Sometimes I’ll get to an early stage of developing a project and I’ll stop.
It’s not writer’s block, or a gap in character, story and/or background knowledge. You likely already know that at Fortress Mamea, writer’s block is never an issue, the characters write themselves, story is always a cakewalk, and I never let ignorance and incuriosity get in the way of a first draft.
I used to think it was a crisis of confidence — What the hell am I doing, thinking I can write? — but what it really is is a crisis of permission: Who the hell gave me the permission to write about [SOMETHING POTENTIALLY FAINTLY/REMOTELY CONTROVERSIAL]?
With Kingswood, a love play to my friends and our misspent youth, the question of permissions were sidestepped by accident: the acts of writing and development (and rushing to meet deadlines) meant that actual-event-inspired truths quickly gave way to more dramatically efficient emotional truths. At this point in time, I would have no hesitation in comping my friends to a production.
As for Still Life With Chickens, basing it on my mother’s adventures with poultry gave rise to concerns about my excavation of Mamea family history. I don’t actually recall a crisis of permission. And when I wrote the first dozen or so pages in a blur of creativity and read them back, I found I’d repeated what I’d done with Kingswood at some subconscious level: dramatic emotional truth trumped the source material.
Those are terrible examples, aren’t they? I was rescued by circumstance and dumb (creative) luck, respectively.
So. There’s another project I’ve added to my development slate: it’s an all-female four-hander period piece.
Who the hell do I think I am to write four female characters?
I don’t know but I’m not going to let that stop me.
Postscript: In looking up earlier thoughts on writing female characters, I found something I posted a few years back. Sometimes, I just surprise myself.