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  • Writer's pictureJason Haskins

April 2024: To write, perchance to write some more

Sunrise over the city on a partly cloudy days. Blue and orange mixed with gray in the sky. In the foreground, a tall building, with a crane looming overhead.

Five strangers stranded in a rural diner, thanks to a rare winter superstorm, face an unknown future. A clash of generations and viewpoints takes place, and characters are forced to confront tortured pasts, uncertain futures, and difficult truths, all while setting forth to embrace – or – destroy the age-old notion of “Can’t we all just get along?”

This is The General Laws of (Mostly) Everything Human, my latest full-length play, of which I recently finished the first draft.

Writing this play had start-and-stops over the years. Ideas popped up and disappeared. Themes took hold and then unhooked. Then, in January 2023, a draft took shape, and the sprint of the last few months finally delivered a first draft.

The goal is to hammer out two more drafts before (fingers crossed) holding a private reading. Then, one more draft before a workshop and public staged reading. The latter two, and time to write, has been aided thanks to a quarterly grant from the Idaho Commission on the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts.

The date for the public staged reading is TBA but the goal is towards the end of July.

Other updates

Writing, per usual informational updates, is done in other genres aside from the full-length play. Work on a novel, Through the End of Time, has continued, and the same with a young adult/middle grade novel (a sequel, of sorts, to Of Snow Forts and Santa). Other projects also pop in and out of any given day, including posts on The Journey of Now blog.

Through it all, submissions to agents, theaters, publishers, contests, and other opportunities continue. While I often share the good side and successes of such actions, let it be known the rejections pile up. In these first four months of 2024, I have submitted to roughly 60 different opportunities (or agents, theaters, etc.). Rejections have totaled nearly 30 (with a couple of affirmatives mixed in) while currently waiting to hear from others and search out other opportunities.

While I am always on the lookout for a literary agent for my plays, agents and publishers are being queried mostly in regards to Of Snow Forts and Santa. This book, plus all three fantasy novels, are still available to purchase. (Though, if you are just getting started in my series of fantasy novels, I am working on a revised edition of The Dragon Princess, to be released for the 10-year anniversary in July.)

Coming up on May 6, at The Creative Space, I am taking part in playwright Monica Raymond's staged reading of Four Riffs for a Sailor. Raymond is the current artist-in-residence at Surel's Place and I was lucky enough to attend their writing workshop in April, learning new techniques and styles, along with a chance to hone my craft a bit.

I will be reading the stage directions for this play and the cast includes stalwarts (and fantastic humans) Janet Lo, Katie Preston, Kiala Siman, and Elke Myers.

On the screen

College basketball tournaments distracted me from watching too many movies in recent months. But I did find instances to watch and enjoy (whether fully or some aspects): Oppenheimer, Poor Things, The Midnight Sky, Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3, and The Marsh King's Daughter.

I did fall behind on my TCM schedule, plus other classic movies, but I did watch for the first time in years: Jackie Brown and Time Bandits.

On the television side of things, plenty has been watched in recent months. Currently, I am enjoying Rutherford Falls, The Leftovers, and The Last of Us. Recently, I finished up Beef. I thoroughly enjoyed the performances but the last few episodes, while still good, went a little too absurd for my taste.

In rewatch territory, I completed Mad Men and am currently in the early seasons of ER and The Sopranos. Entertaining, those early seasons of ER structurally, dramatically, and performance wise go toe-to-toe with the best dramas of the past 20 years.

What I've been reading

Four months into 2024, and I've gone down a path of rereading the original Shannara series by Terry Brooks, already finishing The Sword of Shannara and The Elfstones of Shannara. Wishsong is next. I am not quite sure if I will delve into the "Scions" series but it's on the table.

Also recently finished Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, & Five Interviews by Samuel Delany.

Delany's work was interesting to dive into and provided a lot of useful information. The words written within had me thinking about and examining my own writing. And this book will be added to these three other books I rely heavily on:

  • The Elements of Style by E.B. White and William Strunk Jr.

  • Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer

  • Words by The Gregg Publishing Company

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