Last week I wrote about the importance of play in creation. Today I thought I would give one example of when a play with words finally became a finished script.
After finishing part 2 in the book series about Algot/Beatrice (The Beetle in the Tree), I wanted to write part 3 about Algot and his friend Mona, whom he met at Rockrose Resort. They only got to play for barely a day before Mona was due to travel from there. It felt like they wanted to meet again.
But when I was about to start writing, it stopped. I didn’t find a way into the text. In the end, I had to give up and let the idea rest for a while and hope that something would appear.
In the meantime, I had been thinking about a writing exercise, a kind of play with words, that I wanted to try. I got the idea from the movie Coffee and Cigarettes by Jim Jarmusch.
The film consists of a number of shorter scenes where two or three people meet for a cup of coffee or tea and cigarettes. Some details in the different scenes are recurring, such as the café environment, that they toast with the coffee cups, black/white checked surfaces, etc.
I wanted to try to reproduce this in short texts where a few selected settings and details would be found in each text.
To avoid making this exercise too easy, I decided to select these details randomly. I decided that I needed, 1. an environment, 2. an action, 3. a line, 4. and an object.
To find these I took out one collection of poems from the bookshelf and hit the four points in turn.
The first, environment, appeared among the poems, written by Tomas Tranströmer, “collected poems and prose” from 1954 to 2004. Did it say no environment exactly on that post, I posted a new one. In the end, something appeared, for example, “one
Then I wrote it in the list and looked further for a plot, etc.
I found the following list:
A setting: “Port”
A plot: “Laughing in the wrong place”
A retort: “Is it Wednesday?”
One item: “Porcelain”
Then I wrote at least three texts in different forms where the only requirement was that these four points would be included in some way in all the texts. It became short stories, absurdist short prose, poetry, letters, etc.
One of these short texts, turned out very unexpectedly to be an excellent introduction to my script about Algot and Mona. In fact, that text became the first chapter of the script that I had just finished writing. Had I not made up my pun with poetry collections, I certainly wouldn’t have come up with the introduction either to my script. The story, if it had come to be at all, would have taken a completely different turn from what was now the case.
So it is excellent to play!
– Mattias is an author and illustrator