Jones! Bring me my Smith-Corona!
I’m waiting to feel like the dame in this picture here. Jumping up from the water—“Jones! Bring me my Smith-Corona! I’ve got to get this down!”
I haven’t written anything new since before Christmas. In early December, I reached out to some trans and non-binary friends to read a draft of a play I’ve been working on for over a year. It’s a play I had to write, because I kept wondering, “Why does this particular thing happen? And what happens after this thing happens?” but now that I’ve written it, I’m not sure that it’s any good. This isn’t the normal feeling of the thing maybe not being good, when deep inside I actually know it has merit and can be fine tuned. This is a feeling of, “Well, I’m glad I got that out of me, but perhaps it’s not the play for me to write.” My friends graciously provided feedback, which I read, and considered, but I have not returned to the piece since. I might need to forget what happens in it before I go back to it, and that will take some time.
So, onward! I have two big ideas that I want to tackle this year. And they’ve been rolling around the bean for a while, each terrifying in its own way. The first is a musical, based on a novel written just after World War II. I’m currently in the process of trying to discern who owns the copyright, and having little luck. It was last printed by a company called Black Curtain Press, in a version so shoddily put together, there were several places where exclamation points were printed when lower case L’s were called for. Reading it was like seeing that your grandpa’s car has fallen into disrepair. It broke my heart. I want to save it. I want to buy it and make it great. Black Curtain’s facebook page hasn’t been updated in 8 months, they did not respond to a message, and the link to their website leads to nothing. I am unbowed.
The second project is a historical piece, daunting in that I have never written anything realistic that was set before 2008. This play would explore the period around 1915-16 when two particularly interesting things happened. One, the very first women’s dormitory in the United States opened on the campus at the University of Michigan. Second, the very first women’s birth control clinic was opened by Margaret Sanger.Ten days later, it was raided and Sanger and others were jailed, eventually charged with “maintaining a public nuisance.” These two “everyday revolutions” are fascinating to me, and imagining the intersection of them leads my meditative brain down all kinds of interesting paths, but I need to read some books and maybe take some trips in order to find my writing feet.
And I will be very honest—moments with my meditative brain have been hard to come by since the 2016 election. The new administration scares me. I have anxiety if I follow everything they are doing and/or trying to do. I have guilt if I lose track. I’ve only been motivated to do busy work—edit old pages, submit for various opportunities and residencies. I know I’m not alone, so that helps. And I am starting to feel the call to these two pieces. I’m in tech week right now for a teen community production for which I am on staff and when that is over, in 10 days or so, I’ll be ready to get rolling, and I will stop swimming in the busywork and the anxiety and the self-doubt, and I will holler “Jones! Bring me my Smith-Corona! I’ve got to get this down!”