Crafting a Support System

I have a board of directors.

And I agonized over it. I agonized for the same reasons I always agonize over asking for help. It’s a big ask, right? Why would anyone donate their time like that? And what do they get out of it anyway? I kept talking about my hypothetical board of directors — how I would rely on them as I faced this seemingly lawless world of playwriting, how they would help me choose a new headshot, how I would tap into their expertise to quiet my own insecurities — for the better part of a year. But something kept stopping me. I didn’t want to burden anyone. I didn’t want to burden them. I didn’t want to be a burden.

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Capturing Myself in My Own Image

I went to a photoshoot this morning.

It was a photoshoot for a secret secret project that I can tell y’all about next month. It was a photoshoot for a play that makes me want to scream and laugh and read and share and keep working and keep working and keep working. But all of these thoughts and feelings and joys and frustrations come from working on the script, conversing with the characters, being alone in my apartment as I type into the void that is my computer.

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Crafting a Celebration of Our Own Successes

I took this photo on my way to class last night.

I love how much sunshine we’re getting these days, deep into the evening. I love how this rainbow reflects the lesson I was preparing to teach that night: how to get ahead of artistic jealousy by focusing in on our own successes — and by lifting others up unprompted. I love how this touristy little spot became my own moment of reflection.

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I Did Not Watch The Tonys

I did not watch The Tonys, but I did watch Rachel Chavkin finally win her award.

I watched her stand on the stage, full page speech in hand, edits made even on the ride to the theatre — the black Sharpie of a director who appreciates a cut, who pushes for a rewrite, who patiently lives with a play for so many years. I watched her tie this beautiful musical — one written 13 years ago with rewrites and revisions keeping the pace every step of the way. “It reminds us that that is how power structures try to maintain control: by making you feel like you’re walking alone in the darkness, even when your partner is right there at your back.”

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Finishing the Draft

I’ve been working on Voyagers since November 2016.

Maybe you’ve heard me talk about it. Maybe you’ve sat down with me as you try to share good news with me and all I can talk about is how the play isn’t working. Or how hard it is for me to write about hope. Or how little hope I was willing to share with my audiences. Maybe you came to the staged reading in September 2017, an event that coincided with my birthday despite my desperate drive to ignore the celebration. (My director Maureen brought cupcakes to rehearsal. Everyone sang. I loved it.) Maybe you were in the staged reading. Y’all wouldn’t recognize it today.

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What I Read: May 2019

I only write about the books I genuinely love on here. When I first started blogging about books — back in 2010 on my Tumblr — I would write about every single book I ever read, whether I liked it or not. And then I discovered something incredible: I don’t have to spend any more time or brain space working through the books I don’t like. I’m making the rules about this practice — rules I can change. So in 2018, I stopped writing about the books I don’t enjoy reading. And it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

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Fosse/Verdon, or Hating Fosse/Loving Verdon

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I’m watching Fosse/Verdon.

Listen, it’s a love/hate experience. I love the show, I hate how much time I spend thinking about and dissecting and googling (and making J google) and and and my head is ultimately overcrowded with this emotionally manipulating, universally lauded man’s life.

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Crafting Your Non-Negotiables

We’re in week three of Crafting Your Artistic Handbook here in Seattle and I continue to be inspired by the artists I’m working with. They are so incredibly trusting of our time together — and before I know it, the class will be over! But it’s not actually actually over. I’m teaching an online version of this class (live! interactive! wear your comfiest clothes!) starting July 8. Intrigued? Head over to my website to learn more and register.

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Watching The Pajama Game in 2019

My husband and I are watching Fosse/Verdon.

I felt very old writing that sentence. This idea that (1) I’m married and (2) we stay in some nights watching a miniseries on FX about 1960s - 1980s Broadway — a miniseries that I’m sure only Lin-Manuel Miranda and my grandmother watch. And last I checked, my grandmother wasn’t all that motivated to find the show either. It’s a niche show, one that requires me to pause every five minutes and explain. “They’re in rehearsal for Pippin.” “Those are the opening notes of Sweet Charity.

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Crafting an Accountability Practice

I started teaching Crafting Your Artistic Handbook last week and I’m so happy with the group of artists who’ve opted into this class. They’re all so incredibly talented, smart, and excited to put the work into their artwork. They even indulged me in a class photo last week. Look at all our smiling faces!

This week, we focused on different modes of accountability — a theme that could really take over the entire six week series if we let it. I brought in four different accountability structures that I’ve tried over the course of my career: two that I’ve abandoned and two that I still use to this day.

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Killing My Darlings

The photo above is deceiving.

It’s a stock photo, of course. I like the idea of it: throwing out the old to make literal room for what works. In my reality, my cuts are digital. I tuck old drafts away in a different file, a different folder, a hidden section of my playwriting software. When I cut something that’s in a notebook, I keep that page in tact. I revisit my notebooks once a decade, it seems, so there’s no danger that the cut idea will bury it’s way into my line of vision and go from being a bad idea to a bad idea that just doesn’t work.

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Coming Home/Watching Homecoming

I went home at the end of April and it coincided with Beyoncé’s greatest live performance of all time.

I’ve been trying to go home more. When I lived on the East Coast, I skipped Christmas visits because of the expense. I’d visit in February or March instead, hopeful that one day I’d get to fly home in a less extravagant way, hopeful that my midwinter visit would be welcome and not a total pain in the butt. Since moving to Seattle, I’ve kept those February/March visits up, adding Christmas (finally) to the mix too. It was a way to escape the rain, an assurance that there was sunshine somewhere. California, here I come.

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What I Read: April 2019

I heard the voice of every single one of these authors as I read their books.

Okay, not literally. But I spend a significant amount of time listening to these four voices. Linda Holmes is the host of one of my favorite podcasts: Pop Culture Happy Hour, a podcast I listened to long before I decided I was “into podcasts.” Her debut novel Evvie Drake Starts Over is dreamy and wonderful and exactly what I want all my rom coms and romance novels to be like.

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Crafting Space for Documentation

I live my life surrounded by so much paper. A pile of books sits in my windowsill — a combination of library books I’ll certainly never finish before their due date and books and plays I own, texts I dream of reading one day. Bookshelves tuck into every corner of my apartment — under the windowsill, inside an unused closet, below my growing collection of plants. The wall in front of my desk is papered with postcards from friends across the country, women who mean it every single time they say “Wish you were here!” Even my calendar is paper, much to the dismay of my super tech savvy bestie and my partner, a man who knows his schedule at a glance. Flipping through his calendar is a silent activity. Flipping through mine is percussive.

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Crafting a Code of Conduct — Toward Yourself

In January 2018, months before I actually started writing my own Artistic Handbook, I started a list of things that I wanted to work on. Creating a code of conduct — something I could reference whenever I’m feeling conflicted or eerie or just plain gross during an interaction with a fellow theatre professional — was pretty high up there. But right underneath that super corporate phrase “Code of Conduct,” I wrote “Code of Conduct Toward Myself.”

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Crafting Your Welcome Letter

When I set out to write my own Artistic Handbook last April, I had no idea where to start. I knew what I wanted to include in my handbook — I had a list as long as my arm that featured everything from the phrase “standard operating hours” to “play ideas” to “working out of town.” I had a ton of rules for how I’d operate in the American theatre landscape, all of which I’d broken at some point or another. And I had an overwhelming task ahead of me: a 70+ page artistic handbook that was fully searchable, fully functional, and fully me.

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Keeping a Journal

On Friday, March 22, I started keeping a journal.

I think most people already picture me as someone who journals — a journaler? — but the reality is I used to check in with myself very little. I check in with my characters constantly. I check in with my sources all the time. (It’s probably annoying how much I check in with them.) And I check in with the people around me so much that I sometimes forget to share what’s going on in my life.

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Keeping A Notebook

Last week, I spent a couple hours going through a decade of notebooks.

Okay, so I knew that there would be a decade of notebooks. I’ve been writing plays for ten years and I am pretty much the ultimate nerd. Of course I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go. Of course I got down lines of dialogue and scenes and notes on a script and pitches and outlines and and and. I can’t remember a single original thought until I’ve written it down. My brain’s just funny that way.

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