Writing the first words of anything is, to this writer at least, like laying down a first coat of paint must feel to a painter or making that first chisel mark must feel to the sculpture. Characters who did not exist but moments ago are now speaking! And somehow, a void is filled.
This time, I’m starting a play rather than a novel. Novels begin as narrative threads and landscapes of possibility. But when I begin a play, I feel as though the words belong to the characters who speak them. As if the words are more theirs than mine. Sure, they come through me but I get the sense that I’m relaying them more than saying them.
I laid down the first coat for my new play, Sometimes We Find Our Way, yesterday. It’s a play about the toxins in our lives that keep us from being healthy. Sometimes, they are real, sometimes they are imaginary, and sometimes they fall into a third category where you can’t really tell and it’s up to the person to decide. I think it’s also about wanting love so much you’re afraid you’ll get it wrong – so you miss out, instead. To some people, love comes at such a high price they can’t imagine it being real.
So, I’ve begun my seventh play and I’m hoping I finish it. What separates this from the others? In a way, it’s a return to my autobiographical form of writing but it is more so a leap into something new. I call it autobiographical to some degree because I can feel my father in there – one character you never see is the father who just died – and I know I’ll be talking about what it was like to lose him having never had him. But it’s new because while the other autobiographical plays were a way for me to hold on to things, I can already feel this one allowing me to let go.
It’s going to be a bit of a comedy but also a drama. It should be fun.