The Black Mood and Blue Funk of Post-Deadline
I took the week off from writing. More or less. It began promisingly with a lunch date with A.P. to discuss our projects (his novel, my play) and then took a big nosedive from there. After last week's frantic and frenetic push to meet deadlines (the A-form for my final promotion, a somewhat-workable draft of the play for July's script development lab) I think I needed a solid break.
Not that I can afford to take a break at this point. The graduate class (and script development lab, and conference) begin July 6. I'm going to have to use this weekend, and next week, to get some serious work done.
I guess there are two things that left me needing the break and also just kind of deflated me: one, I turned in my promotion paperwork and instead of feeling elated and happy because it's (supposedly) the last time I'll have to go through this process, I felt deflated and weary. And then I found out that my application was far less substantial (like, it probably weighed 3 lbs less) than a colleague of mine on another campus. I *know* we're not supposed to compare ourselves to others but goddamnit how realistic is that? Most days I think I'm pretty confident and pleased with my work and how I've performed throughout my career, but maybe I'm at the edge of burnout again because I kind of wanted to send an email to the Executive Dean's secretary suggesting she just dump my pages directly into the shredder.
And two, when I met with A.P. we spoke at length about Act One and also about how I see the act working inside the larger three-act play, and A.P. had a really good suggestion for an exercise that might help me work through plot and character development and push me towards actually finishing this fucker. But in the hours that followed our conversation, as I chewed and mulled over what he'd said, I just kind of sank, feeling like I never should have shown anyone this work until it was a complete draft. In, like, you know, the year 2035.
The thing is, I know that feeling is bullshit and I just need to keep going. I know this project should be a play: the idea "arrived" as a play, and I've never been able to envision it any other way. The problem is that I don't fucking know how to write a play. I teach that shit, but it turns out, I don't have a clue how to do it myself. This is compounded by the added challenge of writing in meter, and I get the feeling from A.P. 's feedback that I'm just not good at it. (I don't think he was trying to tell me that directly, but it's the feeling that remains). Despite putting in a solid month or more of real, earnest work and believing I'd made some good, productive changes and meaningful progress, *now* I feel like I've just been treading water all this time. Scribbling. Writing crap.
Additionally, A.'s been dealing with some stuff of his own, work and life problems and frustrations. It's been a tough week overall for our little household.
There was a bright spot: Little Miss Talkalot was recognized at her fifth grade moving-up ceremony with the Principal's Award and a state award for student achievement (service to others, academics, etc.). She won those awards all on her own, for being pure, unadulterated Little Miss Talkalot, full of perpetual sunshine and energy and a willingness to engage the world and make it a better place, and not because of anything A. or I did -- but it was gratifying all the same to realize that we haven't fucked her up or gotten in her way, and that she feels secure and loved enough to help others thrive, too. It was a tiny signal from the universe that, to some degree, we're doing *something* right. And so that helps, I guess.