Sunday, February 18, 2007

Checking in; good news, not so good news

Well, it's been interesting on the writing front. The last time I wrote, I had just gotten into Two Spoons Theatre's Tea Spoons Festival with WEDNESDAYS, the cafe play, and that takes place next month in NYC. Two of my book club (former book club, that is) friends and I are going down from Friday night-Saturday night, and it should be quite fun, though a bit hectic. I also was a finalist with the same play for Kingwood College. I know I should be pleased about that, and I am, but for me, not getting into a festival is not getting into a festival (though I know most writers disagree). I realize I can put this on my resume (I need to revise mine, as I've run out of room on it--it was a left-over acting one) and can feel good about being 16 out of 250 or so, and I do, believe me, but I would really have liked to have had the play produced (not that I could have gone to it, of course, since it's in Texas). Then I got mixed news last night. First, I found out that I was a semi-finalist for Lakeshore Players' festival with THE SATCHEL(in MN in June, so I'm not going out for it),and that's cool, though, again, I didn't get in, and getting in is what makes me truly happen. At the same time, I found out that I didn't get into semi-finalist status at Heartland for their ONE SHOE festival, and that was very disappointing (Debbie didn't, either, and she won last year). I know it's such a crapshoot, but I thought my play was pretty strong, or at least different. But I sent it to the NYCollective (though it's EXTREMELY competitive) and of course I can use it in the future for other festivals.

That's the best thing about festivals for me: I write a play for it, using that theme, and if I don't get in, I still have the play for the future. Now I'm working on both an anniversary play for a local festival and on one set in a school (playground, etc.) for a festival I got into last year. I have the week off to chill and write (literally chill--it's supposed to be below zero with the wind chill tonight and tomorrow, so how I'll get to physical therapy I have no idea), and I can try those AND submit my application to Brycliffe, the writer's institute. Of course, I may not get in, and the unstructured time worries me, but friends at work have been very encouraging, and will help me make up a schedule should I get in (and of course, I may not). In the meantime, I go to yoga, physical therapy (the knee is getting better), try not to eat too much (good luck to that), see movies (don't watch MUTUAL APPRECIATION or LITTLE FISH; neither are very good, IMHO), and stay busy (reading is an option I haven't taken enough advantage of, but can this week). If any more news comes in (PLEASE SAY YES, BOSTON THEATRE MARATHON AND/OR DRAGONFLY FESTIVAL), I will duly report it.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

State of the Writing--an acceptance!

Yep, you heard write--er, right--kids. After a six month dry spell (by which I mean all rejections, and there were a lot of them), I got into a festival and am a finalist in another. Yippie! I wrote three plays over the fall, and one recently for the Heartland Theatre Festival (suffice it to say, the latter is dark, maybe my darkest, which probably doesn't bode well for it at all, though I will say it's fairly original). One of the plays I wrote in late September, called WEDNESDAYS, is about a 40-something woman who finds her potential mate in a cafe. It's fairly light-hearted and hopeful, something I rarely do in a play (I know, shock), and it was accepted by the Two Spoons Theatre Company in NYC. This is very cool for two reasons: I got a play accepted for a fairly competitive festival; and more importantly, I get to go see it! Two book club friends and I are going to take the bus down Friday night, stay over (fairly cheaply; both of these friends are very good about finding bargains), see the play Saturday at 2pm, and then come back that night. It's a lot less tiring than going up and back in a day (which is also cutting it close), and for a little over $100, it's worth it to me. I don't have the money, really--I am not in great shape financially right now (donations gratefully accepted)--but I think it's worth it. It will be fun, and since I've never seen the play mounted before, this will be a nice chance to do so, in a professional theatre setting (and in the theatre district!). That was very exciting to me. I'm one of 16 finalists for the other festival in Texas (if I get in, I am NOT going to that one), and while that is also cool, since this was another competitive festival, and for the same piece (which I wish I had sent to the Boston Theatre Marathon, but there's always next year), I am not in, and am not holding my breath, though finalist status does count for a lot. The festivals still to be determined are The American Globe/Turnip festival in NYC (long shot), BTM, as mentioned (very long shot), and Dragonfly Festival (also a long shot, b/c they seem to take more known playwrights, and I am not right now, though I hope to be someday). But we'll see, and of course, I am still writing, submitting, and waiting on a few earlier submissions. At any rate, this was very satisfying, after a long drought, and I do feel better about my writing now. I know, I know, it's not about acceptance, it's about inner validation, and I understand that, but it's a lot more fun to see a play produced than to have it lay dormant.

Speaking of productions, Debbie and I are going to see our plays from last year performed at Theatre One in Middleboro on Sunday (the ones that were snowed out last February). Mine is PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES, and while I'm happy to see it again (third time, actually, and that doesn't count the production in ND that was taped), I am unhappy that I will miss my yoga class on Sunday. This may seem trivial to others, but it's not at all to me. Yoga has become a very important part of my life, though I only go two times a week, if I'm lucky, b/c it helps to relax me and, as Naima (the instructor) says, I can take what I learn on the mat (patience, endurance, life in the moment, and so on) and carry it with me off the mat and into my life. It might sound hokey, but it isn't, and this is a VERY strenuous class, so I have to be focused and work hard to keep up (and to not drop out :-)). But I have to miss it on Sunday, and that is discouraging. I can go to the 90 minute class in Somerville with Rolf (sp?) on Sunday in Cambridge--he used to teach at the one on Newbury Street, right by my job--and if I can get there for the 9:30 class (Naima's is at 11:15, a perfect time on the weekends), I'll go. I don't want to miss working out on Sunday, so I'll try to get there. It's been hard with my knees (I am still in physical therapy, and will be for another month), b/c I've had to cut way back on my working out, and I need activities that are challenging and satisfying. I'm up to 30 minutes on the bike, and I do floor work to strengthen my quads/hamstrings, but I don't get the same kind of workout.

Anyway, I'm sure I'm boring you with my health issues, so I'll stop now. The point is that I have to drive an hour to see a show I've already watched twice, and while I'm really grateful that I'm in it, and am also looking forward to seeing Debbie's play performed (second time for me) and another friend's (third time), I am not at pleased at having to miss my yoga. But the producer is a friend of mine, and I want to support her efforts, as she constantly supports mine (she even went to see the FIVE Festival in Boston in June--that now seems so long ago--and I couldn't appreciate that more, especially b/c the whole play with blocks issue was so traumatic for me.) No other news on the writing front, though I wish there would be (good news, of course). I'm going to try to write a play with an anniversary theme for a very competitive local festival called SAS, but do not hold out much hope. There is also a festival in North Dakota that I got into last year that is looking for plays set in a school/schoolyard, but I have NO ideas, so that one might not get written. I'm currently mulling over the idea of submitting for a writing institute at Bryrcliffe in Woodstock, NY this summer. Each session runs for four weeks, and I've been given the okay by my job to go (which somewhat surprised me but for which I'm grateful). However, it's totally unstructured time, and I suck at dealing with unstructured time. It's hard enough for me getting through a weekend, never mind FOUR WEEKS. You get a studio for lodging/writing, computer, and that's about it for the month. You can interact with the other nine participants (five writers, including yourself, five visual artists) at night in the communal dining/living room, but besides that, you are ON YOUR OWN.

I don't do so well with ON MY OWN. It would be wonderful (heavenly, really) if there were workshops, seminars, readings, and so on, but there aren't. So if I feel blocked, and that could happen, or bored or tired, what do I do? Yes, I could walk, or go into town and shop or take yoga (which I would have to pay for, alas, and Aoise, the writer who went three times and loved it, said is pricey), but is that enough for a month? I know that this is my chance to finally work on the full-length I have wanted to start for quite some time, but will I do it, or will I just STRESS OUT about doing it for a whole month? Hard to say. It's not that I don't want to challenge myself--I do--but this isn't the ideal setting for me to feel comfortable in. If I could go with a friend (paging Debbie), then I would certainly go, but I can't see her taking a month off from her Boston life and leaving her husband behind. She is currently on her way to Racine, WI for a play festival she got into, she may go to Cannes again if she doesn't get into the Boston Theatre Marathon, and she and her husband are going to Costa Rica in late February (sigh, must be nice, thugh I can't complain, since I'll be in Florida again in mid-March, and my knees need to get out of this frigid weather, where it hasn't been warmer than 20 degrees in two weeks). She has also applied to the Edward Albee Festival in Omaha in late May/early June, which is more up my alley. There are readings and panels every day, and lots of networking, along with other events at night. But it would cost me over $1000 to go, so obviously I am not going unless I were to get a grant (and that ain't happening, despite my applying for a Mass Grant back in December). The Festival would be an ideal opportunity, but one I can't afford in any way (maybe next year, but doubtful), and the institute is $350 (plus food and driving expenses, but that's it), so it IS affordable. But being away from home for a month (b/c I couldn't go back to MA during that time) would be really tough, so I just don't know. The President of the college I work for is really in favor of my doing this, as are friends, but I just don't know if it's right for me. I have until April 1 to decide, and I can always submit the application and decide if I get in, of course. Ah, I wish I were a more independent sort.

Finally, I have encountered financial difficulties (so what's new?) recently. First, I had to pay $375 to have my car inspected (it has since passed, so I'm okay, knock on wood, and it HAS been starting up, despite the cold weather, knock on wood again), and that hurt. But after that my mp3 player was stolen from the gym where I have physical therapy, and THAT was a $300 unexpected expense I could hardly afford. (It's still stressing me out.) I left it outside of the locker while I hastily dressed for p.t. (I couldn't find my workout clothing, and I was running late at 8:30 AM, of course, so in my hurry, I forgot to put it in my locker, though I was smart enough to get the wallet in there, thank GOD.) When I returned to the locker, it was gone, and while I made several calls to the gym, it was not recovered, though others had been. The good news in this is that I that I was finally able to get a Nano and man, I LOVE my Nano. It's red (so part of the proceeds went to the AIDS prevention campaign) and very sleek and attractive. It also holds about 1750 songs (not too many, just enough for me) and easily fits in any pocket. I am still getting used to the ear buds, but I love the way it looks and feels, and it was the only way I could justify getting one (my other one was bulky and could have died any minute, the way the other four Zen Micros had). I have to be careful with it, of course, b/c in the winter it is VERY EASY to lose my dorky (meaning I love it; it's from Life is Good) hat, my gloves, my scarf, and so on, and that includeds the Nano. I'm just being extra careful to pay attention to it, and so far, so good (one more knock on wood). I was sans music for a couple of days, and then my physical therapist was kind enough to lend me her iPod shuffle for the week; it's okay, but only holds 250 songs, not enough for a musicaholic like me, and you can't control the order, nor can you see what's playing. It's only $75, as opposed to $200 (not counting tax, clear case, and 2-year warranty), so it was tempting to get it as a temporary measure, but I knew I'd be unhappy with it, and would buy the nicer one eventually, anyway. The 2GB was cheaper by $50 but also held half the songs, and I decided if I was going to pay over $100, I might as get the one I wanted and be done with it.

Thus, I am not in good financial shape, again, and have to be very careful, again, and so sick of this, AGAIN, but that's life. And as Naima says in yoga class, I'm lucky to be able to get on the mat and work out, and there are thousands of people who would trade places with me, despite the money they may have. I do try to keep that in mind during stressful or unhappy times. I can only do what I can do.