The main difference between editing and dramaturgy is that dramaturgs get to have the fun that I always saw the playwrights having together in grad school when I would peer out the window of my lonely writers’ garret. It was as clear to me then as now that the togetherness of collaboration in theatre makes for a more joyful time than sitting alone at a desk for thirteen years, moving words around.
Early this month I printed out the 300 pages of my novel draft and laid them out in a snaking pattern, chapter by chapter, around my house. With my husband away at a theater fellowship, there was no one around to complain about the commandeering of every room. For the next two weeks I wandered about in the story at random, revising out of sequence, getting to know the layout. Most pages were on the floor, and it added some stretching and yoga to my writing day to get down close enough to see the words. By the end of it I could visualize a map of it from start to finish as easily as I can of the county in Tennessee where I grew up.
The novel’s scintillating hilarity can be traced back to that gap between the narrator’s awareness and the character’s.
I’ve never kept a diary. At least not since I was eight, when my father bought two blank journals and suggested that he and I spend time together every evening writing in our diaries. For several weeks we did just that, sitting side by side on the living room couch and recording the events of the day. One day I came home from school and found my diary in the wrong place on the bookshelf. When I inquired about this, my dad said, “I have to admit something to you. I was so curious about what you’ve been writing that I couldn’t help myself, so I went in your room and read it.”