As I've been cultivating inspiration and creating small, short-term projects in this early summertime zone after finishing my graduate studies, I'm also collecting ingredients, ideas and images for a larger work. More on the nature of this soon, but for now, I wonder if you can help me. Aspects of this play, which I think will be a children's play, are going to deal with the subject of grief.
What I'd like to know from you, is what you know about grief, longing, losing. That's the main thing. What you know about it, especially the biggest thing. One thing you know about grief.
The other thing is, how would you say this one thing you know about grief to a child?
If you're up for helping me with this, you can comment on this post, via direct message or on my Facebook page, on Twitter or by email. You can also message me using any of these platforms for my postal mail address, tell me in person if you see me that way, or over the phone if you have my number.
Thank you for your help.
With much gratitude,
PS: Do you need help thinking up what to say?
Start here. How do you see grief here?
Or this one? What does this show you about longing or losing?
Thanks again for your help. I'm happy to answer questions to help you know what I'll do with your answers. In the big picture way, I'm gathering thoughts like research, but won't publicly share anything you give me -- unless you want me to and it seems right for the project. Mostly I just want to know what you think about loss.
Lately I've been getting into short projects. A 500 word essay for a magazine, an audio poem written for a compilation album, a 10-minute play for a summer festival, a series of micro play ideas, a poetic-narrative-memoir for a new zine...
These small things fill the void where daily/weekly assignments used to be. I start new pieces and finish them, works that will receive audiences shortly after I let them go. This is bringing back the joy of making, showing me the full creative cycle in bite-sized portions.
These tiny projects are helping me see what I'm interested in now, too, what I'm collecting and cultivating through the lens of a wide variety of genres, themes and associations. This is helping motivate me to see farther and deeper into the next big project, whatever that may be, as I wait for that to emerge.
Another thing that's helping is getting back into mailed correspondence. Writing notes to people, a letter or two, communication that reaches out over distance in slow time. These forms aren't efficient. They don't fit well with urgent news.
I don't sit down with an agenda of what to write. The words come from a desire to get down tangible connection. Letters help me remember that big purpose of art for me. Connection is everything to me. And communication is hard for me. That's why I have to work so hard at it. I often have to write in order to know what I think and what I want to say.
Another thing that's been helpful in this cultivation process is getting back into activities the don't seem like active creation, but that help me create. Gardening. Walking. Learning the ukulele. Reading what speaks to me. Learning to follow that flow, I can dig creating like this, in a slow way, discovering over time what my next project wants to be.
In the meantime, these short projects are helping me reflect on what I'm thinking. About the awful Orlando tragedy. About the cringing mass desire to hold onto a right (?) to possess automatic weapons. On my aunt going into hospice, exactly two years after my dad went into hospice. What joy means in the theater. And love. And what grief means. What it means to stand for the oppressed, to speak to the silent, in ways that foster love and creativity. How to see like a child. How to notice like a kitten. How to reflect like I operate with a widening relationship to time, rather than getting as fragmented as the information age wants me to be. And what love really means. Really.
There is always more to work on. As I make a few revisions on my play How to Hide Your Monster and get ready to send that off to development companies, it's good to collect new things. As I'm writing, forming what I'm trying to say overall with my body of work, I can think more specifically about the kinds of things I want to address. About gender. About diversity. About difference, how that gets eradicated. I think about people who've been silenced.
And I keep writing.
There's a phrase often used by Anne Bogart, Barney O'Hanlon and other SITI Company members during Viewpoints workshops: Do more reading than writing.
More reading than writing is an important improvisation tool -- use what's already in the room. It's an important creative tool -- I believe art has less to do with inventing something new than observing, collecting and curiously exploring the world around us, and then feeding back each artist's personal interpretation of that assembled information.
Right now, reading more than writing is an important tool for me as I'm reflecting on these intensive last two years, and absorbing inspiration for new projects.
After graduating from CIIS less than three weeks ago, I've been reading through:
Yes I've been writing too, tackling personal and administrative tasks that have gone on the wayside, teaching a smidgen and working on small projects, but I feel my current job is to keep reading in this strange time between regular school+work and regular work+resuming big projects. In doing so, I'm getting my energy back and my enthusiasm.
Yes, it's an odd feeling not to be constantly moving, either from task to task or place to place, and to be releasing the familiar panic that's become my consistent anatomy since late 2013. The extra space is unsettling. And it's good for me. Like I read in The Oatmeal's recent post, right now, I'm rebuilding me (and my love for art making) by breathing more in than out.
Though this slowing time feels foreign, where I'm still working but on my own schedule, not driven by intensive daily deadlines, I'm asking myself to enjoy it and be in it. In a couple weeks, my schedule will normalize more through teaching Idaho Writing Camps, summer work that I love so much, as I push deeper into new play projects. I'd better let myself really breathe and read while I have the chance.
How about you? How do you breathe in? What are you reading? What phase in the creative process or human process are you in right now (reading, dialogue, writing, sharing, reflecting, all of the above, other)?
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Process notes on a work in progress (me). This mostly contains raw rough content pulled out of practice notebooks. Occasional posts also invite you into the way I work, with intermittent notes on the hows and whys on the whats I make. Less often you may also find prompts and processes I've brought to workshops, as well as surveys that help me gather material for projects. Similar earlier posts from years ago can be found on: