At 7:27 am, I have no idea what I’ll do with the anywhere-from-four-to-twelve participants in this afternoon’s workshop. Nor do I know how many will be fluent in French, recent arrivals (as in, less than a month ago) or more ancient (as in five to six months of presence on French soil). However, the workshop organizer told me last night one of the teenagers stutters and another tends to behave like a hermit crab. Purpose of the workshop: How to Introduce Yourself. Only certainty: Will Not Be Boring.
The best moment in yesterday’s coaching sessions: three twelve year olds (two girls, one boy) discovering It Can Be Done. Memorizing multiplication tables, that is. Best moment, not because they can now reel off the tables of 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x and 6x. Because, a piece of basic info kicked in at 4x. It kicked in when one of the girls whined: “that one’s too hard”. Except, she’d said the same thing for 2x and 3x too. Once she’d sailed through 4x (5x is a cinch), she said: “Oh 6x is too… wait, OK, let’s go.” Hence, the title to this post. (The basic technique, of course, is the same as that involved in memorizing anything, including the scripted words for a stage or film role, as taught by Sanford Meisner: rote learning, no pauses, no special effects, nothing other than the words so you don’t have to think about them anymore.)
Ridiculous? The world is coming to an end, the sky is falling, Paris is burning (sorry, make that one police vehicle), the seas are roiling, the earth is heaving, we’re promised worsening catastrophes on all fronts. Three kids catch on to the fact you can exercise your brain, and I’m happy?
Fiction-wise: word-by-word revision with two objectives in mind. The first – and most important: maintaining the right tension throughout. Meaning? the right tautness. Without the right tautness i.e. each character as crisp as I can make him or her, there’s no way I can achieve the second objective: a synopsis that captures the overall mood of the thing. Easier said than done because nailing the elusive it, that’s too hard. Can’t be done, can’t…OK, let’s try anyway.