Saturday, December 31, 2022

A look back at 2022

Another year come and gone. Normally, about here, I would start to wax poetic, but this year I don't have time. I'm too busy writing.

Really. This was the year I decided to refocus my writing efforts on plays after a two-year hiatus during which I was lured away by the siren song of Hollywood and New York, writing screenplays and novels that got me both a manager an agent but zero traction in either of this fabled cities.

But those two years weren't a total bust. I learned that I love writing plays. And I love everything that goes along with that. The production photos. The newspaper reviews. The emails from directors asking for advice. And, last but far from least, the generous royalty checks.

And so I spent the entire year writing plays, plays, and only plays. But was it a success? Well, let's take a look against the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year.

1) Complete three new full-length plays

Success. I completed exactly new full-length plays:

  • My coffee shop/magic potion comedy, Whole Latte Love.
  • My roadside diner romantic comedy, It Happened on Route 66.
  • My Enchanted Bookshop prequel, How the Enchanted Bookshop Began. 

In between these plays, I wasted maybe a total of three months on plays that never went anywhere. But that's par for the course.

Actually, "waste" may be strong a word. No time writing is ever truly wasted. If nothing else, it's good practice. And besides, I may come back to these plays later and figure how to make them work. It took me years to get Million Dollar Meatballs and Trouble in Paradise Junction right.

2) Publish four full-length plays

Success. At the time I set this goal, it was very ambitious. The most plays I'd ever published in one year was three, which I achieved in both 2015 and 2017. So I wasn't quite sure I could get there.

But I did, publishing not just four but five new plays. Of course, it helped that one of the plays--The Last Radio Show--had been accepted by Heuer Publishing over a year ago and was way overdue. It also helped that my regular publisher, Pioneer Drama Service, proposed that I make a smaller cast adaptation of my play It's a Madhouse! shortly after it was published, allowing me to crank another whole play in just a few weeks that was guaranteed publication.

That one was called--wait for it--Madhouse!, a shorter, punchier title that matches the shorter, punchier feel of the play.

The other two plays? That would include the aforementioned Whole Lotta Love and It Happened on Route 66.

The best part is that all three plays are off to a super strong start, and I expect them to maintain a Million Dollar Meatballs level of success over the next few years.

3) Lead a workshop at the Arizona Thespian Conference

Failure. Sadly, this didn't happen and I don't know why. I applied to be a workshop presenter through the official website and I heard nothing back. Not a word. No a squeak. Not a peep.

I'd still love to present my popular workshop on the three-act structure in Star Wars and Legally Blonde, which was a big hit at the Colorado Thespian Festival, but at this point I'm at a loss as to how to proceed.

4) See more plays

Failure. Can you believe this didn't happen either? I never heard back from the ariZoni Awards committee, with whom I'd applied to be a judge with. I'm starting to think the Arizona theater scene it very cliquey and closed to newcomers, which is crazy considering that the vast majority of people here came from out of state.

But I'm not going to cry into my pillow--or anyone else's. Not going to plays has left me more time to keep up with the vast amount of new stuff getting pumped out by the streamers every month. And I watched some great ones. Life and Beth. The Crown. Dead to Me (my favorite of the bunch--wasn't that finale amazing?). And yes, despite an initial resistance, I too have fallen completely under the sway of The White Lotus (how can you go wrong with a bunch of Richie Riches on vacation in beautiful Italy, especially when there are dead bodies involved?).

Anyway, I've found that watching these shows has inspired my writing even more than plays used to. I only have one problem.

What am I going to watch now?

5) Be more present

Half success. This hasn't been an easy one, but I can honestly say I've made significant strides in this area. I take the time to enjoy my meals rather than rushing through them. When I walk the dogs with Tammy, I make the effort to look around and really appreciate the sights and sounds of our suburban neighborhood.

My stress level at work and home has improved as well. When I feel those old familiar feelings of tension well up inside me, I pause, take a deep breath (or ten), and remind myself that this too shall pass.

I give the credit to my daily meditation practice through Insight Timer. And that was just with meditating five minutes a day.

I've since bumped up my average to ten minutes a day and have started focusing more on sound baths rather than guided breathing exercises for that extra boost of calmness and stability.

Even if this next year isn't the most productive in terms of writing or publishing plays, it's guaranteed to be my calmest.

And that's a very good thing.

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