July 8, part 2. The mad scene writes itself through me in two stages, the second scarier than the first because I'm actually able to direct things towards the scene I originally planned but couldn't write in the first draft because all the sidetracks got in the way--the scene where Hamlet drives Ophelia offstage by telling her in essence the truth about himself. Because everything is more (directed? concentrated? meaningful?) in this draft, all I have to do is ignore all the chatter in the first draft and write the scene from scratch. Which is the scary part. It's like having a Mapquest printout and then ignoring it; there's a part of your mind that says, "Don't be stupid, use the map you have, didn't it get you to where you wanted to go?" And it did, but it's the journey, not the destination, that's important. There are a ton of roads you can take from Lights Up to Fade Out, and they all present a different scenic route. You have to map out the one with the best sights, and if that means throwing away yesterday's map when you do today's travelling, then that's what you have to do, and trust that you'll be steering everything in the right direction.
I use the word trust a lot to describe this, and when I do, I mean a kind of faith as well, a faith that when you take a leap you will grow wings and fly, a faith that when you start to write or talk to yourself (I do a lot of talking to myself) the words will come. And not just any words, but the right words. Meaning the character's words, not my words. (My words are another sidetrack.) Although in this play? There is a lot of fecking Matthew, and there are a lot of fecking people who will read this or hear this and know it.
I finish writing everything longhand at around 9 PM, and start typing in the changes and the new scenes. At about 10:35, I'm typing up the last bit of dialogue between Hamlet and Ophelia and conducting a gmail chat conversation with Allyson in LA when Merry takes control of my fingers and changes one sentence of dialogue that changes everything for me. (Merry is Meroë, the name I've called my source of inspiration since the late 70's.) Instead of typing "I did too" in response to "I thought you were dead," I find myself typing "I was, for about thirty seconds." And the rest of the scene comes out of the nowhere that is the home of all inspiration, having nothing to do with the dialogue I sweated over this afternoon, having nothing to do with anything except the fact that I am at the laptop and the words are coming through my index fingers as I type, and they feel like the right words, they feel like wings.
July 9. After telling Allyson to mark down the time last night when I finished typing everything up (7:41 Pacific Time), I spent about 40 minutes walking around the cottage because I had so much energy inside me that I had to let some of it out or I wouldn't be able to sleep. I tried to read and watched the words slide away from my eyes. I tried to watch television and nothing I saw was anywhere near as brilliant as what I had just finished writing. So I ended up making a lot of tweaking notes -- things to plant, things to knock down that I've set up and forgotten -- and then went to bed.
Today I wake up at 8:30, and by 10 I've re-read everything, made spot changes, added echoes that I hope aren't too obvious, inserted a Jeeves joke, inserted a Court Jester reference, and added breathing room here and tightened things there. It's DONE. I e-mail it to the cast; I e-mail it to Allyson in LA; I e-mail it to the reading group; and I e-mail it to Ava in Australia with a cc to Ester in London. Then I go to the beach and fight off the sand flies and for the first time in 5 days (I started the rewrite on July 4th) I have nothing cooking in the writing oven. It's a good feeling; it's a full feeling actually, like I've just eaten a great meal and have a ton of bottled-up energy kvelling inside me. Take the rest of the day off, I think, you've earned it. And tomorrow when you get up at 8:30? You can start pre-heating the second script you brought down with you.