I write. I have to.
Ever hear anyone say, “I can’t hear you without my glasses.” Doesn’t make sense. But then it does when you think about it. Some people just need that visual lock on you to actually understand what you’re saying. Maybe they’re reading your lips. Maybe you just need to be in focus and not a blob, because a talking blob is kind of distracting.
Well, I can’t understand what I think without writing it down. The process of choosing words and making them physical to move from me to the page, gives me the moment I need to feel if what I think is true, or right, or funny, or beautiful, or devastating. Talking sort of helps, but not nearly as much as making these ridiculous symbols permanent. Thus, I write.
I used to write fiction. I loved letting my imagination play outside my head. I thought I had good ideas. Then, somewhere along the way, writing fiction became deeply uncomfortable for me. I didn’t believe in my ideas any more. I didn’t much believe in anyone’s, particularly if they were lofty. I was constantly torn between wanting each word pearl to glow on the page, and y’know actually communicating something. And I cannot plot worth a damn.
And yet, I must miss it, because I am always drawn to moments and challenges that beg me to let my imagination play again.
31 plays 31 days is such a challenge. In the vein of NaNoWriMo, and the all the Hydra NaWri months it has spawned, but with more class, a better sense of humor, and no cloying sense of self-importance. In its second year, 31 plays 31 days challenges writers to pen a play each day throughout the month of August.
I tried last year. I failed. Hugely. I ended the month with 12 ideas, two finished plays, and just one submitted. I had a lot of excuses, and self-judgment holding me back, but it was fun. It really brought August alive for me, and made me reach out toward creativity, and fly with even the silliest of ideas.
This year, I am shamelessly plugging this exercise: Do you think you are or want to be any kind of writer? Then do this 31 plays 31 days challenge! Why? Because every writer must learn to write dialogue. Because every text is a conversation. And you must learn to ‘speak’ clearly so that your reader, perhaps years and miles away, knows how to respond.
That said, I am taking the ‘lite’ approach. I didn’t register and I don’t plan to submit. Though that is subject to change. And I am not holding myself to writing an entire play everyday. But I will try to write something, preferably a dialogue, every day, in this space. Starting now:
Two gay men converse in twenty-five Jerome Kern song titles.
Sven: (suggestive) The last time I saw Paris, Bill, a fine romance.
Bill: (forlorn) They didn’t believe me.
Bill: The folks who live on the hill.
Sven: All the things you are? The way you look tonight?
Bill: In love in vain.
Sven: Sure thing?
Bill: Long ago and far away. Yesterdays.
Sven: Dearly beloved, pick yourself up! Look for the silver lining.
Bill: Smoke gets in your eyes. (Beat) Can’t help lovin’ that man.
Sven: (mmm foxy) Old man River? Lovely to look at.
Bill: Why was I born?
Sven: The song is you! You were never lovelier.
Bill: (tentatively hopeful) Make believe?
Sven: (Suddenly prim) I won’t dance. I’m old fashioned.