Mentor’d!

Hello Internet, it’s Monday, February 7th (OMG when it get to be February 7th??) and I am a very happy, if busy, Sharon.

A couple of reasons for the happy. One is fast to explain, so I’ll start with that one…

I spent the weekend skiing!

Oh my. That was so great. I’ve been waiting for a month and a half for the hill to open at the same time that I can go to Clarenville for a weekend, and finally, FINALLY, this weekend, it did, and I did, and I am happy happy about it. My calves and quads are a bit achy, but all that does is remind me of how awesome this weekend was, so I don’t mind. Ah. Skiing. Yay.

The second reason is a bit more complicated. Where to begin… Oh right, 2004.

So, once upon a time, in December of 2004, I wrote a play. It was short, and it was weird, and sappy and poorly paced and everything else that you would expect the first draft of a play written by a 20-year-old would be. But, unlike the other plays I had written to date, this one was different. This one was special. This one didn’t totally suck. In fact, there were even a couple of moments of truth in it.

In December of 2004, one of my best friends was going through the symptoms of prodromal (early onset) schizophrenia. This was, as you might imagine, affecting our friendship, and the play was about how a relationship could change.

Then I went back to school in January of 2005, got distracted by life and course work and summer jobs and generally forgot about it.

Then, in 2007, the friend in question died, and I was startled to find that most of the people in his life – including his best friend and his little brother – didn’t know that he had schizophrenia. And as I read more about the illness and compared the textbook symptoms to what he had been going through, I got more and more upset. That he had to endure such terrifying symptoms (auditory hallucinations, interminable headaches, sensitivity to bright lights, etc) was bad enough, but that he never felt that he could tell people what he was going through… that was horrifying. Add in the stigma related to mental health disorders, especially to psychosis, and a reluctance to seek psychiatric help, and it starts to be amazing that anyone ever survives it.

All the research kept coming back to one thing: that one of the major factors that determine the successful recovery of a person with schizophrenia is a support network. Friends and family that the patient knows will stand by them. People who are well-informed on the ins and outs of schizophrenia, including its triggers and its treatment.

About two weeks after his death, I knew I was rewriting that play, and I was going to get as many people as I could possibly manage to see it. But I had to do it right.

Since then, with the help of some public funding and some advice from members of the mental health community, I have rewritten the play (a few times, actually), had a workshop, recruited a creative team and written out of play-by-play of the plan to get the thing produced. But, as is the case with most independent projects, money is tight, and I have a lot of other stuff going on, so progress comes in stops and starts as we get little bits of money coming in.

The script needs a few more drafts to it before I can begin to sensibly produce it, and in an effort to get things moving a little bit, I spent the fall applying for some funding to make that happen. And one of them did! I found out on Friday!

I am officially a participant in the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Apprenticeship Program, which means that for the next 5 months a mentor (Sara Tilley) will work with me while I try to get my script up to standard. One step closer, baby!

*happy dance*