Play Writer

It’s submission season again. Frankly, there is no better word to describe the process.

The endless and daunting task of reviewing hundreds of listings calling for submissions for new work. The screening and highlighting and crossing off and putting stars next to. The eye strain, the headaches, the heartache, the self-doubt. The editing, the re-editing, the triple and quadruple checking. The wondering if it’s good enough. If it’s appropriate or inappropriate or too inappropriate. The wondering, the waiting. The licking, the sealing, the stamping, the waiting in line at the post-office. The expense, the time, the…doubting. In the end, you literally feel like you are submitting to the predator that is art.

Every media has its devices that literally strain the artist. All that business of the business that hinders and stimulates creativity. It makes it feel like a job (because it is a job). It is the true test of the true artist. If they never give up and live up to at least their potential and realize their dreams, anything is possible. Unless of course you have no talent, then you have to rely on the adage “It’s who you know” which counts for a lot in the business of any business, but especially in the art world.

It’s been too long since I’ve written. I was waiting for the flora and fauna of life to slow down its momentum, to grant me some chasm between the ebb and flow of drama that has been and will always be a persistent life force in my life-like life. I feel like I’m bracing for the emotional inertia that is coming. I don’t mind sounding like a Cassandra, it is Greek tragedy that got me into this mess in the first place.

I wonder if my plays are too young or too graphic. I know they are all way too cutting-edge, but I refuse to relent to all that is methodical and commercial and for general audiences. What’s the point besides money? This is not to say that I don’t want to be a rich bitch, I just have more of a desire for power and social status without the burden of fame than I do fortune. I will always work hard for money, and someday I will learn how to make it work for me.

I’ve begun the process, phase A of Z it seems. The current book I’m reviewing has added a new element this year in that it has added notes from the companies in search of new work. A lot of them are quite candid if not surly in manner, stating that too many of the submissions they get aren’t appropriate (there’s that wretched word again) for their theatre or audience and that a lot of the scripts they receive read better as screenplays. I love the convention of theatre though my plays are very dialog heavy, so I hope that I don’t fall into that category.

I have stopped writing for so long (as if there was an excuse) because as aforementioned, life has thrown some curve balls, some pitched on my own volition. I felt that I was involving way too much of my own life in what I was writing. The characters were developing but it was starting to look too much like a mirror. That’s when it happened…

After my intriguing classroom experience with the playwriting guru that is Bruce Graham, I was content with my writing ability, pretty much as a reminder that I’m kind of a genius. It was nice, and I guess I wanted not only to beef up on my writing skills, but I just wanted to prove to myself that I am good enough. Soon after, I got a job at a restaurbar, gay-owned and operated, and I realized, I would no longer need to look much further for character inspiration.

Working at a bar full of men – drunk, horny, cruisy, it is like a talent pool full of characters of my choosing. There’s Cosmo, the short, reptile like, older queen who snaps his fingers and puts his hands on his hips, cosmopolitan after cosmopolitan, chanting and raving at everyone in the bar, each sentence beginning and ending with the word “Yes”. There’s Sugar (we’ll call her – her, meaning him) who is the first and last at brunch every Sunday who goes to the back to get her own coffee then proceeds to pickle herself with scotch, taunting and teasing all the staff and patrons with witticisms quicker than any one even half her age could come up with, all while wearing the same clothes she’s had for over 20 years. There’s Bob (we’ll call him) the resident sloppy drunk who has no qualms with invading everyone’s personal space and has been known to start fights (he even came into the bar with an eyepatch one time and a cast several other times). This is the guy who loves to sit at the gay bar and complain about “faggots” the entire time and how gay they are.

The list goes on and on and on. And it’s not only the pith of these characters’ character, it’s the first hand experience that I get. It’s like free theatre except there is no fourth wall; I am center stage.

I try to look past how and why so many men feel as though it is just to accost me in such overt ways. Sure, there’s nothing more flattering than being called “incredibly attractive” while you’re delivering drinks or having someone stare at your crotch while you’re reciting the specials, but it’s not the sexual attention I’m interested in, as interesting as it is. I want to know what makes these people tick, what their lives are like. Luckily, they are partaking in the most common social lubricant, so it’s not that difficult to get a morsel or two about their personal lives out of them. There’s something scary about watching the uninhibited, it makes you wonder what the world would be like if we all just let go a little. This notwithitness comes in droves at the gay bar because this is the place where a lot of them can be themselves. The only place.

I’m lucky, being a writer and being blessed with exquisite, off beat dialog every single night I work there. Some of the things people say are so cinematic and at times unbelievable. But it happens, and I feel like a pander sometimes, in more ways than two…but it’s all in good fun. Well that, and I’m kind of an opportunist sometimes. I just need more time to write shit down.

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