By Pia Wilson, member of the 2008 Emerging Writers Group
I recently unearthed a picture of my 25-year-old self. After trying to remember exactly where I had purchased the lavender polo shirt I was sporting, I thought, "Hmmm, I looked pretty good!" If I could have talked to the 25-year-old teetotaler in the picture, she would have told me all of the things that were wrong with her: too fat, oily skin, so on and so on. I've realized that I do the same thing with my writing.
I hate a play as soon as I finish it. The dialogue is horribly clunky, unreal. The plot – if there is one – is ridiculous. The characters, stupid. Yuck. And I beat myself up: Who am I to call myself a writer? Terrible, terrible. I put the play away. A miraculous thing happens though, when I pull the play out of the electronic drawer even just a few days later. Suddenly, it's not half bad, this play. In fact, it's, dare I say it, good. By the time I'm ready to talk to my friends about it, the play has become "pretty good."
Francis Ford Coppola confirmed this artistic experience in an interview: "I believe that when you write something, when I write something, I turn it over and I don’t look at it. Because I believe the writer, the young writer, has a hormone that makes them hate what they’ve written. And yet, the next morning, when you look at it, you say, “Oh that’s not bad.” But the first second you hate it."
So, the artist must learn to forgive herself for chasing the moon. That's essentially what we're doing. We have lofty goals for our art, and it's tough to try and capture the moon without feeling once in a while that you'll never do it and you're foolish for trying.
Time gives us perspective. It gets easier to edit your art when you're not so attached to it. All of your dialogical (yes, I'm making up a word here) gems can be tossed if need be. Problems get easier to solve, and things you thought were problems, may turn out not to be problems at all.
Pia Wilson is a member of the 2008 Emerging Writers Group. On Feb. 13th, she will join a few other members of the EWG — Deen, Sevan Kaloustian Greene, Aaron Wigdor Levy, Don Nguyen, and Stella Fawn Ragsdale — as part of TinyRhino, the theatrical drinking game. Learn more at www.uglyrhinonyc.com.
This post is part of a weekly series from the Emerging Writers Group community of playwrights. The EWG is two-year playwriting fellowship at The Public Theater seeking to target playwrights at the earliest stages of their careers. In so doing, The Public hopes to create an artistic home for a diverse and exceptionally talented group of up-and-coming playwrights.