Tag Archives: work

Work, Work, and Surprise!

Well, what a crazy week this has been!  My first 40-hour workweek in… oh… I don’t even know.  I mean, sure, when I was in grad school juggling two part time jobs, class, and teaching, I pulled in some gnarly hours – but they were varied, they were all over the place – they were almost unquantifiable.

Heading into an office 5 days in a row is new; staying there for 8 hours at a time even stranger.

So imagine my glee at the weekends arrival!  “Ahhh, time to sleep in, time to read, time to (gasp) WRITE!”  because although I spent a fair bit of time this week responding to the insane comments my blog stirred up, I hadn’t really gotten any work done on the script I’m currently revising (and we all know submission season is banging on the door!)

But then I got asked to come in today as well; Orientation is Monday and there are still things to do, and I didn’t even hesitate to jump on board.

This is how I know that I really like my new job.

I guard my writing time like a tiger guards its cubs; I don’t want anyone messing with or infringing upon it.  I get grumpy when I don’t have enough of it, and I get angry at those who try to take it from me… I know, real pretty picture, huh?

Which is why my willingness to head in on my day off surprised the hell out of me…

Although I really aspire to (double gasp) make a living writing and teaching,  and although I hope, Hope, HOPE that this next year brings that dream to fruition in a big way… I am seriously enjoying working at this burgeoning college, running their learning center, and planning student activities.  It’s fun!  It makes me happy.

It’s kind of amazing.

That initial panic that I was wrestling with has kind of faded into an exhilarating kind of high… I won’t be rolling in money, but I will be doing something useful, helpful to students, and enjoyable to me and my little sparkling muse.

So while I don’t think I could pull 40 hour + work weeks every week (woof!) I don’t mind doing it for now… Very soon I’ll be down to the promised part-time schedule, with plenty of days off to devote to my computer; only now, perhaps, with a bit more bounce in my step, and a bit more fuel in my emotional tanks, for although I’m tired at the end of the day, I’ve noticed I’m attacking my tasks with a lot more enthusiasm than weary old, worn out, dejected and unemployed Tiffany was doing.

It seems that feeling useful goes a very long way in feeding the muse.

What a thing to figure out this far into the game 🙂



In 1986, I enlisted into the Army, going through Basic Training at Fort Dix in the dead of winter was a shock to my system to say the least.  “You have three orders soldier:  1. Do as you’re told.  2. Do as you’re told.  3. Do as you’re told.  Stay alert, stay alive!”  An onslaught of training, 4 am wake ups, alerts, and “hurry up and wait” was the norm.  It seemed that we waited forever for everything and when we weren’t waiting, we were training…hard.  Once while waiting in line, I asked a drill sergeant if I could sleep.  “Sure, as long as you remain standing.  Do not lean on the wall.  Do not lean on your buddy.  Stand ‘at ease’ the whole time; you can sleep all you want.”  He laughed and walked away.  I promptly went to sleep standing two inches from the wall in the ‘at ease’ position just about to start snoring when….  “Is she touching the wall.”  “No, she’s about two inches away from it.”  “Is she sleep?”  “She looks sleep.”  “Byrd.  Byrd!  Are you sleep?”  “Yes, drill sergeant.  I was sleep.  You said I could sleep as long as I didn’t touch the wall.”  “How in the ___ are you doing that?”  “I don’t know drill sergeant.”  “Well, wake up.  Looks weird.”  “Yes, drill sergeant.”

Sometimes, waiting looks pretty weird when you have to be ready to move at a moment’s notice and you can’t lay down on the job, when you are training for action behind the scenes, and the dedication it takes to wait is as draining as the training itself.  Catching a quick rejuvenating nap with your boots on takes skill and focus.  Like waiting for transition as a writer, it can take years.  You must be diligent; you cannot lose focus.  Normally, people don’t wait more than a decade to be able to do what they have been doing all along.  Artists, however, wait for as long as it takes.  It’s hard to forget the dream when it makes up the very fiber of your being.  So, you hurry up and meet those deadlines, finish that play, get to that conference, sit in on that workshop, study that master playwright; you hurry so you won’t be lacking and you wait…  You wait on alert status because it’s nearly impossible to put a dream on hold when you can’t go very long without doing that thing you do.

When I wake up in the morning, after my ‘good morning, Lord’, I think about writing.  On my way into work, in the middle of Los Angeles traffic, I think about writing.  I’ve got a cart I drag into the office full of my research, snippets of plays, and books I may need ‘just in case’ — just in case I should get a moment to write during the day, just in case I get that next line for that piece that’s sort of on the back burner but can’t seem to wait it’s turn; all to do with writing, all to do with who I am as an artist.  I am constantly being asked, “What’s in the bag?  What’s in the cart?  Are you a student?”  I’m a writer; I write plays and I don’t give them timeouts for bad behavior, they don’t get vacation, and I don’t have daycare.  Every day is “Go to work with Mommy Day.”

Does it matter to you how many perplexed looks cross the faces of people who ask what it is you do when they find out you haven’t had a production in a while but have just started a new play, again?  Do you become self conscious, or simply, stand at ease?  Because, that is what playwrights do, we write plays, in season and out of season, we write creating worlds peopled with all our good intentions.  There is no rule that says, if we don’t get a production every year we must stop and do something else.  My thought is that one must be ready, be on alert because one day your gift will make room for you and bring you before great men (male/female) and you would want to have a lot to offer.  So, while you are waiting…write….  Build your repertoire…be about the work…  Hone your craft…stay on alert status, the alarm will sound and you will need to have your boots on and laced all the way up…

Don’t Change…

It’s a funny game, this game of time, writing away the hours to creative and adventurous ends.  I’ve enjoyed spending some of it with you this week as I bounce forth, furiously toiling away at my current list of projects; a rewrite, a new play, a screenplay hot off the treatment treadmill and (finally) into pages, an outline – alright, a dozen – as I try to wrangle the story ideas pounding down my door into some sort of tangible form until I can give them the attention they so deserve…

And I’m a bit tired, a lot excited, 50% amazed, and 100% thankful that I’ve got so much in the creative crock pot and that I keep on going… keep on writing… in the face of all that flies at me.

Because it ain’t easy.

Wait, let me rephrase that- (clearing throat) – Becaaaaauuuuuuse….


Yeah, that looks better.  That looks more accurate.  If I could include thundering drums and brass, a host of angels flapping their mighty wings, and a lusty Sallie Mae recoupment officer cackling at you from under a pile of Visa, Discover, and Mastercard bills, it would be closer to the point, but you get the idea.

Because why?  (say it with me now) It ain’t easy.

And yet we work, and pound away, to birth these stories haunting us, treating us to a mysterious kind of rapture that only artists understand – the drug of the creators; I made this.

And when I stare down upon those beautiful pages, those curvaceous words and fat happy brads… I feel high.

I am a creative junkie!

And I’ve no hope of changing 😉


Labor Pains

Ahh, the pains of labor… is there no better comparison for the birthing of a new play?  Late nights, indigestion, dark half-moons hugging your eyes, and a strong, unflinching desire to just get it OUT?!

For what else is writing if not it’s own sort of miracle of creation?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as a single woman who is at that delightful age when all around her is BABIES, I can’t help but wonder when I’ll get to nurse something along that talks back, spits up, and laughs at me on occasion… In the meanwhile, I get to wrestle with invisible creatures with their own amazing power of will… and it never ceases to amaze me how they do it!

What do you mean you’re a puppet?  I don’t know anything about puppets!  I didn’t imagine you a puppet when I sat down to write this thing… Are puppets expensive?


Did you just hit her?  Your own mother?  In the jaw?  What were you thinking?  What does this do to my play?


If you can see your own memories floating around you… I mean, like really see them… physically… then you just raised the price of go-to capital needed to produce this thing.  You need to get a job to start paying for yourself, you imaginative magical trollop!

But it always works out, because it’s this stubborn wonder that gets me going the most.  I really think that it’s these moments of “WHAT the F***” that let me know I’m on to something good… maybe even great.  It’s the muse’s way of saying “Oh, I think we can do better than that.”

And you know what?  No matter the pain, no matter the exasperation, that crafty muse of mine is usually right.

So even when the result is “I was in labor with that play for NINE whole MONTHS, and look at it!  It’s still all over lumps and bruises!”  (sigh)  At least I’ve got a good story to tell… holding the “scrapbook” in hand, proud “parent” to some crazy new world…  getting ready to send it out for all to judge.

I think David Lindsay-Abaire said it best in his forward for Wonder of the World.

Your child might swear too much, or have a funny birthmark, or an odd way of obsessing about the weather, but still he must be sent out into the world, warts and all, to fend for himself.  And you hope he’ll find friends who will love him for who he is.  I hope, dear reader, you become one of those friends to this, my hyperactive, potty-mouthed but loveable child.

Ahh, yes, labor pains, growing pains, so many pains… Indeed!