Friday, December 20, 2013

Idle and Useless Thoughts, work, play, friends, lovers, parenting, not parenting, poker, golf, weather, alcohol, dancing, writing, and more...

These were the promised topics on Monday.  I covered dancing on Tuesday.  Didn't write yesterday. That seems to leave a lot of uncovered ground. So it's Friday and I'm pondering the world once again from the comfort of my living room.  The cat is fed.  Coffee is brewed.  I have nowhere to go for a couple of days.  I'm feeling pretty peaceful this morning after a week of oddness and angsty moments.  It's much easier to generate writing during those moments of angst, but that's nothing new...crazy writers!  On days of peace it feels to me like everything in the world is obvious and known and that there is nothing at all to comment on or explore.  Except whether to pour that second cup of coffee. If I stick with just one I'll probably be better off, but the coffee pot is calling me with its siren song of warmth and flavor.

On Wednesday I met with John Miller-Stephany at The Guthrie to talk about the potential for my doing my MFA internship at The Guthrie during the summer of 2015.  Mostly it was just a chance to get myself on the list of folks that might participate in that way.  It was a pleasant conversation and so we'll see what might come of it.  They announce their season in the Spring and so the follow up won't happen until sometime in June or July.  What was most remarkable about the meeting is that his primary concern was that the candidate that would fit in the best would be someone who is skilled at keeping their mouth shut and being a fly on the wall.  While I am pushy and vocal when I wish to be, I think I would enjoy being a fly on the wall for a Guthrie production.  Here's hoping...

Meanwhile, one of the hoped for outcomes of this new phase in life is that I have actually been writing.  As much as I enjoy writing, I rarely took the time for it prior to this.  The demands of parenting, doing a dependable full time job, pursuing theatre, or just being neck-deep in some project or other kept me sufficiently busy that I would rarely take the time to collect my thoughts and put them in writing.  Even now it takes a fair amount of clear space before I launch into it.  During the Fall Semester, I didn't make a single entry here in the blog, partially because I was busier with school, which had it's own writing component, but also just because it would appear that writing requires most of my available mental energy.  Typically, I need to settle in and vegetate for a good while before I finally open a document and start dumping things out.  Any distraction at all can keep me away from it.

I have always described this in the past as a function of my lack of discipline.  That is certainly true, but it's not the whole truth.  The whole truth includes a growing realization that, for me, writing requires an allotment of mental energy that precludes immediate engagement with the kinds of projects I have always found myself immersed in.  The whole truth also seems to include the interesting fact that when I do not have those distractions in front of me, eventually I start to write.

This blog, of course, is a part of that process.  I restarted the blog in the summer of 2012 because I wanted to make an effort to capture this moment in a way that I will remember.  I have an atrocious memory.  Truly atrocious.  I understand that people with attachment issues have very limited memories of childhood due to their muted emotional responses to their environment.  And then, of course, there is a lifetime of enjoying alcohol, as well as a short period enjoying other mood altering substances, that probably killed a fair number of synapses that might help with long term memory.  Anyway, I can't remember shit.  So if I really want to remember something, I need to write it down.  To my surprise, in the eighteen months since I started this blog I have scribbled about 70,000 words describing my experiences and thoughts in this transition.  It's a lot of words for me to have actually taken the time to capture.  So I pulled that first set of ideas out of the blog and am now working on editing them with an eye toward creating a kind of unified whole.  I'm calling it Second Order Change.  For now.  It's fun to go back and see what I did and thought.  Of course, much of it is like this entry, just my own useless description of what I'm doing with myself, so it has little broader interest to it.  Still, a little editing here, a little excavation there.

On another writing front, one of my classes this Fall was Theatre Research, which was essentially a class dedicated to writing research papers.  The papers had to be very narrowly written to explore a particular element of theatre primarily in terms of the scholarship that preceded the paper and the possible academic hole that said scholarship might have created.  It was a challenge for me as the writing needed to be largely free of rhetorical device and focused entirely clear and direct exposition of demonstrable expert opinion (other's opinion, that is).  The instructor, Dr. Hamilton, who is a brilliant thinker and engaging instructor, describes my writing as Rococo, which was not the goal.  I worked hard to make the final paper more clear and direct, but sadly, I was informed that it was the least disciplined of the offerings that I made to the gods of theatre research.  Still, that last paper was on an educational topic that I am quite interested in, so I am working to revise it and submit it to a journal. It may be too Rococo to get accepted, but I guess I don't care.

And on another front, one of the fixtures of college theatre life about which I was ignorant is the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.  This event, which takes place within a number of regional festivals followed by a national festival later in the year, is much like the International Thespian Festival that I have described earlier, except that it is for college students rather than secondary students.  Many of my peers at Minnesota State are attending the event and I was very interested in doing so as well.  Unfortunately, since my first major directing project had not yet begun, there was no natural category in which I might quality to participate.  Not wanting to be left behind, I discovered that one of the categories is Criticism.  Perfect.  I have opinions.  I wrote a review of one of our shows, submitted it to the powers that be at KCACTF and, lo and behold, I am in.  I'll spend the week of the festival taking a workshop on writing critical reviews and also review several shows for the weeklong event blog.  Should be fun.

All of which sifts together in my brain and I start to find myself describing myself as a "writer".  It's an easy title to take on as its not particularly easy to confirm.  Claiming to be a successful writer would, of course, mean that something got published.  But just being a writer requires no such validation.  Anyone can be a writer.  So, there you are, now I find that I am a writer.  The real question is, for how long and how often?

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