Saturday, April 26, 2008

Second Draft Reworked

This weekend has been the slow and painful process of going through the latest draft and fixing things. One of the big notes I'd had, and that I'd been unable to implement, was that John sounded like a girl. (Not a good thing.)

So, this weekend I enlisted my lovely husband and got him to read the play with me. We stopped at each line of John's that sounded strange and talked about what the line was there for and then Peter reworded it the way he thought he'd say it. It was laborious but worthwhile - John no longer sounds like a girl. He sounds like an Aussie bloke - ie: exactly like Peter!

I noticed, working on this with Peter, that I often felt defensive when he said I'd got things wrong.

'Hmmm,' says Pete, and pauses. then, 'how about this? Blah, blah, blah.'
'Just read what I've written first,' says me - through gritted teeth.
'But I reckon -'
'Read what's there!'
'But -'
'I can change it later - but try it as it is first.'

Then he'd read what was on the page and there'd be a moment's silence.
'Yeah. You're right. it sucks.' Finally I'd be listening.

So it's been an interesting weekend! Lucky that my marriage is strong and that Peter is endlessly patient.

John's lines aren't the only thing I've changed. I've also changed the ending and fiddled with little bits inbetween. I hope it makes the play stronger - at this stage I can't really tell.

I'll leave it for a week before reading it again. I need that time to see it clearly. otherwise I go into overwhelm and all I can see is the flaws.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Second Draft Printed

I finished the rewriting today. It made me late for a meeting with my writing group, but I was on a roll and couldn't stop.

Saying I've finished the rewriting is a bit misleading. Here's what's happening.

I had the workshops with the actors and the directors and the dramaturg and all the various feedback about 10 days ago. I came away from the workshops with 13 pages of notes - and feeling as if my brain was about to explode. I read all the notes and thought about them and then started rewriting. Today I finished this particular rewrite - ie I reached the end of the play.

My intention now is to let it sit for a couple of days and then read it again. And then read the 13 pages of notes again and see if there's anything important that I've missed. Then I'll go back and rewrite.

People sometimes think that rewriting is easy. You've got the words all in place and all you're doing is shuffling or editing. I wish it was so easy. What I find is that when I change something in scene one, it ripples throughout the play and by the time I reach scene six, the effects are seismic.

The next draft is due at QTC on 22 May so I have a few weeks to get it in order.

It's still feeling good and I'm still enjoying being with these characters and in this world. Which means that rewriting isn't a chore or a bore - it's a bit like undressing someone and finding surprises under the layers of clothes. The more that I work at the play, and the more that I write, the more is revealed.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Just a quick post to let you know that I saw the most amazing piece of theatre last night. Hoods by Angela Betzien is on at the Powerhouse and is mindblowing.

I see a lot of theatre and also review it, and this play is extraordinary. The script, the actors, the direction, the lights and sound ... everything is perfect and raw and stunning.

I wanted to weep when I got home. I have such a long way to go to ever achieve something like this. It's like reading a great novel and then re-reading your attempt at a first draft.

If you're in Brisbane or can get to Brisbane in the next week, try and see this show.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Of an evening

Evenings are normally the worst time for writing for me. I'm a morning person and, come sunset, I start to fade ... rapidly. But this play and this process have enough energy and excitement in them to keep me coming back and trying this night time writing thing.

My children are reading in bed, my husband's at work, the cat is lying stretched out on the bed next to me and all is calm. I've been re-reading the new draft of the first act, which I finished on the weekend. There are things I'd forgotten that I'd written, forgotten that I'd thought. They surprise me. In a good way.

I think I'm in the honeymoon phase. I love this world of the play, I love the characters - even when they terrify me, I love the writing of it.

Which is probably why I've been neglecting this blog. Writing time is precious and it's devoted to the play.

The thing I've learnt this week is that writing can be an escape from the world. I always used reading as an escape. When life was too hard or too cruel, I'd escape in a book and lose myself for as long as it took to read from start to finish, and then for the hours or days of reflection afterwards. I didn't know that writing could also afford that sort of escape.

On a personal level, the last week has been unbelievably awful. Many, many tears have been shed. I didn't think I'd be able to write at all. But, when it came down to it, I found that, within three minutes of sitting down with my laptop, I was transported. All the hurt disappeared as this other world materialised. I was lost inside a story and inside other characters for as long as I could spend writing.

What a great discovery! I used to have a terror of being stranded somewhere without books. It's still a ghastly thought and is one of many reasons that I can't understand why anyone would ever want to be on Big Brother! What a relief to know that without a book there can still be flight. This time on the wings of a pen, or a keyboard, or a stick in the sand.

Anyway, it's time to kiss the children good night and step into that other world now.

Good night.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

First Workshop


A day and a half in a room with 8 other people, reading and talking about my play. Wow. And those 8 people were all theatre professionals. Double Wow.

This has been an overwhelming, brain-liquefying (is there such a word and did I spell it right?), AMAZING experience.

I feel so very lucky to be in this position and am raring to start the next draft.

It's hard to come back down to earth and to my real job. I could keep flying for a lot longer.