“I feel like I printed out my unfinished soul and turned it in for a grade.”

That was what my classmate Megan said today, as we pondered our complete manuscripts. Today we turned in the first full-length of our MFA program, which we all consider our first drafts. Incomplete, messy, but desperately personal.

When Angus (Fletcher, who we took a Dramatic Analysis class with) talked to us about first plays vs. second plays, it was very reassuring. The first play is easy- it’s great fun, superficial, done done done. The second play- we get ambitious. We try and bend the rules. We start exposing parts of our selves, stripping back flesh almost. And it gets difficult, and confusing. But that’s because we’re getting better. Growing pains.

The first full-length play got me into the MFA. The second one, that I wrote this semester- in the last three weeks of it- surprised the hell out of me. When seeing The Glass Menagerie a few months ago, I wondered if I’d ever be able to write something like the sweetly yearning and deeply erotic subtext between Laura and Jim. And to my incredible surprise, I wrote a play overnight which was nothing but that- so much so that my classmates said it embarrassed them to be in the room when it was being read. I mean- awesome.

So personal, so messy, so confused- it’s my unfinished soul, and the thought of someone grading it, even my professor, makes me twitch. But time to let go. And move on to the next one, which hopefully will give me as much ridiculous crazy joy as this one did.

We had a wonderful ‘final’ consisting of lunch at Royal Tea in Culver City with our MFA Screenwriting peers, our professor Velina Hasu Houston, and guests Dominic D’Andrea and Luis Alfaro. What an amazing soul Luis is. He talked about the ‘muscle’ of writing- it’s all muscle. It’s practice, practice, practice. Doing it every day, even when you don’t feel like it. And writing to find the great idea- writing to find that idea. Structure comes after.  And finding great ideas through service.

I can be proud of myself. Now to pack for home.