Monday, January 21, 2008

Drafting on Exile

Writing my play Clinic Concert has been a 2 1/2 year ordeal. Each time I go back to it, I simultaneously feel that it is "right there" and so far from finished. The worm turned for me last week when I finished making notes on my most recent draft and then went back to my very first draft of the play to discover what i was writing about in the first place. (Mucho thanks to Bill who referenced Shopenhauer's The Will in his notes.)

In the Fall of 2004, what started as a kind of love letter to my actor/musician friends in New York became a play by the end of the writing. It is about a member of an extremely recognized psychedelic rock band returning to a town where his band played their last show and then everything going crazy. In the Spring following my first draft I had a mind blowing reading that included the members of Less, Guy Boyd, Di Di O'Connell, Lucas, Lethia Nall, and Patch Darragh. I walked around for weeks in a daze at having heard amazing actors read my words, but even in my bliss I knew the piece was not formed nearly enough for anyone to take it very seriously. (As one director said who read it, "I'd love to talk to you about your play - or should I say Plays.") Put kindly, there was a lot going on in my mind and on the page.

Since then I have busted my fucking ass to understand the practical and magical points of playwrighting, the structure and poetry and cause/effect that drive all the great stage works. I still don't know what I am doing, but it feels more like the right kind of not-knowing: a lot of wandering through rooms with no clear purpose.

For example, on Monday, Traci and I cased Virgin Mega store so I could try and find some music to buy myself for my birthday. It had been so long since I had allowed myself into a record store, and I had developed a habit of talking myself out of any music purchase. Finally and with much dread, I made my choices. One was a record I had a copy of that I had lost: Smile by Brian Wilson. The other was a record I'd always known I would one day get intimate with but had thus far never listened to: Exile On MAin Street by the Stones. Needless to say, I'm glad I didn't talk myself out of the purchases.

I went straight to Exile, and by Wednesday night, the album finally unravelled itself to me, inspiring some powerful connections to my play that had remained elusive and suddenly I found myself plunged back into the heart of Clinic Concert.

Then, on Thursday I left my backpack in the back of a car on 42nd street. The notes are gone. But I am not deterred. It's all in me and its time to harvest. I know that before the phase of my first exposure to Exile On Main Street finishes, the draft will be done. I don't know how, I just know. So to prove it to myself, I responded to a birthday e-mail from my friend and mind blowing writer Ron Fitzgerald and told him I needed some advice. He asked me to send him the draft. Now I have to do it. And I have decided I am staying up all night until it is done or I pass out which ever comes first.

Pretty sure I'm passing out.

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