Bumped into a playwright friend recently and asked how she was doing.
She said she was three-quarters of the way through her play’s draft, and she was lost and didn’t know if it was crap or not.
I’m the sort of friend and fellow playwright who nodded enthusiastically and said, “That’s great!”
Now, why would I do something like that? Am I some sort of bullying psychopath?
When a playwright gets to around the last quarter of their play, that’s when they tend to panic, come out in rashes and generally despair.
They don’t know if the play is any good or whether they should go on.
This is a VERY good sign.
For me, at the late stages, having any confidence at all is a sign of over-confidence.
Because, in the midst of your drafting, you live your characters’ lives.
Three-quarters of the way through is when they should be mired in the deepest shit and in the most complex moment of their very very very very short lives. (That’s right. For all that we imagine of them before and after, they only live as long as they can be played.)
You’re living them because you’re creating them. Oddly, if the play is structurally sound, this is exactly when you’ll feel the weirdest and strangest and all a bit “I-don’t-know-if-I’m-doing-the-right-thing”-ness because this is usually the point for most dramatic stories where that’s what they’re feeling but there is no longer any way out, and there is no turning back.
So. It means that you’re ready to turn towards the final stretch and push and hurt and win and fail with your creation. You’re doing a great job because you don’t think you’re doing a great job.
(On a tangential note, why not read about the Dunning-Kruger effect here?)
I’m not a psychopath towards fellow playwrights. Honestly.
I meant it when I said her uncertainty was great.
I’m simply a masochist because I can’t wait to feel that despair again myself.
Photo by Yuriy Bogdanov on Unsplash