This is going to be a shortie but sweetie in honor of the holiday (i.e. in honor of the fact that I'm hosting Thanksgiving tomorrow and must give long, careful thought to important things like how long I should cook my sweet potatoes. Obviously.).
I've posted before about the value of having good friends, not just for life, but for writing. For me, these are the two people in my life who will listen to me fumble my way through a new idea, offer thoughts and encouragement, help me climb out of a self-induced plot hole, and read the towering pile of over-writing that I like to call a first draft.
The particular tidbit I want to talk about today involves one of these amazing women: my good friend who we'll call the Don (which can be interpreted in many different ways. Take your pick.) The other woman, the New Messiah, has made her debut on this blog already.
I've known the Don for a long, long time. We met our freshman year of college, which (just to age myself here) puts our friendship at the ripe old age of 15 years. Funny enough, we didn't like each other at all when we first met, but that's another story for another time. At this point, the Don is more like my sister than my friend. She was there when I wrote my first play, encouraging and helping and calling me out on my copious amounts of writing-related (and, ok, life-related) crap. She starred in that play, actually. She's read so much of my writing over the years that she could probably pick it out of a line-up while blindfolded. She's also one of those people who needs books like she needs air; she never, ever goes anywhere without one. It's a common sight to meet her at a restaurant and find her engrossed in a book while she waits, glasses perched on her nose, trendy scarf tossed artfully around her shoulders as she pores over the pages. She's also funny, honest, and too damn smart for her own good.
All of this makes her an invaluable critic.
Last week, I met the Don at one of our favorite haunts. Sure enough, she was reading while waiting for me, knee-deep in a book, sipping on a cocktail. We did what we usually do when we meet: we ordered a large amount of smoked and/or salted pork, drank a little too much, caught up on our lives, and probably cried. And, we talked about the idea I'm working on. The Don is familiar with this idea, of course. I've been telling her about it, bit by bit, for months now, and already her input and ideas have been priceless.
That night, I confessed my fears and struggles with writing in the first person, much like I did on this blog not too long ago. She let me go on for a while about my new strain of insanity, patiently listening as I laid out my concerns, and then when I was finished she looked me straight in the eye and said, "Why are you worrying about this? You're a playwright."
I stopped, and blinked, and said, "What does that have to do with anything?"
She gave me her patented eyebrow lift, and answered, "You write monologues." The "dumbass" at the end was, of course, inferred.
Well. DUH, right? I felt both very relieved and very, very stupid. The Don had an excellent point: a monologue is nothing if not a long piece of text written in the first person. How had I not realized this?
It's amazing how much this has eased my mind. Instead of being worried about my ability to pull off a first person POV, I've been imagining that this piece of the book is really just one really really long monologue. And that's not even unheard of, for a play: Tony Kushner has done it brilliantly (readers of this blog will already know that he's one of my writing heroes, but seriously, if you've never read or seen Homebody/Kabul, go grab a copy and read the first act. It's a phenomenal, inspiring, daring piece of writing.)
So that's what I'm doing: I'm writing a monologue. This, I know how to do. This is fun. This can even be easy. With one simple sentence, the Don was able to ease my fears, make me feel dumb, and change my perspective. Not bad for one night's work. I'll take it - and her - with a great deal of gratitude.
(As a postscript/side note... did I say this was going to be short??? Why do I even bother pretending??)
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!