8. Sow What

One of my favorite paintings is Vincent van Gogh's The Sower (June 1888). The first time I saw it I was mesmerized. The energy, the force, the vibrancy shook me to the core. He offered me the pathway in, the sun low in the sky and the corn field. He offered the bluish-purple under the sower's feet and the pulsing yellow sun and sky. I can still feel it. However, I didn't understand the message van Gogh was offering, just the feeling that came through.

As a playwright, I too am a sower of sorts. From my research I cull the seeds I plant and the ideas and images I put forth. I nurture those seeds with time, energy and sometimes more research. Then, hopefully, when they have been planted on the page they'll have the opportunity to grow to full fruition. Some seem to gestate for an unfathomable amount of time. Some grow more quickly than others. Some fall flat and never become anything or do they.

I'm an unproduced playwright, so some people consider me a failure. The art buying public considered van Gogh a failure in his lifetime. What I see is merely none of my seeds have blossomed yet. Patience and care are important ingredients in the nurturance of these seeds. Though I'm not sure you'll ever know exactly what becomes of the seeds you plant, I do know those seeds will affect the actors and directors you work with. They too will affect the other writers who help guide you as you help guide them. These seeds also can and hopefully will affect the audience in countless ways. I know as an audience member, at a play or at a reading, what I hear on stage can affect and reshape my thinking and my process as a playwright. We never know when something will affect another person's life or work. So, as playwrights, we keep trying. Because the truth is nothing will happen, if we don't try--which makes not trying the only real failure there is.

originally posted May 2012
reposted March 2018

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