Interlude: Prisoner of the Thousand Tiny Sopranos

Where have I even been???

There are really two answers to this question.

1. Held prisoner by a thousand tiny sopranos.

Not to be confused with a thousand Tony Sopranos.

Tech week for my production of THE JOURNEY OF THE LITTLE PRINCE, a children’s opera starring exactly one hundred sixty-five young Bostonians with mostly very high-pitched singing voices, came upon me last week. Tech week came upon me like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Tech week had its way with me and left me a shattered husk of a man who could only distantly remember what his inside voice was supposed to sound like.

But hey, we opened the show, and here it was!

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Huzzah, the audience cheered! Huzzah for all the baby sopranos and for their surprisingly handsome and youthful director!

If by chance you are in the Boston area this Saturday, you can come and see it! Yes, you!

And yes, in case you were wondering, my coworker Suspicious Anna was VERY suspicious that I was directing an opera instead of writing case notes.

2. It’s so hard to start again.

It really doesn’t take much to pull me out of the rhythm of writing. When I’m in that zone, it’s so intoxicating and addictive. Two weeks ago today, I was enjoying my bloggery, and even more so my current Big Project, the second volume in my BACK ROADS CYCLE. Writing was, finally, once again, all I wanted to think about.

Then the the-ater came a-calling. Just when I thought I was out, it pulled me back in! (Which is a quote from something, but I only know it from parodies of the thing it’s from. The Godfather? Let’s assume it’s the Godfather.)

Theater pulled me back in and pulled me out of my fantasy La La Land, a place where I never have to use my Outside Voice when I’m inside, a place where the only actors I have to deal with are the ones in my head – and they take direction perfectly.

It’ s so hard to get back into the groove. Why is my creative brain so fickle? It feels like I’ve gone and sat down in a big comfy chair, and started watching DAREDEVIL, and now I can’t get back up. Getting up is from a comfy chair feels, to paraphrase Louis CK, like trying to get a ’74 Gremlin out of a snow bank. That’s how I feel right now about writing.

Also, can we talk about DAREDEVIL? Like, DAAAY-UM.

We’re gonna talk about Daredevil. Next week, I’m going to force myself to finish my series about how theater has influenced me as a writer. Then some stuff about Daredevil. Then, I’ll probably slip once again into becoming an apathy monster and hide under my bed for a while. Then maybe another picnic, because there’s some crazy stuff out there, and the X-FIlES is coming back, and ever since our last investigation, Field Operative MacDonald has been seeing Toynbee Tiles everywhere she looks. Then, more writin’ talk.

QUESTION FOR WRITERS AND OTHER ARTISTIC-MINDED FOLK: How do you get yourself out of your own comfy chairs? Is the trick just to never sit down?

rolling raccoon

15 thoughts on “Interlude: Prisoner of the Thousand Tiny Sopranos

  1. Congrats on your successful theatre production! Also, welcome back. Also, Daredevil was better than I expected. As in 99.9% better. I read an article somewhere that the success of the show has single-handedly robbed moviegoers their interest (though the box office begs to differ) for the new Avengers film, and other superhero films, because only television can go so deep into the universe, motivations/psychology, and backstory of the characters (hence my cheering Fisk on at various points). Another +1 point for the Netflix algorithm that delivers exactly what viewers want from an intellectual and visceral level. I was going to do a post about Daredevil as well, mostly concerning Vladimir. He’s an interesting character, though more on that later.
    How far along are you?

    As for getting out of my comfy chair, it’s pure mental conditioning and habit formation. If I write a page today, I reward myself with chocolate or an hour of TV. Positive habits are formed using a combination of cue, routine, and reward. Also, the quicker you get back out of the comfy chair (using chocolate as a bribe, etc), the easier it gets, and the lower your urges to self-defenestrate.


    1. I love how psychologically informed your approach is! Self-conditioning via positive reinforcement! Taking it one hour at a time with little rewards would actually be a smart choice for me, because when I get in this mode, it all just seems so daunting. But one hour a night is manageable. Substitute “beer” for “chocolate” and I’m already halfway there anyway.

      I’m six eps into Daredevil and it’s hitting all my sweet spots. And I totally agree on the Netflix algorithm. I legit wish that Marvel would just do all its properties this way. Do away with the movies completely and tell these stories the way they were meant to be told, one chapter at a time!


      1. Hope it works for you! And yes, I am very into psychologically-driven approaches. It all started with a unit on workplace psychological safety during a university business course, and from then on a seed was sown. Why do it the hard way when there’s a shortcut (and one supported by thousands of hours of trial and error)?

        The William Fisk scenes are probably the best, in my humble opinion. It could be the acting, or the backstory, which is more fleshed out than in the comics, but there’s something about Fisk’s character that is endlessly intriguing. Too bad movies, brief as they are in comparison, rarely show the bad guys in this light!


  2. I’m 3 episodes into Daredevil and feeling so ‘meh’ about it. Production quality is really high, but I just don’t care about anything going on in the show yet. When does it start to get amazing? – because people are really raving about it.

    Congrats on your theater stuff! I totally relate to the “switching from one medium to the other” gears. It’s really hard to think like a novelist when my mind is in theater or film mode, and vice versa. I can’t do both at once. And I definitely can’t do music at the same time either! I would say that you should allow yourself time to recover from creative burnout, if that’s what you’re suffering from – maybe a week, something short and manageable – and then shift your headspace to your next project. It is definitely hard to pick yourself back up from the creative vacation, but a combo of positive rewards (like Millie suggested) and sheer discipline ought to do it. I also find that tinkering with outlining and planning helps me get my head in the right place before writing the prose proper.


  3. I think it really is a matter of sheer discipline. It’s literally like driving a car – you have to use so much more gas to get from 0 to 10 then you use once you’re cruising along on the highway. But thanks for giving me permission to take a few days off from being creative 😉 I may have needed to hear that.

    I think my love for Daredevil maybe has everything to do with my twenty-five year long attachment to the character, going back to my high school days as a comic book obsessive. Daredevil was kind of my spirit animal (and apparently still is). And I have crazy love for the entire Marvel shared universe thing. Like the fact that Rocket Raccoon could theoretically show up on Daredevil is always on my mind when I’m watching it. Also I happen to be the type of person who can derive endless enjoyment just from watching bad guys get punched. No story is required. So I really can’t speak to how it plays for viewers who aren’t already primed for it – but I THINK maybe it starts to become compelling on its own terms around eps 5-6? I noticed an uptick in the quality of the storytelling at that point.


  4. Never sit down. Ever. Get up right now or I’m going to give you Suspicious Anna Face until you move!

    But in all seriousness, I personally feel like my creativity comes at weird times when I’m least expecting it. I do my best thinking in the shower and have definitely had to go running out to write something down before I forget it. I’ve also been known to wake up out of a dead sleep with a brilliant idea in the middle of the night.

    I guess what I’m saying is oftentimes the more you try to force the process, the less it’s willing to come. I definitely agree with what Millie said about the reward system though. That’s a good way to get around the forced feeling. Write a page, get that doughnut! Do a home visit, get ice cream! It’s the same, right?


    1. Yes, ma’am! I think the larger issue, honestly, is Candy Crush. I just keep telling myself I’ll get back to my book after I crush just one more candy…but there’s always more candy to crush. It’s very tragic in a Sisyphean sort of way. Seriously though, I’m gonna write right now. Just you watch me!


  5. Congrats on the production. I have done a few small productions in high school, college and community theater and pulling everything together is always a challenge.

    Writing for me is easy. Words flow freely from my fingers, even in my sleep. The telepathic link to my iMac records everything….then I wake up. I have a set goal on each project that I have going. For example, I write 1000 words 5 days a week on my primary book project. They don’t have to be good words. I don’t try to edit as I write and I do not goof off or relax until they are done (usually 🙂 )


    1. “They don’t have to be good words.” I love that! That is always such a freeing thing to remember. If you’re trying to get it perfect on your first draft, you’re only going to drive yourself into your head (which is the worst place to ever find yourself). As for the rest…it really is just about self-discipline, isn’t it? Yeah…I’ve gotta get on that.

      Liked by 1 person

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