Dear November

I’ve been trying to write a play. I’ve also been trying to find a better title for the novel I’ve nearly finished.

The play has to have a big role for my daughter the struggling actor. That would be the main reason for writing it. But I’ve been talking about writing her a play for six years. Rough notes abound but nothing has come of them. I talk and do not produce.

On the phone with her yesterday, Sochi offered a great title for the new novel. Sochi Fried Goes to Hollywood, she said. Yes, I crowed. Sochi Fried Goes to Hollywood and Her Mother Wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. That’s not too long for a book title.

One solution for my play-impasse would be to adapt one of my stories for the stage. Framing it would be key. Finding a theatrical framework in which to set the story and then getting what a playwright friend called ‘the hydraulics’ right.

When I think of dramatic hydraulics I think of Eugene Onegin, the emotional reversal in Pushkin’s novel-in-verse. It’s fresh in my mind from having seen the encore broadcast of the opera last Saturday beamed from the Met in New York. In the first act Tatiana sends a love letter to Onegin, who rejects her. In the last act he is the one sending love letters to Tatiana and he is the one rejected. A great opera.

This morning I look out the window at late November. Smashed pumpkins in the garden next door, a trace of sleet on the leafy ground. Inside, we are warm. The new furnace arrived a week ago and no longer are we huddled next to the wood stove in the living room. The house has opened its arms to us again. We can relax. We can work again.

At my desk I leaf through my old notes thinking about the hydraulics of a play, wondering how to make it happen.

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