Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Constructing Me, Morris, Cam and Des

It’s become hard to write posts because what and how much can be said by a man who spends almost all day and all his days in a seven hundred square foot condo?
I’m about to end my first quarter living with sporadically overwhelming PTSD symptoms. After four months of experience and seventeen hours of psychiatric counseling, I am well into my acceptance and adaptation phase.
With good luck and taking care with my every movement, I will celebrate the end of quarter number one by becoming, for the first time, a person without wounds on my arms and legs. My seizures now rarely include the limb spasm that has caused so many injuries.
I have thee states of being: I am either “on alert” when outside, in a “high alert” state when with people and/or on the phone or I am at home where life feels Eden-like.
I do very well, of course, with Dwight, Bruce and Nicola. But I have new friends. Morris, Camilla and Des, the characters in my play, serve almost as friends. I really enjoy “being with” them and, like a puppeteer, determining their words and actions.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats writing dialogue.
My training for technical writing included an assignment wherein we had to describe putting on and tying up your shoes to a blind person who’d never worn shoes. My training taught me that writing is like solving a puzzle. Writing a play is like creating a crossword: Your readers work to solve a problem, to understand, using clues buried in dialogue.
Why does this character speak? What is the clue in his/her speech? I have never worked so hard to find the perfect verb. I have never listened so hard to real speech—not TV or movie-speak, but real conversation in all its disjointed glory. I want my dialogue to be real. That’s the point of this exercise.
I’ve written and re-written the opening countless times but I think I have one now that satisfies me enough to continue. But the misfires weren’t a waste of time; they helped me get a firmer grip of their character.

So as I back at my life through the lens of PTSD, I am seeing far, far more clearly the clues I missed or misunderstood prior to my diagnosis. I’m re-constructing my myth as I construct those of Morris, Camilla and Des.

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