Saturday, April 17, 2010

'Dreaming in Black and White'

I was looking at how long its been since I posted, and it has been awhile. The week of my last post was a 'whirlwind' week, and it hasn't seemed to stop until just today. Of course, what goes up, must come down to reality. Actually, the last week in Austin was pretty tough. I had to leave a routine that I had grown accustomed to, leave friends that I had made, I had to pack, and then drive across Texas, New Mexico, and half way across Arizona to Phoenix. After a couple of days in Phoenix, I rented a car (truck needed a rest) and drove to Los Angeles for four days. And then, back to Phoenix. It’s a lot to go through, even though I've grown accustomed to traveling. I really love Texas, and liked the progress I was making there. Of course, I like Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and Boulder, too. Texas, though, I'm the most comfortable living for long periods of time, we seem to suit each other. I'll most certainly return. Being here in Phoenix always carries its own kind of baggage with me, although I think I'm starting to get through the worst of it. I don't think it’s the city, I think it's just me in the city. After being in several places the last two years, it has given me some perspective on its limitations.

While in LA, I may have told you that I met with the producer/actor that was doing a part of my play, 'Under the Desert', and also the person who also introduced me to a film director who liked my writing, and my script, 'Blackout Blues' particularly. There is a very real possibility that this movie will get made, but I don't want to talk to much about it, mostly because although I'm optimistic, one never knows for sure in this business. All kinds of variables have to occur for this to happen, but I'll just say it looks really good for this to happen. I've learned, however, not to quell my enthusiasm, rather I try to keep it to myself. What is a sure thing is often not, and someone's word, is well, just a positive affirmation. I've had plenty of seemingly exciting news that turned out to be as empty as a bucket full of wind.

For example, I found out this winter that my musical, 'Dreaming in Color' would not be published with Anchorage Press as I had hoped it would. All indications from the publisher made it seem to me as routine, I even went back to Louisville and met with her. In the end, the play turned out to be 'to edgy' for them to publish. I really believed in that play and still do. It was the first high school musical I've ever seen that played two hours and fifteen minutes without 'cookie questions'. This is my theory (the cookie question) that anytime and audience member begins to think while watching a play, "I wonder what kind of cookies they are serving at intermission…" then you have failed as a writer. The collective brain of the audience is so important to keep in your own mind when you are writing. I really have never gone to a high school musical before without getting very sleepy or wandering off in my mind. My observation of watching the audiences in this play were as strong as I've ever seen them, however, it doesn't mean it's publishable. It doesn't mean that someone reading it off the page will come to the same conclusion. It doesn't mean that your perception of 'real high school musical' is the correct one. Although I believe the publisher is very wrong in her perception of the play, it doesn't mean that I can change that perception. I had the good fortune of developing that play with some very talented high school students, but I think that what they relate to and find as authentic is so often lost on adults. 'Dreaming in Color' was not an easy play for adults to wrap their minds around, but it was so accurate with those students. I suppose this is the section where I finally voice my disappointment at not getting the play 'out there'. For now, (imagine this) it sits in a crate in perfectly formulated condition, finished. And of course, it has conversations with many other plays in the crate, and they are constantly working on their strategies for escape. As the writer and creator, you move on.

Its now been almost three months since I've performed 'Bohemian Cowboy'. I would like to say that I miss it, however, it was good to put it down. I did it fifty times, and had more than enough 'on stage therapy'. I can't tell what it did to me or for me, I only know that it to will probably go the way of the crate, and although the script and record of the show will always be contained in its pages, its possible that it will never come out of the crate again. It's possibly that it will be an artistic record of some kind, but the sooner I let it go, the sooner I can focus on what the 'next thing' will be. Perhaps a few songs. Perhaps another play. Or maybe I'll go back to the memoir this summer and get that done. There is always more writing to do. Sometimes, however, it’s the thought of 'starting over' that's hard. Because that is what you do. Although you take what you learned from the previous work with you, you start again, with an empty page, or a partial of something you wrote years ago. You don’t' know how you will survive the 'development' stage, how you will eat while you create that time. Enthusiasm will take you through the first part of it, but what takes you through the rest of it? Often, it is the notion that what you are currently writing will be the masterpiece, or better said, the definitive piece of your life's work. I think the gift of the writer is not so often the natural gift of working with words, rather, it’s the ability to find motivation where others fail to find it. I make no apology for believing in delusion of grandeur, although it may be a form of escape, it is a wonderful place to be while it is there. Then there is the hope, or the faith that somehow what you are working on will move someone, or make them think a little differently, or so often, you hope it will have the power to 'change you'.

In the next several days, I will finish my business here in Phoenix, pack up and head back to Boulder. The spring transition. On the up side, Baby will get to return to her birth place and the first part of her life. On the upside, I'll get to see family and renew relationships with old friends, and of course, make new ones. On the downside, it will be a continuing struggle to survive, an attempt at fixing things that need fixing both temporal and spiritual, and another venture into the unknown. I return a little beaten but not defeated, a little poorer but not destitute, a little older but a little wiser. Bring on the challenge…

5 comments:

Gerry said...

Glad to see your posting. Seems like a good summing up of the place you are now. I, too, am disappointed that Anchorage decided not to go with 'Dreaming in Color' but that doesn't mean that it wasn't a musical that will live in memory. It will which means it had a great life. I thought it was a big challenge for the theater kids at Metro Arts and they more than came through. They will not forget that musical or the strong parts they got to play. But no sense wasting time. Your blog readers have been waiting for you to return I am very sure. They need the stimulation. I believe the workers will always benefit when it comes to the arts, and you are working hard.

kanyonlandking-annk.blogspot.com said...

I enjoyed this blog very much as it is factual, down to earth, and puts you where you are at the moment. There is still much to be done and each one sparks in a different way. Lay something down that is finished and you can pick it up again. The work is done.
I will always remember Dreaming in Color. I'm glad I was there for that. So it lingers with me among all my memories of high school kids. I think it will be created again because it was created partly by the kids. Keep the faith...we are all moving forward.

Cheryl said...

Good to hear from you again. I hope you aren't too committed to putting Bohemian Cowboy back in the crate, I've already had a request for a show in Escalante and we still need to do at least a weekend in St. George. I think we can make a little money with it around the state. Looking forward to your return.

vooman's voice said...

I think DREAMING IN COLOR will find it's self on a big, big stage someday or a movie. I saw it at the same time Shampoo came out and I thought it had more to it.

Chuckh said...

With the popularity of Glee and High School Musical, seems this may be your next screenplay project or TV Treatment. Yes?