A Process That Works For Me
My “Process” started within my first few hours in Ireland – Joan, Kimberley, and I got lost…somewhere. I was fixated on that material from the word “Go”. I tried outlining my ideas…but I’m not one for outlines, I can’t stand them really. I hate doing outlines in both creative work and academic/research based work. They drive me nuts. Sometimes my stories or papers start in the middle, with what I have right in my head, and then things begin to unfold as to where it’s going and where it started.
I started with a basic idea – two friends get lost in Ireland, and end up in some sort of conflict because of religion. We met with Tony Kennedy and Martin Lynch both before and during the play writing stages, and those conversations helped mold my understanding of The Troubles, and how people in Ireland are today. From those conversations, in my mind, my play was going to be about the differences between two people from two different countries, and how not everyone falls into the stereotypes that have been developed over time.
Although, we did have to provide Terri, Joan, and Kimberley with outlines of our plays, mine was truly bare-bones. It was the idea, not a fleshed out idea. It was “Two pen-pals meet, there is general conflict, there is a major blow up over religion, something funny happens to release that tension, and there is resolution”. <- See…not my strongest area.
The exercise we had to do for blogging one night did help me, though. We had to write a background story for one of our characters. So, I wrote a background story for both of my main characters: Emma McCann and Jessica Williams. It helped me figure out who they were to me, what they were doing in the first place (how did they become pen-pals?), why they were going to have this conflict. With that, I was able to type out some dialogue, both from the impromptu road trip I had the first day and the improv we did in class when workshopping our plays.
I personally feel that I work better at night, and I’m able to unwind, process my notes from the day, have a cup of tea, have a snack, and sit in front of my computer. I try to take myself away from the temptation and lure of the internet – it doesn’t stop me from distracting myself though. When I start typing dialogue, and become blocked, I end up playing a game of solitaire. Or, I distract my fellow playwrights as well – like Victoria. But, I also bounce ideas off of them, and I talk to them and try to take notes about how I speak and how they speak, and how to make my dialogue sound natural (which I still fail at sometimes). After I procrastinate for a little more, I go back to the work and type away until I’m satisfied. Then, I get my list of things to edit in class the next day…and the process repeats itself. I take myself away from the internet, and try to focus solely on the play…but I still need that little bit of distraction so I can come back to my work with fresh eyes.
And, all of that jumbled mess of ideas and dialogue and distraction becomes “All Roads Lead to Belfast”. I’ve made my edits for the night, and I have to say that I am really proud of this piece. The make or break of it came today when we sat with everyone, plus Nessa. I was kind of worried about how Nessa would receive my play because I’m an outsider coming and doing a play about hot button issues/topics in Northern Ireland. She laughed though, and I truly felt a sense of relief. I’m doing something right!