The same ‘ol song

by Jennifer Bobiwash

After completing my first show, I thought the next one be easy.  But now I collect bits and pieces of different stories I want to tell, never quite finishing a scene, but amassing a variety of stories, each with its own theme.

My one-person show began as my collection of writings grew.  With every new writing class I would take, more pages emerged.  With every writing exercise I would do, my stories sounded the same.  Different names, different situations but the story was the same.  As a first time playwright I did not realize this.  I did not think of it as me working through something.   These were just the stories that came out when I sat down to write.  No conscious thought.  Just writing.

Those were the days.  To just be able to sit down and write.  The freedom of it.  Now I feel this invisible pressure on me.  That each file I save on my computer must be a piece of brilliance, lest it just be taking up space on my hard drive. Everything has to be perfect the first time around.  I’m not sure where this absurdity came from.  But here it lives.  My writing is done in my head before it even, if it even, makes it to the page.  The stories, the dialogue are figments that talk to each other in my head.  I try not to edit and produce the text to no avail.  I’m not sure where this need for a perfect first draft came from.  I, by no means, am a perfectionist.  I make no bones about saying that I have no clue what I am doing and nor do I search the internet on how to write a play (I usually Google the heck out of a topic before I even start).  It did take me quite some time to actually finish that first draft of my show.  But that was more fear than perfection.  Fear of what the audience would say and think.  Would they get it?  Would it be ok to say those things out loud?  To people? Who am I to tell this story?

But now as I move on to part 2 of the show, and anything else I write, I am now haunted with the thought of ownership.  Who can tell these stories? Do I need permission to talk about this?  Who are these people who police the art?

To finish that first play was excruciating.  But the worries I had never came to fruition.  No one voiced, to me anyway, the ugly thoughts I had had in my head.  Listening to what people thought of the play was freeing.  It wasn’t about me, my story was just a window into that audience member and how it related to their life and how it made them think and feel.  In the end that’s all I ever wanted.  Sure it would’ve been nice if they “got” my message, but even more it helps me to keep writing and remember why I started in the first play.

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