Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pondering A Decision Here.

I’ve been a playwright for something like, umm, almost 40 years now. (But you know that. If you cross my blog path on any sort of regular basis, I talk about this stuff all the time.)

And – by my own standards – I’ve had a decent career. With the exception of one play (which I’ve never offered to anyone) all my work has been produced. Somewhere. I’ve had plays produced as far west as Palm Springs, California, as far east as Pittsburgh, and a whole bunch of places in between. The best compliment I received was in being informed that one of my plays had been pirated and produced without my knowledge in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Wow. Somebody thought enough of one of my plays to steal it. How ‘bout that?!)

I never had a play produced on or off Broadway. This was never something that held any interest to me at all. At a time when I needed it, I had an agent (in Florida!) and made a respectable second income.

I enjoy writing plays. I’ve had a smattering of experience as a drama critic, and recently I’ve co-authored a book, and even more tentatively I’ve submitted articles to a handful of magazines. And a dear and talented friend has made overtures about the two of us working together to write a movie. And I just might. (Other than this, she seems quite sane,)

But I’m most comfortable writing plays. A play is the only form of literature that does NOT go through an editor. I like that. I like placing words on paper and having someone immediately recite them back to me. I like giving a concept to a group of performers, and watching (sometimes in amazement) as that concept is expanded.

I’ve purposely avoided what most people would consider success in this career, because that usually means stress, deadlines, antagonism, and all the other pressures that appear to define and repress creativity by today’s standards.

And I was happy. Write a play, send it somewhere. That was the pattern. And I’ve been lucky. Word of mouth has meant that SOMETHING of mine has constantly been on somebody’s schedule ever since I started writing.

But lately I’ve been a member of a couple of writing groups, and several people I admire are in the process of taking, what for me, would have been the next step. I wished them well. I was still not convinced this could or should be the next step for me – if, indeed, I was even looking for a next step.

And yesterday, while I was trying to find the synopsis of a play I’d never heard of, I came across a website listing maybe a hundred agents specializing in playwrights. Intrigued, I discovered I more than qualify to be considered as a client.

So-o-o … suddenly … I’m considering sending something to a bunch of suit types. Do I really want to do this? I’ve given you all my reasons for NOT doing this in the past. What do you think? Should I pick an agent with many clients? Or should I pick an agent with only one or two clients? (My agent in Florida only had three clients, including myself. She worked like a mad woman on my behalf.)

I know, I know, ultimately it’s my decision. But this is a new think for me, and I’d appreciate some thoughts.


And how was your day?


Julie Morrison said...

any group worth it's salt will goad you, encourage you and hold your hand in the taking of that next step. You may nix the idea and go happily along for the rest of your life.
But you have already broken the seal on the can of "what if?"
You may yet become an outrageous success and inspire all of us. The worst case scenario is that nothing will change.
And you'll have to write that movie you've been putting off with that insane girl from writers group.

from the royal fortress meadow said...

You may as well give it a whirl. In spite of the popular image, agents don't actually require that you sign a contract in blood or have anything to do with the devil per se. If it really doesn't work for you, you can return to situation normal.

Besides, if you give me grief about query letters, I'm bound to nudge you forward. I think it's in the writers' code.


Birdie said...

Will you look back some day and say..."I wish I had....."? I'm not very knowledgable in these things, but I've always been a coward. Don't be me, Jack! Don't look back and say...."If only...."