A lovely piece that has come a very long way…
This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this post. But feel free to admire my scarf from Paris and my vintage sunglasses that my optometrist in Provincetown pulled out of a shoebox of dead stock. True story.
I have two imperatives around my arts career this year: Create, create, create! and Jump, jump, jump!
To the “create” end, I’ve signed up to join a lovely group of (mostly) local poets for a poem-a-day-in-July challenge. I’ve done these types of challenges with this group before, and it always yields at least 3 or 4 good working drafts, which I consider a very good month indeed. You sort of can’t help but produce since not only are you writing, but you’re immersing yourself in the work of other poets every single day.
You can ask for critique if you’d like, but the general group rule is to encourage (and just don’t say anything if you’re not really feeling a poem.) I like that the critique policy forces me to really think about the poems as I do want to be able to make a comment on as many poems as possible. It’s a good way of making myself get back to the basics of looking at a poem in a really deep and sustained way, so yay! I should mention that since I’m also still going to be video-blogging every night and also trying to be more faithful to The Home Beete! that my actual mission is to “write a poem or just write something” every day, which hopefully will mean I do some writing on the memoir project I’ve been brain-bandying for a few years, and also maybe the short stories that’re also banging around up there.
On the jump, jump, jump! front—I just sent a query letter to a local literary series that’s looking for one-act plays for staged readings. When I was in graduate school, toward the end when I was mostly working on my poetry thesis, I took a playwriting class, which is something I’d dreamed of doing for years. I’d been an actress/stage manager/stagehand side-by-side with being a poet since high school. Ironically, it was only when I moved to Chicago—one of the country’s most energetic theater towns—that I stopped pursuing theater and went full-tilt at poetry. (Full disclosure: I had actually moved from Boston to Chicago to pursue an acting career, but once I took a job with J.P. Morgan and realized what time I’d have to get up for work, the idea of till-midnight tech rehearsals and three-performance weekends no longer seemed that appealing.)
Although I loved writing The Pebble Blues, I abandoned it right after graduation because my instructor didn’t seem to think it was as great as I wanted her to. Looking back, it’s ridiculous that I thought I should “win the Pulitzer” on the first go, but I think I’d gotten so used to kudos for my poems (and the acting students I was in class with seemed to love rolling my language around in their mouths), that I didn’t exactly have the right perspective or attitude. What stuck in my head were the comments in which she said, “This needs work.” I somehow absolutely missed the following, which was her final say in the matter:
A lovely piece that has come a very long way. one more action-focus draft…and this would be ready to send to contests or literary managers.
I’m a little annoyed at my 34-year-old self for not doing cartwheels (and being inspired to keep working) over this extremely encouraging praise. But I’m glad my 41-year-old self has the good sense, finally, to put the play out there and see what happens.
Last but not least, here’s another one to file under artistic audacity. I’ve created an author page for myself on Facebook. You can find it here. So go ahead and like me, really really like me!