I’ve been tapped by the loverly Esther Emery in a blog tour on writing and the writing life. I’m actually rather flattered that she would do so: her writing is powerful, and I’ve also been hunting for inspiration and reasons to try and kick my blogging back into gear. So here are the four questions that have been posed, and here are my answers.
What are you currently working on?
Like Esther’s mine is a list of projects that are lying higgeldy-piggledy around my mind, and some of them have made it to the bare beginnings of a word document, and one or two have actually reached the end of the rough draft/beginning of the editing stage. There are three primary projects, though.
1. I am writing a black-box theatre style play that falls under the category of “experimental” as far as conventional plays go. I’d rather not give away the plot (spoilers) especially since it’s still very much a baby. A baby that I am trying not to hate at the moment. This is a good example of a project that you start with uncontainable excitement, but absolutely loathe and avoid by the time you’re almost done with the first draft. I’m still new to the world of scriptwriting and stageplay– I collaborated with a friend on a short play earlier this year for a 24-hour competition that we ended up placing first in. That experience was enough to whet my appetite for the craft and I’ve been toying with this idea ever since. My hope is to have this baby grown up enough by August to put together a cast and have it performed- a whole other experiment in and of itself.
2. I’m writing a piece of fiction that, let me be honest, has no real direction. It started as a detailed description about a table of knives, and it’s kind of become a science/fantasy fiction about a man who fixes books. Don’t ask. I’m not sure it will ever become a book, but it’s a nice way to waste time.
3. I have a concept practically outlined that is waiting to turn into a book. I started writing it during one of my classes, and so far I have a list of characters, a plot, and even a prologue down- basically the vegetable side dish- it’s just a matter of sitting down and getting to the meat of it (pardon my food analogies– it’s almost time for lunch). It’s told more along the lines of a children’s story, so I’m hoping to illustrate it as well.
How does my project differ from others in the same genre?
Well this isn’t an easy question because all three of the projects I mentioned are in completely different genres. So I’ll go with the piece I’m closest to finishing: the play. Experimental performance has a unique ability to engage the audience on an entirely new level and present them with applicable impressions or ideas. I’m no expert, but in my limited experience of experimental theatre I see “experiment for experiment’s sake”, and little capitalization on its abundant yet often untapped potential, especially in religious circles where traditionalism is lauded. Out of the Box (for that is it’s title) is ultimately meant to challenge people’s imaginations and ask them to not only suspend their disbelief but to constantly be willing to shift their perspective. I’d like the audience to walk away with a renewed appreciation for their imaginations, or at the very least a desire to use it. It would also be nice if they were challenging perspective and imagination in spirituality as well– how they look at God and God in relation to us. That’s a little more far-fetched in the play’s current state, and it’s going to take a lot of tweaking to get it there.
Why do you write/create what you do?
I create simply because I must. It’s not so much an itching craving to toss out and arrange words as it is the constant consciousness of the ink I can feel crashing around in my veins. I’m not trying to romanticize it, it’s merely the best description. I come from a long lineage of creativity both in my immediate family and spiritually. Our creator has not only placed us in a world of artistic beauty and conception, He has fashioned us with eyes, lips, ears, hands to drink it in and fashion something by it ourselves. We have been given the capacity to ape God through our own aptitude for invention. Of the greatest of these is, perhaps, our faculty for storytelling. I enjoy theatre because it employs two different aspects of that gift- the birth of a story and then the telling that meets more of the cognitive needs for recognition and retention of the audience than had they simply sat down to read or merely listen to it. There is something about seeing a story or idea played out before your eyes by other humans in fabricated setting that somehow impacts us differently. By its very nature, experimental performance and theatre styles have more opportunities to challenge and untap that same source of understanding. The fact that each cast will interpret and emphasize different aspects each time only ensures that the stories will, in some way, always be new. (Does that answer the question?)
How does your writing/creating process work?
I find this question somewhat amusing because really? It doesn’t. I have no plan– in general I’m still new to the idea of creating in general. A couple of years ago I had a process I underwent daily to write, but that was more due to my OCD life patterns. It somehow ended up being productive, though. I’m trying to create a disciplined way of working that has some semblance of structure to it. At the moment it looks like a lot of reading, TED talks, daydreaming, and brilliant flashes of inspiration that fizzle about two pages in or until I get hungry (whichever happens first). The pieces I’ve completed so far owe their thanks to social media blockers and considerable amounts of resolve.
I don’t have many to pass this baton on to, but I’d love to tap Mrs. Rachel Lee Haas, who is, for many reasons, why I blog at all.