the story. It is often like slaughtering smiling, beautiful children, this process of adaptation. Just because the language is pretty is no reason at all to keep it in the piece. There’s a process of assessing the utility of each word and phrase that goes far beyond what I had thought had been a rigourous process in the original writing. There is a joy and a palpable sense of victory in turning static words on a page into something dynamic, wrestling reported speech from the greedy claws of the narrator (oftentimes a thinly-disguised version of me) and creating dramatic scenes from descriptions and what can often be nothing more than passing references. I haven’t written it yet but I’m looking forward to the scene where Danny teaches Jimmy how to play Five Card Doris.
High Five! is the first of five stories that together make up Love, Wrong Love (but love nonetheless), the full-length play that I hope can be made exist in the near future. The second story (I won’t name the stories that the play is made of, I don’t want to spoil it) needs a lot of work. It has been months since I’ve sat down and tried to wrestle that particular short story into something resembling a playscript, and with fresh eyes I could immediately see the lumpy extrusions of ‘lovely’ writing, bulking carcinomic from the text, that in my endless vanity I had convinced myself were integral parts. No, they need to go– cut them out, slice them away! Show, don’t tell– it’s a lesson I keep having to learn. When High Five gets done in a couple of months time I imagine we’ll tackle the rest of the stories with renewed vigour, able to use the skills and lessons we have learned to rescue it from the mid-media limbo it is currently stranded in.
Rehearsals will begin soon for High Five! and before you know it we will be strutting the boards like demented boys and girls. It’s only a matter of weeks away. Things will really pick up in the new year and there will be almost too much to do! I am looking forward to the challenge. And it will distract me from my inability to come up with a story for my still-not-started novel. Once again, the Fund-It campaign for the festival can be found here; please consider donating, any support you can give will be most appreciated.
Okay. That will do for now, I think.
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