To start, I had the best time with my family this weekend. The four nieces, nephew, two sisters, brothers-in-law, and my parents (along with me, of course) all gathered for my dad's 70th birthday (Tuesday) and my Florida sister's 40th birthday (April 14th, three days before mine). It was just so wonderful to see everyone with no one sick! Back in November, I had a horrible cold, and in February, my sister's family and I all came down with the flu. This time, we were all well (a rarity!), and my dad was so wonderfully surprised by his 57 inch flat screen, HD TV (he watches a lot of TV and he will really enjoy doing so now). He also works out and is a substitute teacher, but TV is his relaxation, and now he can truly enjoy it. I want one, too. ;) Actually, I don't, though a 32-inch flat screen would be wonderful, considering the number of DVDs I watch every week (usually two). That isn't happening--I will have to be content with my 25-inch Panasonic from six or so years ago--but someday I'll be a bigger, flat screen one (after I pay off more debt, so no time in the immediate future).
As for my Florida sister L., she was surprised--truly surprised--by a party in Boston with her three closest friends in Boston and their husbands. She was shocked--she had no idea (my dad did, though he never expected such a *nice* set)--and it made her feel so happy. Then Saturday, everyone arrived (as did the TV), and we had a great day. The fact that it was close to 70 degrees out (last week at the same time, it was 30 with a horrible wind chill) didn't hurt. :) We had a birthday party with balloons and cake at a Chinese restaurant to cap off the weekend, and everyone had a great time. I miss my nieces and nephew and L. so much now--I feel very sad today, not surprisingly--but I do get to go back to Florida for six days in June, when L's husband is celebrating his 40th in Hungary with his two best friends, one of whom lives there--so that will be really nice. I have trouble when I go more than a few months visiting the Florida family, but it's now just over two months away, so I can hang on til then. :)
As far as my writing...well, that's a different story. Two more rejections this week, totalling 1,000,000 (not really, but it *feels* that way), and I just don't see anything promising on the horizon. One producer wouldn't tell me why, and the way in which he said it bothered me (too many entries, blah blah blah, yet he was very friendly BEFORE the rejection occurred). Another won't bother, I suspect. HOWEVER, Kate Snodgrass, the producer of the Boston Theatre Marathon, did provide me with extremely helpful feedback, and it was much appreciated. Yes, it's hard to hear that your plays are like "TV sitcoms" (really?!), but Kate didn't agree (hurrah), and I am working on expanding "Not A Competition" (she liked that better than "Accept This!"--maybe that one just doesn't work, I'm sorry to say), and I hope that will turn out really well when I finish the revision. All the same, I do wonder if my plays have anything at all to say or have any appeal. I KNOW I can write, but can I write plays that anyone wants to read, or that actually work? That is still up in the air. You can say it's all random, and I agree to some degree, but I also have to think, as the rejections pour in, that it isn't all subjective.
The funny (not really) thing is that I've read so many 10-minute plays that seem utterly banal to me, yet my plays seem to generate no interest at all (except "Peanut Butter Sandwiches," which some say should be made longer). Someone on the binge listseve said she no longer spend any time on 10-minute plays, b/c they don't work for her, and she believes that longer plays work better. I am starting to think she might be right. After I work on NAC, I may just go to the one-act I want to write (well, it could even be full-length). Maybe that's what I'm meant to write (I don't seem to have the hang of the 10-minute play down, though I've written six of them so far). I think they need to be clever but not...well, I don't know what not. They have to hang together, and I guess they need to justify the actions, but I feel the latter is often not the case. In fact, the sillier they are (in most cases), the better they seem to do, b/c the expectations are so low. Just repeat the same thing over and over in different ways and you do fine. Alexa's piece "Bone China" is an exception, b/c it's beautifully written and doesn't attempt to do too much, despite its sadness (and the results are clear, as it made it into the Turnip Festival in NYC and the Boston Theatre Marathon, amongst other, and it was certainly worthy of both). So I just don't know at this point. I haven't written for two weeks, and the break doesn't *seem* to have helped, but maybe when I get back to writing (perhaps tonight after ushering at the Sugan after yoga, perhaps next weekend) I will feel differently. I
am excited for the "Five" Festival, of course, but that is from last year's winning one-act (see? a one-act!), and since then, pretty much nothing but rejection. So I'm reevaluating what I write and I hope to figure it out a bit better over time. I said I wouldn't submit anywhere, and then I proceed to send out to at least six festivals over the past 10 days or so. I'm a total liar, I guess (plus I just want to taste the sweetness of victory, or what have you, again). Of course, if my pieces aren't strong enough, I can submit til kingdom come, and the results will remain the same. So I need to keep busy with other activities, and come back to my writing again with a renewed confidence. Meanwhile, I can enjoy the plays I usher for (three in the next week, if not four!), can enjoy discussing plays and reading more full-lengths for the Boston Theatre Works Unbound Festival (where I've found some very weak pieces so far, and hope the writing improves as I continue to read new works), and can work the hell out and try to eat less so I'll look fit for the summer (and so my clothes will actually fit again, at least the summer ones!). And as far as work goes, well, it goes, sometimes better than other times, but I'm trying. Howard Zinn, the famous political activist/instructor spoke at the BAC this past Friday, and he was so inspiring. I love to learn, and I have to make sure I continue to do so, not b/c it means *I* am necessarily doing anything as a result but just to keep my mind alert and to feel invigorated for its own sake.