It's not as if this happened like a bolt out of the blue. Life changing moments may seem like they just happen, but there usually is, I think, a long, silent gestation period. Red Dog had been rattling around in my head for about a year. You know how everyone has a book or play they want to write? Red Dog was mine. But that I actually sat down and put fingers to the keyboard, well, I'm not exactly sure how that happened. I think anger had a lot to do with it. I put up with a lot at that last job: mind-numbing, pointless work, and frat house shenanigans ruled the work place. I dealt with age discrimination for the first time, and my values clashed mightily with the rest of the people who embraced the belly of the beast. I was working with a lot of people I had absolutely no respect for. Any way you looked at it, I was devalued, and that had been going on for two years. I think this was my way of drawing a line in the sand after how many years and saying, this is who I am, deal with it.
And it's not a decision that I have ever once questioned. Follow your heart; there is no doubt in my mind that that's the way to live.
And last night, walking into BPT, or last Friday walking into the Factory Theater and the members of Fresh Ink Theatre truly made me feel welcome, (they came out and said: we're so glad you came!) I know I'll have a place in the world wherever there's theatre. I can walk in alone, knowing I'll see friends.I listened to Kate Snodgrass last night talk about the long relationships she's had with so many of the people who were in that room. She's worked with some people who were there for twenty years and more. (And I think of what Lydia Diamond said to me when I told her I was frustrated about wanting to get my plays produced. She asked me how long I've been writing plays, and when I told her two and a half years, she said, John, I've been doing it for eighteen. Eighteen years, I thought. I eighteen years i'll be...gulp.)
But eighteen or twenty years from now doesn't matter. What matters is today and writing today and building from today. And maybe I came late, but it's not too late, I know that. I think sometimes of all the time I spent using my writing talents in corporate environments, and well, I try not to think about it. I tell myself I was gaining knowledge and experience about the world and how it works and how people behave, and now it's time to set it down in my art. And I kind of like the fact that I can hear the clock ticking. It's a good reminder that time is running its course and I better get cracking and not waste a precious day.
I've got three years under my belt, and I can honestly say I'm proud of the work I've done in that time. I can also say I wish I had more.