Sunday, April 27, 2008

I've got pretty much nothing positive to say

Isn't that a great title? I would love to have something better to headline this, but honestly, I just don't. I got three rejections this week, including one from Asphalt Shorts in Canada, and it's getting really, really tired. I also can't type at my desk (though I am right now) without pain, and it's costing too much at the moment to buy a laptop (donations welcome ;-)), so I am confined to writing at work, which is not the most conducive atmosphere to write in, let's be honest. My back just throbs and throbs, and my latest deep tissue massage, $45 for a half hour, did not help ONE BIT. (Maybe it will in the future, but not yet, not even a little bit.) I have taken two classes as part of my 12-week session at the Mind/Body Clinic in Chestnut Hill, MA, and I would love to say that I have gotten some relief from it, but I have not. I know, two weeks is FAR TOO LITTLE TIME to reap results, so I will keep meditating (can't hurt, of course), though it's hard to lay on my back while my back just throbs, and sitting hurts, too. God, I am getting depressed just writing this!!! :( I can imagine how you feel reading this (if you still are!).

What do I enjoy at the moment (as there has to be SOMETHING, right?):

Watching American Idol (favorite singer is David Cook, by a mile, and I think he's going to make it to the finale);

Paying attention to the buds on the trees and flowers on the ground, b/c we are having spring in Boston this year, and it's a wonderful thing. It smells so nice, and it's wondrous to walk in the city on a nice, warm day. It hurts so much to hurt, but I just barge ahead, b/c if it's going to hurt anyway, I might as well get some exercise and make my heart and head feel better, in any case;

Listen to music, as always. I'm switching it up these days; I listen primarily to Mix 98.5, which means I got from Leona Lewis to Daughtry to Natasha Bedenfield (my current favorite) to Rhianna to Jack Johnson. It's nice to change it up. Just mellow music was getting boring to me. I prefer the djays on the River, but the music has left me wanting more. Maybe because I'm getting older I want to get more hip (45 now, kids; unbelievable but true), but I like to hang with younger friends, Anna (who also seems much younger than she is) excluded. My birthday was last week, and it was underwhelming, to say the least (though the surprise birthday at work was nice and very unexpected). My parents did their very best to make it nice for me, but my back hurt so much (driving to their house, then to my sister's in Western MA, back to their house, and then home) that it just took me out. I can't drive anymore with excessive pain, so I feel very trapped. My friends are going to NYC to see the Daily Show in June, but I can't imagine taking a 3 1/2 bus ride to NYC. Who knows in two months, right? I'm just not envisioning it.

Watching the Red Sox. Though they've lost four in a row, I'm so excited by Jed Lowrie, Clay Bucholz, and of course Jacoby Ellsbury, and Manny is tearing it up, that you can't help but get excited by being part of their run at a third World Series. I think it's unlikely--the pitching is decimated, and there are a lot of injuries--but it's so early in the season that you are glad the problems are taking place now (and they are still in first place) and hopefully not in July and August. I'm also reading LOOK ME IN THE EYE but John Robison, Augusten Burrough's brother, and it's fascinating (it's about Asperger's) and inspiring. We should all be so articulate.

So, um, that's about it for now. I cannot write creatively, b/c I am too depressed and it hurts too much mentally and physically and I couldn't be less motivated. (Oh, and getting continuous rejections, and I am, trust me, does not help my mood.)

IF you are reading this, and want to send some good vibes my way, I'd be very appreciative. I can't muster the strength right now.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Boston Theatre Marathon: sadness and resolve

Well, it's easy to go from extreme happiness to extreme sadness in about a week, if you are me. The high of SWANDay has been replaced by the low of being rejected yet again from the Boston Theatre Marathon. Now, to be completely fair, they get about 400 entries, and solicit about 20 plays from writers like Israel Horowitz, Robert Brustein, Gary Garrison (who's a god in the theatre world), and others, so there aren't many spots for other lesser-known writers, and it's very competitive. In addition, Kate Snodgrass, an extremely nice (and gifted) writer/producer/director, writes something personal on every rejection note (I think; at least on the three I've received), so I'm not bitter by any means, just saddened. It's so prestigious, and it would be such an honor to be included. As I wrote to Kate (who kindly wrote back; she really does care), I don't see how I can get included in that I submitted my very best short piece, WEDNESDAYS, the one that was produced in NYC, San Antonio, and other locales, and it was still rejected. I guess I don't write the kind of work they want, or I just don't hit it right, and I know it's subjective (Kate said as much). But I can't seem to hit the big three: The Marathon, SLAMBoston, and the Dragonfly Festival (which wasn't held last year), and these are the ones that get a lot of attention. I have been produced locally, but these are the ones I really want to crack,, no, it isn't happening.

Part of my sadness does have to do with last week's exhilaration. Having a play receive a positive reaction validated me and my work (I liked the piece, don't get me wrong, but it was thrilling to see it on stage and have such terrific feedback). The only other time that has happened is when WEDNESDAYS was produced by the Two Spoons Theatre Company last March, when everything came together: the actors, director, script. I just *knew* it was right, and that was the case with WAKE UP CALL. Having the chance to collaborate with Lau, Joey, and Robyn was awesome(I am dying to work with them again; I want this piece to get a full production, dammit), and then to get such encouraging feedback (and from a staged reading, not even a full production!) made me so very happy. It's like a drug: you crave more, and feel very empty without it. There are so few opportunities for work to be produced, unless you self-produce, which is bloody hard--I can't believe how wonderful SWANDay turned out, but Debbie nearly killed herself doing most of the work for it--and I can't put the time, energy, strength (the back is still in horrid shape, and I hope the acupuncture takes this time, b/c I am at wits end, I really am). In fact, I am at work writing this, b/c I can't sit at my computer anymore :-(.

So...that's where I am at. I received the letter from Kate, an encouraging one but a rejection letter nonetheless, after a day spend at acupuncture (not painful but expensive, damn you, back), then watching a new play reading at the Boston Center for the Arts, briefly volunteering for work at an exhibit next door, and having dinner with Debbie and her husband at a cafe across from the BCA. By the time I got home, I was tired (again, b/c of the back) and the letter was a sad surprise. I felt disappointed, and listened to James Morrison all night (b/c he is the only singer that I can listen to when I am at my lowest point), after I watched Step Up and Dance, a new reality dance program at Bravo. The good thing about the latter is that I saw these dancers who are so passionate about their craft, and I thought, Dammit, I can write (decently, at any rate), and so instead of bitching and moaning and crying, I should just start writing again!!! And longer pieces, as Edd and Debbie and Lau and others have encouraged. So: here I am, on a dreary Sunday, staring work on a new play (after I finish this post, obviously). Maybe it's a good sign that James Morrison is now playing on Pandora Radio. So off I go to write, and we'll see. All that can happen is that I get nothing substantive accomplished; if I don't write, I get nothing in return.

Friday, April 04, 2008

WAKE UP CALL: happy, happy, joy, joy

The SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day Festival was last Saturday from 2-5pm at the Boston Playwrights Theatre in Boston (of course), and man, did it go well! I was in heaven watching my play and then taking in the response. I usually feel so uncomfortable watching my work, and maybe the reason I didn't this time is that I was at two of the rehearsals with Lau (director), Joey (E-Man), and Robyn (Shannon), and that helped ease the discomfort or whatever I typically experience. The first rehearsal wasn't that long, the previous Saturday, and was a good introduction to the piece, but the second rehearsal, last Friday night (only a week ago? Really?!), went so well and I felt so stoked!!! Now, it's hard for me to get excited about pretty much anything, given the constant back pain I'm in--I can only hope tomorrow's acupuncturist is more successful than the last one (he comes highly recommended, and is near my apartment, two major pluses)--but this time I DID get excited. Joey (the djay E-Man) was just so limber, so creative, so INTO it, and Robyn (the CVS employee listener) played off him really nicely, bringing a sincerity that was appreciated. And Lau is just a genius, bringing a new play to life in ways I couldn't have. She just *got* it, and that's hard to be on the same page with a director. God knows I haven't been in the past when I've been part of the process (okay, just once, but still...), but this was different and wonderful and exhilarating. It's not so surprising, given all of Lau's experience (I've seen her work before and was so happy that she wanted to direct the piece), but still...she was just THERE with it.

Joey threw himself into the part (he was hysterical and also vulnerable), and he and Robyn, who have known each other for many years, brought real emotion to their roles, both comic and serious. This is the play I am most proud of. It is something I worked on all semester at Harvard Extension, of course, but it's a topic I've tried to write about since I was in grad school in the early 90s at Emerson, and I couldn't get there till now. Maybe I finally brought perspective to the idea of two lonely people trying to connect and only doing so when they were real and not part of a persona (b/c, really, aren't we all, most of the time, trying to fit in?) So I was kind of part of the rehearsal, giving some feedback, making a couple of line changes, but I was also just taking it in, and it was amazing. And then on Saturday--wow. WOW. They were so great (Lau couldn't be there, but I have pictures on a disc I'll mail to her after I get them from Debbie) and the response was amazing. It was kind of funny when the audience applauded before the play was over (the lights went down and everyone thought the play had ended, and I kind of cringed and went, Uh, no, help!), but then lights back up for the final short scene (the serious one that brings the two of them together) and when it ended there was so much applause and cheering. WOW. And at the end of the festival, I had so many people come up to me to congratulate me (of course, will they put on any of my plays?! Seriously. Will anyone? Please?). And I knew that the play was successful (not flawless, but what is?) and I felt so bloody proud. The song Undiscovered, that is at the heart of the play, has these lyrics:

I'm not lost, I'm not lost, just undiscovered
When we're alone, we're all the same as each other
You see the look that's on my face, you might think I'm out of place,
I'm not lost, no, no, just undiscovered.

And that is just how I feel. You need to find someone to feel connected to, someone who understands, and that is what the play tries to reveal. Does it fully? Well, no, it can't, it is impossible to truly open up your heart to someone and have them be there with you (at least that's my experience, but then again I've never had a soul-mate, like my sister Stephanie and her husband Andy), but you can try, and that is what the play tries to express. It's also funny (I hope) and I hope that helps, because for once I didn't want to write something moribund. I wanted something that showed who we are (funny, lonely, scared, vulnerable, giving) and I hope the play hints at that. A number of people have suggested I make it longer (it's currently 20 minutes) and I might, but for now I'm happy. But I'm open to the possibility. I just need to continue writing, and I want to work on something else, to become engrossed in it (horrid back pain or not), and then see how I feel about this. I am far too obsessive about my love for James Morrison, whom I've been listening to far too much lately, and that's partly b/c I'm really sad the play is over (I always get a real low after a real high), but I'm moving on, b/c I need to, and I'll get back to writing and see what happens.

But I can keep the great feeling of accomplishment I had last Saturday (it was a great festival, probably the best short play festival I've ever been involved with OR have seen, and Debbie gets huge props for putting it together) with a full house and a terrific reaction to an un-produced play. And I need to keep going, and I will. I am off to see my instructor Ken's reading of a new full-length play at the Boston Center for the Arts now, and that, along with watching another play there with Anna tomorrow, should also encourage me to write more. Because that's what I do. I want to dance, like the contestants on So You Think You Can Dance, but that's not what I do, bad back or no. Writing IS what I can do, sometimes well, sometimes not, sometimes with enthusiasm, sometimes not, but I'll always have it. Sadness, loneliness, and all of these other emotions often overtake me, but maybe I can return to the joy I felt last week and can feel motivated to keep going.