2006-02-02

"ALBERT & NANCY" AND A FEW WORDS ON PROCESS

Last night after Group, I sat in bed reading a roundtable of all the Best Pic directors in Newsweek. The guy who directed CAPOTE said something about Phillip Seymour Hoffman's having a "brutal process" as an actor that involves his becoming, about halfway through the process, convinced that he'll never succeed, that he can't get into the character, that the whole world is finally going to see that he's a fraud.

And I thought: yeah, well. Isn't that how this whole art thing works?

That's how it works for me, at least. Last night, I brought the second draft of "Albert & Nancy" to Group. I'm so deep in it I have no idea how it's playing, but Group seemed to love it. (They had amazing insights for deepening it, as usual, but general comment seemed to be it's damn close to done). So that was wonderful.

But rewind a week, and things really sucked. See here, direct from the pages of my notebook:

27 January 06 7:10 am Starbux

Tough writing day yesterday. I powered through the structure draft in the morning, only to return to it in the afternoon convinved it was unreadable and unworkable. That so freaked me out I spent the rest of the afternoon on other projects, like reading for Friend. Whas TOTALLY depressed by the time I left work after 4. Husband asked to look at it, so I let him, and then I went to wallow in a bath.

Which is where I decided the problem with the story was that it had the wrong protagonist--that it really ought to be a story following her. Husband disagreed. He liked it as Albert's story, liked the writing, thought for the most part it was working, just needed more of the WHY these people like each other, a little less stock-character stuff, and more evolution of the relationship, more WHY.

I got in the car to meet Friend at the Ahmanson, still disagreeing with Husband, head all abuzz with the possibilities for Nancy's story, called "The Good Nurse." Got to restaurant before Friend, and wrote out a series of note cards for the new version, then could barely watch the play because I kept hearing lines from the new version in my head. Went to sleep with the sinking feeling that I had to start completely anew and cobble together the new version in less than a week so I could submit it for Group.

But then this morning I wroke up and had a few insights into how to fix the current, Albert story. If I still hate it, I can always write Nancy's story, later. But I must commit to finishing this, to not sabotaging myself at the very last moments. So I have cards of notes I scribbled while brushing my teeth this morning, and today I hit these points ...
That's pretty much the way it always works. Which really sucks, especially when you know you've been depressed enough in your life that any time you're low for a day you're freaking out that means you're about to sink into the months-long morass. But the good news is, this time at least, I managed to identify the freak-out as self-sabotage WITHIN LESS THAN A DAY, which is huge huge huge for me, and work through it. The trick is this year's mantra of finishing things.

I can't say it too often. 2006 IS THE YEAR OF PUTTING THINGS TOGETHER.

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