Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A Writer's Meltdown (Not to be confused with "An Actor's Nightmare")

Years ago when I was taking drama classes at Diablo Valley College, I saw the play "An Actor's Nightmare" by Christopher Durang, performed for the first time.

I loved it.  It was basically a young man on a stage in his underwear, clutching his private parts while staring into the audience like a deer into headlights.  Other actors around him came on and off the stage briefly with a few lines here and there, but he stood there in the middle of it all, petrified.  He didn't know what play he was in, or what line he was supposed to stay next.  It was, indeed, every actor's nightmare.

As an actor and writer, I get to experience not only the actor's nightmare, but the writer's meltdown.  Now, I googled the term, "writer's meltdown" and apparently we all have different definitions of what this means.  My meltdown is simply, not so much having writer's block, as much as second guessing what I have already written.  Is this funny anymore?  Was it ever funny?  Does this make sense?  Is this redundant? Clear?  What I thought  was a good idea at the time, or maybe even genius--is now muddled and I am not so sure.  And then of course the worst self critique of all - is this BORING?  As a performer myself who bores so easily, my biggest fear is that my writing and performing will put someone to sleep.  I mean, we are supposed to entertain people, aren't we?

In the annoying introspection of it all, I sat on the side of my bed questioning myself and praying, "Lord, I know I am good writer, but help me with the translation".  I sensed Him telling me to just do it anyway.  I am going to have to learn by doing and there is no way around it.  No number of writing classes, workshops or lectures is going to make me be a better writer.  Writing is going to make me a better writer.  I will have to be okay with not being great at first, but just simply, getting through it.  As long as I have a support group in place, a solid set of friends, I will be just fine.

As I closed my eyes, I saw a picture of a fist punching through a paper wall.  The wall is thin, and easily penetrated.  It's not as difficult as I think it is.  I just have to punch through it.

Alright, enough with the meltdown.   And on with the show.

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