Embracing the Personal

Embracing the Personal

“It all just feels so… personal.”

N is a new student of mine, one who has worked in the theater industry for years, but never written a play before.  He called me before our first week of class, and I could tell he was feeling intimidated by the process of playwriting.  We discussed some exercises he could do and some of his favorite plays and playwrights, and I think I assuaged the majority of his concerns.  His one lingering reservation:

“It’s just so personal.”

Amtrak Writer’s Residency: Rail Tale

Amtrak Writer’s Residency: Rail Tale

I’m writing to you today from the Amtrak quiet car, on a southbound train somewhere in New Jersey. Although the Amtrak Writer’s Residency Program is “currently evaluating the future of the program and do not have a timeline for when the next submission process will launch,” you can still pay out of pocket for a DIY Amtrak residency. That’s what I’ve been doing in 2017, now that my full-time teaching job is in Virginia and my fiancé is a theater director in New York.

On Deadline and On Holiday

On Deadline and On Holiday

On deadline and on holiday?  How is a writer to cope?

Thanksgiving is here and my desk, which is usually covered with story notes and research books is now also covered with cookbooks and shopping lists.  My laptop windows range from comic book scripts to “how to cook a turkey in 45 minutes” articles.  Needless to say, it is a confusing time for a writer.  When you are on deadline and on holiday, how is a writer to cope?

The Fries Test: On Disability Representation

The Fries Test: On Disability Representation

Twenty years ago, I edited Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out, the first commercially published multi-genre anthology of writers with disabilities writing about disability. The anthology was published by Plume. In the introduction, I wrote: “Throughout history, people with disabilities have been stared out. Now, here in these pages — in literature of inventive form, at times harrowingly funny, at times provocatively wise — writers with disabilities affirm our lives by putting the world on notice that we are staring back.”

Ohio, The Election, 2004, The ReMix: How I Came Looking

Ohio, The Election, 2004,  The ReMix: How I Came Looking

The ReMix begins: 2004 draft cuts: (in parens)– 2017 adds: IN CAPS:

After the election, I saw and felt a frozenness–I NEEDED (wanted) poetry (to arrive and speak to me–) to convert (a tableau of different shades of) dread to (a weave of) courage and CUT A PATH TO transformation. TO ROAR. I wanted something to take AND SPEAK the pain, (naturally).  And poetry can hold IT (every complex yearning).

Letter from London: Reflections on Writers’ Reputations, Graves, Love Affairs, Accents, and a Murder, in No Particular Order

Letter from London: Reflections on Writers’ Reputations, Graves, Love Affairs, Accents, and a Murder, in No Particular Order

Moving back to London requires minimal adjustment, it’s as easy (as a writer once said about revision, compared to first draft composing) as sliding into a bath of warm oatmeal. No culture shock save for the first instant of wondering why dogs and babies are driving cars; all you have to do is exercise a little preliminary caution crossing the street and you’re done. Or maybe some mild culture shock, over here in the Land of Other People’s Problems, to learn exactly what the tabloid media judges important. “Horror on No. 77!” shrieks the top headline in the Evening Standard, the free newspaper everyone reads on the Tube going home after work.

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