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it is what it is and what it should be

by OrionRising


it is what it is and what it should be

By: OrionRising

Characters:

Terry: A young man and author

Mr. Blake: An older man, a publisher

Setting:

The play takes place in Mr. Blake’s office where Terry is attempting to get Mr. Blake to publish his handwritten novel.

Scene:

(Lights rise on Terry and Mr. Blake. Both seated. Blake is behind a desk and Terry is sitting across from him. Terry is holding a hardcover book)

TERRY:

Well, Mr. Blake, I am here for one thing, to make this book a classic.

(Places book on desk.)

After a good six months, I bring you what will be my third book published under this company’s name. I have even taken the liberty of editing it myself.

MR. BLAKE:

(Picks up the book and begins flipping through it.)

By golly, Terry, have you gone mad? This is but a mere journal. You cannot come to a publishing company with a handwritten draft! You must at least have this typed.

TERRY:

(smugly and confidently)

But sir, my identity is in my handwriting. Not to mention, the handwriting is clear and careful, essentially indistinguishable from the Comic Sans font.

MR. BLAKE:

(laughs)

Clear and careful, you say—

TERRY:

(interrupting)

Yes I do.

MR. BLAKE:

You do?

TERRY:

(crossing arms, sticking chin up, and leaning back confidently)

I do.

MR. BLAKE:

(growing increasingly agitated)

Terry, Terry, Terry, you cannot be serious. I’ve always known you to be a great writer, but I cannot publish this, simply because it isn’t typed. I mean, for goodness sake, Terry, your lowercase ‘m’s look like seagulls and your ‘t’s are not holy crosses, but—

Terry:

(interrupting again, angrily)

Holy crap!

MR. BLAKE:

Precisely!

TERRY:

I have followed guidelines, I have taken suggestions, and been forced to change aspects of novels which I did not want to change, all because of this publishing company. My novels are the face of the company so this time I will do things how I like.

MR. BLAKE:

I cannot let you.

TERRY:

(rises to leave)

Then I guess this meeting is over.

MR. BLAKE:

Wait, wait. We want your novel, only we cannot accept it in this format. Your handwriting is truly atrocious, nobody will be able to understand it.

TERRY:

Bennett Blake, you have got to understand, that this is not your typical novel. This is a manifestation of life pure of the digital, and thus, distancing, touch.

MR. BLAKE:

It is illegible.

TERRY:

It is intelligible.

MR. BLAKE:

No man could read this.

TERRY:

Yet every man could relate to it.

MR. BLAKE:

Not I.

TERRY:

Have you read it?

MR. BLAKE:

I cannot.

TERRY:

Let me hear it.

MR. BLAKE:

(Rolls eyes and opens to a random page. Using a finger to guide him, Mr. Blake begins reading, slowly, squinting hard at the text.)

“Time goes by so quickly,” I say, pointing down at the freeway below us, “that sometimes, I wonder, if it is better to speed or to coast. As I understand it, to speed is to fill life while to coast is to fulfill life. Which is better I cannot say, but neither should be taken for granted.” We sat for a while.

(Thinking, Mr. Blake sits for a while.)

TERRY:

Well?

MR. BLAKE:

(startled)

It’s treacherous, yet… No, it is…

TERRY:

It is what it is.

MR. BLAKE:

Well, yes, but what it isn’t is finished.

TERRY:

It is.

MR. BLAKE:

What! It is? It is finished or it isn’t finished?

TERRY:

It is.

MR. BLAKE:

I’m not sure I understand.

TERRY:

It is finished.

MR. BLAKE:

Can you have it typed by tomorrow?

TERRY:

I could, but then it would no longer be “finished.” It would, perhaps, be overcomplete. Uhhh… overdone, burnt, a piece of toast left for too long in the oven. And, for goodness-sake, Mr. Blake! Nobody likes burnt toast.

MR. BLAKE:

But Terry, we are trying to sell a book. No one in this day and age will buy a book which is not typed. It must be typed, proofread, revised, proofread again, and revised again.

TERRY:

(sarcastically astonished)

Well, by that time the toast will be nothing but charred ash!

MR. BLAKE:

We are not selling toast. This is a book and this is a publishing company, not some toaster-oven propped up on your kitchen counter.

TERRY:

I’ve written and read this book and read it and written some more, and read it again, and revised where revision was needed, and edited out the senseless babbling which I am prone to, and I’ve read it and I have finished. And yes, it is finished. I fear you have forgotten, that I am not trying to sell a book, but share a book, a story, an adventure, a thought or two. But I’d burn this book as crisp as those ashes of toast before I let you, for the sake of money, at the expense of passion and art, sway me to overperfect what must remain overdone by being underdone.

(Terry stands, angrily to leave and takes several long, unfaltering strides towards the exit.)

MR. BLAKE:

WAIT! I… uhh… I will publish it!

(Terry, suddenly cheerful, returns to his seat.)

TERRY:

In its current form?

MR. BLAKE

Well, yes and no. I was thinking, that, since you insist that your book must be published handwritten, that perhaps we could publish the novel in two editions, handwritten and typed.

TERRY:

(angry again)

Absolutely not. It simply would not work.

MR. BLAKE:

But it cannot be read without strain. It is a mess. The pure illegibility destroys all meaning in the book.

TERRY:

I beg to differ. Have you even read the book?

MR. BLAKE

Yes, only a few minutes ago you insisted I read it.

TERRY:

You read a paragraph.

MR. BLAKE:

And that was a struggle enough. Your handwriting is atrocious. No other successful novel has been written by hand.

TERRY:

I know of one.

MR. BLAKE:

(Raising eyebrows sarcastically)

Do you?

TERRY:

Yes, the Bible, the Anno Domini Times best seller for 2,014 years in a row, that was handwritten!

MR. BLAKE:

(muttering to himself)

Moses, though, probably didn’t have the handwriting of a monkey.

(Mr. Blake flips, slowly through a few pages of Terry’s novel, stopping on some pages shortly to read)

MR. BLAKE:

Here, this is a perfect example:

(Begins reading out loud)

“Daddy, what is that?” my daughter shouted from the backseat, pointing at the cement wall of fog rising from the riverbed to cloak the rigid peeks.

“That is the mountains missed,” I replied sadly.

TERRY:

I don’t see your problem.

MR. BLAKE:

It says “mountains missed” when clearly you mean “mountain’s mist.”

TERRY:

(Joyfully confused)

Huh?

MR. BLAKE:

You have written here, the word missed: m-i-s-s-e-d, when clearly you mean to say mist, m-i-s-t. Or perhaps…

(looking at the text again)

it is spelled m-i-s-t. It is impossible to tell. I look at it one way and it says mist and I look at another and it says miss-ED.

TERRY:

But either way you read it, it says mist.

MR. BLAKE:

No, one way it says mist and…

TERRY:

(interrupting)

The other way it still says mist.

MR. BLAKE:

Well…

TERRY:

Either way it says the same thing…

MR. BLAKE:

(Interrupting)

But it always means something different!

(Mr. Blake begins reading madly and becomes deeply enthralled in the book in a matter of seconds.)

TERRY:

Precisely! When one word does not do, make that one word two!

(Terry looks up to see Mr. Blake reading and rises from his seat.)

TERRY:

(To himself/aside)

My handwriting may be rough but it is what it is because it is what I am. The deeper one digs to decipher it, the deeper they dig themselves in thought. Most would not back down from a challenge issued by an opponent made of paper so they read and we wait to see what comes of it.

(Lights fade)


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10 Reviews


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Sun May 25, 2014 2:52 pm
netherling451 wrote a review...



I want to say that I had an epiphany after reading your play, but that isn't really true. As I'm writing this review, I am still trying to decipher the point you want to get across. But I think that's a good thing - to have to think about something for a while. If you understand it all at once, then the message will be lost to you that much sooner.

I'm fascinated by your character, Terry. I wish this was a short story so I could see what he's thinking. I loved the passages that were read from his book (they were very sublime). At first, I thought Terry hand-wrote the book to show that one doesn't need technology to share a story. But I changed my mind so many times that I can hardly keep track anymore.

All I know was that your play was wonderfully thoughtful, well written, and interesting. I hope you continue writing :)




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Thu May 08, 2014 2:32 pm
Hannah wrote a review...



Heyo~

I am popping in and leaving some comments. Hope they will be helpful, but feel free to ignore them if they are not!

Here are some things I thought were unnatural:

-- Starting the scene right with a declaration of purpose. I feel like the natural scene would start with someone walking in, greeting the publisher. There were definitely seconds before he was seated, and I think the fact they are missing is strange. It would be a stronger statement of Terry's character to hear him say the same declaration of purpose right as he walks in, without even being asked to sit first or anything like that.

-- Mr. Blake saying something like "golly". I know older people speak differently, but I don't know about a publisher using golly in his office. Try out eavesdropping on older people and recording what you hear to get a good sample to work from!


OH HO HO.
SORRY I DIDN'T REALIZE THIS WAS A STATEMENT PIECE.

haha, I liked it. I liked it because it described a situation that I encountered and fell in love with when I read a book called Dictee by Theresa Hak-Kyung Cha. If you are as intrigued by the idea of facing a challenge and viscerality in a book as this script suggests you are, I'd recommend buying it and testing it out.

Still, I feel like the ridiculous and falseness of the characters takes away from the potential meaning of the piece -- the value of the challenge. I acknowledge that it wouldn't have the same PUNCH to it if they were just speaking normally, but maybe this it not the right form for the words you want to say? Why did you feel this was right for a script instead of a video or an essay?

Hope my reactions were helpful to you!
PM me or comment on my review if you'd like to talk about it more!
Good luck and keep writing!




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Sun May 04, 2014 8:04 pm
BrilliantMustaches wrote a review...



Hello!

Emilykay10144 here...

I really love this script, and I absolutely love the idea of a book that is just printed handwritten. I would read that kind of book any day.

I love how you showed all the different feelings and positions the characters were in.

it is what it is and what it should be


This line is so confusing but it makes total sense at the same time and I love those kind of quotes!

PM next time you post another thing!

Keep up the great work!

-Emilykay10144




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Thu May 01, 2014 7:24 pm
Wriskypump says...



I can't begin to tell you what this has done for me! o.o thank you so much! *dies* Awesome job!




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Thu May 01, 2014 2:31 am
totypeawriter says...



I love this SO much. Excellent work.





It is a happiness to wonder; it is a happiness to dream.
— Edgar Allan Poe