My mom has often compared the process of writing and directing a musical to the birth of a child. Certainly, the comparison breaks down at many points, but the similarities are there.
Something sparks an idea, and it begins to churn and grow. Weeks, months, or a year or more may go by before anything is actually written, but the idea is always there, in the back of my mind.
Eventually, the idea grows to large to contain, and things start speeding up. It's the labor stage, when the story is something I think about at random hours of any day. I'm very distracted during this phase, as I can be present in body, but have my mind somewhere off in ancient Israel. It takes a while to actually set pen to paper, but pretty soon the ideas are flowing so quickly, I can't help it; I have to write, to release it.
Deciding on a name usually happens first, as the story grows and molds to its name. Sometimes the name is instant, coming with the initial idea. Other times, I have to try many on for size and get the input of others before I find one that fits.
The birthing process definitely isn't as painful as having a baby, but it still has its difficulties. Sometimes things flow smoothly as the words pour out onto the page. Other times, I'm stumped for a while, wondering how best to phrase something, or where to take the plot and character development. But usually, an excess of words pours out, faster than my pen can move. It takes long stretches of time to write, though, and can often span a few weeks.
Once the first draft is out, there's still a lot of work left. It's time to type it into the computer, and edit, and edit, and edit! All the shaping and refining helps the musical grow into something much better from the initial outpouring, though. I tend to be quite wordy, so the editing process involves a lot of deleting of unnecessary words, sentences, and even entire paragraphs or plot twists. I am blessed with great family and friends to help with this process, getting their input as they help decide what stays, what needs to change, and what needs to go.
The work isn't over when the scripts are printed. There are auditions, and then the musical continues to grow and change as each actor develops his or her character. It's amazing to see the story, that was once just an idea, come to life! The presentation time is especially rewarding, to see the fruit of months of hard work.
"The Manger Way" is in its newborn stage. The idea of having an easier-to-stage musical consisting of monologues interspersed with dances has been in my head for a while. Better ideas came as a result of discussions with close friends and fellow artists in late August. As I traveled to Ohio to visit family for Labor Day weekend, it was definitely in the "labor" stage as I was easily distracted by the ideas churning in my head. There, I finally decided on a name, after discussing around 20 other options. Once "The Manger Way" was the name, the outline came out, and then the script came... I wrote for 5 hours in the car on the way home.
It's been hard to find time to write as dance classes started, but I fit it in here and there, and even enlisted the help of two young friends to each write a monologue. Editing with others started a week ago, and it's been going well. It's definitely needed cutting, and the delight each time I hit the delete key to get rid of unnecessary words is fulfilling. :)
Auditions will happen in the later part of October, Lord willing, and the location has been reserved to present it this December 18th and 19th, 2010. There's a lot to do before then; choreography is in full swing, and each class of The King's Praise Ballet has begun learning their dance.
Please be in prayer as this musical develops, that God will be glorified as we look at the way His Son came to earth, as well as the way the manger led... to the cross.