I write something new. I am alone with it. I look at it at 4 PM and consider it my Best Work Ever. I take a break, and come back to the exact same work at 9 PM and decide that I will never write again!
In this strange vacuum where only I have looked at the new piece, I am looking into a fun house mirror. It is easy to see things in a distorted way because – at least I think this is the reason – nobody but me has weighed in, and perhaps this time I really have written embarrassing drivel.
The first person I show something to is always my life partner, because no matter what, he knows that I am standing and shaking as he reads the material. Waiting for the first hint of what I’ve really created. And I know, that he will find some value in it, because he values me as a writer, and he knows PROCESS is everything, and writing is re-writing.
So I get my first hit of reassurance from him. And I bask in it. Walk around breathing easily. Wow. I am on to a new project and somebody has said it’s amazing. Needs work, but it’s amazing. Wow.
Next I go back to the work and feel the twin pillars of Hope and Despair. Maybe my life partner (Charlie) is just being nice. Maybe I’ve really written a piece of crap and he has no words with which he can express this to me. On to Stage Two.
I have worked for several blissful years with a director/dramaturg who I trust, admire, and yearn to get notes from. I will send it to him now, in the second stage of wanting to know if I should continue writing, or take up another art form!
My collaborator will not hold back on his critique, but he will also not tell me it’s time to get a new pair of tap shoes and try my Time Step instead of writing any more.
What he will do is mirror back to me what he thinks I am trying to accomplish, and how well I am doing that. There is a certain comfort in his notes, even when they feel overwhelming, because I know if I follow his feedback, the play will get better. I know this.
Two weeks ago he read the first fragment of the first draft. He had insightful fascinating ideas for me. He told me I could NOT do some of what I was trying to do. But within that, he said some incredible things about the early work.
I could breathe, I could smile, I ate a lot of French fries and felt that was the right thing to do.
I don’t wish any longer for MY opinion to be the only one that counts. I know that plays are a communicative art form. And I need to know if I am communicating. I do wish that the highs and lows that come from waiting for and receiving other peoples’ comments, were not the height of Mount Everest. Maybe some day.