Why Write

It’s so damned difficult, both doing it well and getting it to the stage. But once a picture appears in the mind and characters speak and become real, there’s such a compulsion to see it become flesh. It’s hard to explain. Productions seldom live up to those images, though once in awhile they transcend it. But the odds are long. What’s that Villon quote Hunter liked? “Life is short, art is long, and success is very far off.” No kidding.

Pause to crank up “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.” Heh.

You have to believe in yourself. Not always easy. Self-doubts come with the job too or else you can’t judge what’s working and what’s not, and that’s tough because you have to fall in love with each play a little bit to get it written, to sustain the process. Love it, measure it, hate it a little. All the while, it’s replaying, replaying, replaying in the mind’s eye/ear, like a video loop. You’re ready to scream if you see it one more time but you can’t look away. Hello, Alex. Ready for a little Ludwig Von? Definitely fucks up your perspective.

When it gets that muddled and you can’t tell what’s working, what’s wishful thinking, what’s inspiration, what’s madness, it’s time to walk away for awhile. Go to the beach, crack open a bottle of Cuervo, slip on the shades, light up, and watch the waves. All goddamn day if necessary. Until the sun goes down and the rain comes, and you sit in the dark, in the rain, listening to the surf, until finally that deep breath lets loose, sometimes tears, sometimes laughter–you are completely nuts, thank you, emotions climbing and crawling and falling on their backs and wiggling their legs like helpless beetles–and you gather up your stuff, and trudge back to the motel, where the open page awaits.

About Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian. View all posts by Steve Patterson

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