View single post by Swann1719
 Posted: Tue Sep 2nd, 2014 08:09 pm
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Joined: Wed Jul 26th, 2006
Location: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Posts: 269
I'm a bipolar playwright and I just had my play Bill Clinton Hercules professionally produced in Edinburgh for the run of the Fringe and I too find it difficult that I need to work hard to improve. To me the line between a discovered playwright and an undiscovered playwright is shaky, faded, moving... who knows what those words even mean?

Here's some things that resonated with me reading your post:

1. Compassion: I must be infinitely compassionate toward myself to write - if I am laying down a big judgment vibe - why aren't you a great playwright? Why haven't you been discovered yet? - then I have my creativity in a chokehold in the corner and I shouldn't be surprised that nothing is really coming.

2. Work: My day job is as a lawyer and when I grew up professionally in Washington DC my friend and I used to joke about our Time Magazine Syndrome. The syndrome that somehow we had lived out lives always expecting that someday we would be on the cover of Time Magazine, for our brilliance, for our contribution, for our better-ness. We both aspired to not have this ridiculous condition, which was all ego and no art. I look back now and I see that unconsciously, I needed the whole damned world to love me before I could love myself. I am trying to get over Time Magazine Syndrome, because if you are famous without merit, you are Kim Kardashian, which is like the lowest form of humanity ever. If you want merit, then you have one thing to look forward to, which is work. Work. Unless you love writing scenes, and finding plays inside you, and listening to dialogue, then pick another goal, pick another art form. And here's what's even worse in my experience: it's not only work, when I am writing a good play it changes me, it alters me, I am forced to leave my comfort zone and that means, by definition, I am uncomfortable. I don't know about other people's experience but to me that is the bottom fucking line. It is no picnic. Do something else if you can.

3. On being discovered/undiscovered. This distinction puts a lot of power in the hands of other people. Playwrights don't really get discovered. They make it happen. They enter competitions, they write to producers, they find connections, they sweep out the old barn and put on a show.

4. On the brand new idea: yes, it is good to write more, read more (really in theater I think the key is to see more, see as much as possible)(how will you know if it is a brand new idea if you don't see a lot of plays) but also let me ask you, what do you love? What do you absolutely think of as magic? Find an idea that you think is important or an image, or a taste and tell yourself, maybe, tell yourself that you can find the play inside yourself from that loving start. Don't berate yourself for what you are not. Love yourself for what you are. If you have to write plays (see above) then be nice to yourself.

5. Never underestimate or devalue your voice. Or even pretend you know why you are writing a play. You might write a play about being schizophrenic. That would be good. I wrote a play called The Whole of the Moon about going to a mental hospital when I was manic. The play didn't go anywhere really, but you know what? Writing it helped me. It helped my insight into the human condition and it was cathartic. Tennessee Williams had fifty not great plays under his belt before he started with the killer plays (see above- work). Ease off on youtself. Everyone needs to improve! I hope I'll see a play by you one day!