When Melanie Marnich was a visiting artist at The University of Iowa, she had us all do an exercise: imagine where we saw ourselves in 1 year, in 3 years, and in 5 years. We thought about our personal trajectories and, in some way, how we would get ourselves there through short term goals. Something that I've been lacking lately is a focus on goals. I don't quite have any. Okay, that's not entirely true. I suppose I don't have large, specific goals. We often are asked to define what success means for ourselves since success, especially success as a playwright, is so personalized. I've been concentrating a lot on my family, my wife's goals, and have had some very distracting business going on at the day job, so my playwriting goals have been out of focus. Mainly the goal has been "I want to write plays." I've also extended the goal to "I want my plays to be performed." Easy enough.
What I've decided to do is take bite-sized action towards this goal by submitting at least 1 play a week. It's not as ambitious as Brian Doyle's 1 submission a day, but it's doable for me. It's been especially easy after having done all the prep work as recommended by Donna Hoke. I can get a play submitted in about 20 minutes, not including research about the theatre or contest. The most difficult part of the process will be pairing the right play with the right theatre. I just recently sent off a copy of Father Bob, a play I haven't sent out in a while, because it seemed like the one play of mine that would work in terms of theme and casting. Maybe. I don't know. All I can do is read the missions of the theatres, look at their previous productions, and try to be honest about whether or not one of my plays would work there. I'm doing my best to not send something simply to send something.
In other news, I have a fun new project that's going to start in December. More info to come. I hate being vague, but it's coming soon enough!
I begin with a short report of the business side of my playwriting career:
For the first time in a long time, I've sent out play submissions. I sent out an electronic one last week, then sent off 2 mailed submissions today. My wife had offered to mail them for me to save me some time, but I told her that it was important for me to send them myself. I'm not sure why, but it felt very, very necessary for me to be the one to walk into the post office, weigh those packets, put the postage on them, and watch them disappear from the chute. They're out there in the world now, on their way to New York City and California. Last week's submission is now living in Chicago. Another couple of electronic submissions I did today are living here in Columbus. In the next couple of months, my scripts will head to different parts of California and even to exotic Iowa.
This is the most I've submitted since 2011. In 2011, I submitted to somewhere between 5 and 10 places. In 2012, I just couldn't get up enough energy to send out any submissions. I was tired of the preparation and energy it took to get those packages or emails ready and then the emotional energy it took to deal with rejections. Last year, I sent out 3 submissions to places and opportunities in town in order to get myself back into practice. Now, I'm on my way, submitting.
My playwriting database, which I created in Filemaker Pro (something I needed to learn for my day job), I wrote a quotation from Walt Disney: "All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."
In terms of the creative side, I just wrote/finished, like, seriously a couple minutes ago, wrote the first scene for my play about Persephone. I had a very clear image of the beginning of the play, helped along by a scene from the pilot of Breaking Bad when Walter White is getting his diagnosis from the doctor. I saw it very clearly in my mind and it was very easy to write. It's helping me establish a tone for the play: ethereal, dark, but very playful. The play might be performed by middle school girls, so I'm thinking that I don't want to make it too dark. But I'm going to write the play as it wants to be written. Right now, the play's theme song is Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones, but performed by a woman. I haven't found the right version to sit in the back of my mind as I write. I'll keep searching.
So, my fellow theatre-makers, how has your writing gone lately? Starting up new projects? Have you been submitting plays?
I'll leave you with one last Walt Disney quotation: "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
Be excellent to each other.