I direct a piece of theater called The Thorn. It takes a small army to pull it off. There are probably about 13 people on earth who really understand all of the logistics and organization it takes to pull it all together.
I am not an organized person. I can barely keep my lights separated form my darks. This is why I own so many pink shirts.
The only thing I really understand how to do is how to fix something until it gets right. Right is not an absolute fact in art. Far from it. It’s more of feeling; an understanding of what the audience will experience and then deciding, yes this is what needs to happen for this type of a story. And what I spend my time doing for three months is practicing scenes over and over, fixing and changing and tweaking things until it is finally right, or at least as right as I can get it.
The same is true with a novel. I write and then rewrite over and over again until I think, Yeah, this what I want to say. This is the type of story I want the audience to experience. Then I give it to my editor. And he edits (much like the audio and video and lighting engineers do their work on my first draft of a show), then he gives it to editors who edit more, until finally things go into production. And that’s the scary part. Because once the book finally goes to press or the show is finally performed in front of audiences I can only think, Is this really what I wanted to say? Is this really what I wanted to do?
I always thought it’d be gratifying when books are printed and shows are performed (and don’t get me wrong in some ways it is) for the masses. Instead all I usually think is Wait! Stop! I need to fix one more thing. Because I know the truth. Now, it’s out there in the light of day for anyone to judge and to make comments on.
This happened in The Thorn. When the first show was over a man came up to and said, “Are you the producer?”
And I said, “Sure.”
He said, Thomas (the new narrator) was okay but I have a couple of notes that will make him great.
And I said, "Really? Oh, good.”
Then I smiled as he gave me notes for the narrator of our story. And this is what’s so scary about creating these days. For shows, anyone can come up to you after the show. For books it's worse there are blogs, amazon reviews, and so on. The reviews people see could be from my aunt Roxy or someone who only read two pages of the book yet other people will at the very least listen and take stock in the review.
It freaks me out.
You can spend months (years) on something and someone can take five minutes, type 100 words, and make a grand proclamation. But in the end that’s what’s great about art. It’s not just about the creating of it, it’s about the audience experiencing it, and the audience can experience whatever they want. They can say whatever they please.
And I can only sit there and smile as they say anything and everything. Because deep down I know the truth, they have as much right to criticize as I do to create.