I have done a few competitive timed writing contests. I've completed a manuscript of sufficient length (let's not consider quality) for the 3-day novel contest. It's 72 hours of wrist-burning over-caffeinated hallucination -- but a great experience. I've also entered Toronto Fringe Festival's 24-hour play writing contest. This summer I completed my longest timed manuscript yet, a 50 000 word thingy for JulNoWriMo, summer cousin to NaNoWrimo (National Novel Writing Month.) All these contests had one great advantage. I didn't expect to win and nobody but the judges ever saw my manuscripts. If only I'd known how good I had it then...
I so enjoyed watching the production of my very short Vampire/Vegetarian play for Nuit Blanche, I thought I'd repeat the experience. The Alumnae Theatre holds a series of "Write Now," challenges, more experiments than contests. Entering seemed simple. All we had to do was sign up, choose an intersection from a list of locations, and wait for email instructions Friday at 5:00 pm. Our ten page plays were due Sunday at the same time.
The message came, I went to the chosen intersection and found, as it turned out, a Winner's store. The idea was to go in, try on some clothes, eavesdrop and observe until we found inspiration. I got my idea and and turned on the prose fountain Saturday morning. I spent most of Sunday finishing. It felt great, at the time, but was it good drama?
That's the thing about writing. You need a cooling off period. Today I'm afraid to read what I submitted. Is it drivel? Is it racist? Sexist? I'm hoping not all three! No problem, right? Only the judges will see it, right? Not this time. Some or even most of these plays could be produced in the workshop reading. I might be putting ghastly words into some poor actor's mouth. It's just so darned embarrassing.
There's nothing quite like the angst you get from sending a script into the world without time for reflection. Now that's it's done and I can't fix it, the flaws are crowding in on me. I hate the ending. I used too many characters. The play is too long for a time shift... What was I thinking?
Rereading will tell me the true worth of the piece, once I've let it rest for a week. Yikes! That means I will have just enough perspective to squirm uncomfortably and recognize all the flaws, on Sunday.