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Friendship and Playwriting

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Mar. 9th, 2001 | 12:40 am
mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
music: Songs for a New World - Opening- The New World

They go together. But first, we shall separate them.

Friendship. I was talking to a friend and I realized something. I don't usually bother to classify my friends because I feel guilty if I don't include someone in among my best friends. I worry that someone will find out and that they may be hurt. But as I was talking to someone and thinking about things, I realized that my best friends aren't based solely on common interests or common personality traits. My best friends are the people in my life to whom I always have something to say. When I email my mother, for instance, I can't just write "Hi, how are you? I am fine. Life is good." and feel like that email is done. I have to tell her about some little thing that interested me, that sparked my thoughts. I have to tell her about some recent event that made an impact. I can't write impersonal one-sentence notes to her. It feels wrong. And I realized then that the people who are my best friends are the same people to whom I intend to say one sentence but end up talking for half an hour.

I just read the preface to John Guare's Six Degress of Separation. He said the most intelligent things about what it is actually like to write of anyone I have ever read. He spoke of how it is a slow process. Data comes in, it sits, it congeals, and suddenly, one day you're ready to write. And you can't put off that writing because it is in you and it has to be expressed, to be freed into the world at large. Ironically, if you put off that writing, sometimes it will be gone. Writing is about moments.

I never used to believe authors when they would say that a character turned out to be a surprise to them. I didn't believe that you could create characters and let them live their own lives and suddenly you would have a novel on your hands. Or a play. Or a story. In my stories, the characters were always carefully controlled. The plot was laid out before the story ever began. I did not deviate. I did not meander.

Playwriting has changed that. I have a play that is beginning to form and in me are the characters. They are outgrowths of my imagination, yes, but they are more than that. They have pasts, they have histories, they have needs and wants and manners of speaking. Each day I discover more about them. Those who began as stereotypes are much less stereotypes anymore than they were when they were born. And things are starting to make sense. Writing what I hear. Finding what the characters want from each other and in the world. Once I know that, the plot complicates itself without my doing. Throw love in the mix... or sexual desire, either will do and a dash of power or greed and you have a play. With an interesting plot.

Funny it should take me so long to understand that.

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Comments {1}

This thing of Friendship...

from: anonymous
date: Mar. 11th, 2001 09:46 am (UTC)

Hey Liz...Your friendship piece was beautiful....I hope you don't mind I am gonna put it in my inspriational Web Newsletter the WEB-UPLIFTER...I will gladly send you a copy of the page and give you credit for it...write to me at Kejomi@webtv.net if you need to know more....thanks

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