I’ve recently been in a drafting frenzy of productivity with my writing. It’s fantastic, but it got me thinking on my walk home from the subway about the difference between the way plays strike me.
Most of the time the ideas are small. They are just a few characters. One situation. One place. These short sketches beg for a scene to be jotted down. Immediately. Or they float away, scattered like the seeds of a dandelion being blown into the wind. Seeds for someone else . . . maybe.
Other ideas present themselves as a concept. A bigger construct that comes with some basic characters or players in the action. A moment of conflict at the very least. I usually have to scale my brain back from creating large worlds with many sets and elaborate choreography of exits, entrances, and a large cast. These appear, I jot them down, too, but they don’t always turn into any concrete scenes. Sometimes it takes years for inspiration to strike.
When it does strike, that’s when the two ideas sometimes combine. They create a fire that writes a scene almost before I can transfer it to paper or my laptop’s memory. It usually centers around an image, a crux moment. The moment before it all topples over and the status quo changes. Or the moment that begins the action I’ve been keeping back for months or years, searching my subconscious for the right catalyst.
It’s not always so clear. I write so many little scenes these days, I don’t know what to do with them and which ones to pursue. I am thankful that Toronto has given me new people, new cultures, new subway rides in which to gather into my brain and hopefully churn back through my playwright’s imagination. It’s all part of the process, now that I’ve committed myself to this vocation, this passion for playwriting. I’ll just keep writing, reading, and attending as many performances as possible until the next phase of my career reveals itself and I take those next hidden steps forward.