I loved this advice from authors from the LA Times book festival.
Read a lot, write a lot, and don’t expect to make any money.
I heed this advice as I dive back into a genre not generally known for being lucrative: playwriting. When I was in high school, I was lucky to attend a public performing arts school. I was in the creative writing program and in my senior year, we wrote plays. Our teacher submitted them to a state-wide contest and my play was chosen to be performed in New York City. I met a director, talked to actors, and watched an audience react to my work. And that’s when the playwriting bug bit me.
So I applied to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, got accepted into the Dramatic Writing program, and wrote plays. I was praised, won contests, interned at theaters, and loved it all. I got my BFA and MFA in playwriting and wrote a thesis play to graduate.
I sent my thesis play about adopted daughters to 10 of my favorite theaters and got rejected by all of them. The weight of rejection completely paralyzed me and led me to stop writing plays even though I loved the theater. I tried everything else under the sun—short stories, fiction, non-fiction—but my best feedback ever on those pieces was that my dialogue was great (ah, theater!).
Then I thought back to when I was a kid and what I loved reading—Sassy magazine, Sweet Valley High, and The Baby-Sitters Club. So I started pursuing magazine writing and YA books. And you know what? I found success and rejection in those areas, but the main difference was that I kept going and pursuing both, despite being told “no” initially.
So now I’m slowly tiptoeing back to playwriting. I’ve been seeing plays at Berkeley Rep and other Bay Area theaters and I realize how much I miss it. And whether I “make” it or not, theater makes me happy.
What makes you happy? What would you write if money were no object?