On The Writer's Craft

Dominic Kimberlin meditates on the highs and lows of the business of writingI don't have writer's block. A few months ago, when the play was in its primordial stage, writer's block was a common phenomenon. Hours could be spent staring into those pages, pen optimistically poised to write, and result in the appearance of nothing more than a steadily increasing row of empty glasses. Not so now. The page yields a fruitful bounty at every glance and what needs to be done is immediately apparent. It's comforting really, which is why I've stopped working on it. I know I can finish it, it's a relief. I can watch Twin Peaks in peace. After all, it's not  as though I can finish the script until I've finished the second season. It's probably best I do that and also watch the rest of the ten disc box set I got so I can really get into Lynch's vision, and then I'll be ready to get this final draft done, provided I've finished this new book I got by Hofstadter about -There's a play in there somewhere...I spent my five-week break reading. One of the best things about writing is how productive you can be when you're not writing anything. The play has been written in such a way that research into Lacanian psychoanalysis and Zizek's thoughts on David Lynch is actually very helpful and informative, and aids the script's construction and development. That said, I have no intention of explaining the intricate details of precisely how this process is carried out, and no audience would wish to hear it. An audience does not want to feel like they're unintelligent, as though they need a knowledge of Lacanian psychoanalysis in order to truly enjoy a play. It isn't worth it. If a play is engaging enough, it should invoke an experience which is entirely incompatible with thoughts of Lacanian psychoanalysis, suited as they are only for those silent moments in empty libraries.Writer's sloth perhaps, or writer's complacency. It's hard to tell. It'd help if I was able to gauge the script's quality, but having spent this much time in its presence, it doesn't really seem good or bad any more. I carry a copy around with me at all times. The few people who have seen earlier drafts seemed to like it it, which was gratifying because I could then be assured that I'd  written coherent sets of words and sentences. Once they're in place, the rest is embellishment.My earliest memories are ideas. My earliest memory is the idea to take a kettle and pour water into my cereal. This is followed by the idea to pour the cereal out of a window. I recall that the results were unpleasant, at best. One particular memory was the idea that words could be used to transmit a message to an individual, not through the public meaning of the words themselves, but through the unique associations of that individual to those words. There was also the idea that the individual need not be consciously aware of the message, provided that the associations were subtle enough. Naturally, this idea lacks the advantages that a knowledge of cognitive psychology could have lent it, but since then I've had time to work out the original flaws. I'm often grateful that I lacked the drive to become a scientist, limited as I now am to perform experiments only within the domain of the Writer's Craft. Still, this idea, along with the following two examples, should serve to illustrate my regard for the importance of the symbolic texture of fate.In 1977 Voyager I was launched out of our solar system. Included onboard - a phonograph record containing 116 images and a variety of music and natural sounds selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan, in order that the diversity of our planet could be preserved for any intelligent life which may happen upon it. A similar record was included on Voyager 2.Now I do have something of a bias towards Carl Sagan, both as a person and a concept, but I regard the launching of the 'Voyager Golden Records' as one of the most beautifully human endeavours of recent years. The almost completely futile nature of its aim only enhances its poignancy; it is a gesture of a kind which expresses that which is best in humanity - the awareness of the vast distance between our worlds, and the continued hope of traversing them. The life which may chance upon the record would be very different. It may seek to understand its meaning, if it can recognise the markings of another intelligence. We can only hope. We can strive. We endure.This last example depicts a different kind of communication. A kind where isolation can suddenly transform into a vast claustrophobia, an unbearable presence of being, a state where every letter reaches its destination. It was my first term in grammar school. Eleven years old; a winter's day; a games lesson; a football match. I loved football, as much as an eleven year old asthmatic reader could love football, which was typically little. I was told to stand at one end of the field and kick the ball. I did, and for some odd reason the ball soared higher than it had in my recent experience. High it went along the length of the field, a white streak against the grey clouds, and down onto the head of an eleven year old boy. It was winter. It was raining. It was cold and it was grammar school. Who could but laugh? You take your laughs where you can get them, usually between wheezing gasps. The game moved on, five minutes passed, I was told to kick the ball. High it went along the length of the field, with my eyes following its arcing descent, and down onto the head of the same eleven year old boy.There's a lot of laughter in the world. A lot of different varieties. There's a kind of laughter which occurs when something is no longer funny at all, and in your head it can sound less like laughter and more like you're repeating the word 'how' over and over, as though you can't explain how exactly something has come about. As though there's no other way to justify your role in what has occurred. To anyone else, it still sounds exactly like laughter, which could explain the eleven year old bursting into tears and branding you a “psycho”. There are moments where it's really hard to know what's going on, and it's even harder to stop laughing.So! Just a heads-up on my new play We Long Endure, a theatrical experience now in its final draft! With original music by acclaimed composer Vahan Salorian! Auditions will be soon, provided the show is accepted!Dominic KimberlinImage credit: Dominic Kimberlin