We have arrived at the final challenge for November 2023.
For those of you who wrote every single day this month, well done!
For those of you who wrote some but maybe not every day, also well done!
You all have more writing in hand than you did at the end of October, and that was the whole point.
Hopefully all of you have at least one or two ideas you want to continue pursuing in the year ahead.
For those of you who were new this year, thanks for finding us.
For those of you who enjoyed it enough last year to come back and do it again, we were happy to see so many familiar names.
Thanks to all of you for prioritizing your writing a little bit every day.
And though It’s dicey making pronouncements about anything a year out, the plan is to definitely do this again next November. So if you found it useful, mark your calendars. And spread the word to anyone you think might be interested.
Once everyone’s turned in what they’re going to write for this last challenge day, I’ll tally everything up and follow up with an email to everyone who looks like they did all 30 days (or got close on my daily tracking chart), just to confirm with everyone and make sure I didn’t accidentally miss anybody.
If you don’t hear from me and feel like you should be hearing from me, by all means reach out. I’ve been endeavoring to catch things that slipped through the cracks or got lost in technology somewhere as we went along, but I could very well have missed something. Gmail’s been a little funkier this year than the previous two years.
Then we’ll confirm your mailing addresses where to send the check (we’re new, so we don’t have a credit card or Venmo/CashApp account or anything like that - so it’s old school handwritten checks). You can all tell people you were paid by a theater company for your writing and it will be true, you can even show them evidence :)
Thanks again for participating, everybody!
It was a bit of a marathon for me on this end, too, but it was worth it to see you all cranking out those pages of dialogue and sketches of ideas. Even your little escape hatch plays some days were quite inventive and entertaining.
Again, well done, one and all!
And now, let’s get you that final writing prompt for November 2023…
Challenge #30 - I Don’t Believe In Ghosts, But…
Due: Friday, December 1st, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)
My singer/songwriter friend Chris Koza and his band Rogue Valley released a new double album recently called “Shell Game,” and on it there was a track called “Spell It Out” that on first listen I could almost think was about a person who felt a bit dense about the status of their relationship and was asking for clarification. On a second listen, however, it immediately became clear this jaunty little, upbeat tune wasn’t about that at all. But I still needed to ask Chris, “Am I reading this wrong, or this a song about someone who wants a sign from someone they love who’s dead?” Chris confirmed that yes, that indeed is what the song is about, I wasn’t misinterpreting the meaning:
"If you can hear me,
Let me know you can hear me.
Make a light go on,
Make a door open.
Make it something I won't miss
Unmistakable and obvious.
Spell it out for me.
If you just tell me,
Let me know, you just tell me.
I've got so many questions,
Collecting like ashes.
Give me something I can keep,
A song that I play on repeat.
Spell it out for me.
Don't wait, don't wait.
Tomorrow is a long way.
Right now, right now,
I'd do anything you say.
If I can feel you,
Let me know you can feel me, too.
Let the rain pour down.
Let the sun come out.
Make it unforgettable,
Something only I could know.
Something short and sweet,
A little surprising.
Spell it out for me."
It’s track 9 here
One morning recently, I woke with a start because it felt like someone had sat down on the edge of my bed.
But no one was there.
To clarify, I live alone, no partner, no roommate, no pets.
Freaky as that was, it still was way too early to actually get up and out of bed yet, so I cautiously laid back down and went to sleep again.
But then I woke again, startled by the sensation that someone was sitting down on the edge of my bed again.
Now, I don’t have a long list of experiences to slot into that particular sensation for reference.
My social life has not been filled with people staying the night and being there in the morning to gently rouse me or anything. I’m normally the early riser in a situation like that anyway.
Honestly, the only person who’s ever really sat down on the edge of my bed while I was sleeping, because for whatever reason it was time to get up, or they were checking on me because I was sick, was my mother.
And Mom’s been dead for over four years.
So the sensation, and the fact that it was repeated, was unnerving.
And the notion of the only person I could slot into that situation in my head was also unnerving.
I suppose as a reminder of a loved one who’s gone, of times past, it was nice in a strange way.
But still very weird.
Things like that don’t happen to me.
And yet this happened.
My brother has had a very different relationship with our mother since she died.
He used to talk to her every day when she was alive.
He admitted he still talks to her every day now, even though she can’t really respond.
Or can she?
He makes a habit on significant days a couple of times a year of driving all the way out to the middle of nowhere to visit Mom’s grave (no offense to Milton, Pennsylvania, it holds a storied place in our family history, as well as the family plot in the cemetery on a hill just outside of town - but look it up on a map, then zoom out and out and out and you’ll see that every major named city in the state is hours away by car, often several hours away).
And he will call me while he’s there, so that I can say hi if I want - to her.
One time I missed the call, but was able to call back pretty quickly, and he was already in the car and driving out of the cemetery on his way home, but he asked, “Do you want me to go back, so you can talk to her?” I assured him no, that was fine, he could keep driving and he and I could chat instead for a bit, which we did.
He will take things, little visual inside jokes, and set them on the gravestone and then take pictures and send them to me.
One time he took the dog with him - a dog that had lived with Mom for several years. And when my brother let the dog out of the car, the dog trotted right over to Mom’s grave. Not any other plot, not the grave markers of grandma or granddad, Mom’s parents, on either side of her. Nope. Dog went right to her without any prompting or guidance.
I enjoy stories of the supernatural, but I don’t really believe in the supernatural.
But I do have to admit, when someone you know dies, particularly someone you love, things can occasionally get very, very weird.
So write something about that, or in that neighborhood.
What are your stories?
What does any of that make you think of?
Have fun with it.
Take a swing at that for our final outing.
Or, like always, write whatever you want.
Just write. Something. For one last day in November (this year).
Again, folks, well done.
Happy writing to you all!
If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #30:
Or 2022’s challenge #30:
you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you
want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline,
that’s all that matters for the challenge :)
Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)
Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play
No. Really. I Mean It. Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt
Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)
Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”
Don't Stress About What You're Turning In Each Day
How to submit your work for Challenge #30
You have options. They are:
Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)
When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #30
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)
Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below
Again, this is: Due: Friday, December 1st, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)
And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.
Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon on Friday to write if you need it. When you’re done, you’re done.
Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)
Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have another 11 months (until the next November writing challenge) to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.
It just needs to be something.
And that something can be:
A character is walking out of a room.
Behind them, a light flickers.
The person stops, turns around, look at the light.
The light flickers again.
That’s always your escape hatch, every day.
That’s your base line.
Build on it.
Make an impulsive decision and run with it.
You’ve got the day.
Matthew A. Everett
The video trailer for Threshold Theater's first virtual play reading in the New Play Reading series (back in May/June 2021), our reading of “Spellbound” by Matthew A. Everett - Thanks to his mischievous friend Jeffrey, who’s begun dabbling in witchcraft, Micah has accidentally dosed his best friend Auggie with a love potion. Which might be fine, if Auggie wasn’t straight, and married, or if Auggie’s wife Sarah wasn’t pregnant, or a practicing witch. With the help of Duncan, who runs the local metaphysical supply store, the race is on to whip up the antidote before anyone does something they’ll regret. Now on our YouTube channel
The video recording of Threshold Theater's seventh live play reading in the New Play Reading series. Like all good LGBTQ+ theater companies, we begin our new season of programming with "Mediocre Heterosexual Sex" - which is a play by Madison Wetzell. Four hours after her girlfriend dumps her, Erin switches her Tinder setting to dudes because she hates herself. She quickly meets Aaron, who is straight, conveniently nearby, and only too happy to indulge her masochistic fantasies. To translate this deeply ambivalent first hetero experience, Erin seeks the advice of the only straight people she knows, a couple in a Dominant/submissive relationship. A vexed exploration of gender, sex, power, and kink.
Coming Spring 2024:
“4Play with Threshold Theater”
Dates and venue still TBA
Amsterdam, by Collette Cullen
Bluetooth, by Liz Dooley
Hurry Up and Wail, by Anna Ralls
Just for Context, by Bethany Dickens Assaf
The Weird Ellen Prom Queen Trendsetters, by Elizabeth Shannon
Coming for Pride Month 2024
Monday, June 3, 2024
Monster Girls at Sunshine Donuts, by Dani Herd
A vampire, a werewolf, and a Frankenstein's monster walk into a doughnut shop... Meet Louise, Tally, and Elsie: the crew behind Sunshine Doughnuts! The ghouls have fallen into a pretty pleasant spooky routine for themselves; pouring coffee, baking doughnuts, arguing over Scooby-Doo cartoons, having crushes on their regulars. Along comes an unexpected late night visitor to throw everything into question. Sometimes it really sucks how much your past can come back to bite you!
"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin
"Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way."
- E.L. Doctorow