“It’s the sound, the sound, the sound. I dance the sound.” Luigi

On purpose or by accident, there are things we do to the page when writing that are filled with the inner pieces and parts of us, all the subtle nuances of our voice. Learning to trust what is inside is a continual journey as we are always growing and must adjust and bend and stretch to that point that feels right…or not. Sometimes, it just sounds right and is hard to get that sound out of our heads until we get it down on the page. It surfaces like magma on occasion, uncharacteristically us. Do we keep it or discard it? Do we edit it or let it be free? Part of being true to the work, to me, is letting it speak…however, barbaric, refined, agnatic or matrilineal it is. It’s the pieces and parts of things that make the whole so interesting.

Once, while trying to write a play about a woman, the woman refused to speak. She would show up, press her lips together tightly and not say a mumbling word. After a few weeks of this, I tried to trick her by backing into her story. I wanted to find out her secret and why she wasn’t talking. I did her bio, assembled her family, I did their bios, then started writing the backstory. Since the woman wasn’t talking I thought perhaps her grandmother, Mama Lee, would. Mama Lee did speak but only to inform me she was looking at her son, Huron, and that I should look too, if I wanted to know about that sound I was hearing in the background – that chanting… So, I peeped and the sound started coming in louder and clearer…till those first words… It had begun – I was writing a play…Dream Catcher. This play I had never planned to write was teaching me so much about writing… I started settling with that play – settling into my voice. Dream Catcher showed me that as I evolve as a person and writer, how I approach the work also evolves and I don’t have to apologize for the backstory becoming a play. I don’t have to apologize for the subject matter, the characters or the setting. I don’t have to apologize for the spirits. I learned that my tendency to include spirits/memory is not a fluke nor is it a set thing. I learned not to apologize for my style. I learned that not only do I write from the voices that I hear but I write from the sound, the cadence. If Jazz is the cultural cadence then let me dance my dance to its rhythms, to its sounds… Let me have my phrasings and improvisations. Let me birth my pinks and greens and Blues… Let me have my language – my musical conversation – on the page and hopefully, on the stage…

I am still listening for the woman; she shows up every now and then to remind me that she’s gonna tell her story…eventually. In the meantime, I am learning to embrace my whole voice…every wonderful colorful octave…in pitch or not…

1 Comment

  • By clp, April 29, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

    This is really nice. I’m very impressed with your thoughts. thanks for sharing.


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