Sometimes a girl gets frustrated; with her messy desk, with her lack of internal thesaurus, with the stack of plays next to her and lack of productions behind/before her, with email, with the BP oil spill, with having to work for the Census because she’s STILL unemployed… Sometimes a girl gets so frustrated, so overcome by her own seeming inertness, that she dreams of action, even if it’s the bang-her-head-against-the-wall kind. So what does the girl actually do in these situations?
I suppose she writes a play about it.
I used to rub my eyes in confusion when other writers would lament the difficulties of writing from their own experiences – since all of my plays are pretty much beyond the realm of The Real, it had never been a problem for me. In fact, I quite enjoyed the fact that I wrote so fantastically… Sure, all my leads are women, and sure, they share some of my nutty neaurosis… but surely that’s where all the “Me” ended. So imagine my surprise when just this last month I sat down with all my frustrations, all my rage at the BP oil spill and my lack of solid employment, and wrote a play.
In two weeks.
Unbelievable because I’ve never written a play in two weeks! (Not unless it was a little nugget of a script.) I was flabbergasted – and super excited – and also intensely uncertain as to its value or merit. You see, this play was definitely about me this time – a hyper-charged “me” in disguise to be certain – but there was the unemployment, there was the Census, and there, center stage, was my heartbreak over the BP oil spill.
You see, I may not be able to do much about my current state, or the current state of the world, but I could create a character who could. I could endow this character with the supernatural pull that I myself lack…
So I did.
I was no longer just pulling my hair out, banging my frustrated head against a wall! I was engaging in some urgent spiritual catharsis, and making a play in the process.
And I did so because I’m a writer.
I wrestle with the notion of striving for a career in “entertainment” when the world is as crazy as it is… sometimes it feels selfish, others like a coward’s ploy… but I think all this observational anxiety just comes with the territory – the sit-on-the-perimeter-to-observe-and-report territory, that a writer occupies.
Even as I sit in fear of this rocky economy, listening to theaters who are afraid to take a chance on new work, accepting pats on the back from my peers who also sit in dread, I’m able to recognize this – I’m able to sit with the muse and get to work – because that’s what I do. It has never been as obvious to me, this commitment and actuality of the writer’s life, as it is right now amidst my own personal panic; I can’t plug the hole in the Gulf, I can’t MAKE someone hire me, but I can write a play about a woman so affected by the world’s current state of crisis that she becomes more than herself in a bid to help it.
And I think that has value. The job of the playwright is, after all, to reflect his/her time through story, isn’t it? So now I task myself with revisions, and I cheer myself forward along this path, my path, the dramatist’s path… it’s a strange sense of comfort to have found in this summer’s storm, but I cling to it.
I have to. The world is too crazy at the moment for me to find a foothold anywhere else.