I haven't talked about my playwriting in a while. After all, it can be awkward.
"So, you've been published?" No.
"Do you have any shows coming up?" Nope.
"Well, what are you writing about?" Cue plot summary.
"That sounds like something on Broadway!" Sure!
Let's hope we're still here to see it!
I can count on one hand how many times a play I've written has been produced. The first was in 2007.
It was a 10-minute play I'd written mere months before. I figured the turnaround time would always be like that. Write a strong first draft, send it to a theater and get it on stage!
I embarked on a commitment to playwriting with that awesome experience in my pocket, shrouding me in an illusion about the realities of the career.
This Friday, my play, "The Old Ship of Zion," opens for a monthlong run at the Essential Theatre in Atlanta.
Over a year ago, I submitted "Old Ship" for Essential's Play Festival, an annual competition for a summer production of a previously unproduced play by a Georgia playwright.
A few months after that submission, I produced "Old Ship" here at the National Civil War Naval Museum. By the time Essential Theatre expressed interest in "Old Ship" as the festival winner, our local production had already happened. It was therefore no longer a previously unproduced work. In producing it locally, I had effectively disqualified it from this opportunity in Atlanta.
But a few weeks later, Peter Hardy, the artistic director of the Essential Theatre and director of its upcoming production, wrote me again saying that he wanted to produce "Old Ship" anyway.
It would run in rep with the festival winner (Joshua Mikel's "LILLIAN LIKES IT") as a professional world premiere.
I was thrilled! This was something I began hoping for eight years ago when I wrote the first draft.
And as the show prepares to open, I'm becoming reflective.
Playwriting is not for those who desire immediate results.
A trial attorney has a court date on the calendar. She prepares, she argues and she gets a verdict.
A doctor meets a desperately sick patient. He operates. The success or failure is imminently evident.
A creative writer spends hours, days, weeks and yes -- years -- writing a first draft, then a second, then a third. Almost all of that time is solitary.
Often, it's frustrating. But as the work develops, the time spent becomes precious.
Some seeds sprout quickly, while others take their sweet time to blossom.
In fact, you might be tending creative soil for years before anything even breaks the surface. For someone my age living in the "immediate gratification" age, this has been a tough realization.
But as the show prepares to open, I am reminding myself: Life is longer than you think. It's OK to take your time on the things you love. It's OK to wonder when you will have something to show for it. Good things still come to those who wait. And patience is still a virtue.
-- Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent contractor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.