Saturday, 25 May 2013

Salt And Vinegar, Get 'Em Inter Yer.

“I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts..."

So begins a quote from Anne Lamott who has written many a book and many a book about writing many a book besides.  I thought this was a good quote to link with what I have been doing the past coupla weeks, which is workshopping and developing the script of my new play Chipper. I worked with director Chris Bendall, dramaturg Tim Roseman (also PlayWriting Australia AD) and intern Pierce Wilcox as well as the four fab actors: Kate Box, Ella Scott Lynch, Rob Jago and Sandy Gore.

There is of course nothing like sitting down round a table to hear actors read your words aka your play. It is terrifying. You become very aware of your own mis-steps and stumbles, where you have tried to make the same point about thirty times, when you have failed to make any sort of point at all. Yet everyone in this room is kind, is thoughtful, is concentrating on the story and how it unfolds. And better still, how their character unfolds along with it. Suddenly you go from one brain telling a story to 8 brains. We are all afraid of showing our work. We are all afraid that what we are handing over may indeed fail to be an 'elegant first draft'.
But that is part of a playwright's leap of faith is it not?

Will Chipper be on a stage anytime soon. God I hope so. But at least I know this play has gone forward, 8-brains worth, over 2 weeks.  

Anne Lamott’s quote continues from the way even much loved writers fail to write elegant first drafts to this:

...All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her. (Although when I mentioned this to my priest friend Tom, he said that you can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.)”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

And the point of this I think is that all writers run their own race or write their own story and most of them struggle to start and continue and even finish, and sicc-ing God onto them is no help to anyone. Really, if you’ve created a god in your own image it’s kind of hard to take that god seriously. Or ourselves. We write. In Australia. In 2013. There’s a hell of  a lot there to be chipper about.

And at the risk of overdoing the chipper thing, this really DOES make us CHIPPER! Just briefly (although hopefully you’ll hear more next week) we are thrilled that one of us, Hilary Bell!, is the recipient of this year’s Patrick White Fellowship with the Sydney Theatre Company. 
Yay Hil!
Hugely exciting and many cries of WOOO-HOOO!


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