by Park Theatre

Back in June, I wrote about the subconscious and what a hard worker it is, whirring away on its own and coming up with solutions and inspiration - under one condition: that you feed it by writing on a daily basis.  Doesn't matter whether it's for 10 minutes or eight hours; just write, I said.  Every day.

Well, as I also wrote recently, there are exceptions to every rule.  I'm just back from two weeks in Andalucia where I did not write a word.  I swam, explored, read, ate tapas - even spent a day in Morocco.  Barely a conscious thought was had about my current work.

And then, on the last night, I went to bed tired, knowing I had to get up at 5.30am for the flight home.  It was the hottest night of the trip and the electric fans were chugging away to little effect.  I had one thing on my (conscious) mind: sleep.

And that was when, out of nowhere, all the solutions to every major issue with the play I am writing for Park started to explode in my head.  On went the light, out came my notebook and out poured page after page of specific, detailed, fully-formed ideas.  Light off again.  Nope, there was more.  Light on.  This went on well into the early hours, dangerously close to the time when the alarm would ring.

Eventually I fell asleep, exhausted.  When I did get up, I had a memory of having one final stoke of genius in the depths of the hot, sticky night, and of managing to capture it in the notebook on my phone.  In the rush of departing, I didn't have the chance to check my notes till much later.  When I did, I was delighted to find all the problems with the script addressed and pretty much dealt with.  What I was looking for, though, was that final eureka moment captured in note form.  Pages and pages, I imagined I had written.  I had been half asleep, I knew that much.  But what was the big idea?

Pretty soon I found it.  'Little balls,' was the title.  Ok ... no memory of that ... but interesting ...  So what were the details?  'Gum balls.' 

That was it.

Don't ask me.

So what lessons do I take from this? Only two.

1. It's true that the subconscious is a powerful and mysterious thing, and that a great deal of writing is done while not writing.  I stick by what I say about writing every day, and don't believe that the genuine ideas that did come to me that night would have sprung into my head if I hadn't been working regularly beforehand and if my brain hadn't known that I was about to return to the usual routine.

2. Not everything the subconscious throws up is genius.  Unless I'm missing something, that is.  If anyone has a solution to the gum balls conundrum, do please let me know.

Photo by Tiffany Szerpicki

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