Don’t Get Blogged Down
If at first you don’t succeed, write, write, again!
It’s a daunting task, but if there’s one thing this writer needs in order for her to finish her work, it’s a deadline! And I have quite the deadline: this summer’s Toronto Fringe Festival!
I am taking my one-woman show (a musical romp through plastic surgery) to the festival, but after talking with a few amazing directors, the biggest thing I need to do right now, is to re-write. This has always been my least favourite thing about art, the whole re-working, sometimes to the point that it’s not the same as the first inspiration. This happened recently when a producer in L.A. came in contact with me and I harmlessly said I had a pilot. What started out as a friendly, “I’ll have a look if you’d like” turned into a partnership that had us re-write the pilot to the point that it is no longer in the same form I dreamed it up to be. Is it stronger? Yes, for sure, but it was lengthy. It was also hard to let go of what I wanted, and it was hard to have someone else tell me, “This part isn’t working.”
My world of improv, where it is created and left on the stage doesn’t apply here. You have to let the creative juices flow but then you get a second and third and fourth pass at the scene and you have to use the brain function of “How can I make this better” when everything about Improv is to stop thinking and just react.
My book “The Ten Commandments…of Improvising” was another surprise on how much editing was needed, not in the sense of making changes but the requirement of having to write more. My editor shaped the book to include “Take-aways” and a glossary. Things I wouldn’t have thought to do. She broke up chapters into sections with subheading with the intention of making it super clear, almost like a text book. It was wonderful to work with someone, who is far from Improv, to read my work. That gave me a great outside perspective to make sure I was being understood.
As a writer, it is my duty to re-write, it is just part of the job, and yet it makes me squirm and that deadline, and only that deadline, is the one driving force that gets me to put my head down and type.
But, isn’t this all just hypocritical of me? I “edited” my body without hesitation (when I finally was able to save enough money), why would I be so frozen with re-working words? Maybe because words are so strong, my whole intention NEEDS to come across perfectly, the story needs to move people to tears AND laughter. This sits heavy over my head as I sit in front of my computer thinking to myself, “I don’t want to just write one more traditional one-person show.”
I don’t want to be just another person standing on stage talking about themselves for an hour. I want people to walk away wanting to go back. I want a spectacle, I want them to get something out of their time and to talk about it to others. I want to give them a psychological look into the warped mind of an entertainer.
I think it’s time to don my proverbial surgical mask and put this script under so I can hack it apart until it is ready to be revealed this July. Scalpel!
About the Author
Stephanie Herrera is a comedian, writer, producer, teacher, singer, actor, mother of 4, and shallow philosopher. She runs the Durham Improv & Acting Studio in Oshawa, Canada, is a professor at Durham and Fleming Colleges, and is an award winning performer. www.durhamimprov.com / www.stephanieherrera.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / (647) 899-3342 Durham Improv Group and Business pages can be found on Facebook and follow @durhamimprov & @antimommy