Friday, November 1, 2019

Monthly Check In - November 2019 - returning, added focus

It's been a long time since I've regularly posted to this blog. And I'm willing to accept that the era of blogs has been replaced by the current wave of podcasts. But I have an itch to start posting again. I'd held back, because I felt that I could only post articles that dealt with the state of the American playwright or writers, overall, and the weight of trying to write such things was too much when surrounded by a busy life.

Now I'm back. Maybe sometimes I'll find something that feels useful overall, but I also wanted to start posting monthly updates on what the writing life is really like, not just promo pieces for whatever I'm working on next (though there will be some of that, too). I will certainly continue to do my annual writing by the numbers post. They become more useful as they add up over time.

One other thing--I'm going to write about another part of my writing life that might not feel like my writing life at all--fixing up houses. The motto of my alma mater is "mens et manus" or "mind and hand" and for me, finding a balance of physical work with my mental work has been very important over the years, whether it's fixing up houses or farming.

This past summer, my wife and I bought a piece of property in Western Massachusetts, in the Florence section of Northampton. It has a Victorian house from the 1870s that we're renting out and sits on a lovely piece of land bordered by the Mill River. Best of all is an old horse/carriage barn right next to the house. It already has two heated studios in it, and a basement with running water and a working toilet (we're adding a furnace later this month so we can have four-season water). The barn ties into some big writing-related dreams for me--I'm hoping to fix up the upper floor of the barn to serve as a rehearsal studio suitable for workshopping new plays. Ultimately, I'd like to be able to bring out actors, writers, and directors from Boston and New York, to mingle with local talent, in order to play around with new scripts.

There's a lot of work that would need to be done before that can happen (and I need to earn some money to pay for it all). I thought it'd be fun to detail some of those projects here along the way.

The basic idea of these monthly check ins is to explore the state of where I'm at in my writing life at this very moment:

Right now, I'm getting a breather after months of being busy producing two series of site-specific plays at Mount Auburn Cemetery (five plays in each series), plus a reading of an eleventh play. I've also had various Dramatists Guild events, plus some travels, a workshop in NYC, plus some challenges in my personal life (my dad died at the end of June), and we bought a house and barn. This morning I had enough time on my schedule to actually spend several hours planning for the rest of 2019 and looking over 2020, and also thinking about my overall goals, plans, and desires for my writing. With the rise of Plays in Place in my life, I've been thinking a lot about what success looks like for me as a writer, and also where I fit into the literary ecosystem, as a playwright, novelist, and screenwriter. Those thoughts will merit a blog post of their own soon, but for today they definitely kept me busy.

For the rest of 2019, I have time to think and read and catch up, and to plan. Which feels like a luxury, but also a necessity. Over these next two months, I hope to make edits and finalize a couple plays that head readings, workshops, and productions this year, but I never got the time to go back and put the last touches on the scripts.

More to come. At the very least, I will be sure to check in at the start of December, and we'll see where I'm at.

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