Category Archives: blogging

My American Writing Voice

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And what else I learned about the creative process from 28 Plays Later

‘The funny thing is… your plays have a very American tone to them. They sound very American. You can tell the characters are American and it just feels very American.’

So says my Irish wife about the plays I have written as part of the month long writing challenge we are taking part in known as ’29 Plays Later.’ Organised by my very clever friend, writer, director and choreographer, Sebastian Rex, ’29 Plays Later’ (so named because of the leap year this year) tasks us with writing a play a day throughout the month based on a prompt we’re sent the night before. Hell, you say? A pressure cooker for the mind, you scream? Yes, both, but you know what Churchill said about hell and actually, it’s felt fabulous to put that kind of mental pressure on myself every day consistently because it’s taught me an enormous amount about the creative process.

Like that I have a naturally American voice when I’m writing.

And maybe all our cultural voices come through when we put pen to paper or finger to keyboard and start to doodle our way into telling our stories. But I find this especially fascinating since my accent has become a new model hybrid, running on the energy of both American and Irish influence. As a consequence, no one outside of Ireland ever guesses that I am American right off the bat. I have not made an effort to lose my accent, but I have even on occasion fooled Irish people, one who thought I was a ‘stupid git who’d spent the summer in the states’ and was trying to pick up the accent. That I write with an American accent, or an American voice, that gritty, crackly quality of the amber waves of grain, despite setting one of my plays in space, one in a London classroom, and one in a Glasgow pub reassures me.

Do our accents change naturally? Do we naturally adapt our rhythms and inflections? I don’t know. They say that in the first six months of life you learn all the the sounds you need to speak your native language and that there will always be a learning curve, even if you move to another country at that age because a certain amount of muscle memory establishes itself. Does the same thing happen with narrative? Do we learn the rhythms of our own cultural narratives from the places we’re born? It stands to reason. If so, I’m proud to be telling American stories.

Two more things: 

If you write it, it will come. 

Writing a play a day is bloody difficult with a full time job, but one of the rules The Missus has abided by  that I was too scared to try until tonight was just to sit down and write and see what comes. There’s a wonderful, charmingly impromptu message to be taken from this: the brain loves to play and given a field to run around in, it will start to dig up that field and build its own creations. And the great thing about it is, the more you think about ideas every day, the more they come to you. Fantastically pretentious, non?

Not everything that you write, in fact, very little of what you write, will be literature, and that’s okay. 

I’ve written a lot this month. And just writing that sentence makes me feel more creatively accomplished than I have in years. The takeaway? To keep accomplishing that wonderful feeling of accomplishment, to paraphrase Dory, just keep writing. Some ideas are worth returning to while others are best left in that digital recycling bin in the sky, but the more momentum I’ve built, the better I’ve felt about the stories, or writing that comes close to being a story. Or something like a story if it had a plot and characters. You get the idea.

Now you go. WRITE!

Oh and speaking of plays, go see Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at The National Theatre. It’s simply amazing! My review of it will be appearing in The American very shortly.

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I’m back! Or How Not To Renew Your Blog

blog renewal

Whoops. Make sure to renew your blog on time.

“theamericanlondoner.com is about to be renewed on August 15, 2014. You will be charged $26.00 for this renewal in 60 days.”

Okay.

Whatever.

Must get back to posting on my blog.

“theamericanlondoner.com is about to be renewed on August 15, 2014. You will be charged $26.00 for this renewal in 30 days.”

Oh Jeez. Must get back to my blog, but I’ve got work to do.

“Automatic Renewal Failure”

“Your domain, theamericanlondoner.com is about to expire on September 26, 2014.”

F*%k. Must really get to that. Well, I’ll get to it soon. I’m on holidays.

Well that was just silly.

We’re sorry. We no longer control theamericanlondoner.com. You can contact the new domain owner and see if they’ll give it back to you.

Argh.

And so, I end my short foray into self-hosting, still firing off emails into the ether asking the new domain owners of www.theamericanlondoner.com if I can buy it back. I’ve even called them. In California! No joy.

It’s my own fault. I should have renewed. Still.

They’re really not doing anything with it.

I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but theamericanlondoner.com was a clever name and I’ve looked and well… no one really has the smugness I have to call themselves The American Londoner and write as well as I do. And now, the site is just an advert, a pathway, a conduit, an empty domain name weigh station.

Well, fellow bloggers, let that be a lesson. You like your domain and want to come in from the cold?

Make. Sure. To. Renew.

Still. It’s forced me into a rethink.

I’m a full time teacher. I don’t have time to monetize. I’d really like to, but it’s just not going to happen right now. Not without sacrificing my day job, or the quality I put into that job, and I’d rather not.

I’ll still accept guest posts, (with caution) and I’d still really welcome other American expats with something to say to post on this site… but I’m just going to concentrate on what this site was originally intended as: my digital portfolio and writing platform, to keep me in practice and to show potential editors I can and am still writing. Hope you’ll keep reading.

Oh and I had to change my name. Bookmark me! (squee!)

Cheers,

The AL

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