I didn’t win or place in this year’s Iron Pen Contest. It didn’t come as a huge surprise. I spent all of 2 of my allotted 24 hours on my entry. This was 2 hours in the wee morning of Saturday. It was dark outside, chilly inside, and I was clasping at straws on how to use the contest’s prompt “Miracles are wrought with axes”.
The prompt had arrived in an email a 5 pm Friday just as expected. I read it, pondered its meaning, appreciated it wasn’t quite as esoteric as some past prompts, and spent the evening thinking about how to use it.
My working time this year would be, by necessity, a lot shorter than the usual 24 hours.
I’d been planning on going to the QC Theatre Workshop’s staging of the 1st Annual Susan Glaspell’s Playwriting Contest winners that same Friday night. I enjoy plays and don’t go often enough. The other major hitch for this year’s Iron Pen was Saturday’s trip to
that had to have an early start.
I’d planned on taking my laptop and sneaking in some writing time. (I’ve always
been a little too ambitious with time management, so why stop now.) Madison, Wisconsin
Since I was so short on time, I didn’t look up the quote as I usually do. If I had I’d have found this excerpt from John Ditsky’s comments about a Bretolt Brecht play:
“Again, the Story Teller moralizes, and this time it is clearly the Christian ethic the weaknesses of which—as Brecht sees them—are under scrutiny:
All mankind should love each other but when visiting your brother
Take an axe along and hold it fast.
Not in theory but in practice miracles are wrought with axes
And the age of miracles is not past.
Especially in its combination of brutal referents [axes] and naïve beliefs [miracles], Brecht’s notion of revolutionary justice is obviously never without its element of simple force.”
This info might have shaded my interpretation of the quote as I was listening to the reading of the national award winner, A Whole Other Shade of Blue. Because to my mind playwright Gwendolyn Rice dropped the proverbial axe when she interrupted the otherwise ideal vacation of her protagonists with the body of a child, a refugee, washed up on a lovely white sand beach. (Seriously, I should have seen this coming. It was
. It was an island. It was
all over the news last summer. Doh.) Greece
Anyway, I thought of the quote. I thought about continuing my campaign for reviews. I went with it.
After 2 hours I had something short and, to my mind, pithy. I figured my chances of fine tuning it the next day were nil—so I sent it in. (I’d leave it to some future time to work on it some more.)
I don’t regret my decision. Iron Pen for me is a welcome writing challenge; a chance to donate to the MWC; and, if I ever win again, the opportunity to be my own kind of judge for the next year's contest.
I plan to go to the award ceremony and be impressed with the efforts of others.
There’s always next year.