What a year. What a beginning to 2021...I hope you're safe, healthy and pressing on with all the sanity you can muster. All my best to you and yours right now.
With all the losses and challenges, I'm fortunate that I can look back on some highlights from 2020. Amidst everything, good things happened. Here are a few from my end.
I was about to list some of my losses, but looking back, most of these were related to travel, lost work and household income (aided by grants received), exciting projects put off and important personal events pushed back (like a wedding). I'm extremely fortunate to be healthy, that my family and partner are well and safe, to have a job and a home. I didn't lose close friends or family this year to illness (though it came close) or the violence that came to so many across this country and globe. I'm incredibly privileged, lucky and grateful.
Because most of my 2020/2021 goals were made less possible in COVID times, with hopeful optimism (and perhaps naïve delusion) I'm bringing a couple of them back for 2021 and 2022:
3 Big Goals for the Next Two Years:
I'm falling in love with my process again, the less I try to fill every minute.
I time travel when I read the past.
I see into my then skin, compare it with now.
I learn about where my brain was and where it is.
I've learned that the practice of writing takes time. A long time.
That having patience and cultivating love
for the act of writing is the thing that leads to authentic depth
and realization of voice that can't be forced.
I've learned there is deep value in waiting.
There is no one way to tell a story, to structure a play.
The act of writing daily helps me know how to move my hand
through a story, an idea, a play or a thought
much more than if I wait between projects.
I've learned I have something to say.
I am an adventure.
I work hard.
I can miss things, skip things and the world carries on.
I can fail in big and small ways, that's how I learn.
For me, writing is not about seeking expertise but discovery, opening, humanity.
Vulnerability is the gateway to connection.
Everyone has a creative voice to unlock.
Listening is a difficult art that requires great patience
and ability to resist interrupting, speaking, offering advice.
I've learned that I love to use giant weather-based catastrophes in my work,
often representing some big world or personal event.
I've learned that the personal is political.
That my tendency to assume factors about people and situations
is a habit that I must continue to break.
That as a white person I have extreme advantage that is unfair,
but I can use that agency to open up space for the targeted.
I've learned that we can make something beautiful together through art,
and that I love collaborations even though they are difficult.
I've learned that writing is hard and I will always do it.
I can work in a way that I guide the process and the process guides me.
My work helps me stay grounded.
Writing teaches me how to live, how to listen, how to be.
I take time with it. There is no rush.
My work goes against values I dispute --
commercialism, capitalism, unchecked patriotism.
It challenges me.
I can continue all my life and there will always be more to learn.
There isn't a wrong but I will never get it exactly right.
Not about right and wrong.
Writing teaches me what I think.
Shows me what I know.
Brings out memories that don't surface otherwise.
My work gets braver and more specific.
Is beginning to reach more globally, into dangerous territory.
Is starting to connect with audiences and collaborators in authentic ways.
Becoming more about--
That knocked me off guard. That unsettled me. That spoke to me directly.
My work doesn't define me but is a primal factor in who I am.
Me as writer, as playwright, as artist, ingrained into my DNA.
I no longer have to prove --
hey look at me
I write I'm a writer not just prop master or stage hand or sick person,
not that there's anything wrong with that.
But this ink is the air I breathe.
Getting more confident with my experiments, more courageous and bold.
Coming into my true voice that resonates with the young writer me,
what I tried to be/make/sound like.
I still feel very young. Like I know nothing.
But I know something.
And I learn more every day.
Art shows me the world I want to see, reveals how I want to live.
The process of making art teaches me to live better.
Putting creations into the world helps me express
what's going on inside me, in my life, what I observe in this world, my beliefs
when I find it impossible to do so face to face.
By sharing the work I make, I can make myself vulnerable
in a way that opens me up to connect with others through empathy,
and them to each other.
When I see art that inspires me, I am reminded of our condition,
our world, the irrevocable sense of beauty and truth in each moment.
That still apply today...
March 23, 2016
Panic does not accelerate productivity.
Slowing down helps me see with more attention and sustained focus.
There is great creative power in waiting and in doing nothing.
Wandering opens up as many ideas as spaciousness.
Taking a long time on a project can help me go big with it.
I can still pump out material, generate new work and experiment
with several improvised pieces a day.
The process is becoming about the long haul.
How I sustain, how I balance out the creative, the professional, the personal.
We handle grief in innumerable ways.
The ways I handle grief over time changes.
Opening up, taking down walls and allowing for vulnerability
makes way for connection.
It's uncomfortable to be vulnerable.
The discomfort zone is where learning happens, where magic happens.
I can only sit for so long without upsetting my body and brain
for the rest of the day.
I need to move and find new positions for myself
in order to engage holistic learning, teaching and making.
I am a total maniac.
I know how to make massive quantity, how to write a lot and create a ton,
and that is an exquisite practice to have under my belt,
but now my challenge is learning to do less
and in that way do better.
I have a mountain of experience under me
and when I don't recognize that,
I stand tiptoe on top of that peak,
unbalanced, about to fall to bottom.
I am privileged in many ways. Marginalized in a few.
I can walk into a room recognizing the areas
in which I am privileged
and use those to help lift up
the marginalized in the room.
Instead of listening for contention or to interrupt,
listen for understanding.
Pay attention to a room --
Does someone need to step forward?
Does someone need to step back?
Reflection is as important as planning and acting.
When questions drive the work,
the work creates more questions.
We can explore deeper to make those questions better all the time.
At the roots of everyone's work are a few core questions.
Finding out what drives us means asking
what enrages, inspires, makes us curious, brings us joy, makes us laugh
and then tapping into those answers.
Generating material is only the first part --
then comes reworking, redrafting, feedback, queering, showing, rewiring...
All the parts that play with the work take the longest.
That final 5 percent it takes to finish a work really does take 95 percent of the time.
A play that taps into shared perversity is more compelling
than one that investigates psychological motivations.
Asking where am I? each moment
can bring deeper awareness and presence
and is an easy way to slip back into a conscious mind frame
when the spinning option steals my breath.
Finding ONE thing, one focus at every given moment
leads to greater groundedness in the work.
I know what I'm doing.
I'm on the path to creating a lifelong process that works well for me.
Great art has roots and reach.
At first I thought I wouldn't share these this year, but now before we get too far into 2020, here are some of my highlights from 2019. It's good to look back.
Here are my three big goals for 2020 and 2021:
3 Big Goals for the Next Two Years:
2020 is my year of finding presence, rather than worrying over the future or running reels of the past through my brain. That's my intention, anyway...we'll see how it goes :)
New Project Survey
My amazing sister Kate Kraay and I are collaborating for the first time on a theatrical project. Well -- besides the times we performed renditions of fairy tales with our brother for our parents when we were growing up. I remember playing Gretel opposite my brother's Hansel when I was six, with Kate graciously taking on the witch's role...
Now we're a little older, devising a new play/performance/thing together and could use your help as we begin. We'll be exploring the effects of stress on the body, women's bodies in particular, in comparison with the effects of stress on our planet, stress caused by humans in particular. Your insights through the survey questions below will be most helpful in giving us more direction, context and research.
You are welcome to take this survey whoever and wherever you are. Though we are most interested in responses from individuals who identify as womenx, non-binary, transgender or gender non-conforming, if you are a human who has lived in this world, we appreciate your answers. And if you know someone who may have a lot to say about these questions, do consider sharing it with them. Thank you!
Learn more/respond below, save the form for later on a new page or share it using this link (https://forms.gle/8qw4ReXwR6vnYywA9). Thank you so much for your time and insights! If you have questions, feel free to reach out through my contact page.
Heidi and Kate
As I find myself at a pausing point in the play I'm working on after this glorious summer of writing, developing, researching, exploring and rewriting rewriting rewriting, I think back to my last solo-written full-length play How to Hide Your Monster and what I was thinking about around this time in 2015. At the end of that summer, I similarly found myself unsure of my next steps, knowing I'd gotten as far as I could go before getting outside feedback.
I think about crystalizing my voice.
I think about cracking the earth, opening it with care.
I think about the job of an actor.
How much it teaches me as a writer
to watch what a person can do onstage,
fully present in each moment.
I fall down watching.
Writing used to be what I did to get the desperation out.
I had to put my story into words.
Now the next step: getting that story out to the world.
I've done it step by step,
getting the fiction out in pieces through plays, stories, essays and poems.
Now with this play I'm trying to get up the courage
to speak with more specificity and openness
about who I am and where I've been in person, onstage,
outside the veil of fiction.
Fiction can tell the truth in magical ways.
More powerful is its ability to get me to accept where I've been
and to name it out loud.
To learn from my mistakes and to see my failures.
Enduring humiliation and failure is important for everyone.
What we do with that is important.
If we didn't accept our failures and successes, we wouldn't learn.
Terrible mistakes get made and they should be acknowledged.
There is a big difference between "I failed" and "I am a failure."
Celebrate those failures.
Those are my teachers.
They are for me.
Successes are for the audience.
I watch my breath, my frame.
I think worldwide of
people hungry in the mud
faces in cages
families capsizing in escape.
When I was young,
hearing my first tragic events,
my response was massive guilt and shame.
I had it okay while lives cracked apart across the world,
in my neighborhood.
And then I hurt myself.
And got addicted to hurting myself.
Now, here, globally, in this country,
cruelty happens daily.
I am healthy. I have enough. More than enough.
I want to help.
Instead of saying,
they suffer so I must suffer,
I want to say
I am at peace, how can they be at peace?
Instead of my limbs paralyzed,
instead of acting against myself,
I can reach out and take care of me
and thereby reach out stronger.
I don't have a lot.
I have enough.
I can be here for you.
I can sit in the same room as you.
I can listen to your story.
Open up the world for you.
Help you tell your story.
Get people to listen. Or try.
Bring communities together. Try.
I sometimes feel so young.
I doubled my gray hair the last ten weeks.
Still breathe, still be.
Open. Continue to open.
I wrote myself out of abuse,
out of disorder,
out of homelessness,
out of numbness.
in every moment
because we say so.
We create meaning
That's where I find beauty, elegance.
Simplicity is my way to wholeness.
I am already whole.
I feel my back pulse.
neurons can rewire
brain chemistry can shift
said I was hardwired
to need antipsychotics forever,
that I would never be stable not really.
I learn daily my neurons' plasticity.
All thanks to repetition.
Yes I get tempted to work longer
to stay deeper in screens
but that doesn't help me.
I'm learning to stop sooner.
take time to breathe
a ringing bell
resist the urge to control
hear the music of stillness
I'm captured by cremated energy.
keep it small
your day will thank you
I know you're addicted
will thank you
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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: