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May. 21st, 2012 | 05:18 pm

Sunshine and palm trees and the smiling hotel valet who has never missed a day in 27 years, profiled for it in the Wall Street Journal. Tampa. My workplace for five days.

Lucky me.

I look over the roomful of eager, hyper, high-school-theatre students. Two hundred downward-facing dogs, sweating in the weak A/C. Four hundred hands clapping. Fifty pictures, fifty hugs, I slowed down, taught less, and it worked. They are relaxed, eyes bright and ready for the next workshop.

My partners are not speaking to each other. The busted rule-breakers are avoiding eye contact with the “tattletale-ing bitch” they (erroneously) believe turned them in. Are you fucking crazy you can’t write this they’ll read it and it’s supposed to be over, we’ve all said sorry like grownups—

I’m done.

No.

My heart is heavy. I’m tired of watching my words, my step, the eggshells in the car for fourteen hours, the thin glass wall on a flight where we can mercifully ignore each other.

I’m done.

No.

It will be a beautiful summer, full of festivals revisited and new festivals, fans and friends, money raining into our hats the best symbol of economic recovery for everyone, it’s coming, it’s coming.

How much longer?


* * *


New play blocking, our first ‘real theatre’ show in a while. We spend forty minutes on a five-minute scene. Turn your head on this word. Raise your hand on that word. I went to theatre school for this? Why don’t you get some marionettes?

The audience loves the show. No money is made, that’s fringe theatre, I knew that on the way in. I’ve already decided the company will eat the show-running costs, that everyone will get at least a stipend. I will take care of you.

At the hotel, I google “creative writing sabbatical replacement” and “guest writer” and “writer-in-residence.” Looks like I need a published book as well as my MFA.

Better get started on that.


* * *


I love my job. I love travel and events and busyness and knowing we can go anywhere—anywhere—and unload the car and take off our sweats and in ten minutes, there will be a show where there was concrete, there will be joy and laughter and flight, beautiful flight, and I can have dessert every night and still fit in spandex. I love Mumbai and Kosovo and Monaco and Alaska. I love that 30-something and 40-something-year-old women look at me and realize, it’s not over. It’s not too late.

And then no-one’s speaking to each other and then we make up and it’s not the same. Is this how my mother feels when her child calls her other child ‘disgusting’, is this how her heart hurts when my little brother leaves the Easter dinner table, leaves the house, taking his wife with him?

Is it too late?


* * *


“Put me up on your feet?” my partner asks, and I know she means, “I love you,” or “I want to love you.” I rock her while she stretches her back, I rub her neck the way my hairdresser does. I love you. I want to love you.

I pay attention. I try to remember all my blocking, not just the parts I like. I remember that I invested her with “director” and all that that means, and I owe her and the company—my company—loyalty.

The mistake is when I call her from backstage for another curtain call. She hisses “I fucking hate long bows” and I say, “They’re still clapping, honor it,” as lightly as I can.

It’s not about us.


* * *


Paper towels make me weep. Not being able to find the raspberries makes me weep. Getting into the car makes me weep. I sit in the driveway for an hour, unable to turn the key.

Write this.

No, it’s too personal.

Write this. Then you can turn it into a noble resignation speech from the writing contest and people would still admire you and you’d never have to know if you’re a loser.

No.

Oh, sure, now you have conviction.


* * *

Another day. Another show. We’re lying on our bellies on a dirty metal grate, reaching our hands through to clip the carabiners that hold our lives, stepping through a maze of wires and the gaps to the stage floor five stories below. I sing to my partner—

‘Hey there’s days when we’re sixty feet up and the grid is filthy
But it ain’t coal mining
No it ain’t coal mining…’

For once we are not in a panic, the show is smaller than usual and has one movable rigging point instead of three, in addition to the four fixed points. I test every point I rig, going up myself before anyone else is allowed on. There can be no more horrible feeling in the world than having someone die from your rigging. I mutter names, Desi Espana, Keri Shryock, Lillian Leitzel. Husbands, boyfriends, friends spending the rest of their lives with the responsibility of the three-second fall and the short sharp shock.

The audience loves the show.

When it’s good, it’s very very good…

It is so light, when everyone is in love, with each other, with the show. When I’m the rigger and the director instead of the mommy. Why can’t I have this all the time?

Maybe if you worked harder.


* * *

How much longer do I have to be the boss? How much longer until my wonderful life becomes the life I can’t leave? Until it becomes something that happened to me?

I want to write.

I want to write.

Good luck with that. How are you planning on paying the mortgage?

I want to write all the time.

You can’t even get to the gym unless a show’s opening. If you quit this job you’ll be fat in a week.

I want to write before I forget what it’s like, before my life is too far away.

So how come it takes you a year to write a play? How come your book is in draft seven and you haven’t queried?

I could do it if I really tried.

Then how come you haven’t?

Because there’s no-one to make me. And that’s the step. That’s why I’m here. Write every week, no matter what you’re feeling. New piece, whether you’re inspired or not. Whether you have time or not.

How can you do that alone?

I don’t know yet.

But I’m going to.






whipchick has the second-greatest job in the world.

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Comments {42}

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similiesslip

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from: similiesslip
date: May. 21st, 2012 09:55 pm (UTC)
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I hope you get to write full time. The traveling and working with others so long sounds very stressful. But I do think every job, including writing, has its own stress.

I want you to get to live your dream though. Obviously, you work hard and can become the best in whatever you set your mind too.

I also read into this that the contest is stressful. It is, isn't it? I always thought going this far would feel easier (I've never gotten this far before) but actually it gets more and more stressful.

I really think you could win this year though. Historically, it is always won by someone who is playing for the first time and you always get a lot of votes.

::hugs:: You sound stressed on lots of fronts. You can do this. I can tell that you are very strong.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: May. 26th, 2012 01:40 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the support, I really appreciate it! The sad part is, I do well with the writing I finish - I've done a few plays for the high school market, and they sell - but it's hard for me to actually sit down and finish another one! So yeah, going to make more time for writing :)

I agree with you - this contest is so stressful! Usually in a good way, but man, is the pressure ever on now.

On the up side, after venting all this, I feel waaaay better, and had a great meeting with my business coach about getting into gear as a writer. So it's a net positive - and being in Idol has really helped me discover how much time there is for me to write, if I make it happen.

Thank you so much (hug back)!

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medleymisty

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from: medleymisty
date: May. 21st, 2012 10:28 pm (UTC)
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*hugs*

Everything changes and passes away and becomes something else.

What I've found, in my writing - once you find the story or the character or the world or all three or whatever that you LOVE, and I mean LOVE - you'll have all the motivation you need. I fell in love with Seth and his world, and although there's been ups and downs and health problems and friendship dramas and dealing with inner demons - when everything is good and true and right and Seth is with me and I'm writing, I would pull down mountains if I had to, to write that man.

You will find your story. You have your voice. You have talent and skill. You have a full and varied life history to draw from. You'll find it.

Edited at 2012-05-21 10:28 pm (UTC)

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: May. 26th, 2012 01:41 am (UTC)
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This is so inspirational - thank you! and I'm really learning from being in Idol to MAKE TIME to write :)

Thanks, and I'm loving getting to know Seth!

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Raoul Duke

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from: drjeff
date: May. 21st, 2012 11:21 pm (UTC)
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I love this so much. And I feel it, so much.

“They’re still clapping, honor it,” - If that's not a reason to go on living, nothing is.

<3

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: May. 26th, 2012 01:41 am (UTC)
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Thanks :) Boy, does it ever feel lame to say, "I am so high-achieving and that is so HARD WAH WAH" - right?


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m_malcontent

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from: m_malcontent
date: May. 22nd, 2012 05:55 am (UTC)
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I can feel the longing here. Hoping you can make it work. Perhaps as a renaissance woman you will get to do a bit of it all!

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: May. 26th, 2012 01:42 am (UTC)
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Thanks :) I sat down with my business coach and had a great meeting the day after this posted, and I feel like the horizon is in sight!

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Jemima Pauler

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from: jem0000000
date: May. 22nd, 2012 07:05 am (UTC)
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*hugs* I think you can write professionally. You're definitely good enough, and you seem to have a lot of drive.

It might be easier on the budget to do both at once, though. It's entirely possible to be good and still not be able to support yourself doing it; if nothing else, there's a limit to how many books can be published in a time frame without swamping the market.

Mind, I have no idea how you'll find the time. But at least you're getting a lot of experience at finding that time now?

I think it's normal to see mostly the stressful parts when the stress levels hit the roof, and mostly the good when it's mostly good. It's hard, sometimes, to remember that the big picture is more balanced. :/

I like the way this is written, with the inner voice and your voice sorta responding to each other. ;)

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: May. 26th, 2012 01:43 am (UTC)
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Thanks :) The really silly part is, I have a few books out there (plays) that generate enough income to be my retirement plan - it's just MAKING TIME to write more. And you're so right - this contest is teaching me how to MAKE time.

Glad you liked the structure! It's not my strongest piece craft-wise, but boy did I ever need to get it off my chest :)

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Rattsu

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from: rattsu
date: May. 22nd, 2012 08:42 am (UTC)
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I am in love with this one, the structure, the snippets. It's like watching a video in text, single scenes mixing into a seamless whole.

And hey, it takes a year to write a play, but that draft seven? No excuse :). Either it will work or it won't. One day everybody has to be ready to be turned down.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: May. 26th, 2012 01:47 am (UTC)
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You know what it is? It's that the book I've finished is a memoir with dirty bits, and I have shelved it until I'm done working as a guest artist in high schools. I think I may take it out again this summer and send it around, but it's a tough call - it will likely kill my career in schools. So I'm gonna work on the YA novel next :)

Thanks, glad you liked the structure! Not my strongest piece, but I needed to get the crap out of my system. As much as I hate "Writing as THERAPEEEEEEE" :)

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Lose 10 Pounds of Ugly Fat...  Cut Off Your Head.

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from: n3m3sis42
date: May. 22nd, 2012 10:50 am (UTC)
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I think I see what you've been talking about with the pyrotechnics. To me, it's easy to see you keep talking about how amazing your life is because you get to do crazy things most of us don't. Seeing you want to give that all up is unexpected. On the other hand, I get it, as much as someone with a boringly standard life can. :)

I hope you get what you want.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: May. 26th, 2012 01:48 am (UTC)
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Thanks :) And yeah, the unexpected can be hugely pyrotechnic!

Thanks for the good wishes, too :)

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One Phil to Rule Them All

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from: dslartoo
date: May. 22nd, 2012 05:19 pm (UTC)
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If it helps any, you are the *only* writer in this competition who I believe has such a distinctive voice that I could pick your stuff out if someone took every single entry in a week, scrambled them, and then removed the names and attributions. You have the talent, and you have the drive as well. I hope you get whatever else you need to make that dream a reality. God knows I'm trying.

And, even though I'm sounding like a broken record for saying it yet again -- damn, you've worked some interesting jobs. These little glimpses into a world I'll never see are fascinating stuff. :)

cheers,
Phil

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: May. 26th, 2012 01:50 am (UTC)
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Wow, thanks - that is a fantastic compliment! And I've been working hard on voice, so I'm glad that shows for you.

I had a great meeting with my business coach the day after this posted, and I feel like I have a good plan for moving forward - probably a two- or three-year transition, but I sent off the writing website designs two days ago and am making a list of literary mags to submit to, so full speed ahead!

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lawchicky

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from: lawchicky
date: May. 22nd, 2012 06:56 pm (UTC)
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This may be my favorite piece from you all season. I hope you find a way to make everything work. <3

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: May. 23rd, 2012 01:49 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! I had a fantastic meeting with my business coach yesterday morning, and I do think that gradually switching to more writing over the next three years is do-able! It was an overwhelming spring, and I'm ready to make some changes :)

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A Karmic Sandbox

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from: karmasoup
date: May. 22nd, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
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I can relate to your resolve, to your motivation and to your devotion because of it. I joined for the same reason, even though doing so was a bit painful after I left two years ago. Whenever you gather more than two people together, there's always going to be drama. I found it here. I've managed to mostly avoid it in this space this time around, but you'll find it everywhere. You know that, obviously.

Baby steps if you have to, but you seem like the sort who understands balance, and can solve this riddle. And, in the meantime, a job you love is of course, better than one you hate, or just barely tolerate. You don't seem the sort who fades away, and I suspect you won't.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: May. 26th, 2012 01:50 am (UTC)
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Thanks, and yeah, you get it :) I'm just so ready to not be drama-filled...on the other hand, it makes for things to write about!

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Myrna

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from: myrna_bird
date: May. 22nd, 2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
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We all have self doubt at one time or another. There was just a dite of your vulnerability showing here then you're right back on the case like the pro you are. Persevere. You are a champion!

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: May. 26th, 2012 01:51 am (UTC)
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Thank you! I'm compiling a list of places to submit to when I'm out of Idol and have time again, so full speed ahead!

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basric

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from: basric
date: May. 22nd, 2012 11:41 pm (UTC)
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They way you write, putting your heart into it, I'd by your draft to read not even knowing the genre. You write your pain for all to feel and your desire. Beyond well done.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: May. 26th, 2012 01:51 am (UTC)
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Thanks, Barbara - I so appreciate it! You're such a strong person, and your support and encouragement mean a lot.

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The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors

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from: halfshellvenus
date: May. 23rd, 2012 05:43 am (UTC)
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is this how her heart hurts when my little brother leaves the Easter dinner table, leaves the house, taking his wife with him?
I would hate having that dynamic surface from time-to-time, and to always be feeling as if I were the one who had to shepherd it and fix it (though I might anyway, to end the discomfort).

You are a marvelous writer, and your work for this round has been so strong-- so consistently strong. The one thing I can say about books/writers-in-residence/etc. is that the disjointedness of your paying profession (and other joy) makes logistical follow-through very hard, especially if you're the one doing all the pushing and no-one is 'pulling.'

So don't feel bad if you're not making headway sooner. It's what I would expect, given how the rest of your time is spent. I'm already amazed you turn in such great entries every week!

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: May. 26th, 2012 01:53 am (UTC)
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Thanks - I always love reading your feedback as well as your work! I just applied to a writing retreat for the winter, and sent off designs for a writing website, and I'm making a list of places to submit work from Idol when it's done and I can polish and send out. Step by step, bird by bird :)

And I really, really appreciate the kind words - I admire your work, so it means a lot to hear that you think mine is strong, too.

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(Deleted comment)

whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: May. 23rd, 2012 01:47 pm (UTC)
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Thanks - I'm in a good place this week, it really helped to get all this off my chest :) I'm glad I'm not the only one!

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jacq22

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from: jacq22
date: May. 23rd, 2012 10:51 am (UTC)
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Honesty, truth and pain. Isn't that what life is? you write so I hold my breath when I read it, you make me feel the pain about the Easter meal, perhaps because it echoes a Christmas I would like to forget. Your work, your committment is so honourable. Making the fellow performer take tht bow...

Please just keep writing. Do whatever else to encourage the other women too. I am 72 and still feel passionately, and would like to be in your shoes, with your talent, and as you gaze at the future, and worry about it, and you wonder can you do it? YES YOU CAN.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: May. 27th, 2012 01:45 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! It was a dark week :) After getting this off my chest, though, I feel so much better - sometimes you just have to take the doubts out and look at them. I really appreciate your support!

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