A few years ago, I began taking screenwriting and playwriting classes. I found it to be a delightfully challenging outlet for my fingers which had begun to atrophy somewhat. Sure, they were used for office work, Excel spreadsheets and status reports, but they’d long ago placed my creativity on the shelf once real life took hold.
After the first three-hour class, it felt like my brain was going to explode. But instead of being exhausted, I was excited; instead of being on information overload, my head was working feverishly to organize and file all the new tidbits, wanting nothing more than to be ready for its next helping of stimulation.
I felt as though I had been reborn, with new, wobbly legs unsure of the path ahead — but I was immediately convinced it was something I needed to keep doing. After that day, words took on new meaning and could explode into an idea at any moment, the way a spark ignites ordinary, mediocre kindling.
Fast-forward to a month ago. I saw an email in my inbox that I wasn’t terribly in the mood to read. I knew it was about a collection of plays from new writers, but I kept it unread for a week or two after its delivery. Maybe it was because I felt like I should’ve had something of my own produced by now, or maybe I felt guilty for hopping from screenplay to stageplay, back to screenplay, then back to stageplay — all the while editing, rewriting, and rewriting some more, with nary a finished piece to show for any of it. Regardless, I finally opened it, scanned its contents and, as I reached the bottom, the last name of one of the playwrights caught my eye. Why did it seem familiar?
Ah! It was the same last name as one of my clients.
That very next week, I was in a meeting with said client. I casually asked him, “Do you know someone named John?” With a confused look on his face, he replied that he did. I was a little surprised. “And does John write plays?” He confirmed that John did. Turns out John is my client’s father who had taken up playwriting during his retirement. I mentioned that I’d gotten an email about the plays which were going to be performed that coming weekend. While my client wasn’t going to be there, I knew it was something I needed to attend. After all, what were the odds? Such a small world. And it was trying to tell me something.
I went to the theater and saw a few people from previous classes. Two women from my most recent course remembered me, came over and regurgitated scenes from something I’d written, cracking up and praising the writing. They asked how the rest of it was coming along; I told a white lie and switched topics, squeamish about admitting that the play has been collecting dust since October. Across the lobby, I saw one of the actresses from the repertory — an older woman named Jo who had a wild mane of salt and pepper hair and a deep, magically diverse voice capable of fairy godmother, wicked witch and everything in between. We chatted, she introduced me to people she knew, I promptly forgot all the names of those who I met and, during a break in the action, I told her about the client connection with the performance that evening.
“Oh! I know John. He’s deliiiiiiightful,” she cooed. “I’ll introduce you.” At least I was guaranteed of one introduction where I’d not forget the name.
Sure enough, John was unforgettable. He’s the type of human being who seems to live a “do unto others as you’d have done unto you” life. My client must have told his father I’d be in attendance that evening, because he greeted me with a warm familiarity when we met. He was easy to speak with, and he explained how his writing journey began. We talked about what he used to do for work before retirement, about his family, about different playwriting organizations and we exchanged information. I left the performance with a full, inspired heart.
A few days later, I received an email from him. He thanked me for attending the performance and sent detailed information about membership-based playwriting organizations, copying two individuals from those organizations on his message. My reply seemed pathetic and shallow in comparison — similar to what a dinghy looks like alongside a yacht — but I thanked him for everything and said I’d be in touch with them all after the new year.
And then came the new year itself.
Earlier this week, another email arrived from John. In it was an invitation to attend — as his guest — his playwriting group’s meeting this Sunday. He explained that the three-hour meeting would provide a valuable look into key stages of the playwriting process. If elation was power, mine would have melted a transformer and caused a massive blackout.
While only an invitation, it was one from an individual who was standing on the other side of a door that I was hoping to pass through someday. To be extended a hand and invited inside to look at yet another facet of the process is such a generous, inspirational gift.
Today I am thankful for the chain of events that made this massive, overwhelming world instantly tiny, and for the connection made with someone whose knowledge and kindness has already brought illumination to my life, motivation to my writing and peace in knowing that if you simply trust and take one step forward, someone will be there to help you with the next.
And the next.
And the next.