Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 38: Expectations

Is there ever a circumstance in the human existence where our expectations are higher than those we have for our children? I can only imagine, of course, the dreams a parent must have of what their child might come to be and the place it will take in the world, or the pride a parent feels in the person they have helped shape their child to become -- or the disappointment when those expectations are not fulfilled. When that happens, it often isn't so much the child's "failure" to live up to those expectations, but in the expectations themselves.

I had such high expectations for my rewrite of Spirit Dust this weekend. When I finished the rewrite on Saturday night around 1am, I felt pretty confident that I had created a much stronger piece. The next morning, I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't feel the same -- that in the light of the morning I would see all these glaring holes in the piece, all these questions from last week's reading unanswered. But instead, I found myself crying -- truly crying -- at what I had written. Once again, the cook praising their own cooking, but it is how I felt.

I was excited to bring my work to class. As it was read aloud, I still felt it was solid. However, when the discussion began, the comments revealed that there were still many questions raised by the script. Not exactly holes in the plot, but things that they didn't quite believe or understand, that made them stop listening to ask themselves "why"? This is not what you want as a playwright. Things don't have to be true-to-life, exactly, but believable enough so that people don't question and can just really listen.

I was extremely disappointed in my little play. It had not lived up to my expectations. Unfortunately I can't blame the play for not listening to me, or accuse its friends for leading it astray -- only I was responsible. I was left not knowing what to do. I have no time to do a rewrite this week. So do I send an imperfect script out into the world? Try to submit a different piece? Of my three strongest short pieces, each one has a potential weak spot -- so how do I choose?

I do not yet have the confidence in my work to trust my gut on decisions like these. So I turned to my soon-to-be new playwriting teacher, Stuart Spencer (you've seen him before in my blog -- he wrote the book I studied). He had just read two of my works to evaluate if I was at an appropriate level to take his upcoming course, and had enjoyed them (and offered me a spot in his class -- I'm very excited). I asked what he thought I should do, and he recommended that I submit All in the Shuffle. So Frank is back in the game, and maybe, just maybe, will find himself in print by Samuel French.

The best part about this decision is that I can stop working on other things right now and get back to Frank. I have left him in Vivian's kitchen, begging Angie for a ride home after his wife's funeral, for far too long now. I think he's getting annoyed with me.


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