Lately I’ve been thinking about buying one of those large rolls of brown packing paper, the kind of paper we always used to mail our Christmas gifts to out of town relatives when I was growing up in Ct... I love that brown paper. Years ago, when I was organizing the poetry manuscript for The Lucky Spot Dance, -before it became a play - I put a long piece of brown paper on the floor - the length of my living room in my Baltimore apartment - and tacked the edges down with masking tape. I literally knelt beside it, bent over like a supplicant, a black marker in my hand, and let the marker do the work, while I watched and listened as the story spun out in front of me onto the paper. I remember how exhilarating it was, (and also how exhausting), to simply let go and write, word after word, and up and down arrows and exclamations points, underline’s, the whole bit. After what seemed like hours, I finally stood up. I remember I had a glass of red wine, and later took a picture of the paper.
I know all writers do what they must to bring whatever is inside of them out into the world. I have my own tricks and tic’s as every writer does, and I know I’ll be getting another big round of brown packing paper soon. I’m trying to get to my next play: Been There all the Time: The Story of Grace. The brown paper is my path to illumination, to the light, to the answering of questions, concerns, to throwing my anxiety out there - to find what the arc is, to understand Grace, to her her singing, starting way back in her church days. The back story for Tasha, and the man in the black vest who shows up at all hours. Seeing the images up close: A baby carriage. A blue children’s book. An old man in a rocking chair on the porch. Trains. Men working on the railroads tracks. A woman’s infirmary. A stack of letters tied with string. A pearl sided revolver in a evening bag. I can run my hands over the paper, put my fingers on it like I’m blind, and if I’m patient – if I have the courage, I’ll feel something. I’ll hear something. There’s an energy calling to me, and – on a good day - I’m responding, I’m answering, with a single black marker in my hand, writing stuff down as fast as I hear it - - and by the time I get to the end of the paer, it’s ticking away, and I’m hurrying while it’s still light out, writing it down, writing it down……,