On the last day of May I received an email telling me a project I was hoping to set up had fallen through. Within twenty minutes of reading that, I received another email: a separate project I thought was on the slow track had been switched to the fast track — so fast track that some colleagues and I are pitching it this Monday in Wellington. (Calm down: I was already headed to my hometoon for a bit of culture.)
I’m sorry I can’t name names at the moment but believe me, you’ll be among the first to read it here. In the meantime:
Besides this website, my online presence includes Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I could be on innumerable other platforms out there but time and aptitude preclude me from being every(virtual)where. It’s the aptitude more than time.
Facebook in particular is a seductive timesuck. I don’t mind seeing what family, friends and acquaintances are up to. It’s the cat videos and trailers for upcoming movies that are the problem. And then I get a timely and ungentle reminder of why clicking on video links suck big time:
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of a workshop on the latest play (its presentation was warmly received, thank you), and since then I’ve had a debrief with the principals, I’ve made a couple of pages of notes on what I could do next, and … done nothing else.
It’s partly planned and partly laziness. The laziness needs no explanation.
The planned part is the result of a workshop I had once upon a time. At that workshop, the script was scrutinised by all involved, and opportunities for improvement were sighted and noted. In the month that followed, I made sweeping changes that rode the post-workshop wave of excitement and possibilities.
Some time later when that draft was presented, I was stunned at how easily and quickly I had sold out. At the time of the workshop and in the discussions afterward it had all made so much sense: this and that were all that were wanting — once I had addressed those concerns, the adulation would naturally follow.
It was a harsh lesson: I had drunk the workshop kool-aid — I had believed what had felt really good in the moment of that workshop, believed that where I’d been heading up to that point was a fool’s errand, and endless exciting possibilities and opportunities beckoned if only I could relax a little. I had ignored my instincts to tell the story in a way that felt right to me.
So this month I’ve been cutting wood, pulling weeds, visiting friends, and writing other things. Whatever is still hanging around in my head come June, that will be worth holding onto for the next draft.
Last Friday was pizza night (yes, we still have a pizza night), and I was chopping onions when Bobby Brown’s Every Little Step came on through my headphones.
I was happily chopping and singing — including each and every whoop and holler — when I realised half-way through that I knew every goddamned word of that song and it must’ve been at least twenty years since I last heard (and danced) to it.
The moral of this post? Some things can not be un-remembered.
Bonus moral? Don’t bust any dance moves whilst holding a kitchen knife.
Still Life With Chickens was going to be a co-writing venture with my Lovely Wife. She came up with the title and the concept, and I suspect she envisioned a situation where she would roam the study reeling off dialogue and scenes while I sat dutifully at the keyboard and typed everything in.
Because I love my wife dearly and I value our marriage, I worked on the play in secret for two years, and presented the script to her — crediting her appropriately, of course — as a fait accompli.
I acknowledge my fellow longlistees, in particular Maraea Rakuraku for kindly accepting this award on my behalf.
Thanks to Creative New Zealand for its support in getting the first draft to the finish line.
Thanks to Playmarket: Murray, Salesi, Kirsty, Allison — and before Allison, Stuart Hoar — for their tireless work in developing, supporting and hustling for New Zealand playwrights.
Thank you to the Adam aiga for these awards.
And thank you to my Lovely Wife who believes in me more than I do.
[French explorer de Bougainville marvelled at the skill of the Samoan sailors who knew] how to use the sun and stars as a guide and how to take advantage of prevailing winds. Furthermore, they seemed to have a wonderful sense of direction that would tell them the right direction of travel no matter what strange surroundings they were in. And, like a bird of migration, the Samoan sailors unerringly returned to the island from which they had set out.
And I flashed on this early exchange:
WELLINGTON -- 2008
Our PET WRITER and his GODDESS seek directions from the writer’s AWESOME SISTER.
We just want to find the nearest supermarket.
Easy-peasy: you take the first left and you’ll see a KFC on the corner. Drive past it for three blocks until you see a McDonalds, take a right before the golden arches, and you can’t miss it.
... I have no idea what you just said.
It’s okay, I got it.
(off writer and his sister)
... It’s an island thing, isn’t it?
Pet Writer and Awesome Sister try not to smile patronisingly at her.