On Identifying with Darkness

On the script, there have been a few developments. I know if Jack is reading, he’ll be interested in these internal turns of event. My friend Danielle has strongly urged me to truck through the impasses even if what I am writing is lousy – and bless her heart, that does make sense. She’s a writer herself (a good one), and so she knows the basics of hammering out the “rough draft from the heart, final draft from the mind.” But in this case, I found that it absolutely is not working to do this, for rather unexpected reasons.

What happened when I tried was that I led the characters into this really weird place where I found myself actually identifying with their darker attributes.   Then, although arguably I might have been writing something that was artistically good, it wasn’t spiritually good, and I myself had to cease from the writing process, in order to cease from personal sin.   Also, it took the script into this very strange tangent where it really ought not to have tread.  When I looked at it the next morning, it looked as though it had awkwardly morphed into an entirely different show.

This has caused me to question the extent to which I dramatically feel the inner intentions and motivations of my characters. As a result, I have decided to cease writing whenever I encounter that energy. This is causing me to transform the nature of the protagonist-antagonist dynamics in my characters and their associated conflicts. I’m bearing in mind that their conflicts pertain largely to ideological differences in worldview. Ms. Mortalis (I’m starting to hate that name) is attuned toward detecting the criminal aspects of all people – that’s her nature. She’s a suspicious person. It doesn’t mean she herself is a criminal – she’s just tuned in that way. Winston is more of an idealist who tends to see social evils while overlooking personal evils, and who exults in drawing out the good in all people. This dynamic is what causes their intrigue pertaining to each other, and is at the thrust of all their interactions.

It’s weird to be writing a show that I didn’t finish three years ago, and to be painfully determined to finish it, as opposed to picking up an entirely new project, one that I might easily finish joyfully.  But I somehow feel a moral obligation to do so.  Also, I must admit that my new friend Mary has been more than encouraging. She’s a musical theater actress – and the choir director at my church – and I’ve noticed that she grasps the kinds of themes I’m trying to convey.  The last person who put any real effort into reading this piece was the professor I mentioned earlier.  It’s pretty obvious that either he didn’t grasp what I was trying to do; or if he did, it irked him on some strange personal level — otherwise, he would not have employed character assassination in his critique.  

So, on the up-and-up, it’s nice to have at least one person in my life who is willing to read what I’m writing, and whose comments are more attuned to what it is that I’m trying to accomplish.  Also, a handful of local theater people and a couple of journalists have tuned into it, which sort of increases my sense of mandate to get it into producible form.  I guess the next step would be, once this draft is finished, to organize a sit-down read-thru and just see how it reads. I do need to get a move on.

Danielle’s advice makes sense, but I also know that she is trying to protect me from experiencing further rage toward the professor, whose involvement in those whole thing is nil from his standpoint (of course) and ought to be nil from mine. But that’s my strange personal Cross, involving the sense of failed friendship and abandonment.  I literally have to force myself not to think about him as I write.  If I do so, I become too depressed, and I can’t go on.

But I will keep at it, unlike what I may have said earlier, when I was discouraged.


For anyone who might have caught my recent series on Writer’s Block (consisting of the four posts that began with this entry), I feel I ought to let you know that the block broken now.   In fact, I am genuinely thrilled about what has been taking place.  I had been hoping to break the block only insofar as I could proceed to a critical scene that had me stumped, about two-thirds of the way through the show.  But instead, I’ve actually been motivated to go all the way back to Scene One and implement an exhaustive overhaul.  I would never  have been able to do so, had I not wrote those four posts and engaged in an active effort to break the three year Writer’s Block.

This also has caused me to see the professor’s “scathing critique” in a new light.  It might sound strange after everything I’ve said earlier, but I actually see the man’s innocence in this situation.   He didn’t really intend to rip my heart to shreds.  If he didn’t put the 100% energy into my project that I’d hoped he would, maybe he didn’t feel a need to.  Maybe he saw some general things he figured I might have overlooked; since after all, I do sometimes have a tendency not to see the forest for the trees.  Even the part that he clearly didn’t understand is something I can use to my advantage.  Let’s face it: the man is in a much higher class than I am, in the present socio-economic structure in America.  It is well known that people in the upper classes perceive those in the lower classes less accurately than vice-versa.  There have even been studies to this effect.  Since, after all, Eden in Babylon is all about class, I can easily utilize all that information as fuel to support my cause.

I finished my Scene One rewrite on Friday morning.  One person has read it so far – the woman who directs the Choir at my church.  She’s a musical theatre actress and has a feel for this sort of thing.  So she sent me an email with detailed comments, mostly good.  There were some minor things she pointed out, and I made adjustments accordingly.   In no way was my reaction anywhere near as shocked or bewildered as it was when I got the earlier critique back from my longstanding friend.  In any case, I feel that I’m back on a solid roll; I’m fervently working on Scene Two, and I hope to get a draft of the entire show finished by December 31st.

Scene One is now twelve pages long in Standard Script Format.  Six of those pages include a monstrous musical number called “Intervention.”  If you want to hear what it sounds like, an instrumental version of about 1/3 of it can be heard below.


from Eden in Babylon:
opyright © 2016 by Andrew M. Pope

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