I am the laziest writer alive. I don’t even really like writing, just having written. Sometimes I read quotes from writers who say things like, “I am happiest when writing” or “I can’t not write” and I resent them for feeling that way and for their use of double negatives. But I have come to terms with the fact that I don’t write anything unless I have a deadline, a purpose, a waiting audience. When those things don’t exist, I need to create them in order to trick myself into writing. My first solo show only got written because I told a festival director I had an hour-long one person show so she’d book me. Then I hung up the phone and said, “Shit. I guess I’d better write an hour-long one person show.” I have booked theatres when I had nothing, and then created something to fill that spot with. Our monthly comedy show, The Lady Show, is just such an exercise, forcing me to create new content every month. Otherwise, I’d just stay curled up on the couch watching British mysteries and eating chips instead.
To that end, I applied for, and was lucky enough to win a lottery spot in the 2016 Vancouver Fringe Festival. I told myself that, if I got a spot, I’d finally write the show about my mum and finding my birth sister. When my name was called, it was another one of those “Shit, I guess I have to do this now” moments. So, I’m writing a new show. Or at least, I should be writing a new show. So far, I haven’t written a thing. Well, that’s not true. I wrote a plan. You guys, a plan is super important! You can’t write a word until you write a plan, don’t you know? Due to my other commitments like The Lady Show, Morgan Brayton & Other People, family, cats, British mysteries, chips and the like, it’s a very generous plan, allowing plenty of time to get things done. It begins February 1st. Today is February 4th. So far, so good.
First up in the plan is sorting, purging, cleaning and organizing the basement. No, it’s not just one of those “My assignment is due: I should take up rug hooking!” avoidance techniques. This is my basement…
“Yes, but Morgan,” you’re saying, “You can write anywhere in this day and age. Have laptop, will travel. Go to a cafe, rent an office, or maybe even just write in one of the many other rooms you have in your house!” I don’t actually intend to write in the basement. The problem is that, behind the contents of that picture, lie these…
No, no, not that stack of jeans I can’t fit into anymore, the bins! Those blue bins are filled with Mum stuff. Her writing. Personal items too painful for me to be in the presence of when she died. Memorabilia. I sealed those bins up, telling myself I’d look in them when I was ready. She died in 2007.
I need to open those bins. I need to look at that stuff. I need to process it and write about it and make notes about it and start gathering all the bits and pieces that will, one day, form the first draft of my show. So, here we go.
I mean, not right now. I don’t have time today. But maybe tomorrow morning. Or possibly in the afternoon. We’ll see. I’ve got a lot going on right now and my rug hooking projects really need attention. But this is the beginning. The beginning of talking about endings, of beginnings, of stories that didn’t get told for so long, of stories that never got heard by those who deserved to hear them. Of…well, actually, I don’t really know. I don’t really know what my show is or what shape it will take or what story it will, eventually, tell. I just know it’s my job to figure that out and, come September, to finally put it on stage and share it.
My plan is to blog about the process of making this show through all its’ stages. Maybe I’ll share things I find in those bins, maybe memories that come up, maybe photos of myself buried under a giant lobster costume and a wicker penguin clothes hamper after a failed organizing attempt. My plan is to clean up that basement so I can get to those bins and then everything should easily fall into place, right? Yay, I love writing!
So, I’m doing this. Okay, let’s get to work. It’s time to–ooh, new episode of Vera!
I’ll keep you posted.