Recently a student asked if I would answer some questions for a Leadership Skills class. I thought I’d include my answers here. Enjoy!
1.Tell me about your accomplishments.
My biggest accomplishment is that I have been able to create a job for myself in which I’m able to make a living as a playwright. I don’t have any side jobs that aren’t related to my work. It took a long time to get to this point, and I’m very proud that I never gave up. Even when I was younger and did have to take numerous side jobs, I still knew what the end goal was and strove to work toward that goal. A living in the arts is all I’ve ever wanted and it’s a thrill every day to be able to do so. I’ve also run a marathon, which is pretty huge for a slow poke like me!
2.Who helped you the most in accomplishing your dreams?
My biggest supporter is my husband, it’s wonderful to have someone believe in you no matter what. It’s important to have support, as there are so many who love to criticize in the arts! It’s also important to have someone who is not just a head nodder, who thinks your work is fabulous all day every day. Those who support should also push to make your work the best you can be. I’m lucky to have that.
3.What was the biggest challenge or obstacle you faced in getting to where you are today?
The biggest challenge was realizing that a traditional playwriting career (go to a big city, get produced by theatre companies) was something that I didn’t actually want or need, it was something everyone else did. That’s a big distinction, just because it’s what everyone else does doesn’t mean it’s right for you. I tried for nine years to fit into a big city theatre community bashing my head on every closed door because I thought that’s what you had to do to be a playwright. I tried avoiding the school market because of the stigma that it was less than professional. That period of my life was very frustrating, and my writing suffered. Once I clarified for myself exactly what I wanted as a playwright, and once I realized I could actually achieve my goals writing for schools, every obstacle fell away. I suppose in the end, the biggest obstacle was me “” I got in my own way, trying to follow a path instead of make my own.
4.How did you respond when people didn’t believe in your dream?
It’s taken a long time, but now I laugh. And that’s because I know exactly what the vision is for my career and the steps I have to take to make it happen. If I’m moving forward, if I’m getting better as a writer, if I’m seeing my work succeed, who cares what others think? I’ve also seen the impact of my work, and that helps a lot in disregarding naysayers. For someone else to belittle my work means that they don’t understand what I do, who I do it for and why I do it.
5.What advice would you give a young person who wants to be successful like you?
Decide exactly what you want for your life and then come up with the steps to make it happen. Let’s say ten steps. Don’t rely on some fluffy dream (oh I would love to act one day….). Turn your dream into actual tangible steps. If you want to be an actor for example, then some steps might be to audition for ten plays next year. Or to memorize four monologues. Or to look into three acting schools. The only person who can make things happen for yourself, is you. And the only person who can get in the way and prevent things happening, is you.