Happy (post) Independence Day! I just returned to Brooklyn after spending the long holiday weekend upstate where I grew up, visiting with family and old friends, drinking too much wine, and taking in some historical sites.
While at Mount Hope I learned that Frederick Douglass is also buried there, only steps from Anthony. I was delighted by this surprise; as a lifelong friend (though at times political adversary) of Stanton and Anthony, he plays a central role in ELIZABETH. Though I haven’t yet researched his life as deeply as I have those of Stanton and Anthony, I nonetheless felt a profound sense of connection when visiting his grave. Unlike Anthony's grave stone, Douglass' resting place is much grander, a reflection of his rightful place in history.
Visiting Anthony’s and Douglass’ final resting places was a profound reminder that these two people were just that: people. History has a tendency to canonize its most accomplished contributors to a point of super humanity, implying that they somehow went through life on a higher plane of thought and existence than the rest of us mere mortals. In visiting their graves, I really felt their presence as people.
This reinforced the importance of one of my biggest goals in writing this project: to uncover - and recreate - the humanity within all of my main characters. It would be all too easy to write two-dimensional characters who are mere foils that plod from historical event to historical event without any underlying motivation. Instead, I believe that I have a responsibility to their legacies, and to my audience, to recreate these people as three-dimensional characters with needs, motivations, tendencies, and flaws that compel them to make the decisions they make.
Before I wrap up this entry, a quick word on why I’m starting a blog at all. My goal is to write monthly updates at the beginning of each month - if for no other reason, the fear of shame that would come from writing “nothing happened this month” will be enough to encourage me to be productive and write something down. That, and I enjoy having a forum in which to express and preserve my thoughts and experiences related to my work, and the process of writing in general.
Toward that end, in addition to my research field trips I’ve also made great progress on my first detailed outline of ELIZABETH in the last few weeks. My goal for the weeks to come is to complete the first full draft and begin work on a second, with the ultimate goal of creating a comprehensive outline with as few narrative kinks as possible from which to write a first draft of the actual script. I hope to get to this place before I attend the Catwalk Writer's Residency in early October (more on that later). In addition to my work on ELIZABETH, Emily Peters and I are also making steady progress on our (rather complicated) Act I Finale of FIRST YEAR; I hope to have something that resembles a first draft by next month’s entry.
That’s it for now. Stay safe and write on.