brittni in ink

a writer's blog

post-show

I took some time off from writing. A play I wrote was onstage almost a month ago, and I thought a break would do me well. It’s draining and wonderful and humbling to be a part of any theatre production, and this one was no exception.

The play is called Runaway, and was about a family adapting to the dad’s increasing memory loss. The script wasn’t perfect, but it touched a lot of people, which I wasn’t expecting. I mean, I hoped it would turn out well and that people would enjoy it, but I didn’t expect people to cry. I still don’t know how to process the audience’s response. Should I feel bad for bringing up such a heavy topic? Should I feel good about writing something that felt real to people? Should I try to write more in this vein in the future?

As I’ve been thinking about what to write next, I’ve also been thinking about how the words we write can deeply impact the people reading and hearing them, whatever the medium. As writers, what are we saying with our words, how are we illuminating, how are we discussing? How can we support, and love, dig into the dark places and be surprised by what we find there? I just have to keep reminding myself that people are complex, that relationships are complicated, and although love doesn’t always save the day, it does change us.

Restful Reading

I took yesterday off. No writing, no editing. No mental scolding to vacuum or apply for jobs. Just a chill day.

So, I ended up reading, of course! It’s been awhile since I’ve really sat down with a book. And it showed – I finished half a book I started in March, and devoured another.

The first was She Dreamed of Dragons, a charming YA novel by Elizabeth J.M. Walker. I’d been meaning to read the book for a long time, but, as I’m constantly having to read books to prepare for co-hosting a podcast about books, it would constantly get sidelined. And this book is too good for that kind of treatment! If you love Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, and believe that young women should be encouraged to act instead of wait around for the knight in shining armour, you’ll enjoy this book.

The second was Looking for Alaska, one of my favourite novels. It’s also considered YA, but approaches topics like sex, personal and communal grief, and relationships in a way that resonates with older readers as well. It’s also my favourite John Green novel. It’s raw, philosophical, character-driven, and although the rapping is a little stiff, overall it’s a fascinating entry in American Lit.

Now,  the eternal question: what to read next?

 

 

one life

I haven’t written much lately. Our dog passed away last week, and it’s been really difficult to focus on anything where I have to be creative.

At the same time, a loss brings the important things forward. A reminder that time is limited, that lives pass on, that one life changes everything around it in ways that often go unnoticed.

The past week, I’ve been thinking that art is the way we can best remember. That all the excuses I make for not writing are white noise. That I should never use busyness as an excuse to be unkind. That everyday routine means something. That life is full of wonder. That one life is incredibly significant. That’s what I want to write about. That’s what I want to remember. That’s what our dog taught me.

second draft shakes

So I’m part of this playwrighting circle. Usually, we meet at a pub or a coffeeshop, read through a script together and then discuss it. It’s a chill and intelligent group and I enjoy talking theatre with them.

This past meeting, however, was particularly intense for me. I had an edited draft of my play ready and I felt pretty good about where it was at. It wasn’t until we were a page into the script that I noticed I was shaking. Like, trying to hold it in my core bursts of shivering. On some level, it didn’t surprise me, but on another, it was weird. I chalked it up to nerves, and kept going. Although I was relieved to hear that my play didn’t suck, and that the word “beautiful” was even applied to certain aspects of it, I carried the shakes home with me.

“Are you cold?” P. asked as I sat down on the couch with my arms crossed and my legs pulled up. Later, making coffee in the kitchen, he said “Ah, you’ve had a vulnerable day.”

And that was it, exactly. Writing is vulnerable. Sharing something you’ve written can be like telling someone you love them without being sure if they reciprocate. It’s bringing that solitary writing process into a public space and letting people go over every inch of it with flashlights. And for someone who prefers to run sound and lights over being onstage, it’s difficult to be vulnerable.

Yet, it’s necessary. Because without vulnerability, there’s a lack of authenticity. There can’t be deep relationships. Without vulnerability, there’s no story.

three different places

A rare stretch of hours to work on the dreaded NOVEL.

Last night, closed up in my office, only Bowie to keep me company – actually, Blackstar is a excellent writing music.

It was frustrating for the first half an hour – I forgot where I was going with some of the characters, and it’s easy to get bogged down in what’s already on the page. But new ideas compelled me forward, and characters said things and conspiracies were uncovered.

After writing a couple of chapters and reworking some plot points, I emerged (P. and J. even said “she emerges”).

But when I write for that long, it’s hard to get out of it. My brain is still working, I’m drinking tea but not tasting it, I’m smiling but not listening. It’s like I’m in three different places at once. It takes me a while to decide where I am.

trudge

Words are great. But lately, I’ve been keeping my distance.

Opening Google Docs to check up on my novel is like trudging through a bog. Slogging through a marsh. Marching through a quagmire. I get caught up in all the little things. I get stuck in a rut.

But then I read a good poem, or see a post about writing workshops, or experience a very small and compact moment. It whets my wordiness, sharpens my hunger to make something. Not to be afraid to slog through the heavy task of stringing words so they feel light, easy.

I’m hoping the next couple weeks will be full of writing. It takes time to trudge through a manuscript, which I’ve been learning for years. But it will never get written unless I write it. Trudge on.

5/ 100 Rejection Challenge

I had a burst of poetry the other day and wrote a few pieces I liked.

 

I sent three of them to a literary magazine.

 

Now I’m thinking – What was I thinking? A literary magazine, my writing’s not good enough for that! I should have kept those poems under wraps, let them incubate a little, torn them up and pieced them back together before even THINKING about sending them out into the world.

 

But it’s too late. Someone might be reading them and judging them right now.

 

…At the same time, I’m relieved that I sent the submission instead of fretting over it for weeks. Now I can prepare for the rejection and look forward to some feedback (hopefully).

 

I guess that’s what this challenge is all about, though. Not being perfect. Sending work out for the sake of sending it out. So, no regrets! Take life as it comes!  It’s only 5/100. Lots of time to keep working on the craft.