10 December 2008

Ride the Snake . . .


I'm experiencing an interesting fluctuation of mood regarding the upcoming reading of my play. Maybe this is normal; it has been so long since I confronted the possibility of my creative writing being read aloud that I can't say I remember quite what it was like. I remember some anxiety, sure, but not this strange undulation of emotion. I never know how I'm going to feel when I think about it, one moment to the next. Sometimes I feel elated and excited, other times it seems like the stupidest idea I've ever had, and one bound to be my ruination. There's a variety of anticipatory strata in between. Compared to prepping for an audition, this should be a relief. For an audition, I usually feel less and less prepared as the date approaches, so experiencing alternating good feelings should somewhat compensate for the others. Yet I feel pretty unnerved. There is a very loud voice in me that's shouting, "Back out of this! Do it now!"

Yes, that voice often takes on the characteristics of early-90s Schwarzenegger.

I have had such a mixed bag of experiences in exposing my writing to the public -- even limiting it to theatrical writing -- that have happened over such different times of my life that it's impossible for me to predict my reaction, much less others'. One of the first theatre pieces I ever wrote has been well-received several times; people have loved it. And a piece from far more recently was excerpted in performance at a party a few years ago, and it stank up the room. I mean, hoo, was it bad. That's part of why I'm having the reading, quite honestly. I want to find out what happens and, if I can, keep up such exposure so that I do develop a better sense of how my writing is going.

Not that others' opinions are my yardstick for the quality of my writing but, you know: come on. I want it out there, else why would I write it (typed the 'blogger)? I'll be reminding myself left, right and center on Wednesday next (huh...I didn't plan for it to be on Odin's-day...weird) to consider my opinion first, but I won't kid myself so far as to say that I'm not calling my actor friends there for the purpose of their feedback. Revision, as I've said, is very difficult for me. I tend to hold the memory of the original draft and all that went into the process of creating it as sacred, and thereby fail to adequately re-evaluate it, much less revise. Friend WHFTTS is renewing its efforts to write more gooder too at the moment (and hopefully from now on), and we're having some very interesting meta-conversations about our personal challenges. Both of us, it would seem, regard involving other people in our processes as a necessary step to overcoming something. In my case, the something to be overcome is a quasi-mysterious barrier in the way of revision.

I think the emotions I'm experiencing these few days have to do directly with that barrier. I think that barrier (if I may anthropomorphize for a moment) knows I'm gunning for it, and it feels right at home. "Hey, listen," says My Barrier, "wha-what do you need change for? Huh? I mean, with me you know where you stand. Right? Who knows what will happen to you without me here...?!" Then My Barrier beats his chest twice and throws out his arms in the universally accepted I-am-all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips-besides gesture. But it's too late, My Barrier. My Mind's made up, in spite of your emotional sniping, and I shall be resolute in my continued work after hearing the reading. I'm putting you on notice! I shall not be deterred!

: backs slowly away, maintaining eye contact, makes it through door before shuddering collapse to ground :

Just imagine next Thursday's post. Should be a doozy.

4 comments:

walkinhomefromthethriftstore said...

You tell 'im. Yeah!

One thing (only one thing?)I find challenging about the emotional aspect is that I feel all of the emotions in quick succession. That's tiring.

My favorite thing about having plays read, that kicks ass over having stories read, is that you get to bring actors into it. Actors rule.

Jeff Wills said...

Good point, WHFTTS. I have only to attend a presentation at my day job to remind me that, yes, actors have skillz.

Now I'm due for an emotion nap...

Patrick said...

Stupid blogger ate my first comment. Either that, or it sent it to you twice. I won't blather on again, I'll tell you most of what I said in person tomorrow, but I will say good for you for sticking with this... and don't be shy about telling us at the reading what YOU need. This is not a performance, it's a reading of a first draft so you know what to do for the second draft. Performances are for the audience. This is for you. This is part of your writing process. I am also of the opinion that first drafts need different kinds of feedback from second, third, twelfth drafts. I know you're a masochist; you once told me that you thought criticism wasn't valid unless it stings a little. I don't happen to agree that is the ONLY beneficial kind of feedback. Hope you've come to reconsider the belief too.

Jeff Wills said...

Stupid Blogger!

Thanks, Patrick. I do appreciate positive feedback, particularly at this stage of the game, when I'm not sure how much of what I have is at all valuable. I just loathe spending a lot of time on it -- I should only have to say thanks to each person once. ;) Don't think that'll be a problem...

Thank you again! You are my original-work buddy, certified.