It took me over a year to finish two one-act plays that had been in progress for entirely too long, but better late than never, I figure. “Late” ended up being last night, and I submitted them to a local playwriting group for review, which ideally will lead to membership – a group whose meetings I have been crashing as someone’s guest since early 2012.
I started taking playwriting and screenwriting classes through South Coast Repertory back in 2009, following a brief flirtation with their acting classes. The latter was something I felt like doing to brush up on my presentation skills for work, and since I spun it as such, it ended up being a fantastic although short-lived pursuit for which my then-employer graciously reimbursed me.
The writing thing is something I’ve done for years. No, decades. I remember writing short stories in elementary school, and entering a number poetry contests. In high school, they were lyrics never paired with a melody. My college years saw more poetry written, more short stories penned, and I figured journalism would be a good path for me. Turns out it wasn’t, as I had the unfortunate experience of being in a class where our whole grade was based off whether we were published or not. Those of us who were from out of state couldn’t seem to catch a break, while those who were from Michigan seemed to always have our professor’s helping hand guiding them. I decided writing – at least the newswriting variety – wasn’t for me, and promptly switched most of my credits to advertising.
Given the way I avoid most of the news these days, save for those topics that have a direct effect on my life, my money and my retirement, it’s probably best that a career in journalism didn’t pan out. Even if I’d have stuck with it as my major, I’m sure I would’ve bowed out a few years into my career. Then again, I probably would’ve spun off into the feel-good territory, writing about kind human beings, arts, culture, music or food. Who knows.
I read a news article this morning about an Orange County homeless woman who wrote a book called “The Brighter Side of Homelessness” in a few months’ time and found a way to have it published. Although the reporter referred to her book as more of a pamphlet, here’s the takeaway: she had something to say, she said it because she believed in it, she found a way to give it legs and get it into the hands of those who might need her advice, her words, her insight.
A homeless woman who, some would argue, has fewer resources at her fingertips ended up finding a way to publish her work. She doesn’t have a house to call her own, she doesn’t have a car, she doesn’t have a lifestyle that most of us would ever choose. But she has faith in herself and a plan for her writing – a plan that she made happen.
I knew I didn’t have any excuses to keep me from doing the same thing, but I still made them for myself; I made them often – sometimes hourly, but always daily. Seems like I really can’t do that anymore, but I’m thankful for all of them because they showed me how empty and useless they really are.
Shortly before 10:00 last night, I attached my two plays to an email, clicked “send” and crossed my fingers. I figure even if the group’s response is, “Thanks, but no thanks,” I can still revise and resubmit my work – especially if a homeless woman can find a way to publish her own.