Here-Ever-After


Most of the work I've been doing on my play-in-progress, Hereafter, has lately been confined to my noggin. In particular, when I'm walking the few blocks from the train to the ol' office job. Then I get to the ol' office job, and most if not all of those thoughts go whizzing from out my ears, displaced by insurance rates, supply vendors and other undesirables. So I thought, Hey, thought I, hey, why don't I do some of the same thinking on the Aviary? That way I'll not only better retain it, but open it up for other people to badger and criticize me about it as they may see fit. So here we are. Badger if and as you will.

Interesting to try to communicate my thoughts for people who know what I have written, and them what don't (read: most everybody). I held a reading in December, from which much was learned. Those who participated are about the only people on earth so far who know what my play is about, and odds are it will be about things altogether different once it passes through this nascent stage of revision. The over-arching theme of the various stories has to do with what happens to our bodies after death, and how we separate sense of identity from physical evidence. It's also a comedy, largely; or anyway, it's supposed to be funny. I've got roughly six characters in ten inter-related, but not necessarily inter-connected, scenes, some of which are much stronger than others. The biggest question I had prior to the reading was whether or not this wanted to be a play, rather than a sampling of scenes. It turns out it rather would like to be a whole play, which is great, and also means way more work for me.

Some scenes just don't work, and it's that simple. I have two such set in a gastroenterologist's office (which should have been my first clue, right there) that flounder and waffle mercilessly. These, and their companions in dysfunction, I believe I will rewrite from scratch with new ideas that are influenced by an improved sense of continuity to the whole thing. More importantly, the characters they particularly address are weak. It's going to be a lot of re-imagining, which is fun, even when it's frustrating. This is what got me started on day-dreaming about it, anyway -- the possibility of that freedom to do more than revise, to rewrite.

Along those lines, too, I realize an immediate need to rearrange what scenes I do have fairly strong. As they are arranged now, my eye was more on structural symmetry, not enough on organic cause-and-effect. Which is actually pretty funny, since one of the philosophical arguments I have going in the thing is between linear and holistic perspectives. Philosophy is another little facet that needs rearranging. Just now, some of the characters have perspectives that are too similar for anything terribly interesting to happen between them. This, and the aforementioned, leads me to contemplating the cut of one (or more?) of my dears. The whole thing could really benefit from an outline of some kind, which, again: funny. I'm not very good at or about outlining. I don't like doing it, and I'm pretty crap at it, generally imposing too much logical control and not enough intuitive exploration. Then again, maybe I'm just doing it wrong, somehow.

Expatriate Younce and I, in our recent brainstorming phone call, got to talking about ideas and our rather different relationships to them. To put it mildly, I have a love-hate relationship to my ideas. My ideas have burned me before and, though I try to forgive and forget, I am holding on to the odd grudge, or seventy-eight. Ideas are as malevolent as they are beneficial to me, some resulting in a well-deserved sense of accomplishment, and other resulting in a tremendous amount of wasted time and effort. Of course, as I write this, I realize that I'm a little too focused on product over process here. Younce points out that my urge to fulfill a creative idea's potential is what enables me to get creative things done, but the flip side of that coin is frustration over delayed or (in many dreadful cases) aborted projects. Take, for example, this idea I had of incorporating the three fates into my play (in a gastroenterologist's office, for Pete's sakes). Thought it was great, ended up screwing the story into places it most certainly does not belong.

So outlining, free writing and cuts. Perhaps I hate acknowledging how little I've accomplished on a first draft, and that's why I generally avoid the revision process? Whatever it may be, I'm determined to make this project the one for which I break that habit. Then I am sure I will have still more revisions, but hopefully I'll be slightly more capable of them.

Then, too, maybe Youncey can finally get his werewolf story.
 
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