I just told you there was no bad writing. I did that so you would write so you wouldn’t look at your rough draft and wonder what you were doing with your life. If you want to write, you should write. What comes out of you will not always be beautiful. Sometimes you need to get the gross stuff out of the way so the nice can flow. Sometimes what we think is gross grows into something beautiful.
That being said, I sat through several painful plays. They were supposed to be ten minutes long. Someone told me when they were asked how long was their work, they always responded, “Long enough.” These writers should have answered eight minutes too long. Surprised people didn’t have nose bleeds from the work being so on the nose. There is a time to say exactly what should be said, to be on the nose. It’s stylistic and done well it can be powerful. The truth is finally spoken. Key words there are “done well”. Some of the plays resembled first drafts feeling where they were and where they wanted to go, but they never went there. They never left.
And these were the finalists in a nation wide contest.
And here’s what we can learn from works in progress being staged:
I’m sitting there going I cannot believe these are the finalists. Before that I can’t believe someone looked at this play, said, “Yup this is my best work,” and sent it in.
I could write better than that.
I could write.
And that realization is almost as painful as the plays and the acting. I could have written something better than what I was watching. I could have made it to the finals. People would have really enjoyed my style in this festival. But I didn’t write. I didn’t know there was a call for ten minute plays.
I could have, but I didn’t. These writers did. They showed up and kept showing up. Persistence and tenacity sometimes trumps polish and (excuse me, but…) good writing. Instead of scoffing, be inspired. Make the changes you need to make so you can make the finals of a play contest or wherever you’d like to go.
(I also remembered I have an essay I recorded that kind of makes me groan because it could be a lot better but I wanted to share it.)