The Writing Life
When I read Bermuda, my stage play, to the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop, Columbia II chapter, the characters all sound like me. Pedantic, Annoyed. Absurd – in a good way.
I want Cassandra to have a different voice, cruder. “Shaddup!” and “shit” and “go fuck yourself.” More like Anne Marie, who had a locker next to me in high school. Anne Marie used the word “fuck” so much that it lost its significance. That’s when I learned that vulgarities should be used sparingly, like chili oil. Don’t say those things! Otherwise your husband gets annoyed. The taste becomes monotonous.
These voices are all inside of us. Tony Soprano lives inside the librarian. He lives a cramped life there. The librarian brings Tony out when she has a car accident, or loses at chess. She watches the Road to Perdition to channel him.
It’s funny for me when the Baptist Preacher man comes out. “Yes, Lord. Praise Jesus! Praise him!” My hands shoot up in the air, palms upward. That happened in Texas at the Strange Brew music hall when the guitars lit into some gospel music. A large man got on the stage to sing. I was in heaven. The spirit moved me, along with the wonderful acoustics at Strange Brew, in South Austin. The hibiscus tea and peanut butter cookies. I know that Clara was annoyed.
When Norris the PT shows me photos of his niece’s child, I say,” Adorable!” and “How cute!” like some vapid reader of Parent magazine. My brain flies out the door. It’s embarrassing, especially at Gold’s Gym.
Sometimes I hate that there’s a crowd living inside of me. They make me super normal. Kind of boring. But when it’s time to write dialogue, all those folks come in handy.