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There is one in every group. That one person in your friend group that does that artsy thing. Maybe they're a writer, a playwright, an actor, a designer, a painter, an illustrator, a director, really into theatre etc. You don't quite understand this passion of theirs. You don't get how they make a living. And you are often confused by the industry terminology in general. But, at the end of the day, despite the setbacks and frustrations, your artsy friend is happy or proud or fulfilled. At minimum, this artsy thing gives them a sense of purpose and you want to support that. If you are wondering how you can be an active supporter for your writer (or artsy) friend, click through the presentation or choose your own adventure below and discover supportive options big and small! Full disclosure, I'm using myself and my current project, Murder, We Spoke, as the example. But feel free to apply this to any and all of your artsy friends.
I think every playwright has heard a few sayings when it comes to submissions and rejections.
“Rejection is just protection.”
“It’s not a ‘no,’ it’s a ‘not yet.’”
“You were rejected from this so you could achieve another…”
“It’s a game of numbers, the more you enter, the more your odds go up.”
My favorite: “Just keep submitting – every year – so, they get to know you through your drafts and variety of plays. They will start to recognize your name and watch your writing grow.” This piece of advice is something I have in fact given to students and other playwrights.
I truly believed it, or at least I wanted to. But, how do you know when it’s okay to keep believing and when to just face reality that maybe they're just not that into you?
Let me tell you what actually happened to me...
THE HUB: Loved your work and great application! Just didn’t see how this particular play you submitted speaks to what you described in your artistic statement.
ME: Okay, I will rewrite my artistic statement and make sure it relates to my submitted play.
I did what I always do…I submitted again. I figured a strong application and a well-liked play might make it in this time. After all, it is “a game of numbers,” right?
As of 2022, I received another, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
What am I missing? What am I not saying? What am I saying too much of (is that a thing?) What balance am I not striking? What is The Hub looking for, exactly? Do they want someone with a following? With multiple productions? With the “right” recommender? With the “right” work with the “right” workshops and affiliations that are just as prestigious as them?
This is the bigger question…should I just quit (submitting to them?)
Honestly, the time and effort put into their applications, finding different recommenders - every year - I could put that energy into a different playwriting submission somewhere else.
I’m really curious, is there ever a time you realized that it isn’t a “not yet.” That it isn’t “a game of numbers.” That it isn’t anything we were told? That maybe they’re just not that into you and you really should take the hint and move on.
Entry # 1
I began my playwriting “submission mission” back in 2016. I had always submitted to playwriting festivals here and there in the past, but in 2016 I had the confidence, the training, the body of work, and the resources to start becoming a professional play-submitter.
No. No Thanks. Nope. Nah. Hell No.
In fact, I have quit jobs like that and moved on to better opportunities that were more fulfilling or at least helped me pay my bills on time. So, why do I stay in this position where close to three-quarters of the time I hear the word, “no?” The truth is, I don’t know why I keep coming back. Why do I keep on this “submission mission” when every rejection only makes that number grow and that 71% gets heavier and heavier. I feel like I'm rolling a boulder up a hill, but I’ll never reach the top.
You want to know what makes that boulder even heavier? I’m not the only one. Think about that 71% and increase that exponentially. This isn’t meant to guilt trip anyone who gets accepted, or wins an award, or makes it to the final round (seriously, congrats!) But the reason I’m sharing this is because that’s all we ever hear about. We only hear about the wins. The highlights. Including from me. Of course it is important to celebrate the wins. They’re amazing! But it’s so important to remember we are all carrying boulders. Maybe if we shared those boulders, they wouldn’t be so heavy.
About the Blog
I write plays. I tell stories. I create content. I vent. I offer advice. I hope people will learn from my mistakes.