After feverishly writing on a near-daily basis, I found myself with no beginning, middle or end. Just lots of various stories, bits of ideas, quotes I’d read and copied down. What did I want this piece to become? Instructions on How To Die is a quite spacious and inviting topic, so I could really talk about anything I wanted. While I found myself talking about such personal topics as 9/11 or childhood, a more vulnerable topic – love – began to emerge.
But I needed help, and for several days, I shut down, and didn’t write. I wasn’t sure what I would bring to the show, and luckily, one of the actors from our Collective met with me so that I could work through finding the story. She heard my favorite selections from the pages I’d written, and from her point of view, the topic of love seemed to be the strongest.
I’ve often found difficulty with vulnerability, and this, I quickly learned, would lead me straight to it. I still feel that maybe I was masking it, somewhat, during the performance; but I knew that I made my meaning heard and felt.
The title of my piece was among the sentences and paragraphs I’d written: The Attempt On My Heart. It jumped out of the page at me, and I couldn’t ignore it. The meaning of the title can be loosely interpreted; but in the end, I the piece I wrote became about how hard it is to let go of someone I love very much. On the other side of that, what if I can’t let that someone go? What if it takes time to process and accept? For me, it was about one woman, specifically, and my difficulty with attempting to accept the relationships’ ending; for other people, hopefully they could relate what I was saying to someone in their own life.
But it also became a plea or a wish. And it was a way for me to say things that I had wanted to say very badly. I still came away from this experience wishing that I’d written and spoken things that came to me much later. I found courage and vulnerability, and I was able to step up and speak from my heart.
The challenge of writing and performing something very personal was difficult, at first, because I didn’t know what I wanted to say. Learning how to trust my instinct and going toward something very necessary to say, could be a larger lesson that I taught myself.
Now, after working with the text and performing it in front of an audience three nights in a row, I learned that I really enjoy writing and performing!
Maybe this is the start of finding my way toward writing a solo show.