|a VERY cool production photo from a school group in Virginia who did my play "Confession: Kafka in High School"|
It is easy making a life for yourself in the arts. I don't say this to discourage anyone from trying--- indeed, if it is what you love, and you can't imagine yourself being happy doing anything else, then I encourage you with a whole heart to pursue your passion and follow that dream.
Just know that it's not always easy.
My first two plays were published in March of 2010. One of them was Rumplestilskin the R-Dawg: Hip-Hop Minstrel, from Brooklyn Publishers and the other was Confession: Kafka in High School, from Playscripts, Inc.
Now, almost five years later, my plays have been performed in 44 different states and 4 different countries. I have 32 publications in four different catalogs, and my work has been chosen to be a part of three different anthologies. I have self-produced a few plays for adults, been to different festivals and competitions, met some really great people, and even have a script that some kind folks in Delaware are working hard to make a movie from.
Best of all, I hear from students every now and then from all over the country (and, sometimes, all over the world). They'll drop me a line on my Facebook Page or at firstname.lastname@example.org, and ask me questions, or just say hi. Sometimes, they'll send me cool pictures like the one above. Or, this one below:
|A poster for a production of my play, "Avoiding the Pitfalls of High School Dating"|
All of this is super cool, and I love it. But, still, it is easy to get down on myself many days. After all, I'm 37 years old and I don't have a "steady" job (or, according to some, a "real" job--- but that's for another post), I struggle financially a great deal, and have no money put away for the future, because I barely have money for the present. Such things can make one lose faith in themselves a little from time to time--- while I'm grateful that my work is produced, and I'm thankful for every group who chooses my plays, I've yet to have a definite "hit" per se. A few have come close, but not quite. And that's okay. My playwriting career grows a little every year, and it feels wrong to ask for more than that.
But, in my defense, it is human nature to want to climb to the top of your field, or, at the very least, have a good view of the top from where you are. And everyone wants stability, as well as a reward for hard work (and writing plays can be very, very hard work).
So when I get down on myself, I'll look at the messages I have received from students, or at the many cast photos and production photos. I'll stop and remind myself of something very important: the productions of my plays aren't just a list on a piece of paper I receive from my publishers. They are teachers preparing a group of students. These students practice to memorize words that I put on a page to tell a story. They stand backstage before a show, feeling that same excitement and energy that I feel when I'm in a play, and they are feeling it for my work. My work! This group of kids have come together to CREATE, they have formed a CAST BOND, all revolving around a play I WROTE!!
When I think of my work in these terms, I smile, and feel very special and honored and lucky. No, I am not rich. But my work is important. In some small way, I have touched lives. My work has taken on a life outside of me, and belongs to all of these other people now, and not just me.
And that's something that money can't buy.