Thursday, October 20, 2011

Alone with Words

Tonight, I broke into that space I used to call "The Big Lonely" and started a creative writing project, one that's messy and uncertain. One in which the characters are apt to take up arms and turn against me and my best laid plans.

The difference between a larger writing project and a blog, written with a sense of immediacy in terms of completion and finding an audience is like the difference between dipping into warm inviting bathwater and plunging into the deep end of cold pool. Starting and sustaining a larger writing project hurts. It takes muscle. I may imagine that this blog will some day become a book, but I'm sitting down to write a book--I'm instead sitting down to write to a readership of perhaps a half dozen or dozen close friends who happen to take the time to look at it after I post it onto Facebook on any given day. But when I write a short story, a play, or--God forbid, a novel--I don't know if I'll have even one friendly reader or if the project will ever be completed.

Now, I write a few poems every week. These are not nearly as painful as a major fiction or playwriting project because I've trained myself for the last 22 years to turn out poems like breakfast scones--by the dozen. Sure, there were periods when I cared deeply about poetry and when it pained me, I'd say even gravely pained me. But after doing two years of a poem a day and then several random Aprils of a daily poem along with dailies through Advent and Lent, I kind of just found a way to crank them out, as if I was a kind of poetry factory. Are they good? On occasion, one will surprise me as such. And usually after not writing poems for awhile, they'll sound more fresh, as I wield some new vocabulary or romance in the making. But I've been cranking them out since the first of April--one a day that month and a few a week since then as part of this daily-hide-a-poem-in-a-plastic-egg art project I've managed to rope several other poets into doing with me. I have X-man to blame for that, as I'd posted randomly on Facebook, without giving it a second thought, "I'm going to put a poem in a plastic egg every day for a year and hide it somewhere in Merced," and X-man read it back to me and sort of challenged me to do, even participating wholeheartedly as poet and egg-hider the first several weeks. Even though I've forgiven him everything else (almost), I have yet to forgive him for abandoning me to this task that I never meant seriously. I even had to find a purveyor of plastic eggs during August when I ran out of the donated ones. And now I have devoted egg-hunters who loyally search for the eggs every night.

But I digress: poems aren't stories--they don't often have those pesky characters that get under your skin and take you for a ride, a ride that the length of is not up to you, but these imaginary so-called friends.

So, this afternoon, I plunged into the deep cold pool, and here I go--just five pages in to what is not meant to be more than a 30 page play as its a commissioned project--and I'm lost. I'm not good for socializing with real humans, I'm breathing Alma, Bessie, Charley, and Lester and their almond orchard. I'm making up melodies for the songs they sing to each other and I'm wondering if trees could talk, what would they say. . .(more on that another day). I have entered the fictional world landscape and you won't be able to get me out until the third week of December, which is soon enough, and my deadline for the script. So bear with me, I won't write about these people often, but they will likely pepper the blog for the next couple of months.

And here's the thing---I rarely give myself the time to take on projects such as this, but I absolutely and utterly feel more at home alone with words than almost anywhere in the world. The only other place I feel equally at home is on stage performing (as an actor or a bass player/singer or Sweetie Pie). I'm the luckiest person in the world when I'm alone with words, even when my main characters are running me ragged. (Usually they are dying, which is a generally depressing road to be on. On occasion, they are falling in love, but we'll see to it, since I've recently become cynical about love, that that doesn't happen in this particular writing project!)

To words, then! My wine!

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