October 29th Saturday night:
Last week Marc bought Ruth Burrows’ book: Guidelines for Mystical Prayer and left it on the dining room table. So this morning while the girls were sleeping in and Marc was out for a walk, I was reading the introduction just before going to a writing workshop at the library. It’s funny what we will do with our nervous energy.
At the workshop, after some warm up writing exercises (which we had to share with the entire group!!!!! Ah!) we were suppose to bring to the group our story idea for a stage play. Three problems with that. Number one: I’ve never tried my hand at writing a stage play and have no desire to. Number two: I wasn’t at the last workshop so I didn’t know of the homework. I only learned about it five minutes before the 30 minute lunch break. We were to share our ideas right after lunch and then spend 45 minutes working on our stage plays. Number three: I wasn’t really interested or ready or able or had the time and energy to dive into another writing project right now.
Over lunch I wrestled with the idea of just going home but decided to stay and see the workshop through. As I sat and listened to everyone’s ideas my mind was racing trying to think of a story idea, any story idea but nothing was coming. I was afraid that the facilitator, Peter, would ask me what my screenplay was about and if I could also write it as a stage play and I really didn’t want to share that story with the group. Not that I was worried anyone would steal the idea, it was more I feared I’d start to explain it and just get frustrated because I still only have point A and point Z and can’t picture B to Y yet. Not to mention the fact that there is no way it could be written as a stage play given the setting.
So when everyone was done explaining their ideas, Peter turned to me and asked me if I had any ideas and what I said surprised me. Nothing like being under pressure! With lightening speed a few things flashed through my mind. I knew from listening to everyone else that I didn’t want to write something frivolous because it was a total waste of time and energy. And yet the only thing of any real importance to me right now was working through our grief and my longing for Bernadette and wrestling with God. I was also thinking of earlier in the morning when I was reading the intro to Ruth Burrows’ book where she was saying that all that really matters is Jesus and for some reason I was reliving the moment that Bernadette died.
I found myself telling Peter, and the group, that many times writers write as a way of working something out and for me I was still working through the death of our six-year-old daughter the year before. So my thought for a stage play was those last three months (condensed) of Bernadette’s life and how our family had to grapple with the reality that our daughter was dying. Peter asked me who the view point character would be and I immediately said Bernadette. A stage play about a little girl facing death and what she had to endure. The guy next to me had tears in his eyes and he said, “That could be so powerful.”
So we all broke for our 45 minutes of writing and I took that time to brainstorm the idea as if I was actually going to write it. First I had to have a purpose for the story so of course it revolved around life and death and how we face both. Contrasting a child’s view with adult views. And how in the end Bernadette teaches everyone that to die is not that hard when you know where you’re going and who you’re going to. She shares her intimate thoughts with her best friend and they are nothing like what the adults are saying. She’s looking forward to going to be with Jesus though she knows her family will miss her and be sad. Her little friend responds that she’s not afraid to go live with Jesus either and can’t wait to join her some day. And together they decide that they’d better keep it a secret because none of the adults would take it very well. I have three pages of notes and questions to grapple with and all that good stuff but that’s the basic idea.
The more I think about it, it is a simple but powerful story idea. I just don’t know if it’s something I could write, at least not right now.
The next workshop date was moved from Sat. Nov. 12 to Monday Nov. 14 and from the library to Peter’s home. Now I need to decide whether I’ll attend that next workshop because it is a school day with Decision Point in the evening. And to go would mean sending in homework of three pages of the script to share with the group. Do I have the courage to try it again? To boldly go where I’ve never gone before? I’ll have to really think about it and pray about it.