Artemis Munoz is a regional writer who won a 2020 Writeability Fellowship, for their script, Deathwish. They have been working with Bridget Balodis to further develop the play. In the following scene, Artemis explores the insidious voices that get in the way of our creativity and our self-worth.
SCENE ONE: BACKWARDS THINKING
Artemis sits on their couch playing a video game.
Simetra enters and judges them.
Simetra: What do you think you’re doing?
Artemis: Um… playing a game?
Simetra: Have you finished that writing you were supposed to have done yet?
Artemis: Well no, but I’m entitled to breaks.
Simetra: Oh, so you’re nearly done then?
Artemis: Something like that…
Simetra stares at Artemis with disbelieving eyes and starts to open up their laptop. Artemis rushes over.
Artemis: Wait! No! I didn’t say you could –
Simetra: Ah, I see. Two words. That’s nearly done, then.
Artemis: Words are hard, okay!
Simetra: And in what universe is ‘Kill Me’ the beginning of an essay about your writing process?
Artemis: Can you just… leave me alone for a moment?
Simetra: No. Because right now you’re being a failure, and in this house, we don’t tolerate failure.
Artemis: I’m not a failure, okay? I’m just a person who has a disability that affects executive functioning and sometimes that means that I just can’t write. No matter how much I want to. No matter how excited I am by my ideas. No matter who is interested in what it is I have to write. I just can’t do it.
Simetra: But you can play video games.
Artemis: Sometimes, yeah. Like right now. And sometimes the video games help… when I don’t have you coming in here and making me feel shit about listening to my brain, that is.
Simetra: (laughing) No, no, no. You don’t get to try and pin this one on me.
Artemis: Why not? Every time I sit down to write you’re always there telling me what I’m doing isn’t good enough – that I’m not good enough. It’s only fair that sometimes my brain would crack it and say ‘Fuck this!’
Simetra: So are you playing video games now because of executive dysfunction or is it because I’ve made writing too uncomfortable for you? You can’t have it both ways.
Artemis: You’re right, I probably can’t – but the way I see it, it doesn’t really matter why I need this break. Is it because I’m tired? Because I’m not in the mood? It doesn’t matter. I just need time and that’s fine. I’m done beating myself up about that. Plus, what even is the point of writing if it’s not actually something I want to be doing?
Simetra: Do I honestly have to remind you that you have deadlines? People expecting things from you?
Artemis: You certainly don’t have to again. It’s all you’ve been saying to me the past week. But I didn’t start writing because I liked deadlines, I started writing because I had stories I wanted to tell – ideas that I wanted to explore.
Simetra: And this isn’t a story you want to tell?
Artemis: Of course it’s a story I want to tell – if not, I wouldn’t have put my hand up to write it in the first place.
Simetra: So then why aren’t you writing right now?
Artemis: Because I’ve learnt that pressuring myself just tends to result in me being miserable.
Simetra: Then be miserable. You’ll be miserable when you miss your deadline anyway. At least you’ll be working.
Artemis: No, I won’t be. I’ll just be sitting there, staring at a blank page, full of angst and anxiety. I’d rather get some rest now and get good work done when my brain and body are ready. And also thanks for the assumption that I’m going to miss my deadline. For someone so interested in my output, you have so little faith in me.
Simetra: I have faith that you’re a worthless piece of shit.
Artemis: I am more than my productivity, okay? I am an animal with complex needs like, well… rest. So do you know what? I’m done playing this game. It’s time for you to politely… fuck off.
Simetra fucks off. (For now.) Artemis sits back on the couch and resumes playing their video game, relaxing into the understanding that they know themself and their boundaries and that listening to one’s backwards thinking is usually not a productive writing process.