Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Philosophy 101 on a humid afternoon

Well, I got rejected from another festival today, the ID yada yada festival in NYC, and everyone I know who submitted (which means three people ;-)) got in. Naturally, I am disappointed, b/c who the hell isn't disappointed when rejected from a festival? If you didn't want to get in, then you wouldn't have submitted, eh? (If you don't mind being rejected from a festival--if you've reached a higher level of being--please let me know.) But I've been thinking about exactly why I feel upset when I am rejected, aside from the obvious reasons, and that's what this post is really about (I can hear a palpable sigh of relief from any of you reading this, and I don't blame you).

I think part of it has to do with the reasons I write and my expectations. I have a job that I enjoy but that does not *define* me, per se. I am not an architect, so working for a design school is rewarding b/c I intersect with students every day and am a helpful resource for them, which I find rewarding. I like my colleagues, my supervisor, the hours, the location, the stability, and so on. I am not wealthy, but I'm doing okay, and as I've noted in the past, my apartment is really nice, the best one I've ever lived in (size, location, features, etc.). So what's the problem? Well, I guess it's that I don't feel as if I fit in anywhere exactly. When you're not married or in a relationship, you *need* more (or I do, anyway). You need to feel wanted, needed, valued, and I have difficulty with this. I think writing fulfills part of my need to be creative. And yes, so much of this is process, I get it, I really do. For many people, writing is enough, in and of itself. I write so I am a writer. I am because I write, and so on. But I think validation is really important. I probably think this a lot more than I ought to, or than is healthy for me.

Knowing that this theatre business is so subjective is incredibly important, and yet that is rather intangible, whereas a festival acceptance, where you can point to the website, the festival, the date(s) and time(so) your piece will be produced, is very tangible indeed. You can take pride and satisfaction in this, you can tell others, they can be happy for you (or impressed, but I'm not foolish enough to think that a production of a 10-minute piece qualifies me as the next Edward Albee or Tom Stoppard, etal). I can also say, Well, I haven't actually written a full-length piece yet, so of course I can't have had one produced yet, and so I can't feel upset about this, b/c I have made the choice and I intend to write one sometime soon (begin one, I should say), either this fall at Emerson College, if subsidized, or through a retreat or just on my own. I don't know yet. I also know that some 10-minute play festivals are wonderful (read: the Two Spoons Teaspoon Festival in NYC) and others are not (no names). This knowledge ought to be quite enough. Festivals are nice for the theatres, the festival goers, and the playwrights, directors, and all involved, but they are not the be all, end all. I don't want to be defined by a piece I write about a mother and daughter's conflict or a woman trying to decide what to do after graduating college or a father and his late son's tumultuous relationship (though that happens to be my favorite piece, as yet unproduced). I don't want to, I know better than to be, and yet...yet...yet.

I haven't written anything new for many weeks now, aside from a two-minute piece I'm working on for a Canadian festival this fall (and I'm not holding my breath). I am not inspired, though I have a couple of ideas (a rewrite of my djay play and another one that is about infatuation but in a different way). But I can't put fingers to keyboard, and I'm not sure exactly why. I know a couple of times I've had anxiety attacks, and have countered them by leaving my apartment and going for a walk or having a hard workout (never fails to make me feel better, assuming I'm my knees or toe doesn't hurt that day). But that still results in my having written not a word, so I'm in the same place, albeit less upset. Why can't I write? Am I in a dry spell (probably)? Am I unmotivated (yes, but why)? Do I fear failure (perhaps)? I always feel as if I need to have at least one or two productions upcoming, and in fact I *do* have two productions upcoming, one in Michigan and one in Portland, OR (I will not be attending either, due to distance and lack of money). That's nice, it's great, and it's not enough. This means, of course, that it will never be enough. I will always crave more festivals, more acceptances, and I will never be satisfied with what I have and what I've done.

I think it comes back to a sense of internal satisfaction and validation. Sure, I like my friends a lot and we do interesting things (see movies, go to plays, have great conversations at cafes, etc.). I love my family and enjoy being with them (though I don't get to see my sister and niece and nephew in Florida nearly enough, and will only get to be with them briefly, if at all, when they visit in August, due to work conflicts). I just got HBO (bundled with Comcast stuff), and there are lots of fun series and documentaries and movies to watch. I am reading THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING by Joan Didion (depressing but lyrical), and have many other books on tap. I can walk, b/c it's summertime, of course (except the occasional day like today, when it's 95 degrees and you can pass out, the way I almost did yesterday, from spending more than five minutes at a time in the unhealthy air), and there are outdoor concerts and other activities available (as opposed to, say, winter when the weather chills you inside and out and you want to stay inside and eat and sleep). These are all good things, and more importantly my mom is, knock on wood, doing okay with her radiation treatment and the prognosis is very positive. So, honestly, what's the problem? Where does the general discontent come from? Can I overcome it?

It ain't gonna be b/c I get into a festival in Seattle (not yet) or San Diego (not yet) or San Antonio (yep, that one happened). It has to be an inner contentment. I've been seeking that inner contentment for years and years and it continues to elude me. I know the way to write is to bloody sit down and bloody type a word or phrase or anything. Besides that, well, I have to keep trying, being in the moment, as my yoga instructor (and thank GOD for yoga) Naima always says, and giving it a go each and every day. I don't know if it ever gets easier, but the alternative isn't one I want to try.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Blah la la

Well, it's a cool, overcast day in Boston. I can't complain about that, b/c we had a week of wonderful weather (for me, anyway), sunny, warm and getting warmer through the week. Yesterday was actually hot and humid, with some sun, and I had a nice workout and then walked home (35 minutes). I spent the rest of the afternoon in, watching the Red Sox beat the Yankees (sweet) and then watching THE SECRET LIFE OF WORDS (not sweet; great acting by Sarah Polley, who now directs although only 28 years old, and Tim Robbins, whom I adore). I also watched OLD JOY on Friday night, a movie about paint drying--er, no, about two hippie-type guys who drive into the forest, enjoy the hot springs, and drive home. Thrilling, and yet the Boston Globe loved it. Go figure. I like indies, but only if they are compelling in some way. The former was, but it was also all over the place, with a tiday, unbelievable ending. The latter was just an exercise in nothingness. Today, I go to yoga (no class last week, due to Memorial Day, so I'm looking forward to it) and then a get together with the book clubbers. I hope it's fun. It was only so-so last time, but we haven't met for over a month, so we will have a lot to catch up on.

I am feeling pretty low these days, in pretty much all ways. Work is slow, and that never helps. I hope it picks up. I am working hard at weight loss, but it takes time, and I'm rather impatient. And then there's writing. Or lack of writing, in my case. I'm not sure if it's just the rejections I've received lately (a number of them), but I could care less about putting fingers to keyboard. My friend Shirley has been throwing out suggestions, and I've been filing them and continuing to do nothing. I know being rejected from Drekfest in Chicago was a huge disappointment. I thought a sent a really "good bad play," but apparently not bad enough, b/c a binger got in and I did not (nor did Shirley or anyone else I know who posts to the listserv). I had so hoped to go to Chicago, meet up with some other bingers and improv-types, and just get away. Now it won't happen, and I did think I had a good shot this time. I can't submit to Brown Couch, b/c you can only use one prop and a sofa, and since WEDNESDAYS has a few of them (and two are mandatory: the notebook Martha writes in to judge her dates and the tray with two cups of coffee and a cookie on it, the same thing she orders every time), Brown Couch won't take it. Now, don't get me wrong: they have over 300 entries, so my chances of getting in were pretty slim. But I did have the right kind of play for them this time--didn't have to revise it much at all, as it fit the theme--and now I can't submit it, and I tried to make it work, but I can't so it's ineligible. That hurt. Oh, and I got rejected by the Mass Arts Council yesterday. That I knew was coming, but you always hope you get lucky (the winners get $7500--I could have gone on a few writing retreats or conferences with that money). It was not to be.

When you want to write and just can't get motivated to do so, it feels like there is a major pit in my stomach. Yes, I can sit and try, but it feels like useless effort and a waste of time, and I ust don't want to. Since so much of the writing is in the process of doing it, what's the point if the process feels painful? I have gone through such periods, and they have gone away, and then I can get back to the business (though it isn't for me) of writing, but not now. I had a great time with Geralyn's podcast (go to for my evening and many by Geralyn and others), but it didn't inspire me to write more (go figure). I am even sleeping pretty well, now that I had my medication revamped, but...nothing. I continue to hope that Emerson works out (not only that I can take the fall class but that it actually *runs*, which might not happen), b/c that will force me to write, and sometimes I need that. But for now, the well has run dry. I am very happy that THE SATCHEL is doing well at the Lakeshore Players festival in MN (according to Claudia, who also is directing a piece) and I look forward to seeing it in Framingham, MA in a few weeks, isn't helping. I don't want to write. I don't really want to do anything, aside from work out and listen to the new Maroon 5 CD (very good). Yes, this, too, shall pass, and all I can do is wait it out. If I had somewhere to go to just chill out, that would help, I bet, but I don't so it won't. Thank God my mom does not have to have any more surgery, though she is still recovering from the first pass and the pain and the emotions that accompany the cancer diagnosis, and she has every right to feel this way. I won't say I don't--I can't entirely control it--but it's nearly summer and I want to feel happier. I want to, and I will, but it's not fun being in the middle of it. Maybe I will have more upbeat news next time.