Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Maybe I missed the memo. Do theaters no longer believe in rejection letters anymore?
I checked the website for Greasy Joan & Co. today, and it is now official…every Chicago theater I sent a play to in the past year decided to choose other scripts for their upcoming season.
While this is of course disappointing, this is the business, and I accept that when I decide to send my work out in the first place. Not being selected is a perfectly respectable actuality, and it happens to hundreds of playwrights a week. But…not even receiving a no-thank-you letter, that somehow feels worse. That feels like a kick in the side, frankly, because it feels like not only was my work not good enough for production, my work wasn’t even good enough for rejection, that it wasn’t worth somebody’s time to type up a quick note wishing me luck elsewhere.
And I think, well; this is what I have to show for the end of my twenties. A number of plays that very few people saw, a number that nobody will ever see, and a number that aren’t, apparently, even worth getting past the title page to read.
I’m not, for whatever reason, counting the work I’ve done for the past three years with Too Much Light…perhaps because that work will always labor under the stigma that each piece was nothing more than an ephemeral and ultimately empty “sketch,” not actual “theatre.” I’m proud of most of the plays I’ve created for TML, but pride and five bucks will only buy me a cup of coffee.
And this boils inside me like some noxious alchemy, transforms me into a haggard, bitter thing, lashing out at any person who ever told me that I had “talent,” who ever told me that they “liked my work.” I feel foolish for the hours and days and weeks I spent clawing at my eyes because this bit of dialogue or this character rang false, foolish for the time I spent convincing myself I was “crafting” a work of drama for the stage. Why did nobody tell me that this was folly; that I wasn’t destined for anything more than muted anonymity? Why didn’t I tell myself?
I have to write Contraption, yet, and all I can do in light of the silence is ask myself why I should bother, besides the commitment that the company has already made to me. Why do I sit in front of blank pages on the screen and cry as nothing appears? Why does my heart skip beats when people ask me about my progress? Why am I putting myself through this kind of stress for what is ultimately going to be another product that few will care about and most will dismiss out of hand?
As ever, these feelings will pass. What nags me in the aftermath is whether their passing is the resurrection of delusion…if my wavering confidence was the truer and more practical emotion, not my determination to get past it.