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.