Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 48: My Artist's Date

I finally took myself on an artist's date last night.  I'm sad to admit that I can't remember when the last one was, but proud for getting back to this very important practice.

The Artist's WayWhat's an "artist's date" you ask?  It's one of the two main tenets of Julie Cameron's The Artist's Way (be sure to check out my new Recommended Reading list in the top left corner!).   The idea is to take yourself, once a week, to something that nourishes your creative self: a play, a museum, a concert, a beautiful spot outdoors.  Ms. Cameron insists that this be a solitary exercise - only you and your inner creative self along.  This was an incredibly important practice for me in the weeks and months immediately following my separation.  Having been half of a couple for 17 years, I wasn't in the habit (except when traveling) of going places by myself.  I discovered what a delicious treat this is, and did it pretty regularly for awhile.  Then I got my wonderful boyfriend, and once again found myself not taking the time to do my personal artist's dates.  I already have so little time free to spend with the people I love, it's hard sometimes to remember that *I* am one of those people I love, too.

So last night I took myself to God of Carnage, the 2009 Tony winner for best play.  Jeff Daniels (from the original cast) was back, along with Janet McTeer (love her), Dylan Baker (who plays a fantastic asshole) and Lucy Liu (my crush on her is completely revived -- turns out she transitions incredibly well from film to stage).   Before hand, I took myself out to my favorite pre-theater wine bar, Riposo 46, ate a delicious flatbread pizza with prosciutto, arugula, and parmesan, and drank a couple of lovely glasses of wine (I recommend the Malbec over the Rioja).  Apparently my creative self likes to be wined and dined a little.  I decided she deserves it -- she's been working hard lately.

The play is witty, sharp, fast-paced, intense, hilarious, and extreme.  I say "extreme" because the characters in it go beyond any place you would expect them to go - beyond a place that feels realistic (at least to me).  I don't mean that in a bad way -- good theater does not have to be true-to-life (far from it - take just about any opera).  It's part of what makes great theater -- people doing outrageous things.  In many ways these characters do things that secretly we wish we could let our guard down enough to do.  (For those of you who haven't seen it, I won't give it away.  But go see it!  $32 tickets are available on tdf if you're a member.)

Going to the theater is a different experience now that I'm a writer.  In addition to the audience part of myself who may just be sitting there, enjoying the play, the writer part of myself is analyzing the piece and the writing style, asking why does this work, what makes this great, can I do that?  In this case, the answer is a resounding no -- I could never write that.  I don't necessarily mean I couldn't write anything that good (I don't know the answer to that yet), but I could never write that style.  One of my greatest writing strengths is naturalistic dialogue, and this was not that.  I wish I were more skilled at writing that kind of crisp, sharp wit, with every line feeling like a beautifully sculpted piece of word play.  But I'm not.  At least not yet.

I came away from the evening excited, happy, fulfilled -- and tired after a long day.  I wanted to get my 3600 seconds of writing on my play in, but at 11pm I knew I was too exhausted for any attempt at that to be worthwhile.  After beating myself up over that for a bit, my boyfriend convinced me over the phone to cut myself some slack (after all, it's not like I was just watching tv) and promise to do an hour and a half today instead to help make up for it.  That I can do.
blog comments powered by Disqus