Why I write

by Jennifer Bobiwash

Writing is usually a solitary event and sometimes I forget about the rest of the world.  This week I was reminded of why, after terrible procrastination, I write.  I left my cave of solitude, to be surrounded by creative people breathing life into the characters and stories of playwrights.   A show closing, Inner Circle Theatre’s “The Doll” by Miro Gavran, and a show opening, Native Voices at the Autry’s “Off the Rails” by Randy Reinholz.  As the show starts, I sit in the back of the theater listening as the audiences laugh or “ooo’d and ahh’d”.  After the show, I watch as people discuss the show they’ve just seen.  It is Sunday night and I am reflecting on why I need to continue writing.

After a successful reading of my first solo show, “There is no I in NDN“, I was done.  My story finally written and performed, I could put it to bed.  But then I was asked to perform it.  I said yes, without a second thought.  It wasn’t until I was polishing up the piece, that fear once again began to set in.  As an actor you take the words in front of you and give them life.  But as the playwright, I know where these words come from.   They may not be the full version of the story, but as I write, the whims and fancy that fill my characters lives may have some truth to them.  And this frightens me.   How will it be received?  Will people get “it”?  Will they get me?

I say all this as I am trying to complete a second half to my solo show.  To delve further into the mind of an off-reservation Indian and her continued struggle with identity.     I am bringing back a character that I had to cut from part one.  His name is Pooley.  When I first began writing his voice, he was to be my bad guy, spouting all the ugly, negative things that are wrong with the world.  But then as he spoke to my main character, I found the truth in his story, their shared story and all the ugly things I imagined him saying melted away.    He sits on his well worn stool at the end of the bar, his back to wall, his eyes on the door.  As he sips his tall glass of whiskey, he narrates tales of the life he left behind.  The dark pinched leather door creaks open, and as sunlight pours in, the regulars at the bar shield their eyes.  Pooley jokes with the bartender he knows all too well.  This is his home now.

It’s not a traditional story, there are no headdresses and ceremonies.  He could be anyone, he just happens to be native.  Working with Native Voices, I am reassured of why the story is important.   The lack of stories that speak to an entire population, inspires me to continue.

So, I write.

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