I deserve this

Thank you for submitting to the LTA Millennial Committee’s New Voices Halloween event. We had 184 submission for 3 slots, and unfortunately your show was not selected.

I wanted to send you a personal note because your show was excellent. It would have been in our top five, except the tech requirements were far too complex for our space. We have an incredibly bare bones and small room for these shows, and there simply wasn’t a way to do the script justice in our space. Your writing was wonderful and the story very engrossing. Our spring event will most likely occur on a full stage, and once we set the theme, I hope you will consider submitting for 2019.

Boy! I suppose it says something about my low self esteem when I say this rejection made me feel really good. It IS a rejection – though one of the best. To stack a rejection with words like ‘excellent’, ‘wonderful’ and ‘very engrossing’ just takes the sting out of the whole we can’t use it issue. And it gives me hope. Real hope. This is an outside source; no one who knows me, no one who might be embarrassed to be honest with me about my writing, and they chose to use these words to describe my work.

They even let me know WHY my work wasn’t chosen – tricky tech requirements. That’s like the rarest of rare gems in the writing world.

I wanna jump up and down. Shout out that I’m a good writer. Let myself feel this. I put myself down so much that half the time I’m not even quite aware of it.

Excellent. 

Btw, this personal note arrived ten days before they announced their results (been lax on checking my email accounts again). It’s not a sham letter sent to everyone. It’s a real, honest to Goddess, personal note crafted just for me.

Whoopee! I was rejected! – And it feels good.

My next great piece of work slated for a magnificent rejection is sitting on the dining table, unread. Letting it sit for a few days. I’ve got two months before I call a reading, and another two months after that to finish up whatever editing I want to do. Can I say it looks good? There’s something about getting my work printed up that really jazzes me. That stack of papers – that’s a window into another time and place, something that’ll grab you by the balls, make you cry, make you think, make you respect these women (and maybe other women you know). And I created it. Out of my head, using my hands, my words, my feelings.

I know there’s only two weeks before school begins again. I know my language lessons are becoming more frequent; by October this year, I’ll have three classes a week to keep up on. And I’ve got the play, and life, and all that.

And I’m already crafting my next story. Can’t help it. Now that I opened the floodgates, it’s just gushing out of me.

Plus…I really want more positive feedback like that note. That’s driving me more than anything, I think. More of a rush than I anticipated. Not as heady as the immediate feedback of a live audience, but damned close – and in some ways, longer lasting. Feedback after a performance is only on the performance – the next night, you might fuck up. But feedback on my writing -! Now, that’s got some lasting power to it. My words stand, and that comment is now forever attached to my work (at least in my own head).

Celebrations. This time, I’m gonna celebrate the positive feedback I received for as long as I’d fret over a negative comment. That means DAYS. Days of reminding myself, days of smiling over it, days of doing something special just for me. Because if I heard something terrible about my stuff, you know I’d be struggling. You’d have multiple posts over what a shitty this or that I am, how worthless I feel, how nothing matters. I won’t push my success down anyone’s throat, but I am going to work to stay up right now.

Fifty-one years of feeling pretty much the loser; I deserve this.

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A Different Kind of Wallowing

My mind needed that. Needed to shut down, no words, no thinking. I lulled it with television programs and films. And I woke up with this crazy idea in my head about my role.

Headed over to Hesseplaats and hit the cheap shop. Aha! Forty-nine cents for a pair of outrageously ugly hair clips and a whopping €1.79 for some small, ugly, red-rimmed reading glasses.

Kept my mouth shut about it. Went last night to the photo shoot/rehearsal, excused myself before pinning my hair up with the uber ugly hair pins (on either side of my head, sticking out in the fashion of a 12 year old; completely inappropriate for a 50 year old) and donned the glasses. Grins all the way around when I walked in. But still! No voice, no voice. Not until the first line. Then I let gave it to them.

My eyes scrunched up, as if I had problems seeing. My upper lip raised over my teeth in the ultimate nerd facial expression. And the voice! Nasal. Whining. Somewhere between Urkel and Fran Drescher.

The room exploded in laughter so loud it almost threw me.

Then it was the piece de resistance: the long, uncomfortable silence between my character and my partner. I’d tried a lot of things to fill the time, but nothing that felt really solid. Nothing that felt really funny. Not so anymore! I needed to get my phone on the table for a bit later on, so I decided this silence was the time to take it out of my purse and set it down. And what could be more natural than to take a facial tissue out and blow your nose after such a move? I made the noise through my mouth, of course. I can’t actually blow like that. It was loud, and long, and completely obnoxious. Something no one could speak over.

I was told, later, two things. One, of the other actors was laughing so hard she couldn’t catch her breath. Two, my partner almost lost his composure at that point and had to struggle to keep a straight face.

Afterwards, the director said only three words to me: We’re keeping it.

This is to say nothing of the fact that my partner and I were the only pair to have our lines fully memorized, to be this deep into choreography, to have the kind of sympatico needed to pull off this comedy.

I went for it. Full on, no holds barred, no consideration given to intimidating or scaring any of my fellow actors.

And I stole the show.

Again.

Somehow, I think my picture is actually gonna make that promotional poster….

The rest of the duos did their thing. No one could muster up a laugh for anyone else equal to the smallest I received. …There were chuckle points. I made a point of paying close attention to everyone. But the people I saw perform last year are essentially doing the same thing this year. Same inflections. Same body movements. Same everything. It was very noticeable.

Yes, I raised the bar. Everyone now knows we run the risk of the first act going over like gang busters and the rest falling flat in comparison. I’m not exactly comfortable putting other people in that position. It can cause a lot of hard feelings. Especially since this is something I don’t even have to work at much. It’s as second nature to me as breathing.

And it threw me. The excitement. I came home at 10:30, smoked and talked my brother’s head off til midnight, tried to sleep til 1:30, got up and smoked some more, and finally drifted off sometime after two a.m. My head would not shut up. My mania went into overload. Every scenario grander than the last, winding me up.

This is what frightened my mom. This overexcitement post performance. I try to keep a lid on it, but that’s truly impossible. In comparison, I’m a champ at handling my negative thoughts. Much more success at breaking them. This…this was intoxicating on a level that rivaled the worst addiction. I recognize that.

It was like a mind orgasm. Everything felt good. I felt good – no, great about myself. My abilities. Confident, assured. Happy. So bloody happy! Nothing else compares.

Down to earth: the girlfriend of the director was there. Three sentences into her greeting, she slipped in ‘I’ve been hearing great things about you’. Uh-oh. Later on, during her scene, she felt the need to grab my water bottle and drink from it – thereby destroying it for my use later on. Two moves trying to show her dominance. She’s got nothing to fear on the romantic level. But as an actress…last night, baby, she got served.

Did maybe find someone to be a friend. Another female, one who was pulled in last minute and lives in a neighboring city. Don’t know her well. But she proved to be an American American, not a Dutch person who fools you into thinking they’re American because they do the accent so bloody well. She was very nice, open, friendly. We walked to the metro with the director and another actor. Ah, and they gave me props on the walk. Compliments, excited chatter over my next script.

My ego feels fat and full today. I don’t want my ego to become a monster. Don’t want this to become my norm. I must learn to sip a little bit from each encounter. Take a taste, but don’t gobble. I’m gobbling right now, and I know it. It comes from years of ego-starvation. But I intend to instill the same discipline I use with my exercise regime. Steady progress. Keep my head on straight.

…After today, that is. Today, I’ll still wallow. It’s just a different kind of wallowing.

Earning my place – at last

It’s the morning after the first read through of the upcoming play. So much to sort thru on a personal level I can’t even address Manchester, except to say it made me feel sick.

Purposefully took the day down yesterday. No heavy exercise, no writing. Just chill out. Read thru the script on my own a bit. Figured if someone else was doing my work, I’d want them to be present and in the moment, not thinking about how tired they are from their work out or what they’ll be doing tomorrow – so I gave the writer and the director my own nod of respect by keeping clear and focused on my role. Upshot: I got a lot of laughs, and an “excellent!” from the director when my part was done (note: it was the only time during the evening he used that particular word).

Facts I learned: first, performance info. This group is part of a theatre network here in NL, and they have access to a larger, professional stage two nights every year because of it. We’re booked in (already) for September 30 and October 1. The board is seeking alternative venues to perform in. The Hague, Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Delftshaven were all discussed as possibilities. All I could think was whoa! We’re gonna run back to back shows at the big venue here in Rotterdam PLUS try to squeeze in additional nights that’ll include travel time? *sigh* That will tax my physical limits. Need to double down on my health. Wash my hands three times as often as I generally do. Avoid close contact. All that crap. Second: the performance nights mean that the group has from now ’til mid July to rehearse (when we break for summer), and then a few short weeks in September before we perform. I have my doubts about some people learning their lines within that time frame. In particular, my partner in the scene (it’s a series of duets) – which brings me to fact three. He (my partner) is on holiday all of June, which means he’s missing out on the bulk of rehearsals. Of the two of us, he’s got the long speeches. In fact, he may have some of the longer monologues in the entire play. Will he be able to get it, or will I be standing up there at the opening of the play, carrying someone who stumbles around and can’t remember his lines?

Observations: oh, the girlfriend of the director is definitely Ms. Prima Donna. She didn’t bother with anything other than the few pages of her scene – and when the rest of us read our parts, she half turned her body away from the group and wore a bored expression on her face. Her reading was a bit better than most of the group – but only a bit. Really did seem like I was the only one who bothered to read their part before we began.

Afterwards, we went to the Uni pub for a beer. Hm. The Dutch really nurse their alcohol. Ended up standing around for more than an hour. Everyone’s glass was empty, but no one moved to get another or even suggest it. Most of the cast are teachers at the Uni, so they talked shop – effectively shutting me out, since I’m not a teacher. I listened, and smiled, and watched the group break into sub-groups. Two dyads and a triad. Body language turned away from me.

There was a time in my life I would have stood there, and done nothing. Just felt left out and stupid. Seems that time is over.

I picked up the empty glasses and took them to bar. An excellent in to signal my leaving – which was my intention. I said goodbye, and was acknowledged. Surprisingly, the director asked if I was taking the metro and when I said yes, he came with me. It was cool; we were able to chat away from the others. [Side note: I know this might boomerang back on me; if his girlfriend had cause to be jealous before I think last night just made it worse.] Found a couple of areas we agree on: loving the Aliens films (tho thinking that Cameron almost ruined the franchise), finding Jennifer Lawrence a terrible actress, and in general a quick intellectual exchange that touched on many lively subjects. Strangely enough, when I mentioned my upcoming script on The Night Witches, he asked ‘You mean the aviation group in the war? I’ve got a role play game about them!’ and he promised to bring the game along next rehearsal.

To make myself clear: I’m not at all interested romantically in the director. I do enjoy people I can talk with, people who have similar interests. And I’m looking for friends. Yes, I’m worried that my responses will be taken the wrong way. They often are. Especially when I interact with men. So while I find the director intellectually equal to myself, with a wide range of interests that intersect my own yet and at the same time contain things I knew nothing about (which excites me, because that’s the way I am), I’m hesitant about pursuing a real friendship because of misinterpretations. Misinterpretations by him, by his girlfriend, by the entire cast. Been there, done that.

…Yet, I enjoyed it. Feels like I’m climbing up the ladder of esteem in the director’s eyes. Getting him involved in my script work was the start; he enjoyed the story, and I felt a shift in his attitude right there, like he thought ‘ah! here’s the story teller I expected!’. Now the acting – the immersion in the role, the expression of the role.

I’m earning my place – at last.

A New Hope

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Friday morning, post script read through, and I am more ecstatic than expected. 😀 My dark nightmares did not manifest themselves; I was not hemmed in, told what was wrong, or made to feel inadequate as a writer. On the contrary: I was given a rare compliment by a Dutch native on the story line.

How strange to have (relative) strangers read my work aloud! I planned and completed three read throughs, and had the pleasure of hearing people find their feet with characters and begin to bring them alive. I learned a whole lot, too. Like the fact that some people, no matter how many (PAUSES) you include or … you add to dialogue runthroughtheirlinesliketheirpantsareonfire. Found a couple of typos, and considering my computer went through a breakdown when I flipped my location to the Netherlands so it no longer recognizes English as its main language and I have to catch all the typos manually, that’s pretty effing good. Discovered a couple of production notes I want to add to the text to make things clearer to the actors.

But…and…the timing is good. I can stretch it by a few lines here and there. My most worrisome scene that uses more sound effects than dialogue came off well and the consensus was the audience will understand what’s going on.

Asked for and received positive responses to help me with my next script. I want a draft ready for a read through or workshop by October, leaving me two months to make changes before that deadline.

And I remembered another script I want to write….

Yeah. Just a little manic today. Positive feedback does that to me. Feels odd to say that finding my feet after a positive experience is more difficult than finding my feet after a negative experience. Maybe that’s more a reflection of the type of life I’ve had rather than anything specific about me.

Nonetheless, the challenge remains. First on the list is resting. I was up after 6 hours of sleep, too hyped and excited about starting the day to lay around any more. Feeling it now, and with my bro already gone off to write at the library I’ve an opportunity to chill and close my eyes in front of the tv for an hour or two. Think I’ll take it. Then later, a good walk around to get some movement. A decent dinner, an early night. Tomorrow, a trip to the comic shop to say hi to the guys and see the new place. No writing before Sunday. I want last night’s experience and suggestions to simmer for 48 hours before committing them to paper.

Feeling good. A little worried that the Universe will send some disaster my way to un-balance me again.

But for now, I’ve A New Hope. *orchestral crash* Da. Da-da-da. Can you hear the opening theme? I can.