When play is work and work is play, you’ve hit the jackpot. That, for me, is writing. Look closer when you see me at my laptop in a coffee shop. There may be tears rolling down my cheeks. Or a grin suppressed. On second thought, don’t look at me! I’ll never see you anyway. I’m gone.
When I retired from my job as a dance teacher at The Northwest School in 2013 and got down to writing in earnest, I would see stories with such vividness I thought for sure they were screenplays. I’d hear music, like the gorgeous fiddle tune The Lovers’ Waltz. I’d hear the “hey-ey-ey” of a crowd in Barcelona, waiting in line to vote for independence as the riot police swarmed in. I’d struggle to pin it all down inside a screenplay template that limits you to two things: location and dialog.
So I cheated. Instead of “Interior: Lodge” I would go on for three paragraphs about where the banjo player stood, who stoked the flames in the great stone fireplace, who was the shyest little camper. Some draft-readers said they liked those parts best because they read like…a novel.
I let the screenplay go and rolled Lovers’ Waltz into a short novel and audiobook.
Marga, my current novel, is narrated by a hapless American tourist, a retired Spanish teacher named Margaret who goes alone to Barcelona and gets caught up in the Catalan independence movement and an historic election. The research is sobering, but the characters are endearing. Filled with action and humor, it’s a blast to write.
I still love dialogue and actors. I studied playwriting at Freehold Theatre Lab with the incomparable Elizabeth Heffron. This time there were other writers to play with! I’ve included a short play, in audio format, called Under the Red Arch.
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