The creative process is – on some levels – a weird one. Yesterday I was writing the last (but not final) scene of Hero in a Coma, the current project for Tuesday’s Childe. The scene itself is based on Odysseus’ encounter in the cyclops’ cave (if not quite Odysseus, our version of him). The underlying themes we had were to do with observation. So, I decided to surround Odysseus with observers, thinking of CCTV cameras with little red lights on their heads. They would note everything he did and report it back to some central control. It was all very modern, very much post-Snowden. I had a lovely couplet, based on the standard call centre message:
Please note that we may monitor your life
for quality and training purposes.
I was very happy with that. There was a bit of chatter between the observers – I named them monitors – and base. When Odysseus says ‘Caroline?” they went:
Request cross-match for Caroline.
It was great.
But as I came towards the end of the scene I became uneasy with that aspect of them. I have found that however modern I want to make our Odysseus he is still a pre-modern figure with ancient motives and actions. And Calypso, who was the one watching him (see the play to find out how that works), is far too much an elemental to be using CCTV and computers. Why does she need that when she has power over the air and water, fire and earth?
It turned out that she didn’t. All of those lovely bits and pieces, the lines I had first thought of, had to go. They just didn’t fit. The scene is much better without them.
My other dilema was to work out how Odysseus was going to extinguish the watcher’s lights so he could escape. Our original thoughts from workshopping the scene was to have some kind of violent, physical destruction. But what? I wrote around it, leaving in the pathetic phrases:
OD does something to the eye. Disrupts it. Calypso gets up and starts groping towards OD.
It was only when the scene was nearly done that I realised this was not going to be a violent act, but a trick, a subtrefuge by Odysseus the trickster. He didn’t need to break up the lights, but persuade Calypso to turn them off. That was much more satisfying for him, for her, and for me.
That is the script done – for now – and later this morning we have a full reading of it. I am slightly nervous.