Tuesday, May 01, 2007

of Interest

Reprinted with permission from the Dramatists Guild E-Newsletter From the Desk of Gary Garrison BLOCKED, BETTER KNOWN AS BRICKED I don’t think this is particularly profound or even necessarily true for everyone, but this whole notion of writer’s block is a simple reaction to too many bricks on the head. Let me explain. Imagine every time someone has injured you about your art, it takes on the weight of a brick on your head. When your girlfriend fell asleep during the reading of your play, a brick landed on your head. When your father asked you when you were going to get a real job and stop playing “writer,” two bricks plopped on your head. When your director didn’t acknowledge you to any of his friends at the end of the evening, another brick was added to the pile. When your husband, wife or partner gave you that disapproving look of “Again?!” as you headed out the door to rehearsal, five bricks piled on top. After so many years in the theatre (or maybe just one really bad week/month/year), you’re carrying around a lot of weight up there. Who can write with that kind of weight on their brain? More importantly, why write at all, you might ask yourself? Why spend the time, energy and exertion of passion if you get nothing back but a heavy weight on your head or one in your soul? Why, indeed? Because you have to – it’s who you are. Because we need to hear your stories – that’s who we are as a culture. We desperately need to hear your stories. We need your guidance, wisdom, advice and even folly. We need to laugh and forget a few miserable things. We need you to write. How then to solve the problem? How can you pull yourself to the typewriter or computer when it just feels so friggin’ harmful sometimes? Well, you might think I’m crazy (and believe me, there’s a long line behind you), but I’m a firm believer in righting an old wrong. My friends can vouch for the two a.m. phone calls from me wherein I start the conversation with, “Do you remember when you saw that play of mine in Detroit, and you never said a word about it? Well, that hurt. It still hurts. And I want you to know, as my friend, I expect better of you.” I know, I know. It takes a lot of strength and courage to do things like that. And people aren’t always responsive to you drudging up an old painful memory. But it’s worth a shot, no? It’s worth resolving, all these years later, the rage and anger you’ve felt for your playwriting teacher who was so unkind and insensitive to you as a struggling, vulnerable artist. It’s worth resolving the sadness you feel about your best friend’s lack of sensitivity to who and what you are, isn’t it? It’s worth your art, isn’t it? It is. By the way, it’s occurred to me that maybe one of you has a call to make – to me. And if one of you calls me to tell me some way I’ve injured you, I’ll listen to you carefully, ask your forgiveness and hope that I never make that mistake again. It’s what we can do for each other. So go on. Try it. Start taking the bricks off your head, one by one. Gary ggarrison at dramatistsguild.com

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