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Sometimes it isn’t not what it isn’t, but it is what it is not. Or vice versa.

Earlier this semester a friend of mine wrote a poem about what a play is,  and it’s stuck with me whenever I think of ideas nowadays. The poem was about a question: “Is it a play?” The question sticks with me now whenever I create stories. I ask myself, “What is this story?” If it is, in fact, a play, I go ahead and get to formulating and writing. Sometimes it’s not a play though, and that’s why the question has remained so prominent within my brain these days.

For instance, the other day I began writing a short play about my depression, which has been flaring up lately, and realized that it was not a play that I was looking for. It was a song instead. I jotted down the lyrics and let them dry for a little bit, and when I looked at them again, I realized they were not a song. I looked at what I had written in a different way, and they became a poem, then when that did not satisfy the thought, I tried a prose piece. Over time I began to exhaust myself, writing and recording all of these things, but when the dust settled I recognized what I had done, and saw that I had created a whole cacophony of art.

The question led me to create a bunch of nuanced, creative pieces all intertwined with each other. I realized that the question does not solve itself. I mean, I could have easily said “none of these are what I want them to be” and left my art to die right there, but in my acceptance that the conundrum does not have a solution, I came to understand an intriguing factor of the creative process. Sometimes it’s everything and nothing at all.

With something so herculean as how I express myself when I feel sad, there are a million ways for me to express that feeling. Maybe it isn’t a play, but it definitely was everything I put my hand on in that week or so of creation. Perhaps my best stimulation is to define what my art is not, rather than what it is. Almost like a counter-text of sorts, exploring other realms of art outside of the medium itself in order to learn more about what my piece is about in itself. Fascinating.

I’m off to listen to “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman several hundred times now. We’ll see where that leads me. 🙂

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