Thursday, August 27, 2009

feedback tonight

Tonight my fiction writers' group is meeting to discuss my new middle-grade novel in progress. They're a very generous bunch and have been willing to read the whole thing for this meeting (it's not super long). I feel extremely fortunate to be matched up with such an insightful group of writers and readers who are good at giving useful feedback (I'm not just buttering them before the meting, I swear). For me, being part of a critique group is an essential part of my writing process, whether it's for fiction or playwriting (though they operate very differently).

For my playwrights' group, I rarely get nervous ahead of time, probably because we all bring in work to every meeting, and we bring in shorter segments (10-15 pages) at a time. It doesn't feel like that much is at risk (though sometimes, if I try something way out on the edge, I might worry).

I always get nervous before our fiction group discusses my work, partly because it comes in bigger chunks (this work-in-progress is about 38,000 words), and partly because the work we're discussing is usually the result of months (sometimes many, many months) of labor, and I often wonder if I have any objective perspective left after rewriting fictions over and over again. Internally, I always have a balancing act going on, enjoying the anticipating of sharing work with them that I really like, but also reminding myself to be realistic, that it still needs work, and that I need to make sure I stay open and receptive to comments and the discussion.

For any writer in a critique group, that's the most important challenge--the group can only be useful for you if you're mentally in a state where you're ready to accept and process feedback. That's not to say that every comment received in a feedback session is valid, or even useful. The trick is always to pick out the most important comments from readers, most important for the story, and most useful because they reveal how my unexpected blinds spot have affected the reader.

Friday, August 21, 2009

contract is signed with Madcap Players

It's official--I signed the contract for Madcap Players to produce Constant State of Panic for a three-week run in Washington, DC, in January 2010. They're a fun company, and I've already worked with them on short plays a couple times, and they've done a lot of work by friends of mine. And I'll be going down to DC in early October to spend a weekend workshopping the play, which exactly what I want. I'm pretty psyched.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back home with good news about Constant State of Panic

We just got back from almost two weeks of vacation to visit family and friends in Michigan, Illinois, and Colorado. This is the view I had from Spy Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, the destination of my 10-mile solo hike on a very early morning. At an elevation of 11,000 feet, the wind was howling.

While we were gone, I received two bits of good news about my newest full-length play, Constant State of Panic.

First, it was nominated for the Christopher Brian Wolk award given out by the Abingdon Theatre Company in New York. It's now one of nine finalists--the winner, to be announced in late September, will receive $1,000 and a staged reading.

Second, it looks like Constant State of Panic will have a workshop in October followed by a full production in January with a (smallish) theatre company in Washington, D.C. I'll provide more details once we've finalized everything, but I'm very excited to have a chance to work with these folks again. The script is a very good match with this particular company. And DC is the perfect city for the premiere of this political play about fear.

Though I've had a bunch of productions and publications of short plays, it's been a long time since I've had a full production of a full-length play. I'm actually embarrassed to say how long it's been (shhh. four years.). Part of that is because I was working on two novels during that time, thus it took a while to write this newest play. But the long dry spell chipped away at my confidence. I'm a little young to feel theatrically washed up, and I knew the market has been really, really tight. But still...

Now, who knows, maybe this will lead to a bunch of new open doors. Whether it does or not, I look forward to having a blast working on the play.