We are happy to welcome guest celebrity blogger playwright Theresa Rebeck, a Pulitzer Prize finalist whose plays include Broadway's Mauritius and Off-Broadway's Omnium Gatherum (co-written with Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros), Bad Dates, Spike Heels, The Understudy, Loose Knit, The Butterfly Collection, The Water's Edge, The Scene, Our House and more. Rebeck, whose play The Novelist will be presented at the Dorset Theatre Festival in August, will blog for Playbill.com all week; her third entry follows.
My second novel came out about two months ago. It's called "Twelve Rooms With A View," and it's really quite good, very funny and about something all New Yorkers care about: real estate. It's about other things too. I recommend it highly.
Writing that second novel almost killed me. My lit agent warned me that it would. The fact is—this is a fact that I really didn't know until it fell on my head—nobody really knows how to write novels. The first one you write on arrogance and adrenaline. Then it gets published and does well and you think, "Excellent, time to do it again!" And it is at that moment when you realize that you had no idea, really, about how to do it in the first place and it's virtually inexplicable, frankly, how the first one happened. Seriously, sometimes I go back and look at pages from my first novel and think, "Wow, that's pretty good, who wrote this?" Even though I know very well it was me.
So the second novel is an exercise in sheer terror. I have a lot of friends who are staring down the barrel of their second novel, and I have to say I'm really glad my pushy agent kept telling me to just finish it and get it over with. Now I'm on to my third, which is more pleasant. I have that Malcolm Gladwell book lying around my house, and supposedly it explains that if you do something for 10,000 hours you get really good at it. I am hoping to get good at writing novels.
It is considered a curious thing, to want to write both novels and plays. Some people write poetry and plays—Shakespeare, of course!—and some people act and write plays—Shakespeare, Moliere, Anna Deavere Smith. Some people write novels and movies—Richard Price, Nick Hornby--and of course all sorts of playwrights write movies and television because how else are we supposed to get our health insurance? The novel/play thing, however, seems to be trickier. Henry James and Charles Dickens are two famously brilliant novelists who then tried to write plays and didn't have any luck. There are really only a few who managed it: Michael Frayn and Oscar Wilde. They are by default my role models.
So I'm supposed to be up here in Vermont writing my third novel. And I am writing it, but mostly today I've been painting the front room a really aggressive shade of green, and thinking about writing it. And now I'm blogging on Playbill about writing my third novel, which is not, sadly, quite the same thing as writing it.
The weather remains lovely. I am back to work.