Over the past week, I’ve been digging into the musical, which I’m currently calling “The Woman” for purposes of it having a title other than “that musical I’m writing that’s kind of about Irene Adler.” I’ve been listening to a lot of music, trying to get an idea about the world of the play overall. I’ve been creating a lot of lists and maps. I’ve also been doing a lot of walking. Lots and lots of walking, wearing headphones and thinking. I’ve done a lot of thinking, but not a lot of what some would call “writing.” Although, I do consider all of the thinking I’m doing as a necessary part of the writing process, even though I can’t call it “writing.”
I always feel as though I'm waiting for the right time to begin to write. I spend an awful lot of time in my head, thinking, imagining, and constructing before I ever put something onto paper (Digital or actual paper). If I come up with a thought or a flash of a moment, I will jot it down for fear of losing it, but I won’t “write.” When I do finally get something written, it’s because my brain has hit some sort of critical mass and what I’m creating is spurting out almost fully-formed. My brain is cross-referencing all the thoughts I've had, all the planning I've done, all my personal beliefs and experiences, and it's churning something out of the machine. I wait for this moment of critical mass before I write dialogue or stage directions because I don't want to rush into the process only to have to stop at some point just a few steps down the road.
My son is slightly obsessed with Wizard of Oz lately (specifically The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Scottie Young and Eric Shanower from Marvel), so here's an analogy for my process. Writing before my moment of critical mass would be putting myself into Dorothy's shoes (or really the witch's shoes, which Dorothy is wearing...). I'd be leaving on a journey, knowing only that there's a yellow brick road to follow. That’s dangerous. I don’t want to be Dorothy (Side note: Jack has made me Dorothy when he’s pretending to be the Tin Woodsman. Mostly because I was walking our dog, Sadie, at the time. Sadie’s role is Toto, so there you go.)
For me and my process, I’d rather be the person who planned and built the yellow brick road. I know where it goes, I know what's out there, I know what paths it may take. Now, Dorothy, she's the wildcard, she's the character that ends up on the path I've set up. I may not know exactly how Dorothy will react to the things she encounters (hopefully, I mostly do), but I do know where the road leads.
With the The Woman, I'm nearing critical mass. I'm learning more about her as a character, about what I'll be exploring and what the path looks like. I've been listening to a lot of music, mostly Regina Spektor, Anya Marina, and Kate Nash. I didn't think I needed Apple Music, but it has proven helpful for me to find Kate Nash who has inspired several parts of the musical in tone and style for me. On an unrelated note, it's also helped my son become obsessed with Hamilton... If you want to listen to my playlist, you can catch it here.
Keep working, my fellow theatre-makers. And, as always, be excellent to each other.