Isn't that a great word, sundry? I love that word. What words to you love?
Speaking of words, what is the present tense form of the word wrought? Is it wright? Is that what a playwright does? He wrights a play? It seems appropriate. Writing anything, especially a play, is really as much a matter of construction and struggle as it is simply pushing a pen or a keyboard. A wringing. Maybe that's what the present tense is. "I am wringing a play. I have wrought a play. I am a playwright." I definitely feel a wrung out after certain periods of writing . . .
Speaking of playwrights, I am in the middle of the most recent issue of Irreantum, which was guest-edited by my friend (and I am so thrilled to be able to call him my friend) Scott Bronson. It's great so far. (Scott is great so far, too. In fact, if any of you have extra money kicking around and want to invest it in the future of Mormon Letters, Scott is working on some projects that deserve backing. Let me know.) If you haven't ever looked at Irreantum, you should. It is the key, my friends, to the future of Mormon Lit., I do believe. Because it represents a community of really fascinating people doing really fascinating things. Also because it is where I see the best work that's being done in Mormon criticism. (Art criticism, as opposed to culture/doctrine criticism. Oh, yes, there is a big and important difference.) Criticism is so important in improving our literature. I'm all for criticism. Enough of this patting ourselves on the back because we produced some piece of work that, at best, "has a good message," and supposedly "doesn't offend." (Except for my work, of course. In that case, be sure to pat me on the back and don't say anything negative. Because writing is hard and my work has a good message, darn it.)
Speaking of criticism, I wrote a review recently of a novel by a sort of acquaintance (through AML). It KILLED me to write this review. Because I felt that this writer fell short of what he could have done. But I like him. I want him to like me. I want him to be my friend. I also want his publisher to publish me some time. But, having been one of the more vocal advocates of stricter criticism, I felt I needed to put my money where my mouth was. I sweated blood over that review. And I know that will probably not be evident to anyone—those who know neither of us will skim over the review (the way I always skim reviews). He and his editor will read it and their eyes will sting with the burn of the negative things I say so that they hardly see the positives. I'm sad about that, because there were a lot of positives. But this guy is a good writer. I felt that if I were honest about what I saw as the flaws of the book, he might even get bettter and someday be a great writer. In the process of writing it, I ended up thinking a lot about charity. Is it more charitable to say only positive things about a person's work? (Or about a person in general?) I decided that there are some positions in which charity requires honest criticism as well as praise. But these positions are rare. The position of reviewer is one of them.
Speaking of reviews, I have a really hard time writing reviews of plays. Just because I know so little about theater. I wish that were different. But, for one thing, I'm a lousy actor. This really bugs me, because for several years of my life I wanted more than anything to be one. I love the theater, but I can't afford to see much of it. We did get season tickets to Hale Center Theater from Roger's boss this year, and, although I have been kind of snooty about Hale in the past, I have to admit that the quality of their productions is extremely high. Little Women was fabulous and Thoroughly Modern Millie took my breath away. Why have I always been snooty about them? I don't know. Because they stick to "safe" shows (meaning, comedies and musicals) and ignore the new stuff being written by my friends. Because they are so successful, while new LDS works struggle. Neither of which is anything I can really blame them for, I suppose. And because I see them as in the prime position to educate LDS audiences because they are so successful and trusted. Why don't they throw into their season one new LDS play each year? Why don't they have some playwrighting contests? Anyway, I look forward to taking my kids to The Secret Garden in a couple of months. Have you seen it, or heard its soundtrack? I love that music. (Thanks to Rachel for introducing me.)
Speaking of wonderful things that you may not have sampled, did you ever get a chance to try the peanut-butter pie at El Cheepo's in Park City? That is THE best dessert I've ever had. How sad I was when we went back to get it a few years ago and found that the restaurant was GONE!!!!!!! How am I going to get that peanut-butter pie now? It had regular pie crust and a layer of chocolate ganache (??) and then a layer of creamy peanut-butter stuff with peanut-butter cups on top. Anyone have a recipe?
Hmmmmm. I'm hungry now. Think I'll go melt some chocolate chips and pour them over the almonds that are going stale in the cupboard. Come join me.