Thursday, November 20, 2008

That Internal Heckler

Last night, I met with the students from my most recent Writing 5 class to have dinner and close the book on the show. At the end of the five training center shows, the students get a certificate of completion for the program, a journal (if they're in stock!) and I usually throw in a dorky gift. In this case, my additions were flatulence-oriented. Whoopee cushions and Flarp. Then we make our way to a bar and celebrate. Throughout the evening, most of the students will pull me aside and ask me about the show and I tell them what I give them my beer-in-hand assessment.

I have always found that unsatisfying as a teacher. I'm very in to debriefing lessons and finding out what students learned. If anything, to make sure they got value out of the experience. So, we met last night, ate good food at Flat Top Grill, and chatted about what they learned and what their next steps will be. It was great to do this, especially in a group setting. A student who thought they didn't get anything out of the experience might realize they did when someone else articulates it. In Writing 5, there's not a lot of writing. The focus is producing a revue. Some students really enjoy this and find it a fascinating process. Other get bored and frustrated. There was a little bit of both last night.

One interesting thing to hear was how nervous people were whenever their scene was on stage. And how they had a hard time just enjoying their work. Seeing your work performed on stage in front of sold out crowds is the best part about W5. And I forgot how grueling an experience that can be.

In college, I wrote a full-length play called The Big G. It was a comedy that dealt a lot with religion, from Sunday school to going to heaven. I can't even remember where I was or what I was doing during the show, although I do remember seeing it. I remember seemingly only breathing during the laughs. At the close of the first act, I bolted towards the exit and hid behind a door for the intermission. I was so freaked out that everyone may have hated it that I didn't want to see anyone. If there was a large rock in the lobby that I could have crawled under, I would have. The good thing that came out of my fetal place behind a door was that I heard people talking positively about the show. That helped me make it back in to the theater for the second act.

It reminds me of that internal editor that loves to fire off in one's head when writing, especially a first draft. That eternal drumming of "this sucks, this sucks, this sucks" that just isn't very helpful. It doesn't really ever go away and it loves to make a bold appearance on opening night. So, no, it never goes away, but, with experience, I think it does get a little better. I'm more likely to notice it for what it is, a by-product of a self-defense mechanism, and not buy into it so much. I think that internal editor is God's quality control on art. If you can make it through without it stopping you, congratulations. You're on your way to being a writer.

The voices inside my head personified...


Yesterday, I asked...

"NASA had to change plans for the crew of the space shuttle Endeavor because one of the astronauts on a space walk did what?"

No one said "got lost," "tripped" or "stepped in space poo"

100% got it right with "dropped a tool bag"

According to The Associated Press, flight controllers were revamping plans Wednesday for the remaining spacewalks planned during space shuttle Endeavour's visit to the international space station, after a crucial tool bag floated out to space during a repair trip.

The briefcase-sized tool bag drifted away from astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper on Tuesday as she cleaned and lubed a gummed-up joint on a wing of solar panels on the space station. She and fellow astronaut Stephen Bowen were midway through the first of four spacewalks planned for the mission. The tool bag was one of the largest items ever lost by a spacewalker.

One of? What else did some astronaut lose? Keys to the shuttle? Wallet?