The heartbeat of an onion

The play I’m working on has turned out to be an onion of a piece. Except that the layers seem, at first glance, to have very little to do with each other.

It started with some Keith Johnston-inspired automatic writing (long story).

Under that layer, something ridiculously epic, galactically so.

Get through that one, and find a man called Bob and his dilemma (a really good one).

Under Bob lay his alter egos.

And under them, I think, is the real play.

I was writing through the filter of some hard-core personal bumpf, hence this accidental process. It’s only called any kind of “process” because I didn’t throw the first thing in the bin, but kept going. Again and again.

But I think it’s proving to be a good way forwards. Using my dissatisfaction as part of the process instead of despairing or telling myself I’m rubbish has been really productive and let me play with some unusual ways of working (and unusual ideas, too). I’m loving it.

I’ve also been using a method I fell into with the 4Screenwriting rewrite: detach the scenes from one another. At this early draft 1 stage, where you just need to get the block of stone out there (for chiselling later), it means that no scene owes anything to any other. Get a collection of meaningful scenes, or shit ones, and then review.  Keep going, see what comes out – resist the urge to get it right.

It does mean now that – with a decent number of pages – I’ve got to do a jigsaw puzzle and think about some craft. I’m putting bits to one side, making interesting connections, rubbing out others. I’m finding that it isn’t what I’d thought it would be – but I can hear its independent heartbeat.  It’s turning out to be – at this stage – a play that looks at my lifelong obsessions; it’s got me all over it, without me planning it that way.

Now, please, Muse, help me turn this into the Exciting Thing it looks like it could be….


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