Teensy bit overstretched because I've been attending a weeklong playwrights' course.
It is the first time, I'm sure, that I have had such an extended period of grown-up time, 10 to 5 every day, no tears, no tantrums, except of course for my own when I fail to crack some crucial plotpoint or discover my character won't do what I want her to do even if I ask very nicely.
It is, as you can imagine, complete luxury. I'm writing theatrical stuff and drinking coffees and scribbling down notes in cafes before class and hanging out with my writer buddies and I even went to the pub and had a glass of wine last night and it is truly madly deeply thrilling.
The new play with the contrary character and the uncrackable plot points is, funnily enough, about infertility.
Well no, not infertility per se but it is about two couples, two infertile couples, and it comes out of some strangely familiar territory. With some strangely familiar emotional force behind it. And it's actually a comedy but also, as you would expect, a little...well...dark.
Today we wrote an exercise and had to read it back to the class and I wasn't reading anything particularly profound or revealing but I just suddenly started to weep and had to stop reading and gulp and snort and wipe my nose and eyes and then read on. It was very strange.
Except it wasn't.
Because what I had realised was that the impulse for writing this play came not from (as I first thought) the desire to make a very ugly emotional experience into something beautiful (although that is part of why I am writing it) but because I realised/remembered very very early on when our flatmates/friends had got pregnant while on holidays, almost without trying it seemed, and we weren't and had been trying for ages and how upset I was at the time.
This wasn't a new memory, what was new was that I realised (while doing these writing exercises) was that I nearly lost one of my best friends as a result.
This is someone I speak to nearly every day, someone I write with, someone with whom I have many (over 20) years of history and friendship. I was staying at her house when she had just started dating her now husband, she was acting in the same play where I met my now husband. When my mother died I bolted to her house in Melbourne for a week and then went home for the funeral. We have supported each other through career crises and boyfriend dramas and exploding car radiators all the way back to university days when she used to wear spotty leggings and I used to wear a bob and a miniskirt.
Her friendship is one of the most important relationships in my life and it was nearly destroyed because I couldn't get pregnant and she could and did. At the time, no one really knew that C and I were having problems, I couldn't even really admit it to myself.
We were all living together and the household split up several months after that and I can remember the four of us clearing out the kitchen and she was heavily pregnant and we nearly broke up then and there over a fucking lemon juicer, except it wasn't really a lemon juicer it was a hidious big green monster sitting over my head and my heart that kept shrieking over and over it's not fair, it's not fair, it's not fair.
When I think over all this and remember that monster and that black cloud that descended upon me, and how my reality became a skewed thing, a painful thing that dragged at my heels and pricked at my heart whenever I saw a baby or a mother or a pram or a bump or a...or a...or a... it amazes me that any of the relationships I had at the time have survived.
So this play, if it gets finished, will be for my friend.
Because even though she didn't know what was happening to me, and I couldn't tell her because I didn't understand myself, I always knew that she loved me and cared about me. And what I think now is that she actually did see that monster in me and she forgave me and it's because of her that we have remained close friends.
We had to write an exercise where a character makes a private speech in their last moments on this earth.
And this is part of what undid me:
...My best friend Meg, I guess that's where all the crying will come from, she cries at the drop of a hat - and that's before all the injected hormones; the guinea pig gonads and whatever the fuck else they crush up to stick into those little vials. She's like my sister, but in a good way, because I actually have two sisters and they're both cunts. Meg, if you can hear me, I forgive you for making me shoot up in a nightclub, I forgive you for fucking up your marriage - your perfect fairytale ending marriage- and I forgive you for hating everyone else with a uterus, even me. I know how hard this was for you, how much this broke you up.
As I say, not profound.
But I guess, for me anyway, it was revealing.
One more day to go...
5 Fiction Books for Christmas 2017
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