How Long Am I Dating You For?: Meditations on Playwriting and the Process

I’ve been writing a play for a very long time. Correction. I’ve been writing plays, a trilogy play, for years. I like to think that as I’m writing the first in the series, that we’re dating each other. I’m dating my play. We go out to coffee shops and have long late dinners with plenty of wine and sometimes I even go to bed with my them as I float wonderously into a dreamland like no other. We curse each other out, go through ups and downs, long spans of time where we don’t speak and then pick back up like no time has passed, we kiss and make up, we go through re-writes of immense kinds, etc. It really is a commitment, one that I cherish. It’s the process.

When I’m writing, it isn’t always with full knowledge of just what will come out. Most of the time I sit down, place my fingers on the keys and breathe. When I start to type, it is from a hunger of discovery of the journey and not yet the destination that keeps me whole and electrified with possibility. I write for myself. I want to create what it is that I feel is missing. Everyone seems to have the platform to write about me as a black queer non-monogamous womxn bodied person and yet…where is it that my voice stands? Where is my ritual? Where is my museum of carefully intended selfhood? What is it that stands in my personal exhibit?

Who tells my story? It’s the question I’ve been asking myself for years and seems to receive more pressure as I watch the recent surge of everyone telling black womxn’s stories in film and stage while black queer womxn telling their own stories seems to be an oddity. What is it to be black and womxn bodied and realize that no matter how far up the echelon you go, finding a job that pays well is still a challenge? What is it for a black womxn bodied person to find that while our sexualized selves are always welcomed for stereotype and jeer, our trauma is not? What is it? Ultimately it is mine. My own. And if you want it, I’m the only one that can truly handle it. So, gimme back my stuff like Shange said.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember and journaling even before that. Within my journals held this hunger to know, to have knowledge and also to possess personal truth and triumph. I’m not a “young lady” and I’m not always “like-able” and my journals reflect that. My own personal truth and selfhood. I want my plays to do much of the same. When my characters speak to me, it isn’t always a story of triumph but it also isn’t one of chaos. It is a story of personal truth and selfhood. They whisper in my ear “tell my story” and I can’t help but to oblige, sometimes with tears streaming down my face.

I want to create a new platform of play. My plays aren’t easily digestible and I used to be so apologetic about that. It seemed for so long that the acceptable new was something that must be codified and fit like a nice organized box into the realm of comfortability and ultimately whiteness. being unapologetically black, queer, and non-monogamous in my life is one thing, while doing so in my plays is very much so another. But I guess that’s the point. If I’m truthful in my selfhood and my story, then I lose my own authenticity as an artist, as a creator. Am I then worthy of those titles and I have bestowed on myself?

Usually, I suppose that people can date for years. Monogamy dictates a careful planning: Dating with the intention of marriage. While I think that works for a lot of folk, it does not work for me. I will never be married to my play. We are continually in a state of dating and while we have a commitment to each other, we are not married nor are we monogamous. Maybe that’s the beauty of it all. I am allowing myself freedom in process and that feels so good to do. Research, characterized with much confusion still leaves me wondering just what the hell it is that I’m working on and maybe that’s how I like it.

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