Monday, February 13, 2012

Learning to Fall in Love (with yourself) Again...

I'm in the process of preparing a four-year old script for publication.

The New York Theater Experience's IndieTheaterNow is publishing highlights of the FRIGID New York Festival's 5-year run to celebrate that anniversary and my 2007 play The Butterfield Tones is among those lights.

But how am I supposed to feel about this thing that I wrote five years ago and haven't touched since?

Should I find it precious? Antiquated? Dated? Beneath my current mastery of the dramatic arts? Should I be jealous of it? Should I hate it?

We've probably all felt some version of these things about old things that we've written and, probably, the conventional wisdom holds that I should feel something between the love and the hate ends of the spectrum. It's wrong to really like something that far behind me, isn't it?

But I really like this play.

It's not perfect, by any stretch. It's short. And it's, ultimately, an experiment. But it does some fun theatrical things that I haven't done since and reminds me of a time when, in many respects, I took myself less seriously. It's play is, perhaps, what I still like so much about it.

But what does this say about my going forward as a writer?

Well, the short answer is "everything is fine." It would really suck to look back on previous projects and think them amateurish and terrible, to not see what made me excited to be working on them when that's what I was working on.

And, I guess, that's the point. If I can still get the sniffles from the bug whose infestation led to Project X then I'm still in that same arena ... it's just now a more crowded arena filled now with more varied projects, more kinds of writing - but all things that are authentic to me.

Every word I put down is not precious - it is not gold (despite, very much, those exact claims in this blog) - but maintaining the general writing head-space from project-that-excites-me to project-that-excites-me is, I think, what, at the end of the day, will be the measure of that work to me.

Oh, and it's okay to like the work you've done, no matter how far removed. Go ahead and think that poem you wrote in the 4th grade contains some truly unique imagery. Secretly think that the short story you wrote in college has some of the better sentences written in the last-half of the 20th Century. Laugh at your own jokes.

Better that option than the other...

- Robert Attenweiler

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