Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Water Solution. Or Various Ways I Find the Heart of the Story.

So I am closing in on the end of a play I am writing. It is the one I am trying to fit in between other things.

(Many many many other things, mind you.)

What this means is that I have to get to know it again after some distance from it. I have to re-enter the world I have created. I have to revisit, in this case, a small town that has just had a tornado rip through it, tearing back the roof tops and walls to reveal the natural disasters of humanity within.

Usually, if I just leap back in, there is something sort of clinical and cold about the dialogue that ensues. Too clever. Too sharp. Too on the nose. I know it right away.

So I do one of two things. I go for a walk or take a bath.

When I used to go out to the beautiful Hope Springs on writing retreats, I would walk the labyrinth in the meadow every day after lunch. It took the entire winding way in to the center to work all the detritus out of my brain ... what the email said, what I said in the email back, what bill do I have to pay, what am I forgetting ... work it out work it out.

On the way out of the labyrinth, whatever novel or play I was working on would start to talk to me. I would run the last few circles to get back to it before I lost it, the new images.

Jack and Ed sit on the roof and re-organize pebbles while they talk. 

Lucy's dad is sitting in the back yard, his hammy hand fixing a sprinkler sort of thing, getting him soaking wet. There is a ratty folding lawn chair and a burnt brown yard.

If I can't walk, I take baths. I let the very-hot water remind me of my own boundaries. I stare at the tile and listen to the water running and then I can see things. It is some sort of sensorial regathering and I suddenly know where I am going.

The scenes unfold to me so clearly.

Two of the Vivian Girls can play their own braids like violins.

The old man and the woman standing in the rubble of what was her home. The doctor is carrying pregnant Meredith. All is lost. And something is found.

So now I am back to it, building toward the siren that says "another storm is coming." And the counter-intuitive move for this messed up family to head into the storm rather than stay safe out of it. And then the rubble. And then, hopefully, a bit of beauty.

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