The Sky is What Color?

So, it’s like this with writing. You can’t find your way through to a new piece unless you work at it. But you can’t make it work until it’s ready. Which means that you spend a lot of time wandering around glassy-eyed, stumbling into posts, getting honked at by cars, or unnerving people on the bus who think you’re staring at them, while all the time, the editor in your head runs images, snippets of dialogue, soundtracks, in an unending, meaningless collage. And you generally are kind of a dick to be around because you only care about this chaotic state you’re in, and you assume everyone else is as crazy as you are.

Then suddenly, usually without warning, you lay your limp, weary pen once more against your rumpled, exhausted notebook, and–BAM!–you’re off. And you’re like, uh…what the hell is going on? What’s going on is you’re writing, and suddenly life seems simpler. And more sunny.

Which is to say that I’ve been living with the pre-writing bends for almost a year on a particular project, and this weekend it jumped up and danced for me and got all weird. And now I’m hanging on and going…wherever we go. Which is a lot better than drifting through life with “No Surprises” playing on an endless, interior loop and generally feeling just a little more miserable than Thom Yorke.

The really perverse part? Every single, goddamn time, you have to get to a point where you forget this is how it works; so that when you actually pass into the writing state, you kick yourself for forgetting, knowing full well that, when it’s over, you’ll just go and forget again.

Want to be a writer? Nothing says glamour like a 1,000-yard stare.

No surprises. Heh.

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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