Diana Dares

Foiling Chicanery with Boundless Intelligence, Fashionable Outfits, Moxie, and One Sporty Blue Roadster.

Monday, June 19, 2006

...and the Riddle in the Refueling

I haven't written in weeks. And not even because I have been distracted by a new case. I feel the way I did after I'd solved my first case and all the hoopla had started to die down. I didn't have my second case. My friends called me a detective, but was it true? One little case -- it could be a fluke. In the end, another case turned up. And then another, and another. At Lilac Inn, Shadow Ranch, Red Gate Farm, Larkspur Lane, everywhere I turned. I fell into a rhythm. Now it's second nature. I know where to look. I know when to be patient and when to press. Most importantly, I know one will turn up.

Why can't writing be like that? I feel like a fraud, the wannabe who won't ever be. It's scary, and yet, at the moment, even though I need to, I can't write. I feel so tapped out.

I'm working at a new job, as my father's law office has been tied up with some boring real estate claims. Not much work and no hope of cases. At least while working there, however, there was ample time throughout the day to write. Not so here. There is time in little fits and starts, but finishing anything more than a one or two page scene isn't manageable. Of course, what I'm working on at the moment (play, not spec) doesn't break down easily into two-page chunks.

In my experience, playwriting is a more meandering process. The form is less restrictive, and it bleeds over into the approach. Instead of having a beat sheet that spells out exactly what the beginning, middle, and end of each scene is, I have a general idea of where the play is going, what the scenes are, what order the scenes are in, and so on. I know that I'm writing a scene where a boyfriend and girlfriend are having a fight over mailing a letter that's not actually about mailing a letter, but I don't know where the argument will wander. In my case, it turned out to include baseball and that instantly informed their other scenes -- connections opened up -- and suddenly baseball becames a part of my play.

Each different form of dramatic writing offers different luxuries and constraints. A play allows two characters to sit and talk -- the exact thing you are warned against including in tv and film. The characters might even have a conversation that wanders over several topics and then circles back to the original point. That's not to say that flabby writing is allowable -- one still needs a tough editorial eye -- but the reigns are loosened a bit and there's simply more time to explore an idea in multiple ways within a scene from a play.

While I'm happy to have the luxury of "to page 3 and beyond!" after writing several specs which featured lots of short scenes, it's not the writing that's conducive to being squeezed in between answering calls, making copies, and generally staying on top of everything going on in a writers' room and production office.

There's also the tougher problem of this general feeling of emptiness. Not in a grand metaphysical "I can't go on!" way, but more of an ennui-lite/Sartre for Beginners type of way. I feel like I haven't done, read, written, or lived anything but television in the past few months, and that kind of narrowly focused living frankly doesn't make one a very interesting person. I want to take a break and just go do stuff for a month or so -- read up on pirates, learn to surf, plant a garden, spend more time getting to know my neighbors, watch some Truffaut movies that I've meant to have seen but haven't -- but it all keeps falling to the wayside. I need crumbling walls, black keys, haunted showboats, and kachina dolls; I have soda order forms and drive-on requests.

I thought that there'd be a breathing period after staffing season, but it appears not to be the case. It's a happy dilemma having people wanting to read your stuff; now I just have to *produce* the genius stuff so they can read it.

I keep telling myself if I can just get through project X, I'm taking 2 weeks off, guilt-free, to just read up on whatever catches my eye and do something that does not involve little people in a box. Maybe I'll go to a dude ranch or ski resort with Bess and George and scare up some intrigue.

Which just leaves the small problem of motoring through project X.

I think I need a standing apptmt with the UCLA Law Library. Woman enters, does not leave until two scenes are written. Repeat every night until finished.

Send all your "get focused" vibes my way, y'all.


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