Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What every writer must do…

So, I’m working on this new play: Happily After Ever. This will be my sixth play this year and a damned good reason to quit for a while. I’m exhausted in a very real sense.

Strangely, though, what has happened possibly as a result of being so prolific is that I’ve stumbled onto one of the presumptions of theater and found a way to tear a hole right through it. The resulting work is better than anything I’ve seen myself produce mostly due to scale alone. It’s not just a “bigger is better” thing; it’s one of those times when you set the bar so high you don’t think you can clear it.

Which brings an important point to mind.

It may be this way for any artist but, surely, it applies to writers. When you’re producing your best work, when you look at it and think “Did I really do that?” you’re in a pickle because until you finish whatever project you’re on you are forced to continue at that level. Mediocre writing provides shelter for the lazy; you never have to work too hard to keep that up. But who wants mediocre? Your whole aim as an artist is to reach those impossible heights!

So, it becomes exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. This is why you became an artist, for this very reason. It’s the same feeling an athlete experiences, but instead of pushing your body to an extreme you never thought you’d reach you’re getting there with your mind, with your heart, with your spirit.

Then, when you finish, you realize the odds of getting there again are pretty minute. I know, I’m thinking about that right about now, thinking, “How on earth did I do this and how can I do it again?” I have to stop asking that question, though, and experience the moment so I can remember it later. Because that day will come when I won’t be able to lay down three words that make sense and I’ll wonder, “Why did I think I could do this?” And this will be why.

It’s important to realize why you commit your life to something. Just like with any romance, it keeps the love alive.

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