While I’m not exactly live tweeting my revision (though a bunch of people are on Twitter and it’s very useful to see other writers going through the process to know you’re not alone), I’ve been trying to post regular-ish updates here to give you an idea of how it’s going. Revising my MG novel, based on one of my plays, has been my main priority for a few months and the going is, well, going, but slowly.
But I’ve put it aside from now. Not because I’m stuck or because I’m not making forward progress. I put it aside for a bit because I need to be realistic.
It’s like this. Exactly a year ago, I was working on my adaptation of The Green Bird. The timing for that project worked out just about perfectly where I finished that play and was able to get it out to schools in time for there to be plenty of fall productions to work out all the kinks, some spring productions to perform the revised version, all leading up for the show to have a nice big fall with the final version this year.
That timing worked out so very well, my plan was to do the exact same thing with my next full length play. It’s one of my Tale of Tales plays, nicknamed 4th Orange, which is actually 6 to 7 plays that work together in various ways. It’s the culmination of years of research and work and something I’m really excited to finally get out there.
I got the first performance ready version of The Green Bird out to my private list in mid July last year. In many ways, 4th Orange is much closer to done now than The Green Bird was at this time last year so this timeline seemed completely reasonable. So reasonable that I decided to pause my work on that play project for a few months at the start of the year to work on my MG novel. I thought (because I am a fool) that I would be able to finish the revision on the MG novel by the end of April and then, while I was waiting for beta reader feedback, I could finish up 4th Orange.
But the novel revision was taking too long partially because of life stuff, partially because I need to rethink how I write if I’m going to survive the crazy fractionalized way I have to work these days (more about this in a future post), so I was faced with a choice. Either I needed to go all in on this MG novel I might never be able to do anything with and risk losing all the momentum I’ve got both in my playwriting career and in the years of research I’ve done on this major project or I needed to put the MG novel aside for a bit and finish the play first.
It’s not really a choice, when you look at it. The play is the culmination of so many years of research, it would be the more satisfying project to finish from an artistic standpoint. And, from a practical standpoint, no one but me (well, and the toddler) cares if I ever finish the novel but there are people asking me regularly if the play is ready for them to do this fall. There is literal demand for one project with as close to a guaranteed paycheck as you can get, while the other is mostly just for me. The play could be on its feet as early as this fall while the novel is still years away from prime-time.
So I pressed pause on the novel and now I’m pushing to finish 4th Orange as soon as I can.
The good news is, I’m in the second to third draft phase of the play so it’s mostly itself. The bad news is that it took me too long to realize I needed to switch back to the play and now it’s going to be a time crunch to get it done in time. In half good, half bad news, one of the tales has stretched out into a full length play all its own which is good by itself but also a real pain because now I need to rethink how to fit it back into this project, if at all. And because that one play is up in the air, I’ve had to take an extra tale I thought I was going to leave out and polish it up just in case.
So it’s not going to be as easy as I’d like, but I am pleased with the shape of the show and, while I’m not willing to give a firm release date yet, I do anticipate it being done soon-ish. The main reason I’m doing this little status update even though I’m doing the big monthly writing recap in a few days, is because I’m hoping to get at least two more of those tales plays done before the end of the month. That’ll put me in a much better place going into June to hopefully get the project done and out the door in time.
Does this mean I’m giving up on the MG novel? Of course not. It just means I need to be practical and do what’s right for me and my career instead of stubbornly sticking with the same project even when I know I don’t work well like that. While I’m working on the play, I’m doing a bunch of work behind the scenes so that, when I do get back to the MG novel once the play is done, the going should be much faster.
I WILL finish that novel, have no fear. It is much too important to me to not get done and out there in some form. (I’ve already been thinking about turning the story of the novel into a play if I can’t do anything with it as a novel, or even if I can, which will create this hilarious play based on a novel based on a play situation.) But playwriting has always been easier for me than novel-writing and, in this case, the play is the smarter thing for me to be working on right now.
Also, I’m incredibly excited for you to finally read 4th Orange! But for now, back to work…
Photo by Annie Roi