#AmWriting . . . or am I? Am I just dinking around with magical hats?

I didn’t include an #AmWriting post last weekend because I was in central Michigan visiting family and didn’t have the [insert whatever] here to do it. I also got wrapped up in obtaining a “volunteer alcohol server” permit, meaning I can serve wine and beer at the South Bend Civic Theater AND our first rehearsal for the two-man play Topdog/Underdog happened this week! I will be the stage manager, a job I haven’t done in, oh, seventeen years. I’ve been really nervous. Like, I was nervous about the first rehearsal that happened yesterday, so I was paralyzed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Things I’m working on, people. I did survive the rehearsal, and had a good time, too.

topdog underdog.jpg
This is our poster!

This week, I met up with the same writing accountabuddy as I did last time, who writes slam and spoken word poetry. We talked about a poem he was working on that would be dedicated to the South Bend Natatorium, which back in the day was segregated into “whites only” and “colored” days. He was preparing the poem to read on Sunday at the 6th anniversary of The Poetry Den, a group that gets together for open mic readings once a month. I’ve never been to a Poetry Den reading because I’m always stuck in a loop of “crap, I waited until Sunday night to lesson plan for Monday.” But, it’s summer! Yay! Anyway, I had some idea for my accountabuddy’s poem, and they ended up in the final product. I felt cooool. *finger snaps*

But what was I writing? Well, I got hyper focused on whether or not one of my characters should have a hat that gets bigger or smaller depending on his mood. He doesn’t acknowledge the hat or seem to realize it’s on his head. The hat classifies as magical realism, but I’m just not sure I can sustain it for the whole story. Why not? Because the story’s getting longer and longer, and it’s weird to every once in a while to write, “And mother of god, what’s going on with that hat?!” I know people commented in my last #AmWriting post that they didn’t want me to ditch the hat, but sorry guys. It’s being removed and placed in a different story. A much shorter one. Perhaps a flash fiction piece I can read at the Poetry Den? One thing about spoken word poetry is it sure sounds narrative.

swimming pool
A former symbol of racism in South Bend, IN. The building around the pool is torn down, the pool is now a peace garden, and the rest of the building is a civil rights historical center. Photo from the South Bend Tribune.

Anyway, does dinking around with a hat for most of an hour count as writing? Ehhhhh . . . . . ummmmmmmmm . . . .okay, technically, but it certainly doesn’t feel good, and I feel like I don’t have a lot to report in this post. Reporting that I don’t have a lot to report shows that I’m still in this thing, though, and that’s good. I also want to give a shout out to my Wisconsin accountabuddy, whom I think I scare a little, but I know he’s working on his fantasy epic that sounds wicked cool. He’s also an organic farmer. Do you think there are farmers in fantasy epics? There should be.

farmers
If they had wings, they’d be farmer fairies, right? That’s fantasy! Actually, young people farm weirdly.

I also spent the remainder of my hour (post-hat-dinking) re-reading an old story about a babysitter who is thirteen and scared of damn near everything herself. When her toddler charge falls asleep, weird things appear in the TV. And then things get really uncomfortable. Anyway, I submitted that story and felt good about it. Maybe I should let the hat story sit a while and just go back to old stuff. Right now, I feel like I’m standing on two horses in some crazy horsey action movie, and I’m trying to jump so I’m only on one horse, but I can’t decide which horse is better.

two horses
Shutterstock, why do you even have this image??

See you next Saturday!

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23 comments

  1. I’m very glad the rehearsal went well, and that you got the chance to flex your ‘stage manager’ muscles. I think doing different things like that every once in so often is good for the creativity. I give you credit, too, for ditching the hat, since it wasn’t working. You’re the one who’s in the best position to know whether something is serving a story or not. If it wasn’t, it wasn’t.

  2. I suspect you made the right decision about the hat – I find these kind of symbolic things can get very distracting in a story. Here’s my suggestion, which you can throw in the bin as soon as you like – have you considered stopping revisiting old stuff and starting something completely new? I reckon concentrating on older stuff could easily lead to a cycle of self-criticism and beating up on your own self-esteem…

    • The story with the hat is a new story. I think I’m too close to it because it’s new and I don’t want to accidentally crush it like a feeble baby bird in my hands. The old stuff isn’t as close to me, so I’m not all emotional about it.

  3. I love your title for this post!
    I think making a huge decision about your story, like whether or not there should be a magic hat, definitely counts as “writing”. When I ask my daughter what she’s doing and she answers that she’s writing, she will often then clarify that she’s not actually “writing” but working on character development. In my opinion, that means she’s writing!
    What fun that you’re working on a play! I think that the anticipatory anxiety that you get before an event is often way worse than when you’re actually in the middle of doing it (whatever it is).

  4. I have only been exposed to a limited amount of slam poetry, but when it speaks to me, it SPEAKS to me. Why do you think you scare your accountabuddy? I ask because I get the feeling it’s your passion for things and that’s very relatable. Wishing you lots of luck with your stage-managing job! The poster for the musical looks fantastic!

    • Well, he told his wife, Jackie B, that maybe I intimidate/scare/make him nervous? I think he didn’t write for a long time, and neither did I, but now I’m all energetic about it. Enthusiasm can be intimidating.

  5. Stopping by to show my support after you kindly commented over on my blog, btw, thanks! And wow, theatre? I haven’t done that in decades. It was terrifying then and, I’m sure, would be even more terrifying now.

    Hey, procrastination always counts as writing when it’s about something to do with what you’re writing (especially as I do a lot of that…) and damn, if I don’t want to read that story now you’ve mentioned a hat that grows or shrinks!

  6. I really want to read that hat story. I read a story about a person being able to see auras around people’s heads and she could tell what mood they were in because of that. But a hat, that represent a person, and which everyone can see, and to which the character remains utterly oblivious, is brilliant! I hope the writing goes well.

    And good luck with your submission. 🙂

  7. ahaha firstly, the internet has a bunch of images that shouldn’t even be available to the public so it doesn’t surprise me that you found that girl riding two horses.

    And-I would totally read a story that every once in a while was like ‘and what’s with that hat?” !!!!

  8. You have such a varied creative life, and a varied, creative life, too. Wonderful to read about – thank you for sharing. I think your blogging about your writing once a week helped me move up to blogging about my running once a week, in a funny way, too! How do young people farm weirdly, though?

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