Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I am not my anger...

This is a mantra that my therapist offered me this past Monday, and I think it's a useful one. Basically, I can feel anger, I can acknowledge it, I can own it, I can react to it, but it is a feeling and it is not me, it does not define me and it is separate from me. This seems so easy to understand and to conceptualize, but it's extraordinarily difficult to internalize. During the session, I brought up the fact that while I do not enjoy being depressed (and this depression occurs intermittently, particularly around the holidays), I am not afraid of it. It comes and goes, and I have not acted on it, and while it seems impossibly intense when it arrives (and generally quite quickly), I also know that it will dissipate, generally just as quickly. Depression is not fun, God knows, but it is tolerable. It does not make me act out, and in fact invokes empathy in others. "I'm sorry you're so sad; is there anything I can do?" one might ask. While you know there isn't, you appreciate the sentiments, and do not feel so alone. Depression, too, slows you down, and can help separate you from the things making you so upset. So, for example, when faced with rejection from a theatrical festival, from an audition, from a bad date, from anything, you can say, Geez, that hurt, but you can behave rationally, can see it at least somewhat objectively (maybe not immediately, but fairly soon thereafter), and in the meantime, you can feel almost protected in your cloak of dispair.

The tears can be a comfort, and society allows you to shed them, particularly if you're female. But anger...well, that's a different matter altogether. Last weekend, after being rejected from a local festival, while finding out that five friends were accepted, I was beside myself. I felt personally insulted, felt betrayed, felt as if I would never have the pleasure of feeling excitement, pride, joy again. I felt this but didn't actually believe it. I knew that eventually the pain would diminish, the intense sadness would go away, and I would be able to move on. It comes as quickly as a tidal wave, leaves some distruction in its midst, and just as quickly is gone, with nary a trace. I still hope that I will be included in the festival (one play was rejected, and since I haven't received word on the other, I suspect it will be rejected, too), but if I'm not, I'll be okay. I've chosen not to attend it if that's the case--not to participate, as an observer or an actor--and that's a form of self-preservation. But I know that I will continue to write, and I guess I believe, somewhere inside, that my writing is worthy of being produced, because I'm not willing to chuck it all and take up the guitar, for example (though I'd love to learn how to play), or pursue directing or singing or painting or other artistic traits. I know that writing is in my blood, and I know that the deep feelings of anguish that beset me will return, but I will be able to handle them, as I did last week.

I will admit that in my deepest hours of dispair, it is nearly impossible for me to accomplish anything. I feel lost, and have no interest in activities of any kind. I have to force myself to exercise, and my energy level is very low. I do feel cut off from others, and suddenly every little task seems overwhelming and futile. But again, these feelings do not last that long, and as long as I can structure my time and keep myself occupied, I know that I will feel better before too long. Typically, my immune system will shut down, and I'll get sick, which is what happened again this time, and I'm left with a bad cold (fortunately, not the flu), which also forces me to take a rest from thinking and feeling too hard and makes me get more sleep and just be still. (Because tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I had today off, and I haven't gotten out of my sweats, and only left my apartment to get the newspaper in the downstairs hallway.) But the depression ceased, and while part of this must be attributed to my friend C. coming in from Buffalo and spending the weekend with me (including the trip from hell to IKEA), I still feel as if I would have recovered fairly rapidly, especially because I'd structured my weekend, and was still planning to see a movie with D. (warning: do not see "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang" unless you enjoy throwing away your money and your time, as it's completely insipid), watching "Kinsey" on DVD (good, but not great, though the performances were strong; the documentary is better), and seeing A. (which didn't happen, but will this weekend).

C. and I had a nice time together, despite the difficulties encountered in picking her up from Logan Airport on Thursday night (the tunnels were all closed, and I finally had her take the subway to Park Street, since I couldn't find the airport to save my life), and even the massive crowds at IKEA (which meant we couldn't park in their lot, and had quite a time getting the furniture in boxes back to my car) didn't put a damper on the weekend (though my cold was frustrating; I hate colds). But I feel that even if she hadn't come, and I'm really glad she did, by Monday I would have felt much better (or I hope that would have been the case), and even with Thanksgiving looming (again, I detest holidays, especially the ones in the winter), I am not depressed, just tired from my cold and the darkness and chilly temperatures (now only 27 degrees in Boston, and plummeting, with snow showers expected tomorrow). BUT ANGER: now anger is something I simply don't know how to tolerate. I get angry so often. When a clerk at a CVS or Store 24 fails to acknowledge me, or makes a mistake; when a student blames me for ill-advisement regarding the curriculum; when I eat too much, because I feel lonely or bored; when my pants are tighter than they should, despite my constant exercise (except during colds, another reason I abhore them); when I am criticized by a family member, or a friend, or co-worker, or supervisor; when I realize how broke I am, and know that I am the one at blame (along with an insufficient salary for the Boston area, but I know others who get by on what I make or less); when the subway is late in coming, or the line at Dunkin Donuts is too long, or when I think about how I've never had a serious boyfriend and may never have one, or when, yes, my writing (or acting) is rejected, well, that is when the anger ensues, and rage, and infuriation, and a sense of futility and disadvantage and vulnerability rises up.

I feel like a big ball of fury that could explode at any minute, and I'm scared, and I lash out, and I don't see any way around it. I want to kick down doors and punch through walls and take the trigger and wrap my bloody hands around it and wring out every atom of energy until it drops limply to the ground and I have prevailed. And of course this is impossible, because the triggers are often not tangible, and are unavoidable or unexpected, and yet I am expected to react calmly and remain in control, and this seems impossibly difficult at the time. If I know an event is coming up that might irritate or frustrate me, I can decide how to deal with my feelings. But if I'm running late, through no fault of my own (or even if directly due to me), and I need the line to move more quickly, or the clerk to be more helpful, or the subway to arrive immediately, and it doesn't, then I want to explode. There is a sense of entitlement, I guess: If I need the T to come, why won't it? If my writing is good, why didn't the festival accept my play? If I'm a relatively attractive and kind and intelligent person, why don't any men want to be with me? And of course, there are answers to these questions, but not answers I necessarily want to hear (or can find out). Even if I do know the reasons, they aren't the outcome I need, or feel I need, and so my anger is triggered.

For the most part, I act responsibly; I've certainly never been in any fights, never been arrested, never responded in such a hostile way that there were any kind of negative consequences. But the anger is SO intense, so present, that I'm frightened, and yet somewhere inside me I don't think I want to let go of it, as if doing so admits to fraility, to an admission of unworthiness, though in fact it's simply an act of acceptance. I don't HAVE to like that the subway is late, or that I might be criticized by a supervisor in a meeting, or that I might not get the part I really like, and I don't have to believe that it's fair, but I do have to accept the situation and deal with it in a mature way. This is probably going to be my greatest challenge, and I believe it will take an enormous amount of work, and there will be setbacks along the way. So the first mantra to repeat is that "I am not my anger," and when something upsets me, I will wait to speak or to react and will try as hard as possible to remain calm, stoic, perhaps. I will need to practice this, will need to think about this every time my ire is raised (more times a day than I'd care to admit), but I will take control of my anger and frustration and disappoinment, because there is no acceptable alternative. But God, it's hard, especially when I'm moving at 80 miles an hour (unlike now, when I'm in slow motion, due to the cold), and it's going to take a helluva lot of effort. I'm committed to it, however. We are nothing if not growth, and I give thanks for my family and friends and for a therapist who seems to *get* it.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

And the sun sets and the sun rises...

Just to let you know that I survived last night, and I was feeling pretty horribly (as the blog post indicated), I've returned for a brief update. I hope no one thinks I was being derogative of local theatre. In fact, I was pointing out the fact that no one seems interested in my work, and I'm not exactly setting my eye on unreasonable sites. Local theatres do terrific work--sometimes better than the bigger theatres (again, I'll point to "The Sisters Rosensweig" at The Huntington Theatre at B.U. as a big ticket item that didn't speak to me at all, while "Proof" at Chelsea Theatre Works was incredibly riveting). There is one particular theatre that seems deadset on neither accepting my plays nor casting me in any of their own, and I think I will cease submitting to them (I've already stopped auditioning for them). I wish they'd be honest and just let me know that they don't like my work and aren't interested in me. I do appreciate that kind of honesty, even though it hurts (to be perpetually rejected hurts more, however.) That said, most theatres try to be open-minded, and I guess I just haven't spoken to any artistic directors...yet. And of course, what really helped was to do a hard workout, then watch the rest of "The Upside of Anger," do some reading, and head to bed.

Today, I had a great yoga class (I was actually relaxed by the end of the 90 minutes!), and then met with the new financial advisor, Jon, who is incredibly nice and helped me organize my finances further, along with some recommendations about cutting expenses. After that, I went to work for a couple of hours, something I typically don't do, but which actually relaxed me further, as I got some of the portfolio clearances finished and feel better about the fact that I'm taking off Friday for my friend Cynthia's visit from Buffalo. And now I'm just sitting at the computer, listening to e-town on The River and trying not to care that my writing hasn't resulted in more success (yet, yet, yet I hope). I'm also trying to remember that I write because I want to, not because I have to, that it generally makes me feel good, that friends appreciate my plays (I just got a note from a friend I used to work with who asked me to email her more plays, which I happily did), and that I don't want to focus on any one thing to validate me. You typically don't want to depend on only have one friend, and it's not a good idea to only have one past-time. I will take my mind off writing and think about other things, like the good work I do for students, like the enjoyment I get from the gym, like my friends who want to see me and whom I want to spend time with. Writing isn't everything, it's not the only thing, it's just "one" thing, so chill, chill, chill and remember: it's their loss if they don't want my writing.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

On Risk and Rejection, Part 17

Which, ironically, is my lucky number, but not in this case. :-( I can say that I don't care when my plays are rejected, that it's just part of the natural evolution of the artistic process, but it's bullshit, because I really, really do care and it hurts like hell. I want my plays to be accepted. I want them to be accepted so damned badly. I can barely think of anything else. There are so many other things in my life that continue to disappoint or frustrate me. It's hard for me to accept, for example, that I am 42 years old and may never marry anyone, or even have a serious boyfriend or companion. It is hard to accept that I am in serious debt and may never own my own condo. It is hard to accept that I work my butt off and yet make far less money than most people with a master's degree, and have to work two additional jobs just to pay my bills. It is hard to accept that I am not beautiful (well, in my eyes, anyway), that I can't get thin (not thin enough, anyway), that I am lonely much of the time, that my sister, whom I'm incredibly close to, lives in Florida and she and my adorable niece and nephew will most likely never live near me and the rest of my family.

These and other things are hard to accept, and sometimes I feel better and am able to say, Well, I'm trying, things have improved over the last several years, and I can deal. But what I simply CANNOT deal with, pure and simple, is rejection. It hurts. It tears at the soul. It makes one question one's self, one's ability to write, to be an artist, and makes one wonder whether the rejection is worth it in the short and long run. This is a tired refrain, and I understand this, but dammit it all to hell, will it ever get easier?! I am so happy for my playwright friends who are getting their plays accepted by festivals, but at the same time I find it crushing that my plays are NOT receiving a favorable response. (And it's not like I'm trying for the Pulitzer Prize or anything, trust me.) I think my plays are pretty good, maybe better than good. I absolutely think they are worthy of getting a reading, if not a full production. Apparently, others do not feel the same way. Yes, I have heard a thousand times that rejection is part of the process, that being an artist is process as well as product, that if you're creating and submitting (or auditioning), you're going to get rejected, and get used to it. I'm sorry. I can't. I just can't. It hurts like hell. AND I THINK IT'S OKAY THAT IT HURTS LIKE HELL. In fact, if it DIDN'T hurt like hell, then why would I even bother trying?

When you think about it, who tries for things that aren't important? Who puts themselves out for something unimportant? And yet, b/c it means so much, that just means it hurts all the more when the rejection email arrives. Oh, sure, there were hundreds of submissions, all were strong, and it was so hard to make a decision, and please try again, and please, stop me from gagging on your insincerity. Just say it: We didn't like your play. In fact, we don't think you're a very good playwright. Keep trying to submit, but we'll continue turning you down. Thanks, and have a great day. Oh, and don't forget to add, YOU BIG FAT LOSER, b/c we're all thinking it, anyway. Am I bitter? Of course, God knows I am, as well as desperately sad. I need to turn the corner. I need to get to the place where it doesn't hurt anymore, where I can depersonalize it, but I don't know how to! How do you turn that bloody corner and continue proceeding? How do you truly internalize that information and feel less affected? And this means that I can't (for the most part) attend festivals in which my plays have been rejected, because the pain is too great, too searing.

I know my plays are terribly unimportant in the scheme of things. Family counts, health counts, safety and basic creature comforts count, and I know this, I truly do. But I need to have something to feel proud about it, and if it isn't achieved through my writing, well, what the hell will bring me this pride? Plus I've known in my heart all of my life that I wanted to write. I've toyed with acting for a number of years, and I've found that it isn't natural, it's something I enjoy, sometimes something I do fairly well, but it isn't going to pay the bills, and far more importantly, I certainly can't count on it. I can say I act, but I can never, ever say I'm an actor. But writing? That's different. I wrote my first play when I was nine, my first journal entry at seven or eight, my first lengthy short story at 10, and God knows when I wrote my first poem, but it was probably at around six, when I first really learned how to write. And I haven't stopped since. But the thing about plays are that they are of little use if they aren't being seen and heard, being produced, that is, because they don't work too well on the page, unlike plays and short stories. So if my plays continue to sit on my computer or are in photocopies in the hands of disinterested theatre professionals, what the hell is the point?

Adding to my discouragement is the fact that lately I've seen what I consider some pretty mediocre plays that got rave reviews in the Boston Globe. Now the Globe isn't the be-all, end-all of theatre criticism, but I typically agree with their critiques, and I thoroughly disagreed with their reviews of both True West and The Sisters Rosensweig, neither of which I cared for. True West seemed unbelievable, while Sisters was cliched and far too glib for my taste. I didn't like Theatre District or Carol Mulroney much better, but they showed more promise and more originality, at least to my and my theatre-going friend. And these plays are getting first-rate productions at first-rate theatres. I can't get my lowly little plays taken by community theatre companies outside of Boston! I mean, what the hell is wrong with me and my writing? And again, I have to ask, when is this going to stop hurting so much? If I thought I was putting out crap, well, that would be different, and of course I'd cease doing so. But I've had respected friends give my work thumbs up, and yet...nothing. Not a damned thing. I am starting to believe that the one play that did get a reading and will be produced in the summer was a lucky break, and I can't handle that. Writing has preoccuped me, and maybe I need to just stop thinking about it completely until I'm doing it. I certainly have to stop thinking about submissions, because it's putting a stake in my heart. But oh, the validation feels so wonderful! What do I do well? Do I do anything well?

Sometimes I feel like I'm just going to roll up into a ball and get thrown away, or disappear into little bits in the stratosphere, never to be heard from again. Melodramatic? Of course, but that's how I feel, in addition to contending with the anger that constantly gnaws at me and threatens to take over. I am so angry, angry, angry, and of course very, very sad. Please, some theatre, take my writing and allow my work to be presented. Allow me the small sense of satisfaction this would cause. It's a good thing the gym exists, because I think I would take a hammer and smash all the walls in my apartment if I didn't have an outlet for my rage, barely repressed and constantly threatening to surface. Tomorrow I meet with my new financial advisor (a fancy name for someone in finance who is willing to stop a ship from sinking), who will help me right the wrongs I have caused in my willful spending over the past several years. My therapist is trying to help me with my negativity, but I guess I have a really, really long way to go. So if you are a fellow playwright, please know that I respect you, and have nothing but praise for your work, but I find the process of submitting contemptible, although a clearly necessary evil. I avoid dating because the results of a date gone bad can put me in a funk for days; I don't want the same to be the case with writing and applying to festivals. But I don't know if I can take the perpetual blows to the ego. I guess I need some virtual hugs, stet. And in the meantime, the gym welcomes me, and thank GOD for that. And a couple of movies tonight, and some popcorn, and a good night's rest, and if I'm lucky, no throbbing music from the neighbors below, like last night, and last weekend (and no, they could care less that it's bothering me, b/c I've asked them politely to turn the music down, and they refuse to do so). Dammit, I need a break. When will I get one? Or how I will make one happen? And what happens if I don't get a break? When will the pain go away? Will it ever truly leave?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Not A Competition--not just a play, but a way of thinking

I'm so very sorry for the extended absence (it's been nearly three weeks, I believe!). I have been busy, writing, submitting (though I've exhausted most possibilities at this point), auditioning (that was useless; more in a moment), seeing plays (not at all useless), visiting with family (so-so), being relatively productive at work, exercising, and dreading the onset of winter. That's enough for anyone, I should think!

As for writing: Well, I don't really have anything new or earthshaking to report, aside from the fact that I wrote a one-minute play called "Destination Nowhere" on Tuesday, for a one-minute play contest at the University of Idaho. I kind of think a one-minute play is an oxymoron, but I was game to try, and I think the results were quite successful (though only time, and an acceptance email!, will tell). I wrote a rather absurdist little tale of a man and woman (married? probably but undefined, hence "Woman" and "Man") who arrive at the airport without tickets or a destination. One stays, one goes, and the play ends. (That's a rather simplistic look at it; there's a bit more complexity.) The point is that I decided to take the theme (airports), the restrictions (one-minute, one page), the deadline (asap), and run with them. I actually had fun constructing this play, and two of the playwrights I've shown it to quite like it. (The third had some difficulties with it, which I've decided to discount, because there's only so much you can do with a one-minute play--very little, actually, or using Michael's anology, it's like a 60-second commercial, which means you get in, sell something, and get out.) Most importantly, it was fun to write and wasn't particularly time consuming or frustrating.

Now, of course, comes the waiting. I emailed the play off and have yet to hear anything (perhaps the professor in charge of collecting submissions has been overwhelmed by the quantity received, or perhaps he is email gun-shy, and a receipt notification was never promised, in any event). I hope that I will hear something, though, and soon, because I really do think my play fits the theme of arrivals and destinations and does as much as it can within its confines. Not my call, of course, and I don't want to think how disappointed I'll be if it doesn't make the cut. (You know I will be. I know I will be. Too bad the professor could care less.) In this case, it's not because of the amount of time spent laboring over a hot computer, but because it feels as if I achieved the objectives and then some, so dammit, aren't I entitled to the win? Naturally, it doesn't work that way, and if Professor Caisley feels that 25 other plays fit the criteria more effectively, they will win and I will not. Yes, we're back to winning and losing again, to rejection, which continually rears its ugly head, to competition and the subjective nature of art, and as much as I fight the urge to care and to surrender to negativity, it's hard not to. I realize that writing has to be fun (it is), has to be rewarding (it is), and has to be about the process (and it is as well).

There is nothing so gratifying as finishing a play and feeling the pride in its being (little plays born every month!). Since I'll never have children, this is as close to childbirthing as I'll ever come, and that's fine (less pain, no bloodshed, and no college tuitions or disobediance to contend with; yes, I'm being facetious). But, and I've said this countless times, it's difficult to for me to understand the concept of being satisfied with a play that's not going to be produced. Granted, every one of my plays MAY BE at some point, and two already have been (well, given readings, anyway), but I want every single of them to get the chance. I don't think I'm being greedy; I'm being realistic. A play that sits on my computer or on my desk is wonderful, but if people don't get to see it realized on stage, then really, what is the point? As I've noted to a number of playwrighting friends, if it's merely about the act of writing, I can turn to my journal (or even this blog, though I'm pleased that people do read, and respond, to it; I wasn't sure when I started this if that would be the case, and it has been, so thank you). I stopped writing short fiction when it became apparent to me that no one wanted to publish any of my stories. No, I didn't submit them to 180 journals, like Andre Dubus III did, but I did send one of my stories, the best one, to at least 30, and they all said no. Realizing that this was my strongest work, I decided that either I was unlucky or untalented or both, and gave up.

I can't say I feel the same way today. I think my plays are at least as good, if not better, than many of the works that get produced today (I KNOW IT'S NOT A COMPETITION, hence the title of tonight's blog entry, but I see a lot of plays, at least one or two a week, so I speak from some experience). I understand that I am jumping the gun to some extent, as I've yet to be rejected post-binge. It is entirely possible (albeit unlikely) that every play will get at least one reading and/or production. Maybe some will get more. I don't feel that this will be the case, however. I am quite certain to hear any minute that a Massachusetts theatre company has said no to two or three of my plays (as this company said yes to a fellow binger, and heartiest congratulations to him, completely deserved, as it's a terrific play), and it may just be the beginning. I am a pessimist, I realize, but I don't have a lot to go on otherwise. I didn't succeed in acting or sketch writing or short fiction writing, so what's to say I'll be more successful with my playwrighting. That stated, I do believe that I have an ear for dialogue and I have a drive and hopefully an objectivity I didn't have 10 years ago, which can only bode well. What I have to do, as John recently posted here, is to stop thinking about others and only my own process, my own desire to write. And I'll do it, but some external validation wouldn't hurt. :-)

Incidentally, on the acting front, I did try out for the Zeitgeist Theatre Company about two weeks ago, and not surprisingly, I didn't hear a word, meaning I didn't get cast. I don't think I had a particularly strong audition. I read the part as well as I could, but I didn't feel connected (plus it was the second lead, so forgetaboutit, b/c I'm too old, apparently, at 42, to play any other roles effectively), and so the audition was most likely lukewarm. It would have been nice to have received a brief rejection email, but no news is bad news on the auditioning front, so I've moved on. I talked to Rich from Arlington Players, the group producing "Uncharted Territory" the second and third weeks of June 06 at the Devanaughn Theatre in Boston *subtle hint* in the past, and he goes to a twice-weekly drop-in class that helps with this. (Those who participate put on "Chiefly Checkov" at B.U. last weekend, and it was a fun evening, particularly during the after-play wine and cheese fest in the green room. I don't drink, but I don't need to. Trust me.) Unfortunately, I can't afford these drop-in sessions, so I IMed with my friend Sal, a very strong actor in NYC, and he suggested working with a scene partner, so we could practice auditioning and cold reading. This is a wonderful idea, and I'm seeking friends who would be willing to work with me.

I just don't come alive enough in auditions, and it shows. I don't know why I stiffen up--fear? lack of experience in cold reading? anticipated rejection?--but I know that I do, and am rarely able to "go for broke" for some reason. Since I do want the opportunity to act again (and soon, dammit), I will need to get past this inability to convincingly bring characters to life during the audition process. I'll keep you posted. I feel I can do that with my characters on the page, however, and I intend to keep writing, and then some. I find that having structure and guidelines (e.g., a one-minute play set in an airport or a 10-minute play dealing with a 20-year period of time) really kick-starts me and keeps me focused and on target. The two easiest plays to write have been "Destination Nowhere" and "Not A Competition," respectively, and I think this is why. I just need help in defining my goals. This doesn't work for all writers, by any means, but it always has for me, starting when I was in fourth grade and wrote a play about Arbor Day for my Sunday School class (damn, I wish I still had that play!).

I'm excited that my almost 9-year-old niece has taken after her aunt (yes, I mean me)and recently presented a play to her classmates about Halloween, co-written with her best friend. (I didn't get to see it, but my parents said it was very cute. She read it out loud to my parents, my sister, and me last weekend and I was really impressed, and I'm not easily impressed.) Jami is very excited to just get cast in a play (she is going to be a mouse in the chorus of "Cinderella," being presented in Western Mass in January 06) and has a very positive attitude about the experience of theatre. She realizes it's collaborative (or can be--writing not necessarily so, though it was for her) and that it's fun, and she takes everything she can from it, not thinking of it in any way as a competition, as sport, but as a rewarding activity. I need to, absolutely must, get to a place where I can feel the same. I know that other factors in my life, including my constant battle with overspending and overeating, contribute to a general frustration and anger that constantly threaten to overtake me, and I have to keep an ever watchful eye on bad habits and negative thoughts. Exercise (and today I walked for over 8 1/2 miles with D., and boy did I feel sore but relaxed afterwards!) continues to be crucial (though why I'm gaining weight, or so it seems, continues to mystify me).

Little treats are necessary as well (and the $19.99 offwhite cords that I bought at the GAP this evening--yes, my nemesis--did feel good and will be fun to wear, b/c I can only hold off spending for so long before I need to cave in and acknowledge the demon within with a small offering), and also acknowledging that yes, I do deserve to buy a new bureau (mine is 20 years old and falling apart) and bookcase (I don't have a real one; the bookcase in my bureau is 35 years old, small, and leans to the right, constantly threatening to collapse) at the brand new, not yet opened IKEA in Stoughton next weekend (thank you, $500 check from Year One Freshman Seminar that I'm due to receive this week, just in the nick of time). What is not acceptable is to be angry all the time, to be resentful about others' good fortunes, and of course to compare myself to people whom I feel are more lucky, or better looking, and on and on. I absolutely need to self-soothe, and I need to remember that I write because I want to, not because there is someone looking over my shoulder compelling me to, or because I'm getting rich (or anything else, really, except for proud) off it.

I know some of this derives from working at an architecture school, where I know some but not much about the design professions and cannot lay claim to being either a practioner or a visual artist. When I talk about writing, however, many student and administrators' eyes light up, because they can see a fellow artist in their midst, and because they realize that I get it. I get the subjectivity, the crits and criticism inherent in the arts, I get the discipline needed, I get the process, and I get the rejection. I get it. I really enjoy my job, but it's not enough, not nearly. Without the arts, I would wither away. I need to see plays, discuss them, write them, act in them. I can't be a musician (or not a professional one, anyway) or a painter, but I can be a writer, and dammit, I'm going to continue to be. And maybe my work will touch some theatre's literary manager or artistic director and she or he will say, Yes! That play would be just right for us. I do intend to write a true one-act or full-length play during my December break, but for now, short plays will do. I will keep honing my skills and I will keep working on accepting that I don't have any control over what is, in fact, accepted, but I do have control over whether to continue writing or not, and I choose the former.