Thursday, August 23, 2007
I don't know when it struck me exactly, but over the past few weeks, my job has been stressful and miserable; there were times when I loathed it, and I was sure that if I did this for the rest of my life, I would reasonably be able to say that I've accomplished nothing.
Last year I fancied applying to grad school for creative writing, but I wasn't pleased with anything I had to submit, and the GRE downright intimidated me (I haven't taken a math class since junior year of high school, and I probably only took five tests in my four years of college). I ended up backing out of those plans, content that I would be able to write my way into a career.
This is disjointed because I want to pinpoint the moment when I had absolute certainty that it was finally time to go to grad school. I've been rereading novels lately. I finished Wonder Boys a couple of weeks ago for the second time, and just when I was feeling down about my job, my place in life, and the prospect of my future, it suddenly struck me that I needed to reread A Prayer for Owen Meany. Michael Chabon and John Irving are my two favorite authors, and their styles, while distinct and pretty different from one another, are what I emulate (either by influence or by default). Owen Meany has the heart though; it has the soul and the characters and love of what I want my story to be. My story has been swirling in my mind and heart for years. It's about love. It's about family. It's about brothers and sacrifice. It sounds cliche, but if truth is writing from your heart, then it is the thing I have to write.
So around the time I realized I needed to reread Owen Meany, the ideas for my novel solidified themselves, and I figured out how the whole thing ends. I also saw the beginning. Knowing that the piece is to be something akin to biographical fiction and is supposed to span the life of my two main characters, I figure I have 500 pages to fill.
It is time.
The pieces started falling into place. I started reading what I want to emulate; I started writing the story that makes my heart want to explode. I applied to an advanced fiction writing workshop for the fall so that I could work on this novel, mold it, and submit it for my grad school applications. I submitted my first five pages for admission into the class.
Today, I got in.
Maybe by announcing it, I'm jinxing myself, just like I did last year when I told everyone in my family that I was going to go to grad school this year, only to slink away. But it's not like that this time at all. I not only know that this is what I want to do, but it's what I'm supposed to do. Like it's my fate. Like it's part of a plan.
And for anyone who's read A Prayer for Owen Meany, it'll come as no coincidence that I had to read that book.
Until next time...
Posted by Joe at 9:47 PM
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I just finished the first draft of a play. It was a whirlwind experience; I wrote the thing in 12 days. When I first pitched it to a friend, he told me it sounded like a movie.
I don't often write plays, and generally for good reason. The last one I wrote crashed, burned, and exploded before Act One ended. Unfortunately, the rest of The League was caught in the blast.
But for me, writing plays are actually a lot of fun, provided I have an idea worth pursuing. Beyond that, they're also both relieving and revealing. They're relieving, because with screenplays, we're told to restrict our dialogue. To show, not tell. To write what needs to be said, and then figure out how to cut as much of that as possible. But with plays, it's all about the dialogue. The action is in the dialogue. The dialogue is in the dialogue (I wrote that on purpose). And the heart of the story is in the dialogue. It can all be found in the dialogue. Rather than writing and cutting down, I'm free to write, write, and when I think the scene might be over, see if I can write any more. (Granted, it's never good to overwrite a scene, but in plays, there's an opportunity to directly say more and for longer than in a film.) I like doing dialogue, and being able to cast off the talking restrictions of the screen is a great feeling.
Writing a play is revealing to me for the same reason. It reveals how much either can or cannot be said by dialogue and what, no matter the medium, is best said without words. I have always found plays more difficult, since I'm not allowed to show things as easily, blow things up as effectively, or transport my characters so readily. But, on the other hand, I get to use my imagination so much more effectively. Rather than just saying something is on fire, which it very well could be on screen, I am forced to conceive of how such a fire would be handled on stage, what lights, what sounds, and what effects would create the desired image. It's a great learning experience that transcends writing to directing, I believe, to write a visually stimulating, "special effects" filled story for the stage. That, to me, is truly revealing.
Posted by Cake Man at 7:21 PM
Monday, August 13, 2007
Sorry we've all been so M.I.A. recently. Not to go into it here, but this (Writer's Block) is what it looks like happened to us and the blog. But on behalf of the League, I can assure you two things:
1) We've been writing and meeting regularly
2) We're back!
Friday, August 03, 2007
What a summer it's been.
It started at the end of May when I went to Santa Fe for a wedding, and really hasn't stopped since. When I got back, I started a new job (same place, just...well, a promotion) which suddenly saw me being busy for the entire day at work. I welcomed the change, but let's just say I wasn't going to be blogging in the middle of the afternoon.
In July I went on vacation with my family, only to come back to New York and move in with my girlfriend. Things are finally settled, and I'd like to think that I'm back.
While away, I've been neglecting all my writing, not just this site. And while I'm not happy about it, sometimes there are just other things that need to be done. If I had just been sitting around doing nothing for the past couple of months, I'd feel awful right now - I'd have a mad desire in my soul quashed by my slothfulness and that ever-annoying cycle of lethargy begetting lethargy.
But I haven't been - I've been busy, making strides in my life, entering into new areas of responsibility and maturity. I feel accomplished, happy - like things are going somewhere (not in my career, no, but in my livelihood).
Now, however, it's time to get back to work, to get the dream back on its feet, to get this sucker going again. Writers, after all, as I've said, never stay down for too long. And being back has revealed quite a few projects neatly arranged on my plate. A play, two scripts, a short story. It feels right.
So with that being said, The League has always been here to serve you, the writer. For all you playwrights out there with even the most humble of projects completed, this, without a doubt, is worth a shot.
God love The Public. Good luck to everyone who applies. But not as much luck as I'm wishing to myself. I'm sure you understand.
Also, anyone with HBO, especially on demand, please check out Flight of the Conchords. Great stuff, incredibly catchy. It's like a smarter Sarah Silverman program. Only with two dudes. With New Zealand accents.
Posted by Joe at 10:49 AM