Saturday, August 11, 2018

Publishing writing: A working definition

You're a published writer it: Some third party is giving you some form of compensation for making your text available to a reader.

Yeah, some forms of compensation are better than others, but the key is that whatever it is flows towards you, the writer. You're not paying them to publish you, not in currency or time or favors or work; that doesn't count. If they're paying you, then it counts. Payment in exposure barely counts.

Self-publishing is a little murkier. I can put up any old garbage on this here blog, that doesn't count. Paying a printer to make physical copies of your work counts like masturbation counts as sex. I think the key is you have to involve other people on some level. An editor. Someone who is in a position to tell you when to stop. The reader themselves can fill this function, if they're directly compensating you for your work like with let's say Patreon, as this gives them a certain amount of leverage and input.

It's a question of self-respect, really. "Published writer" is an arbitrary label. To a writer like myself it's a measure of the worth to the world at large of your skill at imagining things and then translating and presenting those things in ways that other people can appreciate and relate to. If writing is your life, and mine certainly is, it's a measure of the worth of your life. No pressure or anything. We can just pretend not to care what the world thinks.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Friday, August 3, 2018

Author's note: This play can be played without any gender restriction, ha ha. Actually I do not expect anyone will ever stage it. I wouldn't, I'm not a director, so don't worry I've written this in some elaborate plan to get to see people naked. I wrote this, in fact, just because I wanted to see if I could do what Tommy Wiseau could not.

In what seems to be the supposed core of the story that the movie The Room was trying to tell is, in my opinion, a stripped-down nakedly emotional human drama; a universally recognizable story of romance, betrayal, bad impulsive decisions, lies and fear of failure. I thought it would be best served by keeping it simple, with the smallest possible number of characters, a small timeframe (the play may be performed in 20-60 minutes, depending on how it's paced) and a set of a single room; and straightforward, with a slightly extreme weather event raising tensions and a cast of characters who're very expressive emotionally and physically. Thus the need for what could be considered a wet and provocative set and a wet and provocative cast of characters. I expect a competent production can achieve the desired effect even with smaller than proscribed amounts of booze, nudity and gushing water; I urge you to edit according to your own judgment and taste.

It will work if the emotion of the characters is believable.

A play in one act by Amelie W

Int. A room, night:

Rain falls against the windows throughout. A streetlight's glare illuminates our one-bedroom apartment; there are no curtains. This is a small cluttered space occupied by three people. They have lived here a while, they may leave tomorrow.

JOEY sleeps on the center-stage couch, pressed up close to the partitioning wall. KAY and FRANKY make love against/on the kitchen sink stage right, passionate, sloppy, but trying to be quiet. After climaxing the two stand still, embracing, trying to control their breathing with a complete lack of grace. It must be love. Minimally decent, they move through the room: KAY sits down at the table, facing stage right, FRANKY pours a large glass of something, sips it, sets it down for KAY, paces, leans on the refrigerator, sits down.

KAY: Are you getting tired?

FRANKY: You're insatiable, give me one minute.

KAY: No, I'm talking, well not that I wouldn't, talking about sleeping. I'm not tired at all.

FRANKY: I could sleep. (Yawns.) Guess it's up to you to keep me alert. If you want company.

KAY: The rain will keep me company. No, I like just sitting here with you. Being with you.

FRANKY: The rain is nice. Like we're alone in the world.

KAY: Just you and me and the rain and Joey.

FRANKY: Jeez, I almost forgot about Joey. Do you want to go out? Get some air, maybe fuck in an alley, see what happens?

KAY: It would be great except we'd get wet.

FRANKY: They say rain is only a problem if you don't want to get, oh okay I guess you don't.

KAY: Wait, you really do want to go out in this, this mess? I didn't know you had this wild side, Franky.

FRANKY: I'm wild? You're the one stays up all night writing and stuff.

KAY: With a nice cup of tea and a cigarette maybe, and "listening" to the rain outside. Leaving it outside.

FRANKY: No, I mean, I understand, you're so sweet you'd melt.

KAY: No you are. Let's just crack the balcony door, let the rain in a little bit.

FRANKY: That'd wake up Joey.

KAY: Damnit Joey. How we need our own place.

FRANKY: I have a lead on a nice park bench. Just repainted. But then you'd get rained on.

KAY: Oh, you make me laugh.

FRANKY: You make me try to be funnier. Better.

KAY and FRANKY kiss, slowly. They sit in silence for a moment. JOEY wakes and joins them, taking something from the fridge.

KAY: Oh, did we wake you up?

JOEY: No, it's the rain mostly, don't worry about it.

FRANKY: I'm not worried. I am kind of worried about this rain.

JOEY: Something something global warming.

KAY: I can worry about it and also at the same time take pleasure in it, right? The romance, the the damp messy sensuous feeling of it.

JOEY: I'll allow it. Teach us to care and not to care and all that.

FRANKY: It is a nice night for it. (Beat.) You know what, I am going to take a walk. I want to feel it on my skin.

KAY: Well, you have fun. Get your strength back up.

FRANKY: Yeah, I feel the call of adventure now. Might be a while. Good night, my love. Hang in there Joey. (Exits stage right.)

JOEY: Well I'm not going out in that. And I'm not going to get any more sleep.

KAY: Are you okay? Want to borrow the bed?

JOEY: Huh? No it's fine. Just thinking, what are we going to do? Want to watch TV?

KAY: Oh, I'm trying to listen to the rain but, no, you turn it on if you want to, I can't sit here and be boring and also demand quiet can I?

JOEY: I think you – I'll keep the volume down. Because you asked nicely.

JOEY turns on the television and sits on the edge of the couch watching it. We see pale flickering lights and hear faint, generically upbeat music. KAY takes a pen and a notebook from the drawers center stage, sits down at the table facing left, sips drink and writes. KAY gets up, opens the balcony door, looks up, becomes conscious of standing in between JOEY and the television, steps outside, steps back, closes the door, sits back down, smokes cigarette and resumes writing, more urgently.

JOEY (Still facing the television): Kay?

KAY: No, you can't read it.

JOEY: No I, I wanted to say thanks, Kay. You – you act like this head stuck in the clouds artist but you've really been there. When my dad died. For me. No one else has.

KAY (Smiling): You really are okay.

JOEY: I am. I'm getting there. Thanks to you.

KAY: Well I'm glad for you.

KAY puts the notebook away, empties the glass, produces a bottle of something dark and sits on the couch, pulling JOEY down from the armrest in an embrace from behind on the way. They are not convincingly focused on the television, facing somewhere halfway between it and us. Drinks are poured and drunk. KAY and JOEY are leaning on each other.

KAY: I just think that's not something anyone should have to face. Not alone.

JOEY: Easy to say but, you know.

KAY: Every Greek knows what's right, but the Spartans choose to do it? It's no big thing. I'm not that wonderful. You want to do me a favor?

JOEY: More than anything.

KAY: Don't go around feeling indebted to me.

JOEY: Ah, I'll try.

KAY: I don't hold with debts. You know, I loaned my mom twenty bucks the day before she died. I loaned her a bit every month, never talked about paying it back, but her pride demanded that she call it a loan. We do the dumbest shit for pride.

JOEY: Wait, your mom died? How do I not know this? I'm sorry.

KAY: Thank you. It was long ago. I, I didn't want to make your grief about me I guess.

JOEY: I hate this, hate my words being so, so small. You're, I'm standing next to a, it's not enough, nothing I can say.

JOEY and KAY kiss.

KAY: You're drunk, friend.

JOEY: I need you. I, I need you.

KAY: See, words aren't so bad.

JOEY: I know it's stupid, and wrong, but. I'm so alone. A world with you in it, not being with you is being alone.

KAY: (Adjusts clothing.) How long have you felt this way?

JOEY: Since the funeral. Was trying to fight it, I wasn't really sure. Not until today.

KAY: Need is a strong word.

JOEY (Cries): I am sure.

KAY: Cause I can't, you know Franky and I are exclusive, this isn't the way. I'm here for you, I love you, but not.

JOEY: I know, I know, it's stupid, it's my problem.

KAY: It's okay, I mean, a little kiss, that's not s bad. And you don't have to apologize for how you feel. You, you're not a bad person. Just, let's just breathe. Some deep breaths.

JOEY: Maybe I will take some of that hot gross rain in the face after all.

JOEY steps out on the balcony, faces away from us, runs hands over hair and face. KAY takes the bottle and follows, embracing JOEY. They step away from the rain-stained window, becoming blurred. The balcony door closes. The music becomes a little louder. The song ends and another begins and they come back inside, setting the bottle back at the end table, wringing water out of their sodden clothes, giggling. They take clothes off each other and lie down in the bed, under thick sheets.

KAY: This is a disgrace.

JOEY: Absolutely. Disgraceful, all of it.

KAY: I love you. I love you both. So much.

JOEY (Sleepily): Can you just hold me forever?

Nothing moves for a moment and then FRANKY enters stage right, dripping wet.

FRANKY: That was great. Are, oh, you guys are asleep. (Removes shirt, wipes water from body at the kitchen sink.) That's good, you should get your sleep. (Turns off the television, picks up the bottle, appraises contents, shrugs and takes a gulp.) Been having fun in your own way, I guess. Man, indoors people are weird.

KAY: Who are you talking to? (Walks over to the couch wrapped in blanket, acting very sleepy.)

FRANKY: Just in case you weren't sleeping. (Sits down, shares KAY's blanket.) I've seen such things, I don't want to have them just to myself in my head.

KAY: Feeling lonely huh? There's a lot of that going around.

FRANKY: I guess. You know that statue a ways down the street, the knight lady dude and the sorceress posing back to back.

KAY: I know of it.

FRANKY: I spent like, I don't know how long, stood and looked at it. It felt like hours. It looked so strange in the wet and the dark. I, I can't say. I'm not trying to shame you for not liking the rain or anything but I really wish you'd been there, that I could have shared that with you.

KAY: That's life, I guess. I mean even if I was there I probably wouldn't have gotten the same thing you did out of it.

FRANKY: Is this profound or are we just drunk?

KAY: Mm, I've been over a bit of the same ground with Joey just now. We're all so, so profoundly alone. I want to fuck you so bad right now but I'm afraid I won't feel closer to you even then.

FRANKY: Did you, uh, did something happen when I was gone?

KAY: I think I've ruined everything. I just, I love you, Franky. I always have.

FRANKY: What did you do?

KAY: I love everyone. I want to help everyone. I want everyone to be less lonely.

FRANKY: What did you do, Kay?

KAY (Sad): I can never say no.

FRANKY: I, it's okay, I'm not mad, I'm scared. Talk to me, Kay.

KAY: You're not the only one who don't have words. I'm, I'm sorry.

FRANKY (Touching KAY's cheek): Show me then. Show me how you feel.

KAY and FRANKY kiss.

FRANKY: It's different.

KAY: Yes.

FRANKY: I have to, I can't. Think. Breathe.

FRANKY steps out on the balcony, brusquely, and leans on the railing, becoming blurred. JOEY sits up and exchanges silent looks with KAY. JOEY joins FRANKY on the still rain-blurred balcony, while KAY sits still with knees pulled up. There is a tinny sound of impact as blurred struggle takes place on the balcony. KAY hurries out there as well, as FRANKY falls out of sight. Another impact sounds followed by a short wordless scream. JOEY runs very fast and exits stage right. KAY stumbles in and sits down at the dinner table, facing front. The streetlight flickers and dies, leaving us in the dark.

KAY: Franky jumped, yes. Jumped. I love. Loved. Loved. So much. I don't understand.