It’s Never Too Late to Revise – Part 2
“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”
– Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
As I mentioned at the end of last Wednesday’s blog, It’s Never Too Late to Revise, after Lynne and I had finished with The Neighbours play script, Theresa arrived and the 3 of us began working on The Widows play script.
The Widows was actually staged as a play – for one performance only – back in 2008 in Abbotsford, BC. It was a bit of a trial run and turned out to be a phenomenal learning experience for me, the playwright.
Lynne directed that performance and Theresa was one of the actresses in it, so having the two of them read the most recent version of the script out loud for me last November was extremely helpful. But it wouldn’t have been if I had much of an ego left.
I wish I could say that after listening to Theresa and Lynne read The Widows, I clapped my hands in delight and said, “Right then, it’s good to go! Let’s get this baby entered into a Fringe Festival.”
Unfortunately, my annoyingly candid and intuitive response was: “That was actually kinda boring – and I’m allowed to say that because I wrote it…about twenty times now.”
Now don’t get me wrong: the story itself isn’t boring. The potential for The Widows to be an excellent play is there: the characters are interesting (they’re based on me and my incredible friend, Jackie!) and the situation the characters find themselves in (stuck in a hotel room while traveling through India) is perfect.
What is missing is action in the present – happening on stage – versus the two characters simply talking about past events, even though those past events are certainly dramatic (at 24, Jackie lost her husband to a drunk driver when their daughter was 2 months old; my husband died as the result of a preventable fall at unsafe workplace when we were both 32).
Theoretically, I knew this was a problem during the many rewrites done in the comfort of my own head. But it wasn’t until I heard the play read out loud for me – and the subsequent brainstorming with Theresa and Lynne about possible solutions – that I was finally able to grasp what needed to be fixed…and how.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
– Joseph Campbell
For just as it is never too late to revise, in fiction or in life, so too is it important to be able to let go of the life – or the play – we have planned, so as to be able to live – or write – the one that is waiting for us.
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.”
– Henry Ford
And so, back to the drawing board I went with The Widows. But first, after all that hard work of collaborating, Lynne, Theresa and I headed to the local pub on the Saturday night to blow off a little steam…let our hair done, if you will.
I did both 🙁 and after far too much wine and not nearly enough dancing, I spent the next day pretty much passed out on my couch – leaving my houseguests to entertain themselves. In other words, there was no creative collaboration on Sunday; just a great deal of sleep and water.
This rewriting-with-the-door-open business is proving to be an awful lot of work – and, of course, highly effective.
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the playwright of Saviour. She is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of theJohn Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive Maryanne’s weekly blog, please sign up here.