June 29, 2010 by jamesessj
I’m no good at this. More than a month separated my last two posts, and now nearly five months have passed since my previous post…five more months that join the long list of periods of my life I’d rather just forget. I stopped blogging in late December for reasons I won’t go into, and posted the one update in early February because I was excited and enthused about pursuing the making a film of my own.
Five months later, nothing’s come of it. It remains a dream of mine, and I have no doubt that if I ever find financial success of any sort, it’s a dream I’ll pursue, but for now I’m concentrating on work that will sell. Which is, of course, what I’ve been doing for about twenty-five years now, with results that speak (or bellow) for themselves.
But I do continue to believe that I’ve crossed some Rubicon of writing maturity: I’ve grown up, and am producing works I consider to be not just decent, but worthy. Worthy of the talent I’m convinced, however wrong-headedly, I possess — works that rank as the best I’ve ever done and, while no writer ever wants to stop pushing him- or herself to do even better, works that are about as good as I can get, at this stage of my life and (I’ll go ahead and call it this) career.
As evidence: yesterday I walked down the hill to Berkeley proper and took a seat, as has become my weird custom, in McDonald’s. I brought out my notebook and pen and began plotting Ismene, a play I’ve had in mind for more than twenty years, and about which I’ve written here before. I have always known the themes I wanted to explore, and the characters I wanted to feature, but what I haven’t had — and what most plays this side of Samuel Beckett require — is a story. I had written, many years ago, a page or two of what I wanted to be the first scene, so, using these as a starting point, I began to think about what Ismene’s tale might be…and lo and behold, within about an hour I had a three-act play plotted out.
In broad strokes, granted, but you always want to leave yourself a little wriggle room, a few discoveries to make as you actually write…and it’s also possible that once I start writing the play itself, the play itself will head off in some completely unexpected direction. But the point is, it’s moments like yesterday that make me believe I’m not entirely fooling myself about having some talent for this stuff…about continuing to believe…when you are, as I’ve also said here before, your only real cheerleader, those moments are purest gold, to be mined, smelted, shaped, and worn on your finger like a trophy of war.
A battle won; tomorrow there’ll be another, and another after that, but cherish these victories, large and small. Cling to them. They sustain.