Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Tuesday, November 9, 2004
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

NaNoWriMo Daily Cheer: Look at each day’s goal and let that be your primary focus. The words build into sentences, the sentences build into paragraphs, the paragraphs build into pages. The pages will build into something bigger than your daily goal.

I threw up after watching an interview with Newt Gingrich this morning on TV. I don’t usually watch TV in the morning, but I have since the election, and Newt Gingrich has that effect on me.

But getting sick is not going to solve anything. Enough, already! Time to get back on the horse and start riding.

What has always been the best solution for me?

To write my way out of it.

I had an interesting conversation late last night (or early this morning, depending upon how you look at it) with an actor friend. We worked together years ago off-Broadway, and he’s now far from NY, but we occasionally keep in touch. He would always call me or track me down the night before a big audition because he couldn’t find a unique monologue, I’d write something, and he’d nail the role. His innate speech rhythm was familiar to me, so I could write any type of character, from hero to villain to silly frat boy to complex man at a crossroads of his life and make it sound natural.

He reminded me that my best work, such as the monologues in Women With an Edge are deeply political in addition to being funny. Edge wasn’t written to be a political piece. The initial draft was written over two days during a snowstorm after two personal situations that changed my life forever. It was written completely from the gut – and then honed over a period of time, keeping the passion of the piece, but polishing the technique.

As long as I write with passion, and stay true to the integrity and the turmoil of my characters, the rest falls into place. Because we live in a political world, even if we try to avoid it, it affects us every day.

Why is The Widow’s Chamber so interesting to me? Because the events that lead to the Civil War led to women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights movement and started way back in the time of Cutthroat Charlotte’s pirate days, leading to the American Revolution. It’s all connected, as both circle and spiral. And it’s filled with people trying to do the best they can and keep the predators from harming their families and destroying what they loved.

I can say much more through telling stories of people to whom readers can connect than going off on rants. John Leguizamo and Denis Leary are masters of the rant, and more power to them. I need to work on a smaller, quieter scale.

In other words, if I started The Widow’s Chamber with the intent of it being an anti-slavery document, it would fail. By showing how Nora, an avid abolitionist and member of the Transcendentalist Circle of Concord, MA has to deal with traveling through the South and loving a truly good, wise, kind man who owns slaves, the my views on the effects of slavery can be communicated much more powerfully.

There are certain themes that run throughout my work: the importance of love, loyalty, and individual freedom. Loyalty has especially suffered over the past years. Reality television rewards people for being disloyal and being their worst selves. Without loyalty, trust breaks down, and without trust, both love and individual freedom break down. But loyalty can’t be blind – it has to be an intelligent, informed choice that strengthens into the belief of another person’s intrinsic value.

I wish I was a poet. Or a songwriter. Well-written poetry can stir the soul more deeply than anything else. Whether it’s Jane Augustine writing about her grandchild’s surgery in “Metaphysics III: After Waiting” or a Shakespearean sonnet, the spare, crystallized images flower within the imagination and hold the power to change the individual and the world, by allowing the reader to see differently.

Providing, of course, the reader is willing to let the writer in, and the reader doesn’t have a closed mind, blindly following a group doctrine.

Have the sales of poetry books receded because people no longer want to open their minds and hearts to different points of view? They’d rather not feel?

I need to actively seek out more poetry (and more poets) in my life. I’m not talking about those trying to live the cliché about being poor, tortured, and sacrificing everyone they meet in the name of “art” (when in reality it’s narcissism). I’m talking about poets who actually have a point of view of the world outside of themselves, who can make the personal universal and the universal personal, and who offer an active way to create change.

And before I do that, I need to tackle another chapter of The Widow’s Chamber. I have to catch a 10 AM train to get to my day call at the theatre.



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