During the month of February I took part in a challenge called '28 Plays Later', which meant writing a play every day. It seemed a near-impossible task to begin with, but I hoped it would get my creative juices flowing, improve the fluence of my script-writing and allow me to experiment with some of the many ideas I have in my notebook. It did all of these things.
Each day Sebastian at The Space sent a prompt for the play, and in addition to the constraints he imposed, I added my own: each play was about, or included a tree, following the Gaelic Tree Alphabet, in (modern) alphabetical order, plus additional trees for the 8 letters that aren't in the Gaelic alphabet (J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y, Z). For these I inserted cherry, elm, douglas fir, sitka spruce, apple, pear, walnut and palm. So I now have 28 plays about trees (or actually 27, because one of the challenges was to rewrite one of them).
Mostly the plays are tiny, often a single scene (though one runs to 10 scenes). This month's challenge is to read them critically and decide if any of the material can be worked up into something usable.
The beauty of a scheme like this is the fact that because it is so ridiculous, permission is granted to write rubbish. There is nothing more liberating than being freed of the commitment to try to produce something good. As a result, I was able to explore characters I've been thinking about but didn't quite know what to do with and pick up on vague ideas and see how they might work out. I've been pleasantly surprised: two characters in particular, Faith (a sprightly 89 year old woman) and Poppy (an old-for-her-years 24 year old woman) will, I am sure, live on.
It's rather as if, during the course of the month, lots of seeds have germinated in my literary garden. Some of them will die back of their own accord, I am sure. March's job is to do some weeding, and nurture some of the promising young things along, trying not to hail too hard on them. There are some shrubby specimens that need attention too...