08 August 2008

Follow Through


Yesterday (thanks to an informal assignment set by Friend Nat [you're my boy, Blue]) I completed the first draft of a short play, the first bit of fiction writing I have seen through to the state of having a distinct and spelled-out beginning, middle and end since . . . well, I can't recall. It is a first draft, and was largely worked through during lunch breaks and lulls at il day jobo, so it's not a magnificent accomplishment. Still and all, there was a very pleasant sense of synergy I experienced in the writing of it and, as you can see, the mere fact of finishing something has me feeling cuddly with myself. So it got me to thinking about the "Notions" series (& a 1, & a 2, & a 3) of 'blog entries I shared with my tremendous, and tremendously grateful, reading populace all the way back in October/November of 2007. (Verily, Odin's Aviary has become an institution.) (Please refrain from unsavory "institution" insinuations. That's rude.) The idea behind those was to experiment with how the accountability that announcing creative intentions invites would affect their outcomes. Simply put, would sharing my ideas for projects sap my enthusiasm for them (as it seemed to when I was younger) or would it hold me to my ideas and keep them coming back to my priorities list? Let's take a look, shall we?


  • Freaky Chicks & Aspirant. These are my two most interesting ideas (to me, at any rate) for comic-book adventures, the first being one I wrote a draft of way back 'round 2000, the second being one I had the idea for RIGHT BEFORE HEROES CAME OUT, I SWEAR TO GOD. Both toy with the notions (heh-heh) of superhero(TM)-like people cropping up in mundane settings, and rather unwilling partnerships. These ideas, I confess, I've done absolutely nothing with in the intervening months. Can I explain myself in this? Not really interested in doing that, I'm afraid. Also: No. I can't. I really like these ideas, still. I just haven't done the work necessary to resurrect them.

  • The Project Project. This is a play I badly wanted to write when first I thought of it, and is most likely of all of my announced notions to go the way of the Dodo. Frankly, the title is the thing I dig the most about anything I've come up with for it. I started writing it, and got about five pages in before feeling like I had really gotten off on the wrong foot. I found the characters unsympathetic and the structure nonexistent -- two very bad things, made worse by the fact that I was in complete control of both of them. Clever titles are like booby-traps for frustrated writers, man. And this one's a bear trap, because I can't get over how great it could be, if only I could figure how to make it have a heart.

  • Mimosa Pudica. A play I directed in college; the idea being that I mount a showcase production of it here with me directing. I haven't re-read the play, I haven't researched a thing along these lines, nor been mentally casting. I've barely thought about it. BUT. Over the past few months a burgeoning desire to direct has been building, and expressing itself through this here 'blog. I think the important thing about this particular notion was that it got me thinking that way with a fairly safe specificity, and now my thinking has expanded to more daring possibilities (such as directing my own Zuppa-style show) which, frankly, may be more apt. Mimosa Pudica may still get done though. It would probably be a good idea to have an intermediate step between my intention and my ambition.

  • Building various stilt-related paraphernalia. Mmm, yeah. Well, this is a tough one when you don't have ready access to a workshop. Also tough when your stilts have been in storage for the past three months. And finally, Corporate Carnival queered me on stilts for a little bit. May be coming out of that soon; still would be lacking a power saw or titanium lathe. (Though I do have some nifty welding goggles.)

  • Picking back up the trombone. Uh-huh. Next!

  • Punch & Judy. Heather and I have made very little headway on this project; just a bit of research (including a wicked-rad find by Samantha Philips) and discussion. However, it definitely informed our creation of Love is Crazy, but Good for our performances in Italy in June, and the experience of working on that ended up being a crucial step toward things like learning how to work together without outside assistance and learning what works, what doesn't. It's difficult to develop something whilst in separate cities, and with so much other Zuppa-related work to do, but I'm confident Heather and I will get something of this up off the ground.

  • Superhero(r) monodrama. I don't know how I feel about this notion, these days. The ubiquitous monodrama of the self-generating "creactor" is still something I'd like to have under my belt, but I feel more and more that I need collaborators to get my best work done. It's how I've worked all my life, really, and I'm not sure I'd even want to see a monodrama that had existed in solo for any significant stage of its development. Plus, when I had the idea, the Hollywood superhero(c) phenomenon hadn't quite hit the fever pitch it's at now. I would probably be working against a curve with that concept. Back to the notional drawing board, as far as I'm concerned.

  • Using Friend Patrick's Sukeu mask in performance. See above? I don't know. In the spirit of Patrick himself, I'm loathe to apply the mask to something artificially. I want it to inform me of what it belongs with. This may entail getting in a room (with a mirror) with it and playing, without context. Which I should do anyway. It goes on the to-do list under "get new acting job." Patrick?

  • My werewolf novel. You know, I increasingly feel that this story I've been writing and ruminating over has been co-opted by its own inciting notion. That is to say, maybe I don't want to write a story about werewolves (but literature needs another werewolf novel!) after all, and I shouldn't try so hard to make it be about that. What interested me and got me started on it was this different idea of what a werewolf might be. What has been most engaging about writing it (and I haven't done any writing on it in a long while) has been one of the non-central characters and writing about people who feel lost. So: Maybe I'm writing two different things without knowing it?

  • The Very Nearly Perfect Comedy of Romeo & Juliet. It has a title! And a webpage! AND a 'blog! This is certainly the prospective project that has been most worked upon out of my lists, which is in keeping with my suggestion that I need collaborators to get anything done. In fact, the entire nature of the project is one of collaboration, being as it is a vehicle for collaborating with Italian artists, and I can hardly take credit for it as "my" notion anymore; if, in fact, I ever could. The very concept has leapt ahead, and in the best ways, in my opinion. I read my initial idea for the play and cringe a bit at the thought of working on something like that right now. Perhaps it's valuable, in the interests of getting projects accomplished, to think of them as inevitable, and also as something that will ultimately bear very little resemblance to the original notion.

  • Red Signal. The clown, quasi-silent film screenplay. This, above all, is my most frustrating venture. Not because I haven't made progress on it; I have. That's the source of said frustration, because (much like a subway train faced with a...wait for it...) the writing hit a brick wall somewhere around March/April. There are a number of possible causes for this -- getting a new day job, busting my laptop, health concerns, getting on and into other projects -- but what it boils down to is that I feel rather out of ideas, and with three acts of a five-act outline all figured out (it's act the third that I have been stalled on; five's ready to roll). Three is certainly the magic number, and I'm confident that the cutting stage of this process will be immense, but I'm just not there yet. Something vital is missing. Apart from occasionally pondering (futility) the casting of the female role, I haven't returned to it in earnest since running out of track. Which. Is. Frustrating.

So all in all: I don't feel too bad about how I've done. I realize this list may read like it's largely a schedule of a lack of completion, but in writing it I've been reminded that every process is just that, and one can't rush it or skip steps. I could certainly have done better (especially when it comes to stilts, trombones and comicbooks) but I see in most of these notions a progression, at least in thinking. I'd like to be more productive ultimately, but that's why I checked in on these in the first place: to see how I can do that. In the spirit of this, this entry represents no great goal post, but another step in the process at large. So. Do I think sharing my ideas helped them move along?


Didn't hurt . . .

2 comments:

Greg said...

Maybe just to keep things interesting, you should hold off on the trombone until you've gotten the stilts out of storage!

I can totally relate to the business of being led around by a clever title...and finding little to hang upon it. I know I have a couple of those in some old files of begun-and-abandoned playscripts from years ago...

The welding goggles could be cool as part of a super-hero costume, tho!

Jeff Wills said...

Good call, Greg! I was thinking of them as part of my gradually burgeoning steampunk costume (the which I'd have to write a play for to ever have an excuse to wear it) but I also like the superhero notion. They really are transforming, alien-looking things.

And the trombone may get held off for a time or two even longer than all that...