EDIT: I wrote this and then read and was all, "god, shut the fuck up you insufferable asshole!" I was about to delete it when I thought perhaps other playwrights might feel similarly conflicted/self-hate-y from time to time and take comfort in the stupidity of this post:
This post is kind of on the serious and very theater-centric so feel free to skip it in favor of something more fun, like the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Board Game (which arrived... with no rulebook!)
My play, Up With (Some) People, competed in the finals of the 34th Annual Samuel French Festival yesterday against twelve other short plays. Basically, Samuel french publishes an anthology of six short plays every year and they decide the six by holding a play festival. This year they received seven-hundred and eighteen submissions and mine made it all the way to the finals at Playwrights Horizons. And then didn't win.
After the show the writers and actors and directors, along with their loved ones, gather at a bar down the street to await the announcement over a champagne toast. I think I took it pretty graciously, but yowza was that one of the more painful moments in my playwriting career.
Don't get me wrong. My play was awesome. I had an amazing director and amazing actors, and I'm so proud of us for getting that far out of hundreds and hundreds of plays. The competition was fierce, to say the least.
But I can't help feeling like I almost make it a lot. That my life is marked by almost. It's a really frustrating feeling. I'm okay with not winning Samuel French. Like I said, the competition was fierce and all of the plays were really, really good. All six of them totally deserved to win.
But it did make me think of my writing in a larger sense. I mean, in terms of the theater and my place in it as a career playwright. By that of course I mean that I don't have a career. I don't make my living doing this. Almost none of us do. It seems like the way that things are set up now you have to have a lot of advantages in order to ever get somewhere that resembles a "career" in playwriting. Like money. Or an ivy league MFA. And even then it's not a guarantee. Furthermore, many of those that do have a so-called career make less than half of what other people make at their office job.
So why do I keep pounding my head against a wall, trying to force myself into a world that doesn't want me? The "legitimate theater" doesn't really seem to want plays like mine, so why do I keep trying? I mean, maybe I should shift my expectations. What's wrong with just making plays for my friends? For my community of freaks and homos and downtown lovelies? Those are the people who made me a good writer to begin with, and still the people I'm writing for when I think about it. So I think I'm going to focus on them for a while and nurse my tender tar heart back to health.
UPDATE: It took me less than twenty-four hours to get my tar heart back.
Game. Fucking. On.