Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pulling the Trigger

Why is it so terrifying for me to submit a play?

As a playwright I do a pretty good job of keeping up with submission calendars, web sites, etc., but when it comes time to actually pushing the "Submit" button (or "Send" or dropping something in the mail...) I procrastinate like nobody's business. I always thinks that one more read of that draft will make that little bit of difference. And spending that extra few hours will take the play I've been working on for years to the next level of apogee. I agonize over cover letters and letters of inquiry and statements of purpose and the like. (It is a particular level of Hell that playwrights must synopsize their life and / or work into one page or less.) And I'll print things out countless times if I find a typo or run on sentence. And then worry all night that I didn't find them all.

Call me punctilious, but I prefer my work to reflect the highest level of quality that my brain can provide.

Does all this agonizing make a difference? Of course people reading submissions are smart, and of course they see potential in a piece, even beyond the minor flaws (please, Gentle Readers, see the potential and not the minor flaws) but I still am left to wonder if that one word will turn them into raving rejection-weilding monsters. I realize I can't babysit each draft through each audience-member's interpretive playground. And I can't hope to please everyone, ever. But the weight of "if only I..." is a pretty serious, if useless, angst. Die, Vampire, Die.

The work of managing submissions is a discipline. It takes real effort to attend to the task of authentically promoting your play. And it takes an absurd amount of confidence to honestly think that this piece is worth the writing. Milan used to talk about the need to write a play being akin to dragging someone off the street and demanding that they listen to this story. And that level of purpose can help you stop everything else you're doing and get that submission done - right now.

(Or at least write a blog post about doing it...)