February 10, 2012

Gestating the writing process

The piece I'm gestating now has taught me that I don't write plays so much as give birth to them. And it frustrates me to no end. I am creatively bloated and sluggish, laden down with the play that's growing inside me, and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it besides feed it and wait. I have nearly no say in what comes out, no input as to when it will happen. I only feel the stirrings in the murky darkness of the metaphorical womb. It frightens me a bit.

It's eerie just how embodied my process is, how closely it parallels the cycles of my body. Most of the stuff I write, fertilized as it is, never takes root and gets ejected from my system like so much menstrual blood. The plays that take hold, the ones that eventually become my children made of words, often have difficult births. There is always pain because I am pushing out a truth I am not big enough to express, threatening to split me in two. With every piece, there is the fear that this is the one that will finally kill me. Yet once I'm in labor, I cannot desist. It must come out, even if I die afterwards.

And when it's over, I hold my baby of paper and pixels. Did I do this? Did this come from me? It can't be. It's wrinkly and slimy and more precious than anything in the world. I clean it off, make it look somewhat more human. I let it feed off my dreams and memories. I watch it grow.

Tulpa, or Anne&Me is a lively toddler now, having taken its first steps last year and progressed to running around. I am amazed by it even as I fear for its future, for the world I brought it into.

Pregnant again, I am waiting for the new piece to take shape, to tell me its name. I had my own ideas, but the play inside me rejected them. I remind myself to let go of trying to control it. Just feed it and wait. I am always hungry, and my cravings are strange.

I envy those with the gift of clarity. What is it like to create something as an act of will? What is it like to choose what comes out of you? To have a say in what and when and how? What is it like?