You know those times that you are in the subway and you see the train and you swipe your card and run up to the train really fast and awkward. And when you get there the train is just sitting. All it's doors are shut but it's just sitting there letting you look inside. And after it has been sitting there for so long you think that the doors have got to open, that it would be impossible for this train to have just been sitting here and that any second now it was going to open up - just when that thought solidifies is when the train pulls away; slowly at first, then faster and you're stuck waiting for the next one.
That is what it was like the last few weeks writing my play. I would sit in front of my open document staring; looking in it's windows at the people inside wondering why it wouldn't just open it's doors. I'd think "Come on, I see them in there. I invented them. Just let me in" and suddenly it would be past 5pm and the day had pulled away and I'd be stuck waiting for the next one. And the next one.
The hardest part was seeing inside the windows, because I know this play; I know it's muscle and bone. I see it's shape and weight and I know how it tastes. But the connecting tissue, what keeps it together, what lets it move was avoiding me like the plague.
The experience of really wrestling a play, really trying to get those pages in a death-grip (pardon the pun, see the play) no matter how frustrating and discouraging at times- was very valuable. I have specific writing rituals and habits that I have always indulged but, as my reading date for Bloodworks approached I had to learn to bend my own rules. I like to write in the day. I like it to be the first thing I do and I prefer to do it in giant stretches. 9-5 bring it on. But come the second week in June, I had to get my night-writing on. I had to make myself write at home (which i almost never do) and I had to steal hour long panels of time here and there whenever I could.
Also I don't let anyone read a play until it's first draft is completed but I didn't have Imagine My Sadness finished for my draft deadline at YB so I shared the play without an end written, I had to email my cast just 40 pages (out of 96) to look at before rehearsals and I often felt so stuck I kept making my close friend/amazing playwright (who, as luck would have it, happened to be staying with me for the last week) read 30 page segments over and over and after we'd talk I would push forward or go backward or shake a fist in the air. All of which was incredibly helpful.
In addition to all of that comfort-zone-leaving and writers-block-having there were the Youngblood-ers that kept checking in on me and offering a much needed arm squeeze time and again when they would see my brow furrow at the mere mention of my play's progress. The support was very much appreciated. Solidarity is the lonely man's milk of human kindness and everyone knows that writers spend a lot of time alone.
At 2am on Sunday morning I wrote the words "End of Play" and by 4pm Sunday afternoon I had done my last skim/spell check tweak. Just in time to get my scripts printed for my Monday rehearsal. It's a first draft that I am really excited to beat up and iron out. Something I really look forward to getting other people in on; actors, director, YB-ers and living breathing reactionary people in those folding chairs on Tuesday. Let's all make this play takes it's first step together. You get the camera ready and I'll start the scrapbook.
Nikole's Bloodworks reading of Imagine My Sadness is this Tuesday (6/16) @SEAPORT! - 210 Front Street (@SEAPORT! is located at 210 Front Street, in the South Street Seaport--A/C to Broadway/Nassau, 2/3/4/5/J/M/Z to Fulton Street. Walk down Fulton Street to the Seaport, turn left before The Gap and the BODIES exhibit-- @SEAPORT! is half a block down on the left.) Admission is free.