The Writer Callus

22 Jul


I miss school.

…Not the institution, you realize…the study that goes with it.

I miss reading and writing endless essays. I miss the notebooks, chicken scratched thoughts scribbled and outlined through a text until it comes out looking like a theatre script, mid-rehearsal. I miss the debates over themes and content. I miss mining all the layers that literature can hold in simple sentences printed on a page.

As an adult, all my reading and study has derived from pleasure, not pressure. I take in the books I know like the back of my hand, because I love them…I’ll occasionally read a light fiction easy-read because it was once recommended. But when I have no class to go to, no paper to write, no actual “reason” to dig into something like a slim novella of poetry and really break down what in the hell they mean…I just don’t. I’ll read it (maybe) and take what I want, what I took at first glance from it, then move along. But there is a loss in doing that…the “study” of writing as an art. Beyond plot.

…I miss that.

And so, I’ve taken the cue from m’next show, as Rita, to put myself through the paces these next two months. Apart from studying the script and character, I’ve a whole load of additional works to consume…pieces, and authors, and works of art which are sited within the script. I’ve charged myself to retrace Rita’s footsteps…to follow her path of discovery, with some of my own.

…It’s been two days at work, filling the down time with googling, and printing, cutting and taping, collecting reading lists and quotations and poems and paintings, and massing them into a black Piccadilly notebook, to be translated and studied later. Every literary reference, every author, every theme listed out in neat lines, a mass of poems printed, and liner notes begun. Of the three hours wherein not so much as a phone call rang through the office today, I secured three monologues (with attending dialogue) into my brain, and wrote themes on twelve poems from Dylan Thomas, William Blake, Henrik Ibsen, Roger McGough, & Oscar Wilde.

…And in the words of Rita herself, “It was FUCKING FANTASTIC!”

My hand written scribbles cover pages and pages, the side of my hand marked with lead from adding side notes to theme ideas, and that callus…my old friend on the rest of my middle finger, has re-dented in supplication from the constant pressure of a pencil.

I am back! That nerd-kid who would spend hours, over-writing by three or more pages, every essay she had ever been charged to write out. The kid who, (because of necessity) was forced to become a pretty decent editor, getting to the meat of the matter, tapping into the veins of a piece or a character…which would become that essential theatre tool I’d carry with me, for ever and ever. That kid who eats up language styles and word choices like its ice cream, who’d rather get lost in languidly profuse imagery, in a specific smell explained in words, in a world entirely fictional yet familiar, than almost anything else.

My brain is hungry as Rita’s, and I’m so thankful to have this extra time, this extended rehearsal period, to really dig in and build her piece by piece, poem by poem, book by book. In case you’d like to knock along with me a bit…here’s today’s list:

* And Death Shall Have No Dominion – Thomas
* The Sick Rose – Blake
* Gone – Ibsen
* You and I – McGough
* Let Me Die A Young Man’s Death – McGough
* Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night – Thomas
* Survivor – McGough
* The Blossom – Blake
* The Clod And The Pebble – Blake
* The Grave Of Shelley – Wilde
* In The Picture Gallery – Ibsen
* The Survivors – Ibsen

…Lots more to come.




2 Responses to “The Writer Callus”

  1. Carolyn Cook July 22, 2014 at 6:41 pm #

    Can’t wait to read along. However, I am rereading Lear tonight for a project of my own (not a production). Anyway, happy reading to you, my friend!

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