42. Catch Your Breath

Learning lessons or learning what you need to understand to be an artist and learning what it means to be an artist and understanding we are all connected as human beings and as artists are among the things you pick-up along the way. No one tells you these things. You are left to put the pieces together for yourself, which is primarily what being an artist and living a life in the arts is about--putting the pieces together for yourself. No writer will ever write something the same way as another writer. Part of what makes us unique is our particular voice and how we discover that voice.

We find our voice by discovery. We discover our voice with and through the obstacles before us. Some of these obstacles organically occur and others we put before ourselves, such as the play topics we choose to work on. Many of us will take writing classes, writing workshops, acting and/or directing classes; some work on shows; some go through formal programs; many (hopefully all) read; we listen; we think; we intuit; we scratch our heads; we see other writers' plays; we go to readings; we make comments and give feedback. All of this feeds into who we become as playwrights. We create ourselves as creative people and as practitioners of creativity. All of this training and discovery also supports and feeds into the theatre community at large. We may not realize it at the time but all of this which we do for ourselves--we also do for the theatre industry as a whole.

These lessons can come at us in expected or unexpected places. The first time I went to the Sewanee Writers' Conference, I worked with Romulus Linney. I learned more about writing and my writing in particular in those two weeks with Romulus than in any other experience in my life. However, what was unexpected was I too learned more about reading plays--new plays. Romulus was a great reader of plays. He could cut through to the heart of a new play and put his finger on the pulse of that play in a few words. It was astonishing. I'd never experienced anything like it in all of my education and training. Romulus wasn't trying to teach us to be better readers--he simply showed us what was possible. It was then up to each of us in the workshop to take from this what was available, to learn and to grow as readers--for those who were willing and open enough to do so.

originally posted April 2015
reposted March 2018

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