9. Old Brain, New Brain

I've been thinking about stories recently, my stories. The story is one of the most important elements of a play. This is especially important for me because I'm still at work on my first three full-length plays.

A story is something you need, above all things, to believe in. I'm quite fortunate that after nearly 15 years, my first three plays still hold my interest. I don't work on them constantly, mind you, but they still surprise me by revealing fresh insights. When I workshopped the second draft of Boleslavsky's Acting (now Six Lessons) at Sewanee Writers' Conference in 2010, I was stunned at how much I'd grown as a writer or at what I'd lacked as a writer back in 1997, when I wrote those two drafts.

After the workshop, I saw this play with fresh eyes. What was more confounding was when I went to rewrite it, it felt as if my old brain (from 1997) was still in my head and was somehow encased in a shell or covering. My 2010 brain was more flexible and pliable and offered the play an understanding I didn't have back in 1997. What I had in 2010 was the voice I'd discovered, a hard-earned writer's voice. When I broke through the shell, I could merge my new voice with my old play, my old adapted story. Being a writer isn't about finding the right story. It is about finding your voice, your authentic voice, so you can tell each story as your story, even if it is an adaptation.

originally posted July 2012
reposted March 2018

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