Philosophy 101 on a humid afternoon
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.