Monday, March 17, 2008

Rewriting sucks

It just plain does. One of the things that's kept me away from this blog, beside attempting to actually live my life, has been a long spate of rewriting, which always just leaves me drained.

I'm a big fan of first drafts, a huge fan of first drafts. They're fun and exciting and it's all juggling flaming chainsaws. I tend to be a Stewer, as a writer: I stew, I simmer, I think and ponder. I've spent up to two years just thinking about a play I want to write. Not constantly, but coming back to it, writing scenes in my head, working out plot points and themes, kicking it around for as long as possible, until finally I sit down to write. The first draft usually comes quickly. I've heard Edward Albee speak about writing like this, that he finds himself "with play" and then the play springs fully formed from his head. I ain't Albee (in so very many ways), but that's pretty close to how it is for me.

Which makes rewriting a long, hard slog. If first draft is juggling, rewriting is dancing in mud, it's cleaning the bathroom, you name a hard, difficult task that most be done. And it's got to be done. First drafts can get by on adrenaline, style and dumb luck. To make the crossover to a play, you need to tighten your structure, kill your darlings and rethink what you've done. And good luck doing that once you've gotten even well meaning notes.

So I've been trying to rewrite two full-length plays for various deadlines and it just kills me sometimes.

2 comments:

Director said...

I agree completely. I'm currently in the process of writing a play. It's my take on the Pied Piper of Hamelin story. So far, I think it's turned out pretty good. I've been working on it for two years now, and I've worked out most of the minor kinks.

I have two major major plot holes that I need to resolve. One character shows up in a scene that she can't possibly be in, and I haven't figured out how to get her out of it in time -- she's kind of necessary for the scene. I also have a conversation between the Piper and the surviving kid that's really weak, but I don't have any better ideas at the moment.

It's really hard to make myself sit down and think about it, especially when I've got so many other things on my mind these days: finding a job, getting into grad school, etc.

Hope your shows turn out well.

99 said...

Thanks, director...it really is just so frustrating. It always feels like once you pull one small thread, the whole play unravels. The rewrites I'm working on are still pre-rehearsal (hell, pre-workshop) and it's such a bear. The plays feel so close, but they're not quite there yet. Grr...