In my last blog post, I wrote about my decision not to write for the theater just now. Given the present incredible financial strain on theaters and playwrights, I do believe that resources need to be channeled towards those voices who might otherwise go unheard, and issues that might otherwise go undiscussed. That decision to table an idea I had been noodling was actually an easier decision than it might seem. Time thinking creatively is never wasted. But the one repercussion from this decision which did make me feel especially sad was the idea of giving up on a possible chance to collaborate. In its heart, theater-making is an essentially collaborative effort, and some of the most rewarding experiences I have had as a writer, not to mention some of the most fun, have been working together with other artists in the theater. The sense of community which collaboration fosters is magic.
It might surprise some people. but I am really very shy and could easily hibernate away if allowed. But my recent thoughts about the theater made me examine the role that community plays in my artistic life, and I realized that without that community, my artistic life was shallow, if it existed at all. I had been blessed (a word I don’t use very often) to have developed a rich and supportive, and fun, artistic community back when I lived in London. Since moving away, I hadn’t found anything to replace that loss and fill that hole. My own shyness and persistent ‘imposter’s syndrome’ kept me from putting in the emotional effort and time needed to create it. But the result was that my creative writing withered, and my sense of self as an artist dwindled. I realized that in order to continue to live an artistic life, I needed a community and finally, I gave myself the kick in the pants that I needed to reach out to existing groups, and to even participate in an open mic.
I have spent a majority of the past six years teaching people all over the world via Writing Through to find their voices, take pride in them and conquer their fears of expressing them aloud. It was time for me to heed my own lessons. This past week I read a couple of poems to a group of writers and discussed my work with them. I was incredibly nervous, but the result was a joy that I had sorely missed. I believe that artists and their art need community in order to thrive. At least I do, and now that I’ve taken a first step towards finding a new community for myself, while still stubbornly holding onto my old one back in the UK, that painful hole in my life can begin to be refilled.