Thursday, April 15, 2010

Does He Play Well with Others?

The longest gestation period for a land mammal is 22 months. That is how long it takes before Mama Elephant finally gets to met little Dumbo. (Little Know Fact #1: It isn’t until the 21st month that a pregnant elephant will say, “Do these ears make me look fat?”) That is in the world of natural sciences. In the world of artistic creation the gestation periods are often much longer.

It was April 17th, 2008 when I typed the first sentence of a stage play. Two years and one week later that play will make its debut on the stage of the Depot Theater in Dodge City, Kansas. (Little Known Fact #2: I also gained weight through this gestation process. It wasn’t from the retention of water but more from the soda pop and junk food which is a required part of a writer’s regimen.)

The actual writing is a lonely pursuit. You sit in a room all by yourself doing the work. In my case this usually consists of short bursts of typing punctuating longer periods of staring at the computer screen, reaching for snacks (see Little Known Fact #2), reaching for the keyboard and then not typing anything having though better of it, allowing myself one quick internet surf to see the score of the ballgame, bringing up iTunes and selecting a different playlist which might very well prove to be just the creative stimulus needed to start writing again and the occasional giggle when I actually think of something I think is funny. Hard to believe it took two whole years to finish the play isn’t it?

I used the word lonely to describe the writing process. That word has a negative connotation which doesn’t fit how I feel about it. I truly like being alone. I like being alone for prolonged periods of time. I spent a great deal of my young adulthood alone. Not in a pathetic lonely guy way or a creepy Ted Kaczynski treatise writing bomb construction way but mostly because there were not a great many people I wanted to spend time with. In the interest of full disclosure there was no line forming at my door of people wanting to spend time with me either.
This is a conundrum I would think many writers face. They like being alone and anonymous but they want their work to be out amongst large numbers of people. I do not want to be famous but I would love the stuff I write to be well known, and I would even hope that it would be admired. There is no pipeline I can tap into to make that happen. I have to engage in interpersonal activity to get what I write beyond the “documents” file of my computer.

The positive side of trying to work in a creative, or some might even say, artistic world is you often deal with people possessing a great generosity of spirit. The play being mounted at the Depot has given me an opportunity to get together a talented, giving, creative and guaranteed not to cause any nasty side effects group of people. The early rehearsals ran beyond the expected end time, not because we weren’t working on our common goal or because there was contention and argument but rather because we found ourselves giggling so much.

As much as I like to work alone when an endeavor so completely dependent upon effective collaboration is populated by people willing to pull their own weight, people who are dedicated to fully employing all their skills, people who value the other people they are working with, and people who can quote Young Frankenstein as easily as they can recite their own address the very oxygen in the room is enriched and all the positive endorphins go screaming through my bloodstream as if they are powered by rocket engines revving up to escape velocity. To put it in simpler terms: It is so cool!

At the end of the run I will return to my cave and hunker down with my computer, root beer and vanilla sandwich cookies to arrange and re-arrange words in hopes of making myself laugh. If I am truly lucky I will be allowed to share those words with others and give them a smile or a giggle and if the creative gods wish to bless me beyond what I deserve I will get another chance to experience a project like this with the caliber of people I am sharing my evenings with right now.