Happy half birthday to me...
There's an article in the Boston Globe today about the head writer for a local theatre. This 20-something woman has also published a novel (with another written and rarin' to go) and is in the cast of their Halloween show. Oh, and she probably has 100 boyfriends (and of course she's beautiful, and there's a picture to prove it). God, life's tough, isn't it? Now, I don't have anything against this woman personally. I'm sure she's very nice, she's clearly hard working (she holds down two part-time jobs as well), and I've no doubt she's talented. But come on, share the wealth a little, will ya? When I was involved with this particular company, I couldn't get cast for shows (even in a side sketch troupe!), my writing was barely used, and God knows no one wanted to publish my stories. Perhaps I wasn't a very good improviser and my sketches left something to be desired. And to be fair, I wasn't even trying to get my stories published at that point, nor was I working on plays--yet. But somehow things just never came together for me there, or at Emerson (where I got my MFA), or really, anywhere, at least not until recently, and it just eats at me sometimes. Why is everything so hard? Why does everything take so long?!
I know I'm lucky in a lot of ways. I have a family that loves me, the most wonderful nieces and nephew in the world, a small but safe (knock on wood) and comfortable apartment I rent that's close to the subway (But buy? Not likely in Boston anytime soon, if EVER), some close friends, a secure job that I enjoy, and the opportunity to write (and work out every day and listen to music, all things that I could not live without). But...but...but... I didn't even start figuring out I could write plays until I was 41 (why this didn't occur to me or or my instructors in grad school, when I've always loved theatre and I'm pretty adept with dialogue, is quite beyond me, as much as I try to understand it), and who knows if any of my current pieces will ever be accepted by anyone, the monologue and one-act notwithstanding? I really, really want to act, and yet I can't get cast to save my life (though I am, once again, putting my pride on the line and auditioning for a really solid company next week, knowing fully well that the chances of my being chosen are slim to none--there's positivity for ya!). I want a boyfriend, or a male companion, but I haven't the slightest idea how to get one. And I may never, ever get out of debt (though I'm trying really hard), never mind buy a condo (one-bed with a tiny study would be fine, and I HAVE worked hard for 20 years and work two part-time jobs, along with the full-time one, not to mention my master's degree, so it's not as if I'm looking for a handout).
I guess it just ate at me as I read the article (The writer even made the front page of the Globe! I couldn't get a blurb about my one-person show in the Go! section last year.) that it all came so very easily for her. How does this happen? Talent, yes, obviously, but also being in the right place at the right time (she met the theatre's Artistic Director when he was in Chicago at IO for the summer), and being lucky. LUCKY. LUCKINESS. LUCK. Those are things I know little of. I like to think of myself as personable, fairly intelligent, and a good writer (not great...yet...but I'm determined to get there), as well as a nice person, but I have never been particularly lucky. I'm still not. I have to scramble for anything I get, every little crumb, and I'm not sure this will change in the future. I did complete the playwrights binge, sending the plays out to theatre companies all over the country, but now I am having a crisis of faith, and fear that every company, every festival, every artistic director will say, Thanks, but no thanks. Yes, I DO think my work is worthy of being produced, but I don't have the final say, do I, unless I actually self-produce the plays, and I don't have the money, time, resources, or energy to do so. I did that with my one-woman show, "workin' progress," and by the end I was completely burnt out. I hated my monologues, hated the process, forgot why I'd written the bloody show in the first place (cause it was a funny way of exploring my experience as a very single woman at 40). Everything that could go wrong did and more and it was exhausting (I'm still proud of the show but wish it could have ended on a happier note, and not me running out the door, so to speak).
So yeah, I'm sad and a tiny bit bitter that it hasn't worked out for me the way it has for this theatre's head writer. It's not a competition, and if my plays get produced, well, hurrah, and it was worth it and this woman won't really concern me(not that she needs to now). Of course, the creative process is just that, a process, and the end product is very important but isn't the be-all, end-all, and if it is, you aren't an artist, that's for damned sure, but a shill (IMHO). Speaking of the writing process, I'd really love to be part of BU's playwright program next year or the year after, but it costs $30,000, and I can't accrue any more debt, nor can I leave my job for a year for the luxury of engaging in writing for a year (sigh...how lovely that would be). Since I already have a master's degree, it isn't urgent, but I'm at a far different place than I was 13 years ago, when I started my graduate program at Emerson, and I never took a playwrighting class there, as noted, so this would be an entirely different experience. Still, while it's disappointing, it's not the end of the world, by any means. I just want, need, MUST have some external validation, some outward success. I can say I don't care, but that's a blatant, bloody lie. I DO care. I DO want my plays to be produced and for people to see and enjoy or be affected by them (else, why write? that's what a journal's for). I want to be in a play, and enjoy the camaraderie and the highs a production affords. I want and need these things, and is it really asking so much, at 42 1/2 (exactly--today is my half-birthday, huzzah), to need and ask for them? I hope not.
I have no control over whether anyone takes my plays, but I can continue writing and submitting them, and I can continue auditioning, and if I wish for any chance of success (however defined), I have to continue doing so. And I will. But really, I need a break, any kind of break, and I just don't know if I'm going to get one. And that.just.hurts. So if you're a producer reading this blog, or a fellow playwright, and you know someone who needs a 10-minute play, or a five-minute monologue, let me know. I'm at your beck and call.