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  • David Bottomley

    The drum call of the talented artist who bangs out his lonely tune wishing someone would listen! A brave and bold article about the tough decision of knowing when to be big enough to admit defeat and walk away from your dream! The rejection a playwright undergoes is constant and painful and possibly cumulative. Why do we write? I am always reminded of a composer who’s orchestral score lies in the drawer awaiting an orchestra to bring it to life so the rest of the world can share in the composer’s vision. That most plays lie unproduced is a tragedy but surely a given. How many plays do we never get the chance to see against those we do? When to hang on in there and keep chipping away till you break through or when to swap your chisels for something to feed your stomach as well as your soul!

  • If you are what you do, and therefore you are not a playwright, then if somebody asks you, “who is Shakespeare?” you have to answer, “he’s dead.” If they ask, “isn’t he a playwright?” you have to say, “not anymore. He’d dead. I’m not a playwright and neither is Shakespeare. I’m retired and he’s dead.”

  • Raye

    This broke my heart. I grieve for you, for me, and for so many others who have left the field.

  • Jessica Richards

    What a beautiful article. Thank you.

  • Poonam Srivastava

    A flower tree not flowering still is a flower tree. It’s a tree until it is cut or struck by llightening. If it says, I’m not a tree, is it in a new jungle? hmmmmmmmm. good read. lovely really. so honest thank you.

  • Sandra Hutchison

    I guess playwrights don’t often become famous after they die, do they? (That’s how failed novelists comfort themselves.) I write fiction seriously and only dabble in plays. Sounds like that’s a good plan. Good luck with the screenwriting.

  • Brian

    This piece also underscores an illuminating truth about America. In our culture, the question “what are you?” really means “how do you make money?”

    Thank you for writing this.

  • pawiba

    This is an exceptionally hard topic, because it dances very closely around the concept of Failure, which is a topic I’ve found terrifies people more than sex, love, politics, religion, or death. American people will NOT discuss the F word. And that word shouldn’t be a dirty word. Failure, like Death, is a Fact of Life.

    Life in America has has been on an upward arc of comfortability and security for the past 100 years or so, and that encourages a LOT of young people to “do what you love,” which, for many of us, is some kind of creative art.

    But (here it comes) no one is guaranteed a career as an artist. No one. Is guaranteed. A career. As an artist.

    Unlike going to law or medical school, then straight on to your chosen profession, there is absolutely no A+B=C in the arts; you can be wildly talented, trained at the best schools, liked by all the prominent people in your field, and still Fail at Art.

    In the long run, we still have to do what we Need To Do – I have friends in their 50s or older who live in hovels and eat store brand macaroni and cheese, because what they Need To Do is Art. Others have moved on to six-figure jobs that rather bore them because what they Need To Do is support a family and live in a more comfortable style than that of a starving artist.

    All of us Failed Artists miss creating; sadly, very few of us can talk about it openly, honestly, and brutally. It would be great if we could. But it won’t change that fact that (to some degree, at least) we Failed. And that shouldn’t be a Dirty Word.

  • Bernard.Rice

    Thanks for all that, certainly makes sense and feels right. You’re stuck with this decision because it’s just down-to-earth and practical, a relatively dispassionate appraisal of your place in the world, for now. It all has little to do, seems to me, with playwriting, nor with writing, nor with art and self-expression. Writers write because they must, and the forms are just that, frameworks society has constructed over time for imaginative writing. You can call yourself a playwright or not to the extent you _intend_ to write plays.

    But being a writer at all is what’s fundamental, except that not even writing is what’s at bottom. At bottom is your self-expression as an artist. Are you “retiring” from that, too? Probably not, because artists are compelled to express themselves. So don’t ruminate too much over the form your work takes, or how it’s received. Is that really the point, ever? Isn’t success just living the dream? Enjoy the wonder of it all, and do something nice for yourself today. I mean it.

    All the best to you!

  • I love this. Thank you. What we love doesn’t always pay the bills — but you always figured it out! 🙂 You are brave. And creative and passionate. You ARE successful. So many would have given up. I admire you and thank you for this post.

  • Buckarama

    The same here, except I stopped music. I loved it, had the time of my life. Now it’s over, the fat lady is singing. I’m not happy about it, but it’s the cold hard truth. 30 years I played, 30 years I lost money. I didn’t even care that much. Now my guitars collect dust around the phantoms of dreams and self delusion. And I’m not better for it.

  • Brendon Votipka

    J- Thank you for your creativity, passion, and insight. I consider you a fantastic playwright. This article speaks so many truths…

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