Friday, January 18, 2008

The Writer

There are days when I feel like a writer, and days when I totally don’t. This week is a writers week. When I can feel the stories that need to be told ready to burst. The times when I don’t feel like a writer are just as useful, because I know the seed is growing in the soil. But I get impatient. All the doubts that every artist I know has begin the creep up. The thought that all the art you have done in the past is luck. That you don’t really have talent, you just stumbled into something, and maybe it’s true. I don’t know… I feel like the art I do, I don’t really choose. It chooses me, I’m just following something that I never really have control of. For a long time, I wanted to control it. Those are the times, when nothing happens. When I stare at a blank page and nothing comes for days. When I remember that I can’t control it, I just need to trust it, then the work seems to flow.

Deadlines have been kicking my rump for the last three months. The biggest one as the Public Radio Quest. I won a spot in the top three where I was given $10,000 to create a pilot for Public Radio. Sometime in the near future, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will vote on my program, and decide if it’s something they want to fund. This whole process was huge. A ton of work without my advisor, Taki Telondis and Doug Mitchell of NPR, I would not have gotten through it. In the end Taki and I were working 18 hours a day trying to finish before the deadline. All sorts of calamity befalling us, from death in the family (an uncle and aunt dieing within weeks or each other). My computer crashed, lost everything. Traveling to DC and trying to make the interviews work, and coming home and editing. To just paying the bills while working to put all it together. This was a monumental task, and with a lot of help, we did it.

I never expected to win the Talent Quest contest. I figured I’d do ok, but never dreamed I’d win. When I entered in April, the end of the contest in December seemed so far away. There was no way I could foresee the future. So without thinking about it, I scheduled a gig in Feb. at the Theater Project. A solo show entitled, A Summer in Sanctuary. Here’s the problem. In winning the contest, I really screwed the writing process for the solo show. There was no way I could move the show back, and the contest was in full swing so I did what I could; wrote when I could, planned as much as possible, talked to the director of the piece, all the while knowing that as soon as the contest was over I’d have to kick it into full drive if I was going to be ready for Feb.

So here we are in the middle of full drive. It took me a week or two to get into the groove but finally, I have it. The stories and writing is coming at a good pace. Now it’s all the logistics. Learning a 90 page script in a month, rehearsing with a director 2000 miles away, pulling together the multimedia portion of the show and a bunch of other small details that need to be worked out.

But I’m not worried about any of that today. I’m just glad to be feeling like I’m a writer again.

3 comments:

kelly said...

Hi, Al. I'm Kelly. The first time I saw you perform was years ago, with Malcolm or Nestor Gil, at a workshop for Camp Broadway. I was a visual artist then and still am one to this day, and I know exactly how you feel about self-doubt. There was a period when I lost my belief in myself for months, and even then, I was able to channel that desperate energy into writing. I'm very happy for you, and I hope you continue to do and write great things.

kelly said...

Hi, Al. I'm Kelly. The first time I saw you perform was years ago, with Malcolm or Nestor Gil, at a workshop for Camp Broadway. I was a visual artist then and still am one to this day, and I know exactly how you feel about self-doubt. There was a period when I lost my belief in myself for months, and even then, I was able to channel that desperate energy into writing. I'm very happy for you, and I hope you continue to do and write great things.

Ben Price said...

"There are days when I feel like a writer, and days when I totally don’t. This week is a writers week. When I can feel the stories that need to be told ready to burst. The times when I don’t feel like a writer are just as useful, because I know the seed is growing in the soil. But I get impatient. All the doubts that every artist I know has begin the creep up. The thought that all the art you have done in the past is luck. That you don’t really have talent, you just stumbled into something, and maybe it’s true. I don’t know… I feel like the art I do, I don’t really choose. It chooses me, I’m just following something that I never really have control of. For a long time, I wanted to control it. Those are the times, when nothing happens. When I stare at a blank page and nothing comes for days. When I remember that I can’t control it, I just need to trust it, then the work seems to flow."

As a fellow artist, I totally know how you feel.