Plays and other things

Have sent emails to various friends and acquaintances, to tell them about Fish Supper. The production company, meanwhile, has sent out a smashing publicity email, with a picture from the original production. Listened to the play on a CD last night. It makes me cry - not my own writing, but the character himself. Somehow he became a real man in the course of the writing and the production, and I'm sorry for and about him. It's one of the joys of writing plays - the collaboration involved seems to produce something over and above the original text.
I've been busy drafting out a new stage play called The Physic Garden, but it's not yet at a stage where I would be prepared to let anyone else read it. For me, anyway, the process always involves getting something - anything - down, and then reworking it countless times. It always amuses me when I come across an aspiring writer - as I did recently - who tells me proudly 'I never rewrite anything!' as though their deathless prose emerges fully formed onto the page or PC. They wish. Ten drafts is not out of the ordinary. Twenty sometimes does it. Writing has to be left to lie fallow. It's only when you come back to it, several weeks or even months later that you can see what is wrong with it. And for me, plays in particular are like poems. They have to be honed and honed. Line endings matter. So does punctuation. So does finding exactly the right word or phrase. It seems to me that plays are only ever as fixed as the last - or perhaps I mean the next - production!

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