Thursday, December 27, 2012


There's been radio silence for a bit because I'm still thunking my head against various applications. Here's the breakdown:

- School 1: submitted about forty minutes before the deadline, with much handwaving and blather about how terrible I felt the play was.  Their website and submission guidelines are kind of terse and made me all nervous.
- School 2: oh god want to go here so bad.  Submitted with eyes closed.
- School 3: would also be completely awesome; I probably have no chance but all my interaction with them was very sweet.  Submitted.
- School 4: think I can get in here, and that it would be pretty cool.  Have a few days left before the deadline.  Keep rewriting parts of Statement of Purpose.  They don't appear to be any better.
- School 5: prestige out the ass.  Few days left.  Have terrible drafts of various parts of the application.
- School 6: due same day as School 5.  Super expensive.  Have maybe one terrible draft.
- School 7: If you aren't improving fast enough for them, they spank you and ask you to leave.  At least according to the brochure.  A couple of weeks out.  No terrible drafts done yet.

If you're thinking "hm, I bet this post is a sad little excuse for not working on applications," that is not what is happening at all and you are very rude.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The perfectionism problem

I've heard a couple of things recently about how working artists have to learn to accept that they will make things that aren't perfect.  Mary Robinette Kowal, a sf/f author who has also worked in puppet theatre for a long time, said on the Writing Excuses podcast that as a young puppeteer she was taught to shoot for 100%, but to be happy with 80.  Dan Wells (another writer on the podcast) also said that writers need to be okay with writing a bad book -- there will always be another.

It's tough for me to give up on perfection, especially with Home Before Dark, which is very personal and emotionally challenging -- much more so than my previous plays.  I have a lot to say with this play, much of which I have never said before.  When writing and editing, I've definitely felt that I need to get it right, and if I don't, everything will be wrong.  As with many ridiculous beliefs, that feeling contains a speck of truth smothered in layers of bullshit.

My writing is pretty spare (at least in plays; I know I can get blathery here).  If a character says more than ten or twelve words at once, it's usually a very bad sign.  As I mentioned here, I admire Kazuo Ishiguro's minimalism, and I like it when characters refuse to talk about what's wrong.  The problem with writing like that (at least for me) is that subtext is fucking hard, and when it's not laid in correctly, a scene can end up worthless.  So construction is a delicate process, and I've got a lot of learning ahead of me, so it doesn't always work.  And then my brain goes IF ANY OF IT IS WRONG THEN ALL OF IT IS A FAILURE.

Which is, uh, complete nonsense, but man is it hard to remember.

I'm confronting this problem right now because of grad school applications and the immutability of their deadlines.  I know the play's not perfect, but I'm submitting it anyway, and while that's good for me, it feels kind of sticky and gross.  The thing I have to concentrate on is that if I could write a perfect play, then I wouldn't need grad school.  So shut up, brain.

In unrelated news, today the cat got into a pocket in my bag, retrieved a piece of pita bread wrapped in a napkin, and took several delicate bites out of it before we noticed.  Because she is a wang.