Re-Story Theater’s Beginning… An intimate look at the writing of “The Green Velvet Christmas Dress”

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Last year, I wrote backwards! I started with a play, not the story first.

I write stories all the time. I do my best to write one Christmas story a year and have begun writing one this year in the midst of the busyness of directing and producing “The Green Velvet Christmas Dress”.  It’s called “The Unopened Christmas Gift” and I like where it’s going.

After last year’s successful premiere, I began writing the story of “The Green Velvet Christmas Dress” and I had high hopes for it being available for this year’s reprise of the play.  I had no trouble starting the story and then I came to the part in Emma’s life where her family passes (oops, I’ve told you something important if you haven’t seen it yet!). It stopped me cold in my story tracks of writing. I was fine through establishing relationships, setting scenes, describing places, and the seriousness began to set in.  Death was on its way and all I could do to stop it was this—stop writing. So I did.

In February the Lord asked me to return to the page.  It was raining outside and cold for California. I stayed in my flannels and wrote and wrote. I finished the most difficult part of the story up until that point.  There was a sense of relief and then the grief began to set in. “They’re gone now…” from the story and now my main character must live in a grief few could survive… and so will I.

After dinner that night, “my first audience” as I like to call Grace and David (Tim if he is home), heard all that I had written thus far.  I wasn’t a very good storyteller that night.  In fact, I had to stop several times to let the tears flow.  As I glanced from the page to my audience, they were crying as well.  And then I was done. “That’s all I have so far,” I said with apology.  A flurry of compliments and thoughts tumbled out the mouths of my faithful family listeners.  And they begged me to write some more.

The story is unfinished, but I have written more of it! I know the arc, the chapters. I know the look of the packaging I would like to have for the book.  I know to whom I will dedicate the book. And I know I will ask my faithful editors—Marcia and Gary—to do what they do so well.  I would like to record it, too.

And so I wait for the next portion of “The Green Velvet Christmas Dress” to pour forth out of me. After this show’s “curtain closes” and all of the play’s set and props are stored away, I will likely return to the story I began this year—“The Unopened Christmas Gift”—and finish it.

I am hoping and praying for a special rainy day in January… when I can return to the dress.

 One of the dearest compliments from last year’s came to me from someone I admire, knows my work well and what I call the pull and drag of the artist.  There are times, as an artist, that I feel a pushing and a shoving within me or from Someone. Finally, I surrender and pull or drag the weight of its calling to the laptop or paper and begin.

She simply said these words—

Your work made me cry, as always. It got under my skin.

 Come to “The Green Velvet Christmas Dress” and let its story get under your skin.  You might just find something of your powerful legacy there. In fact, I am certain you will.

Melea

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