Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Self-Editor's Lament

So I'm making progress on the planned book first germinated in this post: a collection of short stories, shorts, and other collected pieces. I went through the hard drive and email folders, dragging the lake for pieces new and old that might be workable. I assembled them all into one epic document, and then went through the patchwork-quilted monster, making the format uniform.

THEN I got to go through and proofread and fix some of the grosser Bad Writing that inevitably crops up. My next step was to print up the entire thing in quarter-size and shuffle and shuffle and shuffle, which took me back to mix tape days.

Now I know what you're thinking: "Gee, A girl named Zelda, this doesn't sound that bad. Why would you title this post with the word Lament? 'Whine whine whine I have to mix and match a bunch of stuff I've already written!' The hard part's over!" Or perhaps "Is it lunch time yet?"

My lament is ... it's baby-killing time. In the shuffling and reshuffling of the order of the various pieces, I'm forcing myself to recognize stuff that just isn't up to snuff. Sometimes a piece won't fit tonally. And sometimes a piece just fails. But it's always sad because inevitably, in each Utter Failure Piece, there's a section - a scene, an image,a turn of phrase, of which I am damn proud. And I hate for it to not get used. Like a boasting parent, I want my little nugget of genius to be shown to everyone, so everyone can love it as much as I do. But if the nugget's encased in a mug of mud ... no one cares. No one wants to drink the mud.

That was a lot of weird metaphors in one paragraph.

In my play This is Hell, I had one moment and one character that were my absolute favorite bit in the entire play. Muriel, a character we've never met before (and who is in fact being doubled by an actress playing a different role in the show), enters to see our two leads in a compromising position. She says "WHOOPSYDAISY" and runs out.


Okay, well I thought it was hilarious. So much so that I kept that in way farther into the editing process than I should have, and had to be told rather forcefully, by at least ten people, that she had to go before I conceded. Poor dead Muriel.

My most recent dead baby comes in the form of a short I wrote on a dare from friendMarissa titled "Zelda and Marissa Die By Mutual Consent." The idea cracks me up, some of the dialogue is clever, but it's ultimately too stupidly oblique at the end, doesn't have enough concrete structure in it as a whole, and also you don't really care about either of them when they're alive or when they're dead.

In honor of the death of "Zelda and Marissa Die", here are some surviving dialogue snippets:

"If I die before my time, it'll probably be because you killed me."
"I'll try not to take it personally."
"Won't you? You should. I would, if you killed me."

"Yes, but you take everything personally."
"And anyway, if one of us has to kill the other one, you deserve it more."
"Besides which, I'd just come back and haunt you till you go mad."
"I don't believe in ghosts."
"Which will make my presence all the more maddening."
"I'll kill you."
"Go for it."

"Here lies Zelda, beloved daughter -"
"- supreme bitch."
"Feared by all."
"Worshipped by many."

"Long may she wave."
"Dude, I'm not a flag."

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