Many moons ago I volunteered at a church that would put on end-of-year productions and my job as a volunteer was to write these for them. I would work on the productions with a very talented friend of mine who is a music director and he would give me the concept and I would go away and write it.
I had a great working relationship with Rich and really loved the process of taking something like an idea in its infancy and building it all the way through to a finished script. What we did have to be mindful of though, were the constraints that were put on the writing process like the fact the show could only be one-hour long and stage time had to be divided equally between the three schools that included singing, dancing and acting yet a complete story with a beginning, middle and end was still expected. With the show being just one-hour long and the actors only being given a third of that one-hour on stage, the story had to move along at a fairly rapid pace.
One year I was writing a show called Eternum and I was typing away at home when the phone rang. It was a stranger and she said she had phoned the church asking to connect with other writers and they had given her my number. She said she was a writer and had recently moved to Sydney and was looking to get to know other writers and she hoped we could all meet together regularly and support each other in what we were doing. She said that at the meetings we would all get a turn to talk about what we were writing and the others in the group could give suggestions on how what we were doing might be improved.
As she talked on about her plans for this group I wondered who had so thoughtfully given her my number. I wasn’t interested for a number of reasons. I didn’t want to discuss my writing with a bunch of strangers, nor have them offer me suggestions on how they thought things might be improved. And, I didn’t know any writers who worked in collaboration or who shared what they were writing before it was actually published. The other issue I had is that Sydney is a big place and she didn’t live anywhere near me and was in fact about 90 minutes away by car which would make getting together for meetings difficult and time-consuming.
Eternum was opening in about a week’s time and I didn’t want to be too unkind to this stranger who was reaching out to me so I asked her if she would like to come to the production on the opening night. I told her I wouldn’t be able to meet with her then because I would be busy backstage but that we could talk a few days after the show. She thanked me very much and said she would love to come.
I was very pleased with how it went with the show being quite a moving and stirring production with moments that had the audience in hysterics and at other times in tears. I had so many in the audience telling me it was the best production yet.
I forgot all about Diane but a few days after the show she phoned and I said, ‘Oh hi, Diane, how are you?’
‘I’m good’, she said rather flatly and offered nothing more. Silence.
‘Thanks so much for coming the other night. Did you enjoy the show?’ And with a most superior tone she said, ‘I thought it was truncated and lectionary’. I wasn’t sure I had heard right.
‘Sorry, you thought it was what?’
‘Truncated and lectionary’. And she didn’t elaborate. No one said anything. There was one of those awkward pauses.
‘Oh thanks’, I said, but I was quite sure I hadn’t been given a compliment. And then she asked when we could meet for coffee. I said, ‘I still have quite a bit of work to do with this production so how about I give you a call when when it’s finished?’
And I never called her. Because as soon as I got off the phone I looked up the words ‘truncated’ and lectionary’. Truncated means shortened or having a part cut off and lectionary means a collection of scripture readings. I quite accurately had guessed I hadn’t been given a compliment.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I just think that if you move to an area where you have no friends and you want to try and connect with people who have similar vocations or interests, you might want to try to have something nice to say, at least in the first meeting.
I always wonder if Diane ever got that writing group off the ground.
And back when I was dealing with Diane, I was also cooking from the Australian Women’s Weekly Barbecue cookbook that was published so long ago I was able to buy it for $4.98. Here’s a great salad from the cookbook that’s perfect for these hot conditions.
Avocado, Mango and Walnut Salad
Degree of Difficulty: 1/5
Cost: I would only make this when avocados and mangoes are in season.
- 2 avocados, peeled, sliced
- 2 mangoes, peeled, sliced
- 1/3 cup walnut halves
- 3 bacon rashers, finely chopped
- 1 mignonette lettuce
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbspns lemon juice
- 1 tspn french mustard
- 1 tbspn thickened cream
Cook bacon in pan until crisp; drain. Arrange avocado, mango, walnut halves and bacon over bed of lettuce. Top with dressing.
Dressing: Combine all ingredients in screw top jar; shake well.