Tag Archives: rejection

Whose “Approval” Matters & Why?

by Andie Bottrell

Whether you’re submitting a new play or coming out to your family–the goal is same: approval. Approve of me, validate me, recognize the work it took for me to get here, be kind, see me and hear my words in the way they were intended.

I’m dating a woman. I’m bisexual, and I’ve known and been open about it for well over a decade, but this is the first time I’ve dated a woman. Not uncharacteristic for me–it took 29 years for me enter a relationship with a man.

The play I was working on has been paused as I found there were not enough hours in the day to work two jobs, launch and run a business, be a person, and finish a play. So, in leu of playwriting anecdotes and stories, all I’ve got is my life. I hope that’s a satisfactory enough offering. I believe playwriting anecdotes can still be made (see: first paragraph). I’m nothing if not a terrific multitasker.

Approval. The word has been beating against my brain all week after having been told I did not have someone’s approval in regards to my dating women. I hadn’t asked for their approval. In fact, I’d wrongly assumed I had it, in so much as one person has any kind of right to “approve” of another’s life in these matters. It had caught me off guard and has been eating away at me–my brain launching into hypothetical arguments in a constant subconscious stream throughout the day.

As any kind of creative knows, living your life in constant search for approval is the surest way to burn out and begin to hate the very thing you love. At a certain point, you have to turn that off–that search for validation–and you have to find ways to validate yourself, to make the kind of art that you are proud of, to live the kind of life and be the kind of person that you need to be in order to have pride and peace within yourself.

If you go through life only creating art intending to please this person or theatre or that, or to live a life that this person or that approves of, all the while denying your own vision, truth, passion, and violating your own morals…well, what a waste of talent, time, and life! Let those people do the things they need to do to be authentic in their lives and art, and if you don’t understand it or think it’s weird or wrong…don’t do it, but also, maybe examine why you think that and find out more about it because we are so quick to judge things that are different to what we’ve been exposed to as “evil” or “bad” (Fun example from our local mega-church this past month: https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2018/11/12/james-river-pastor-yoga-has-demonic-roots-springfield-yogis/1897249002/) that we close down any chance for communication that could allow us to understand each other and learn how to care for one another in more helpful and healthy ways.

I’ve only recently gotten to a point in my life where I am able to be proud of who I am, to love who I am, to feel good in my skin and know that even if someone rejects me, it doesn’t change my value as a human being. I am whole and stable and fulfilled on my own, whether I am in a romantic partnership with another person or not (and whether or not those I love and trust are able to see and accept me as I am — oof, okay still working on that one).

It’s a good place to be. And I feel stable in that–even as I wrestle with that ole bugaboo of approval again. I admit, I want that approval, I try really, really hard to get approval, I have anxiety around not being accepted (who doesnt?!) but at the end of the day, I have to come back to myself. Can I lay my head on my pillow at night and be proud of my actions? That approval trumps any other, because if I can’t do that then I won’t sleep and if I don’t sleep, I won’t function, and I won’t live.

So, whether you’re struggling with feelings of inadequacy or acceptance in your writing or in your personal life–I hope this post will encourage and remind you to take a minute, take an afternoon, heck, take a lifetime (!) and pause to look within and ask yourself if you approve. If your actions are in line with your morals, if you are being authentic, if you are creating honest art, if you are proud of the human you are becoming…and, if the answer is YES, how much it really matters if others don’t agree.

Dang, I do believe I straddled that fence quite nicely, eh? I guess, in the end, playwriting and being queer really were one in the same. Wow.

On Rejection

 By Jen Huszcza

Today I want to talk about something all playwrights have dealt with at some point. Rejection.

We’ve all been there. We apply for thing we really really want. We think we have a really good shot at getting the workshop/grant/production. We put a lot of work into the application.

Then we don’t get it.

And it sucks.

Now, this is the point where I should be inspirational, where I should tell you to brush yourself off and keep going, where I tell you that you can do it and you will find a place for your play.

But I’m not gonna do that. I’m going to let you relish in the misery of the suckiness of your rejection.

Now, take all that misery and suckiness and anxiety and depression and roll it up into a little ball as tight as you can.

Look at that ball, study its awful grossness until you are ready to vomit.

 Now throw the ball away.

 And move on.

It’s not about how hard we fall, it’s how we get up from our falls. I recently learned that sometimes after a fall, it’s okay to spend a minute or two on the ground to catch your breath. When boxers get knocked down, they get a ten count. Sometimes it’s better to get up at five or six or seven than at one or two. It’s a few more seconds and a few more breaths.

Rejection does suck. Rejection is bad. I wish there was a way for all the playwrights to get everything we want, but playwriting is a dying art with very little financial incentive in a bottom-line country which does not support arts and culture on a government level.

I will also say that I have worked on the other side of the rejection line as a grant reviewer and play reader. I have championed folks on the basis of their work. However, a lot of the work I have read was crap. It needed one more thing, one more element to make it shine. Think about how you want to shine. The people who read your work and your applications are people with a hard job to do. Please don’t make their job harder. Please check your spelling.

And move on.


I was going to start this blogging week with a post about the upcoming TCG conference.

However, I was just told by members of a theatre that it was not going to produce one of my plays because nobody would come to see it.   I had to share.

That kind of message tends to bring out the more unattractive aspects of my character – the sullen brow, the petulant lower lip, the whine. I bunch up and scribble short stories called My Wasted Life. I torture my husband with sudden rants and intermittent yelps of pain. I write this blog.

The only thing that helps me to cross back to the sunny side is to realize that it happens to all of us all of the time and I look at this letter to Gertrude Stein and smile.

The letter, dated April 19, 1912, reads: “I am only one, only one, only one. Only one being, one at the same time. Not two, not three, only one. Only one life to live, only sixty minutes in one hour. Only one pair of eyes. Only one brain. Only one being. Being only one, having only one pair of eyes, having only one time, having only one life, I cannot read your M.S. three or four times. Not even one time. Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one.”