The Fun Kind of Research

I think my newest WIP idea might be sticking. I’m really, really excited about it. I’ve been doing lots of prewriting brainstorming research stuff this week. For instance, it involves high school theatre in a small town in central PA. Central PA surnames tend to be awesome in this Dutch and German-influenced way, but I didn’t want to use the last names of my own high school friends. My brilliant sister suggested that I mine our high school’s alumni page on Facebook. It was totally successful. Check it out: Lobaugh, Rohrbaugh, Schroeder, Schaffer, Schriver, Rebert, McCauslin, Hess, Redding, Wolfe, Gerhart, Gentz.

Then I called my other sister to ask what her junior-year schedule was like. My bestie teaches juniors, but that’s in the NoVA suburbs where they have awesome options like Chinese, Creative Writing, Theatre Tech, and Psychology. We had way less elective options in our tiny school and they don’t do block scheduling yet either. My crazy-smart sister took trig, advanced chem, Spanish 3, American lit, U.S. history, gym/health, and a preschool class.

Also-also, I decided the play that they’ll be doing in the WIP is a junior-senior showcase of Little Women. This is totally autobiographical because we did a senior showcase of Little Women. I was Beth! But all of my college and grad school theatre memories have apparently blocked the high school details and all my memorabilia is stuck at my parents’ until I visit in October. Thanks to the genius of Facebook, I messaged a few high school friends to ask if they remember what our rehearsal schedule was like, how the sound and lights worked, whether we had an SM, stuff like that. Two people even wrote me back already. I’m really excited to write about high school theatre because, God, I loved it so so much.

<side note> I still really love theatre, but I’m so glad it’s not what I’m doing professionally. We saw a show tonight (Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room, or the vibrator play at Woolly Mammoth, which I loved to bits) and afterwards ran into a director I worked with once. He introduced us to this other guy–Steve as a fabulous playwright and me as a fabulous dramaturg–and I sort of wanted to raise my hand and say, But I don’t do that anymore. I write books now! Except that would’ve been rude. But I’m so happy about it, guys. Seriously.

The teacher who directed our high school plays is apparently directing again after a hiatus, and I might Facebook her and see if she would let me swing by the school and check out their stage when I’m in town in Oct. That wouldn’t be crazy-weird, would it? I hope?

In other exciting writing news, I had dinner last night with two of Awesome Agent Jim’s other clients! I get really nervous about meeting other writers, as though they will somehow detect that I am a fraud because I haven’t sold a book yet. Even though logically I know this is silly. In fact they were super-nice and friendly. I really hope we’ll meet up again since we all live in/around DC.

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