I am the daughter of a Marine aviator. I have two older brothers who were mean to me in the way older brothers are to younger sisters who want to tag along and do everything they do. I began my career as a competitive athlete at age five.
I have a tough skin.
I spent twenty years in advertising where my copy was frequently critiqued and rewritten by the wife of one of my clients. I once had a newspaper editor slash all but ten words of a story. When my son started preschool at not-quite two, he routinely pushed me out the door when I dropped him off and cried when I came to pick him up.
Really, alligators have nothing on me.
I know rejection is a real issue for some writers – for many writers. And I’m not trying to make light of this – really I’m not. I know it’s painful and it’s costly and it makes us wonder if we should be doing something more constructive with our lives. But here’s the thing . . .
No one ever asked me to become a playwright.
In dark dreary moments, I remind myself that no one ever said, “We can’t live without your brilliant words.” No one promised me productions or awards or accolades. I CHOSE this line of work. And I chose it knowing full well how many theatres are producing new work (not a lot) and how many playwrights are writing new work (gazillions)! But I decided that creating characters, exploring the human condition, following the “what if . . .” thought to its conclusion was something I wanted to do. Something I love to do. Something I don’t know how to stop doing.
Even if no one wants to read it.
Yes, it’s exciting to get my little red SASPs in the mail requesting a full copy of the script. Yes, it’s great to get a phone call from an Artistic Director who wants to produce my work. And yes, there is no feeling in the world like a standing ovation. So those are the moments I cling to when the rejections flood in. “You don’t know what you’re missing,” I think as I file the letter. “Someday you’ll produce one of my plays,” I whisper as I save the email to my rejection folder.
It helps to remember rejection isn’t always about us. It’s often about “them”. Dawn thinks I’m funny. I had to explain the same joke to Joe. Naomi thinks I write characters with lots of depth. Glen thinks I write talking heads. So does Nancy, come to think of it. The point is, writing is subjective. Or as the saying goes, “There’s just no accounting for taste.” Clearly, I have it – those who send me rejection letters, don’t.
Besides I’ve learned there are things worse than rejection. Like productions. Believe me, there are times rejection would have been kinder. Like when a 65 year-old actress was cast in the role of a 35 year-old woman at her grandfather’s funeral. Or when a director decided to rewrite an ending she didn’t think the audience would get. Or when a musical theatre guy decided to “spice up the show” by ad-libbing a song and dance number in the middle of a scene.
Maybe I’m just rationalizing. (If you follow my posts you know how much I like to rationalize!) Maybe I’m not as sensitive as a writer is supposed to be. Maybe I don’t care about my work enough. Or maybe, just maybe, I have the perfect epidermis for a playwright.
Now please write some nice affirming comments below.