A few months ago, I decided I couldn’t consider myself a playwright anymore. Though my desk houses a little orange plastic box full of index cards scribbled with story ideas, potential titles and bits of dialogue–a box I add to on a regular basis–I hadn’t done any real playwriting in a few years. I just wasn’t moved to open a Word doc and make that blinking cursor cruise across the page.
To actively call yourself something, it’s a good idea to actively be doing that thing.
(I’m not talking about meeting people and saying, “Hi. My name is Crystal. I’m an Aries, a dog lover and a playwright.” I’m talking about internal definitions. The way you place yourself in the life you’re living.)
There was relief in no longer being a playwright. I didn’t have to keep torturing myself about not having a project percolating. When friends asked if I was working on anything, I could say with conviction, “I’m not writing plays anymore.” My lone full-length had two great productions and a much-needed learning experience production, so there was a sense of completion. And it was okay.
Story shouldn’t be forced. It should knock on your door in the middle of the night demanding to be let in. I’m a believer in what Mr. Bukowski says about writing:
if you have to wait for it to roar out of you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
I waited patiently, but no one arrived. I turned the porch light off, turned on my sound machine and went to sleep.
Then this election entered the picture. This ridiculous, infuriating, absurd shitshow of an election. I saw friends get in fights on Facebook with their friends and family that I’m not sure they’ll be able to recover from. With each passing presidential “debate,” I watched our country slip further and further into a pool of tepid, flat
Budweiser America, with only a raft of soggy Cheetos and a copy of Playboy to hold on to. Each day brought a new low, when I thought we’d already dented the basement floor.
That’s when I heard a knock at the door.