The most challenging part of the Armagh Project was balance. Trying to strike an even amount of experience and writing. I often found myself more willing to go out, take photos, or grab a pint with friends from a random hostel, strangers in the night, and swap stories and ideas, rather than sit in front of a computer and write words. When I write, I want my words to have impact. I don’t want to just write for the sake of saying “I put letters on a page today.” Writing for me is never expected. It’s never mandatory. Writing for me comes more of a detox from my experiences, not sitting in front of a screen and playing “what-if” with my imagination.
The poet Frieda Hughes put it remarkably this morning in an interview at the Marketplace Theater: “Writing is a balance of motion and creativity” (or something along those lines).
I find my best ideas come not from brainstorming in a classroom, but reflecting on my own experiences. Last weekend, in a bout of frustration and boredom, Rachel and I went to the Ulsterbus station and took the first bus that pulled up. Three hours later, we found ourselves in Londonderry. I had been having trouble writing and editing my play, and Rachel claimed to have similar struggles with her poetry. We spent the weekend making friends in our random hostel (The “Independant”) doing what I’ve wanted to do the whole trip- walking around the fort surrounding the city, meeting random people, sharing drinks, stories, background. I got more from a conversation with Joe and Emily, students at the University of Exeter in the UK, about their view of the Troubles than I did watching a movie about it the week before.
Two days later, on the bus back, I wrote another play, my writer’s block shed. Too much sitting still is what shook my brain these past few weeks (and prior to that), but I’ve finally cracked how to beat it.