Sherma’s passion to write
Two months to write, 15 minutes on the stage. Sherma Webbe Clarke is hoping the effort she put into her first play pays off.
If Someday a Painter is one of six original works selected for BMDS’s annual Famous For 15 Minutes playwriting competition.
“I had to have my husband Ricardo read the e-mail to me. I couldn’t believe it,” she said of her excitement at being chosen. “I didn’t know if it was real or a dream; I pinched myself several times.
“It’s exciting and, in a way, scary. It’s in the hands of the director, [Deborah Joell], now. My part is pretty much done so it’s kind of like sending a child off to summer camp; you don’t get to see them again until parents’ weekend.”
She set If Someday a Painter in the 1840s. The tale is about a recently married opera singer whose wealthy husband doesn’t share her life dreams.
Mrs Webbe Clarke hopes it’s a stepping stone to her ultimate goal: completing a novel. “Writing brings me joy, and those things that bring us joy need not be time-consuming nor put off until some future date when we think the timing will be perfect.
“I’ve been writing for most of my life — even if it was just a matter of keeping a daily journal.
“When I was a kid I wrote short stories and things like that but I recently got more serious. I felt it was the one talent I had and if I didn’t use it, maybe it would disappear.”
To improve her skill she signed up for online classes and joined a writers’ critique group on island.
“I am at the point where I’m investing in the whole craft of writing,” Mrs Webbe Clarke said. “I’d submitted to Famous for 15 Minutes once before but this is the furthest I’ve gotten.
“I often submit to The Royal Gazette Christmas story competition. I’ve placed several times but never first.
“I look for competitions coming up every year. It helps me work towards a deadline, it strengthens my skills.
“It’s a good practice and I would hate to see competitions go away for lack of interest.”
Her faith is often incorporated into her writing. She doesn’t believe it makes her stories any less appealing to non-believers.
“My faith is the foundation of my life, so everything I do must be in accordance with my beliefs.
“I don’t consider faith and writing appealing stories to be mutually exclusive.
“My goal is to write well and use the gift God gave me to tell relatable stories. Some people think a Christian author’s books are going to be preachy.
“I have met many Christian fiction writers whose writing is very appealing to audiences of various interests and genres, Christian and secular.
“Some write mysteries, others romance. Their characters are diverse and are tackling issues that we encounter every day in our real lives.”
In September, she’s off to Nashville, Tennessee for the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference.
“Hundreds of fiction writers will be there,” she said. “I’ve done it once before, a couple years ago. It’s great for meeting other writers and picking up tips and techniques.“
If Someday a Painter was based on a previous piece of work.
“I was writing a poem — I write really bad poetry — when I saw the call for plays and the deadline. I gravitated towards the poem to write as a play and it actually worked really well.”
She’ll find out what the judges think when Famous for 15 Minutes completes its run.
Each of the six plays will be performed nightly, with the winner receiving the Golden Inkwell trophy at the July 28 gala.
“I’ve not seen any of the others so am excited to see them as well,” Mrs Webbe Clarke said. “I know several of the other playwrights have won before and think I am the only newbie, but the competition is really based on playwriting, not the performances. So we’re all in the same boat.”
The administrative assistant plans to keep writing no matter how the competition pans out.
“I want to keep working on the novel that I’m working on. I’m confident that [the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference] will generate some ideas and new skills and I will learn more about the business of writing. It’s really serious for me. I’m always thinking about it.”
The 16th annual Famous for 15 Minutes festival starts Thursday and runs until Saturday at 8pm at Daylesford Theatre. It then continues from July 25 until July 28. Tickets, $30, are available at www.ptix.bm. The other five plays in contention are Tucker and Tucker by Jonathan Land Evans; Playing by the Rules by Liz Jones; No Name by Joy Barnum, Catherine Hay and Vehia Walker; Hear4U by Julia Pitt; The Dog by Owain Johnston Barnes