Saturday, July 05, 2008

Making this play, Shame Circus, has been such a delicate, difficult, and uphill process. My characters are still somewhat mysterious to me. That’s okay, I tell myself. They’re alive. I don’t always know the right thing for them to say, but when I type the wrong one, then I know it. So I hit the wrong notes and erase them until I find the right one. It’s a slow process.

Iit’s like assembling an airplane in the dark, entirely by feel, hoping it will fly. But I can only see one line ahead of me as I write and sometimes not even that. I write a line, delete it, write another one, sit and stare at it awhile, chew my fingernail, go back. Refill my water glass, fetch some iced coffee.

Dede, who has been diagnosed with failing kidneys and anemia, lies languidly on the bed. What’s she thinking about? The bed is a boat. We’re floating away on an evening of music. I’m here, next to the light, tapping away at my laptop. C is playing piano downstairs, switching back and forth between piano and his new bass, the one he built himself, from a kit, and wired up. It sounds like a real bass!

I hear him fingering through a passage, hesitating, trying it slightly differently, switching instruments. I like this dual process, parallel play, both of us I n the house together, wrestling with our own alligators.

I liked playwriting class, hearing everyone else’s projects, knowing that they are going through the same sweet agony as I am. The ironic thing is that I want to finish this play so that I can start on my next one. How crazy is that? I want to finish edging across this precipice so that I can find myself on another one, clinging to a little fingerfull of rock. It never stops. “Behind Mountains there are mountains,” as the Haitian proverb says.

One way or another I will always be visiting this dar place, the unconscious, place where I know very little and am constantly humbled by the process. Writing fiction or a play— inventing the world--is a lonely manic-depressive business. When friends ask how I am I say I’m happy, and I am. Very happy. But preoccupied, all the time, a little worried, working something out in a part of my brain I can’t reach. I hope I can get this last bit done before we leave for Ashland. I’m at the transition stage of labor right now, so close to the end I’m feeling the urge to push, but not wanting to push too fast or too hard, for fear of damaging the baby getting it out.

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