I've been struggling with a current writing project—a one-woman show, commissioned by & for & in collaboration with a friend who is a performing artist. The show began, in theory, as an adaptation of something I'd already written (and failed at, frankly) for multiple voices/characters, as a hybrid choreopoem/play about women's language & friendship on a macro-scale. (As in, groups of close friends larger than two.) The adaptation/challenge I gave myself was to move the piece from a cast of multiple women to a cast of one, and still maintain the feelings of overlap, disconnect, parrallelism and chaos that was so much a part of the original.
My start, at first hesitant & fitful, finally gave way to something strange & challenging & wholly unexpected. What I'd written felt completely beyond my grasp. And isn't that the creative dream? The sign that your imagination and words haven't completely dried up and left you?
And then, it fell away from me. The White Heat shuttered. Or, at least, flickered at a distance.
I haven't been writing on this project much in the past few weeks. It's true that I've been wrapping up some visual projects & doing some development/prep for the next round of commissions and some collaborations. (Not to mention trying to do things like have a meaningful 'web presence'...ahem.) I'm also very much still trying to work out how, exactly, to make/find space to write in my current living situation. I, thankfully, do have time. But I am very much used to living alone. (Or at least living with no other humans.) And figuring out how to get myself able to write into/with the voice(s) of others with another consciousness in the house is really, really a struggle.
And, to confess an idea that came with this writing, it's also been a great excuse to not go after this work that scares me. I'm terrified that I will make a huge mess of this, that I don't know enough about entertaining, pacing, staging to write material worthy of the effort & resource my friend is putting behind this show. That I'd somehow picked the wrong vehicle, the wrong characters, the wrong moves.
And then, today, I went to the (thankfully) local university library to do some research. While reading Norman Austin's book about Helen of Troy, I came across this: "Her [A.M. Dale's] point is well taken that Athenian tragedy, despite Aristotles' prescription, is better characterized as taking figures 'from the national heritage,' and treating them with 'fundamental seriousness'." He goes on to discuss how this idea, in Euripedes, ends up being transformed into a form of 'tragedy' that actually looks much more like the 'New Comedy' (in the courtship, mishap and reunion of lovers sense of things) than 'tragedy' as such. And then he talks about how Euripedes' attempt at comedy still fails. I disagree with Austin, but his point made me think some, again, about success & failure, and made me feel so much looser & freer to think that I was, perhaps, in company with someone like Euripedes while rolling around in the midst of failure & words & drama.
In an earlier part of the book, Austin also says (about the vilified Helen of Homeric legend): "Beauty writes its own laws." So I came home & got to typing. If the White Heat won't come, maybe you can find something to burn anyway.