Lessons in surviving captivity by a disembodied protagonist and other trials by (creative) fire
[Editor’s note: Singer/multi-instrumentalist Lainey Schooltree is the creative force behind Boston-area art-rock collective Schooltree. The group’s latest album, Heterotopia, is a two-disc allegorical fantasy concept that was four years in the making. Following is Lainey’s personal account of ups and downs in the complex work’s creation.]
“This isn’t working. None of it works. I’ve written myself into a corner,” I lament. It’s a clear night sometime in early fall, 2014. I’ve driven through the neighborhoods of Boston’s suburbs to the home of a playwright friend and advisor, blasting recent demos on my car stereo. Tonight she’s helping me refine a draft of a rock opera I’ve been working on over a year, for a private workshop performance that’s slated in six weeks. I have over a hundred pages of writing and all of it is crap.
I’ll admit I can be dramatic about the trials of creating. I take it all very seriously. Maybe too seriously, in some odd combination of New England forbearance and art-martyr angst. I tell myself pathos propels the work to artistic glory … and only occasional injury. This is how I wound up spending every dollar I had (and a whole bunch I didn’t), neglected relationships hanging uneasily in the balance, with semi-permanent muscle damage in both arms from overplaying: spending four years on a project universally considered “ambitious,” for better or worse. The rock opera we’re working on is for Schooltree, a band I started in 2011, which since has had a rotating lineup of talented musicians, all dedicated to playing challenging music. Want to read the rest of the article? Buy current issue No. 73 and subscribe to Progression! >Click here
“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” ― Frank Zappa