Monday, January 5, 2009
2008 Review: What I Wrote – Teena Keeper
I create a list of annual objectives every 12 months, helping to focus and ground my artistic and professional decisions throughout the year.
2008 was no different. I set out to build upon my successes (and failures) in 2008 to advance my efforts as a creative writer. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting reflections on my progress. Starting today with:
I have a complicated relationship with this character, so please forgive me if I speak about her like a real person.
She's a favorite in my character roster. I find her resonant in so many ways, and what little I’ve written about her over the years has been received rather well.
From the very first short story I wrote about Teena (in an undergrad creative writing class), she has been a young woman in torment. Essentially, Teena suffers from a turbulent childhood. As an adult “voices in her head” that just might be real disrupt every stab she takes at a normal life.
This past year, I set out to examine Teena Keeper’s resistance.
*She resists her paranormal abilities.
*She resists her role in the unraveling of our world,
*She resists the relationships that may help her be healthy.
She’s a mess, and I wanted to explore that with a new work on the stage.
Result: I fleshed this character out. I’ve gotten details of her early childhood down. I know who/what torments her now. I know the overall narrative arc of her rather extraordinary life. I tried to get at some of this with a new play. I focused on Teena and a special Voice in her head that is particularly troublesome, a presence I call the Remnant.
Their antagonistic relationship, when executed properly, should yield emotional and narrative pyrotechnics that would delight any audience. However, what I wrote early last year didn’t even delight me. In short, it sorta sucked. I knew it, and so did Teena. So we aren’t on speaking terms right now.
This is not to say this was a waste of time. Teena Keeper and I are meant to work together, and I’m sure we’ll be speaking again soon. I’m going to get Miss Thing’s story right, but I’m not rushing her. It has to be right. And all that work did help me flesh out her world, especially this Remnant adversary of hers. So I’m not upset a bit about it. (Teena’s upset though, and so are some of her friends. Ms. Keeper hasn’t gotten a fair shot since 2001!)
Also, because I started the year off with this rather meaty character, it got the creative juices going. Most directly, I realize that Teena’s story can be part of a multi-pronged SAGA that has tinges of sci-fi, but dabbles in “real people” fiction, and will have all sorts of iterations. The connecting element for all of this stuff? The Apocalyptists, which is the subject of another post coming up.