About 7 years ago I began a little play called In the Company of Jane Doe. It was my first graduate school play and only my second full-length play ever. I was in the throws of “How am I ever going to get everything done?”ness and I had a wacky dream about a mad scientist and a woman who clones herself, only the clone comes out looking like she would sans all the plastic surgery and etc. she’d had done to herself over the years. I woke up enthralled – I’d found my play!
The writing of the thing was another matter – all too aware of my newbie status as a writer, I allowed my un-baked babe to prance around before my peers for dissection at quite the price: they didn’t get it, and I began to think I didn’t know how to write. I spent the summer after that first year of grad school convinced I’d made a horrible mistake, but I kept working at the play because even if it wasn’t there yet, and even if they didn’t yet get it, I knew where I wanted it to go and I really believed I could get it there if everyone would just stop asking me so many dang questions… See, I’d started to realize that the people who’d been challenging me along the way weren’t to be blamed for all that I hadn’t yet gotten onto the pages – it was time for me to stop worrying about everyone else for a little bit and just write the damn thing!
So I did. I took the notes I thought helpful, and I ignored the ones based on the play’s absence of “Finished-ness”. I worked hard to take the play where I knew it needed it go and go there it did!
And, as a result, I learned that all that strife and stress I’d been fighting was the result of showing my work too early/allowing too many notes to land on my big-sensitive heart. I learned that I shouldn’t ask for opinions until I have gotten a thing as far as I can on my own, lest I get feedback on something I already know is undercooked. I learned that I don’t need to take every note/comment/or question.
I learned to trust my own inner muse.
That that summer the play was selected by the Playwrights Center for their New Plays on Campus project and was a finalist for the Princess Grace Awards. Those little victories were just what I needed – I redoubled my efforts and the play has had several other cool awards and opportunities tacked on to it since. It even got a production in LA in 2008.
This week In the Company of Jane Doe opens in New York.
It’s been a long journey and a lot has happened to me since I met Jane Doe and the wild clone-making Dr. SNAFU – I graduated, I’ve written a number of other plays that have had cool things happen to them, I’ve been unemployed, I’ve taught, I’ve created playwriting opportunities for other female playwrights, and I’ve gotten a little less precious and a whole lot tougher about all of it along the way.
Which is all to say, I’m excited about NY – so very much so. And I’m also dreaming about what comes next…