Here's Tonya's entry for the Blog Tour: http://tonyacheriehegamin.com/blog-tour/
And here's how we roll moving forward: Each writer answers 4 questions about the writing process and then passes the torch to two other writers.
Digging in ...
(The turtle's name is Lima. I'm convinced that he is part of my writing process.)
1. What are you working on?
I'm coming out of an intense developmental process for my play, GYPSY & THE BULLY DOOR (We can talk about the title and why I invoke the history of Gypsies a bit later; just holla). It was all workshop productions, woodshed writing sessions at my desk or wherever I happened to find myself, intense conversations with some dope dramaturgs, and private and public stage readings from 2011 -2014. Clearly, it takes a lot to hammer out drafts of plays, listen to them live, take them back to the chopping board, and reveal again. It takes a lot of work from the playwright, director, actors, designers, choreographers ... everybody, depending on what stage you're at. So, even though the writing is done, the moment it goes into rehearsal I will be staring at the script again, listening, mining the world of the play. A play is a living creation; it moves. Each time it is performed, it is reborn. How I engage in that rebirth depends on a number of variables. The next time it goes through table work, I'll listen and decide, along with my cast and director.
I've also got a choreopoem, ITAGUA MEJI, about to go back up this coming September. It hasn't been performed in about four years. Before I send it to the performers, I plan to take a knife to it, cut away excess fat, really hone in on what's being expressed, tighten the thread holding it all together.
Of course, there are a few new projects. But I'm not one to spill when all that is in such an early stage of becoming. For me, early means that each one is in a rugged first draft stage. There are new plays, but there's also prose - a book and an essay. That's all I can share about the new-new for now.
2. How does your work differ from others' work in the same genre?
That's not a question I am interested in answering. I'd rather the work speak for itself. So, come check out my work next time it's on stage. I'll post upcoming shows here on this blog, or hit me up on FB https://www.facebook.com/nina.a.mercer
3.Why do you write what you do?
I write because I am compelled by a question, or many questions. Usually, something jumps my bones in a way that knocks me off center for a moment; something gets me uncomfortable or angry or feeling displaced, forcing me to confront or uproot some urgent truth about the world I think I know. It's about discovering the why or the how, or better - the what now. I've always been that way. I've always sought to know why, even when it made no sense to travel down that road because it was too daunting - Why? What next? All that can get you into a lot of trouble, yeah? Anyway, my confusion or frustration with the usual superficial or easy answers to these questions propels my need to write my way out. If I'm lucky, some folk choose to join in that. But it begins with a hunger. Sometimes a story will come down on me backward. I'll have no clue about the plot. I'll just hear a voice, or see a character out the corner of my eye; it may come as a vision, a scene. I'll write it down. Leave it alone. Let more build over time. Eventually, I notice a central inquiry emerging, and it's usually deeply connected to my own sense of displacement in a world I deeply want to understand and love. I write my way back into the world, just when I want to retreat from it, surrender, run away, find a mountain and chant my way to nirvana. The writing reconnects me to the world. It is a longing, a love song, even when it's raw and bitter. It is still rooted in a deep need to connect with my folk, to seek and create understanding and possibility in a world beset by the strangest and most lethal contradictions. I write because it is a most humane and loving choice. I'd rather create than destroy.
4. How does your writing process work?
My writing process is not separate from the rest of my life. It's all part of the whole. So, when I'm cooking dinner for my kids, I am in process. I've got to cook for them if I want to write. Otherwise, they won't let me. It's all one. It's the same when I am making love, or reading, or laughing, or teaching my students, and when I am walking the streets late at night, coming home off the 4 train, or when I am staring out into the empty spaces between all the life one finds along a crowded city sidewalk. I am always writing. I am always somewhere inside the process. I am always troubling words out my mind and through my finger tips at the key board. Of course there are times when I am more obsessive about getting the words out and into a form. That's just a different stage in the birthing, though. Sometimes I am painting or drawing, and that is good. Sometimes I am dancing. There is a place beyond words. I have to reach that place to rediscover the way to write. Language is not just what we do on the page when we write words. It is color, image, sound, movement, rhythm. It is silence. It is the unspeakable. I have to access all of that. Each project needs a different recipe to get done, you know? So, I can't really give a fixed definition of my process. It's improvisation. It's free, until I need to nail it down. It's slippery getting there, but I do.
And that's all I got for now. Y'all stop through again when you feel it ....
Next week, Lorelei Williams and Piper Anderson will be sharing details about their writing process. I admire both of these women, and I'm excited about all they are creating.
Check out Piper's blog: piperanderson.com/blog/
Check out Lorelei's blog: http://www.loreleiwilliams.com/janaiacutena-updates.html