Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Laid Back

The first Presidential debate has taken place, and I do have to say, I feel a little bit better about things. Only a little, mind you. Although I saw it in a packed bar (The Raven, of course), which felt like watching an important sports match, I couldn’t help but think that, for every time the crowd in the bar cheered vociferously every time Kerry spoke, somewhere at a bar in a red state groups were cheering over Bush’s jingoistic and repetitive responses.

Well, two more left. We’ll see how this turns out. I am of the opinion that, if Bush gets elected,

a.) he has carte blanche to do Whatever The Fuck He Wants, and

b.) we deserve every bit of it.

* * *

Now the VP debate took place, and all I can say is Goddammit. No real insight and critical analysis from this end, just frustration at seeing Cheney hand Edwards his ass. And did the moderator blow Cheney beforehand? Sigh…

* * *

Mac Rogers, fellow playwright and theatre blogger, has recently been laid off from his day job. Interestingly enough, I’ve just been offered my first full-time day job in nearly two years. I got laid off back in December of 2002, and haven’t had a real “job-type-job” since. Sometimes these coincidences freak me out.

I am interested in seeing what happens when I return to the land of day jobs, since I can’t seem to find a real correlation between the business of my work schedule and my creative output.

In fact, I’ve compiled a list below of the full-length plays I’ve written that I’m proud of, and indicate what I was doing in the “real world.”

Allston: two-act written in school, working at Starbucks part-time and later at an office part-time

Ruins: three-hour, three-act play written while at a full-time job

Mayonnaise Sandwiches: started while at a full-time job, finished while unemployed (but freelancing here n’ there)

The Dying Goldfish: written when I was as unem-fucking-ployed as you can get.

McTeague: written at the same time, so Ibid.

And I’ve also written a(n admittedly shitty) novel while working at an office full-time.

The advantage (for me) of writing while working at a full-time job (besides, of course, getting free phone service, free printing, free photocopying) is that I’m forced to budget my time and get cracking. If I finish my office work, I still have to sit in my cubicle for the rest of the day and look busy. And, believe it or not, playing solitaire five hours a day every day can be draining. So, the downtime I have at an office really pushes me to write.

When I sleep in until noon, have nothing to do for the day except think about showering, think about eating, and think about what to watch on TV, I’m not particularly motivated to write. Maybe I just need the distraction of having to do work.

Then again, I just admitted I’ve written two full-length plays I’m proud of (three if you count Mayonnaise Sandwiches) while having no source of income, so that may put a wrench in the two preceding paragraphs.

What is draining for me is going to a job then going home to write. That rarely works for me. I mean, yeah, I’ve done it, but not too often.

Actually, my writing habits and practices are very weird, sporadic and inconsistent. I wish I could do what Anthony Trollope or Isaac Asimov did (that is, have a rigid—and I mean RIGID—writing schedule and timetable). Sometimes I write longhand in a notebook, sometimes on a computer. Sometimes I need a list of errands to focus my time, sometimes I need nothing but free time. Sometimes I write with the television or stereo on, sometimes I need complete silence.

I’ve also tried different methods, many of which didn’t work. I once tried a tape recorder (didn’t work at all) and once tried the whole “writing in a small notebook at a coffeehouse” (that REALLY didn’t work).

I was really hoping to try to give some sort of insight as to the effects of having or not having a day job on my writing, but the more I think about it, I can’t find one.

But actually, I would be interested in hearing about other writers’ (or actors’, directors’, whatever’s) habits, if they’re willing to share (I’m just reminded now of my recent brief conversation on the subject with fellow self-producing independent playwrights Steven Gridley and Randy Anderson). Do you prefer steady work or temp work? Full-time or freelance? Or does it matter? I would like to hear (for prurient interests, of course) how people prefer to work, and why.

Hey, it may make a decent “letters page” for this site.

Just wanting fan mail,

James “Love Me” Comtois

October 5, 2004


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