Friday, March 5, 2010

Here I come, scripted or not

You come to an event, even writing, in one of two ways, scripted or spontaneous, which is a euphemism for unprepared. It is not at all that you want a prepared script to read from, rather instead a kind of flashlight to keep you on the darkened path. Nor is it that you relish the idea of showing up for a class or a lecture with no notes at all, because you believe that to be not only a darkened path but a path of absolute horror in which time has taken a seemingly personal vendetta against you whereby it proceeds as slowly as possible.

While you are still offering disclaimers, your scripted-or-spontaneous dictum does not mean you will forebear to jump off the script at any moment in pursuit of a sudden flash of awareness that sneaks in the back door of your brain pan. Spontaneity is as vital to the energy of story as any form of scripting or notes.

As a writer/teacher, you are essentially a performer who has taken up the mantle of entertaining, providing information, and arousing curiosity. At earlier stages in both your writing and your teaching, you'd have been quick to admit to being the equivalent of a ham actor, filled with more fustian and bravura than what you now consider the necessary restraint to convey dramatic and critical information rather than brandish it about as Douglas Fairbanks, Junior and Erroll Flynn did. You may have progressed in writing and teaching from ham status to a more refined emotive state, more inclined to mischief than flailing of arms and metaphor.
You have become without giving it much thought what is called a hyphenate, writer-teacher-editor, each aspect seemingly a bafflement to the other two, which of course opens the door for yet another aspect, the actor. The editor becomes the stage manager, and even today, as you went at the latest text of an author you'd have never thought yourself up to editing, you have the joy of his confirming to you that you have caused him to put more story into his writing. Your own goal is to do that self-same thing, keeping the opera out of your story without removing the music.

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