If I Knew You Were Coming I’da Bake A Cake
Practicing in Public: Scene with Monologue, Try #1
Lights up. A kitchen. BAKER, a woman of indeterminate age, wearing an apron enters with a glass cake plate, singing.
BAKER: If I knew you were comin’ I’d’ve baked a cake, baked a cake.baked a cake… If I knew you were comin’ I’d’ve baked a cake…
She traces the edge around the cake tin to loosen the cake from the pan
Outside is the sound of loud crows. She peers out the window
BAKER: ( to the crows) Howdya do, howdya do, howdya do?
Holding her hand flat over the cake, BAKER flips the cake pan over and shakes the yellow cake onto the glass plate.
BAKER: I love the sound of crows gossiping in the treetops, rowdy and loud, They don’t care. what the neighbors think.
She dips a knife into a white mixing bowl and swirls chocolate icing on the first round layer of yellow cake.
BAKER: Crows never forget a face. If you do something to a crow, not only will they tell all the other crows but they’ll also warn the next generation. Which is just one of the many reasons you don’t want to cross a crow.
She turns to the second cake layer and circles the edge with a knife.
BAKER: I don’t know what happens if you move away. Maybe you get a second chance somewhere else…
She flips the cake over and sets it atop the bottom layer.
BAKER: For long time this recurring dream that I would arrive at the airport and the plane I was supposed to be on was already in the air.
She begins frosting the top layer.
I watched it take off at the gate. I was on time. Once I got to the airport in time for my flight only it was the day before.There’s never a later flight. I am always left with my suitcases packed still on the grounded, watching while everyone else flies into the sunset.
The top layer of cake breaks.
She takes two knives and tries to bring the halves of the cake together and presses them together like puzzle pieces. She frosts the sides to get them to stay together and tries to put frosting in the middle to make the two half stick together. Despite her best efforts, there a crack opening on the top of the cake. It’s a big mess.
BAKER: I am so goddamn tired of mediocrity.
She picks up the cake and dumps it in the garbage. She throws the pans into the sink. The crows are making a ruckus. She gazes out the window at the crows.
BAKER: If I new you were coming I’d have baked a cake, baked a cake…
She licks a bit of frosting with a fingers.
BAKER: At least it tasted good.
Experiment: Practice Writing scenes with a monologue
1)Pick 3 contrasting emotions ( love, fear, hate)
2) Write a list of each for three minutes, starting with I love… I fear…I hate…
3) Pick the most interesting one from each list and arrange them in an order ( beginning, middle and end of scene)
4)Come up with an action that has a beginning, middle and end that someone can witness. ( Frosting a cake)
5) Write a scene: Lights up. Character enters scene. Write until the end, no more than three pages. Use lines. complete action.
The whole thing should take no more than 1 hour.
Why do I want to practice writing scenes with a monologue?
I want to practicing using my imagination to see how the world looks and feels to someone else, who isn’t me.
Paradoxically, or not, I think this will help me to sound more like me.
I was trained as an academic and the voice I learned was one that was distant and impersonal. After awhile writing that way, I found it hard to take off the professional voice — I no longer knew what I sounded like or wanted to sound like. I have spent years trying to unlearn sounding and being “academented,” ( a term coined by Mary Daly from the Wickidary)
Why Publish This?
It’s an experiment, or a series of experiments I am calling it, Practicing In Public.
To overcome perfectionism, I need to practice finishing something imperfect.
If it’s not shared with someone, then the writing isn’t finished.
Comedians develop their material in front of a live audience. Maybe writers should too.
Perhaps this is really an experiment in being able to not know how to do something and to continue to try by noticing and taking in small, incremental improvements.