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Entries in playwrighting (4)


Holidays: 1, Writing: 0

Great gluttonous gods, you guys. The holidays.

Between the many logistics and ever-changing variables of planning a holiday season with two families, plus a move to a new place and all the requisite unpacking that ensues, the writing has been not so much.

The ambition, though? STILL STRONG.

To wit: There's a two-year playwrighting fellowship I really want to do, and they need from me, by January 30th, a full-length play.

I don't have one of those.

(Well, okay, I do. But wrote it between 2003 and 2004, and it wouldn't at all be the best representation of how I write now. However it is I write now.)

So I need to write a full-length play, which is something I've been wanting to do for awhile anyway, but I'm only just getting comfortable with ten-minute plays. Full-length ones are a whole different beast.

They're much longer than ten minutes, for one. For another, the ten-minute plays people have been responding to lately feature characters who are kind of open to intrepretation, placed in a funny/tense situation that I know the director and actors will exploit to the fullest. If I've succeeded, there's a gut punch of earnestness and truth admidst all the bwah ha ha, and then it's over.

I could do that in a longer format, of course. But the pacing will be very different, and maybe the characters have to be more fleshed out, less open to interpretation. (For one, I'll probably have to give them names...)

Or maybe not. Maybe I'm just overthinking things, per usual. Maybe I should just do what I do and see what happens.

After the holidays. I swear.


NaNoWriMo Chronicles: Post mortem

I topped out at 5250 words.

Multiplied by 10, that's a victory! But no one, including and especially me, multiplied it by anything.

5250 it remains—another failed experiment in extreme output.

But the month wasn't a complete waste. See above re: 5250 words... that's a decent start!

And even more exciting is that, while it wasn't such a great month for the nonfiction book project, it was a goddamn stellar month for playwrighting:

Because I couldn't let a Boston Theater Marathon deadline slip by without submitting something, I expanded, revised, and submitted two plays from this August's 31 Plays in 31 Days effort: GOING VIRAL and THE FORMATIVE YEARS.

Now I had two more complete ten-minute plays, so for kicks I also submitted them to the Long Island City One Act Festival.

And then I learned about an opportunity that would be a perfect home for another of my plays, THE GAME, so I expanded, revised, and submitted that, too.

And, lastly, I joined a playwrighting workshop group called Write On! that meets once a month in downtown Boston. I met some supportive like-minded folks, workshopped THE FORMATIVE YEARS with them, and got terrific feedback.

(All the while, mind you, beating myself up because I was "failing" NaNoWriMo.)

So then! There's an announcement here about how one of those submissions turned out. And just last night I discovered an oblique mention of my play, THE INTERVIEW, in a review for Bridge Rep of Boston's newest play, NOT JENNY:

Bridge Repertory Theater was founded by a consortium of some of Boston’s most talented young actors and directors. Olivia D’Ambrosio, the Producing Artistic Director, directed what I thought was one of the most successful, and hilarious, productions in the Boston Theater Marathon earlier this year.

"Successful"? "Hilarious"? Well. WELL. Olivia, as I've mentioned before, did an incredible job with the material, as did the actors, Deborah Martin and Adam Lauver. The play, of course, started here on this blog as Week Seven and it keeps coming up now and again.

But better, even, than this praise (which I just now co-opted from a review of a play that I did not write) is the sense of momentum my playwrighting seems to have at the moment. It comes more naturally to me than other forms of writing do, and people are really starting to respond to my work. It's an exciting time.

So anyway, sucks to you, NaNoWriMo!

...And see you again next year.


Chuck Wendig's NaNoWriMo prep school

National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo to those in the Kno) is still three weeks away but suddenly everyone's talking about it. I'm getting almost-daily emails from the NaNoWriPeeps themselves, and Chuck Wendig would like you to know that you're going to want to spend these three weeks getting buff in the brain:


If you are not yet putting words down daily, you need to flex them penmonkey muscles, so that, come November, you can pop open your word processor and say, “TWO TICKETS TO THE PEN SHOW,” which will earn you weird looks because:

a) you’re saying this to the cat and b) are pen shows even a real thing?


You need to work out. You need to exercise.

You must practice writing every day.

And build on the quantity of words you put down.

Start with 100.

And add a 100 more words every day until you’re approaching 2000 per day.

Doesn’t matter what you write, though I’d advise you keep it in the “fiction” category — fiction writing is a discipline all its own, I find.

Build that muscle. Gain momentum.

Read the rest here!

Good advice, no? You certainly could start with my weekly prompts for inspiration, including (but not limited to) Week 31.

As for me, I think I will take another Don Quixote tilt at the NaNoWindMill, but (as per my revelation/resolution) I'll be writing (or attempting to write) a novel-length piece of either nonfiction or drama. Drama! 

How about you? I know this is soon, and kinda awkward, but, uh, well... will you be my NaNoWriFriend this year?


Don't write what you don't love to write

So... I think I've realized something. I mentioned before about how I'm trying to write the first book of an eventual fantasy epic series? Well, I've been doing that, and have plodded my way almost to the end of chapter 1. Only 2,503 words in something like two weeks. Very slow going, but I want to be a Real Writer and so I have perservered. 

A few nights ago, however, I was at the library after work. I had every intention of gaining some ground on this book I have told myself I'm going to write. Instead, for two and a half hours, I did every possible thing except writing: I stared at my note pad forlornly, I got up and browsed the stacks, I tried to get three stars on two different levels of Angry Birds Star Wars, I stared at my notepad morosely, I started to fall asleep, and finally I pulled out the Kindle and began re-reading Rachel Aaron's 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. This book is great and I highly recommend it to anyone who's interested giving their writing process an oil change. 

But this passage in particular struck me:

One of the hardest things I've had to learn as a writer is that while virtually any story can be a good book if done correctly, not every story should. It's possible to have an amazing idea and still lack the interest necessary to polish it to publication level shine. I can not tell you the number of books I've plotted, written 30K words in, and then abandoned because I simply could not stand to look at them another second. Every single one of these ideas looked great on paper, and maybe in another author's hands they could have been golden, but in the end I just didn't care enough to push through.


Even if you're not selling your stories yet, your writing time is precious, often gained at the expense of other worthwhile activities. Don't waste it on a book you don't love.

Get the book here. It's only $0.99 on Amazon right now and you can read it on your computer if you don't have an e-reader. It's short but revelatory. Just how I like 'em.

Anyway, while reading the passage above something began to dawn on me: I don't know that I have ever enjoyed writing fiction!

Like everyone else, I came to writing as a reader first. Lord of the Rings and the Dragonlance Chronicles probably saved my life in middle school. Later, it was Shadowrun and the Belgariad series... the point is, I loved fantasy and science ficiton. I wanted to become a writer to write exactly these kind of books, and then in college genre fiction was kind of beaten out of me, and now, almost ten years later, I've finally returned to what brought me here in the first place.

Except... I don't wanna. Through this blog, I've discovered that I really enjoy (and am possibly even talented at) nonfiction. I've also rediscovered playwrighting and have had some success with that. But I can't think of a single instance where I really enjoyed the process of writing prose fiction. I've turned procrastination into a master art form these post-college years, and I'm beginning to wonder now if a large part of that was my resistance to writing something it wasn't in my heart to write.

I do recognize that things worth doing are sometimes difficult, and that, when starting out, you have to allow yourself to suck for awhile and just do the work anyway, but I understand now that this isn't an aversion to hard work or a self-defeating fear of what might happen when I really tryit's a lack of interest. Maybe it's okay for me to read these books I enjoyed so much, but to be a writer who writes something else entirely?

So I'm putting the book down, and I'm focusing instead on my nonfiction and playwrighting, which comes much more easily to me and brings me such joy. 

How about you? Had any trajectory-altering revelations lately?