Jeebus, has it actually been two weeks since I posted something on this blog?
OUTLOOK CALENDAR: Yes.
Wow. See what happens when Life takes precedence over Talking About Life? And we’re not even talking about Dealing With Life here either, folks: just Life, in all its time-consuming, energy-sapping glory.
So what’s been happening lately?
Irish Wake. Trained to Cleveland on the 28th for my brother’s Irish wake on the 29th, and trained back to New York on the 30th. That pretty much broke me for the next three days. I’ve been trying to write about it for the last two weeks (without all the unattractive neediness and wallowing) but all I have is therapy rants that will never graduate from my notebook and public-consumption snippets that I’m not happy with. So there may be a therapy rant up here in the next couple of days. Wear something waterproof. You have been warned.
Scarlet Woman. It is a truth universally acknowledged in theatre that, no matter how brilliant your play is on the page, it will need a top-to-bottom rewrite once you put it on the stage. So for the past two weeks I’ve been reworking Scarlet Woman to reflect the input of the actors, the stage manager, and the director, all of whom are asking the questions that need to be asked to make this work. Unfortunately they’re also asking the questions I don’t want them to ask, like, “Why is this character acting that way again?”
CAST & CREW: So wait a minute--why is Marie knocking out Velma again?
ME: Because I wanted to do a Raymond Chandler Murder My Sweet Dick Powell blackout monologue.
CAST & CREW: Yeah but why does she get knocked out in the first place?
ME: Uh . . .
CAST & CREW: And why does this character die again?
ME: Because she has to?
CAST & CREW: Yeah, but who kills her?
ME: Uh . . .
CAST & CREW: And why does--?
ME: Okay, let me think about it.
CAST & CREW: You do that.
Poetry. I’ve been working on two poems since the train ride back from Cleveland, and all I have is a quatrain for each of them. One is love, one is death, and because they’re both written with actual human beings in mind, as opposed to abstractions or ideals, I can’t think of anything else to say. So maybe they’ll just stay this way forever. (Cf. that forever poem I wrote a few weeks back.)
One day I came out of the What-Is-Not
Into What Is, and one day I’ll go back;
Till then, I’ll be where flesh is wed to thought,
Skating between Life’s fullness and its lack.
All that I need to drag my heart from hell
Is to recall the heaven of your face
And those angelic eyes I know so well
Will wing me up out of the foulest place.
ME: I wish to hell they'd wing me into a complete sonnet.
Mistakes Were Made. It's playing through 2/27 at the Barrow Street Theatre, and it is the current definition of Tour De Force in the dictionary. If you want to see an amazing actor at the top of his game, run--don't walk. The play is hilarious, and Michael Shannon is an acting god.
That untitled Western novel. A British publishing company is accepting unsolicited manuscripts in March (first five chapters, then full novel upon request), so in my best let's-bite-off-more-than-we-can-chew manner, I said to myself in January, "I can do that. Just three pages a day between now and mid-March and I'll have 90,000 words, right?"
LIFE: Like hell, pal.
So, okay, I should have 40,000 words by now and I only have 20,000. That's still the first five chapters in rough draft form and outlined notes for the rest of the book, including The Big Gundown at the end. And to answer your questions before you ask them, (1) yes the novel has a title; (2) no, it's not just a Western, it's a Western with a fantasy slant, and the kind of brilliant idea I've been getting lately that I can't talk about out loud because someone else without a day job will hear it in the ether and write it in two weeks; and (3) I am now committing myself to 4 pages a day, which means giving up my post-day-job stress nap. And hiring a porter to carry the bags under my eyes.
Oh yeah. And I'm almost done with the first-act rewrite of Countrie Matters, which (when finished) will (a) require me to write a completely new second act from scratch (b) by 2/21. Which means giving up my pre-day-job night's sleep. But what the hell; it's only what I do to pay the bills.
LIFE: Just wait till mine comes due.
ME: Wait--that could be the third stanza of the death poem!
LIFE: You wish.