At a recent SCBWI conference, writer Matt de la Peña spoke about the isolation we feel as writers in our inability to experience or see readers’ reactions to our work. We can hope a reader identifies with our words, our characters, our stories, but we cannot be inside our readers’ minds for the experience.
I am fortunate enough to see another play produced for the annual Orcas Island Ten Minute Playfest, and I was able to experience something unique for most writers.
The reaction of the audience.
And, yes, this can be a terrifying experience.
The play was based on a simple question: What happens when a man cannot give up his childhood obsession with Star Wars? I travelled to a galaxy of silliness. The play was written, revised, and rehearsed, but I still had my doubts.
What if they don’t laugh? What if they think my work is stupid? All of my insecurities bubbled up to the surface in an unpleasant brew of doubt.
Every night I sit in the audience and feel my body grow tense as I watch the crew set up the stage. What if something goes wrong?
The lights go out, the music starts up, and the magic begins . . .
When I write a play, I try not to visualize what the finished production will look like. I’ve learned that what comes out on stage will be drastically different than my imagination. This year, what the actors have gone beyond even my best dreams of a perfect production.
I’ve never been a team person. I’ve always preferred solitary activities, yet there is nothing solitary about producing a play. I feel like a runner who passes off the baton (my script), and the other runners (the actors and director) take it on to the finish line.
The results? AMAZING
“Clean up this mess!”
Yes, they do laugh. I’m part of a powerful transformative thing, for it is all the plays—writers, directors, and the wonderful actors, who make this Force come to life and give the audience a piece of something powerful.
So, as I prepare myself to go back to my writer’s cave and work on revisions for my novel, I have one more night to experience in this very public and real connection between a writer and an audience.
Thank you for being a part of the journey.
The Master of the Force, Darth Jedi
Oh, and may the Force be with you, always.