Songs for the Struggling Artist


The Library Rejection
September 3, 2017, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , ,

Decades of rejection can give many of us a pretty thick skin for this sort of thing. We assume we won’t get the thing we spend hours (or days or weeks) applying for. We assume the reward for the work of applying will be naught. That doesn’t mean getting rejected most of the time isn’t discouraging. It is, greatly. But I’ve found the will to keep doing it mostly due to the generosity of my Patreon patrons and my chronicling of the rejections.

But every so often, without meaning to, I discover that I’d gotten my hopes up too high. And I discover it in the crashing disappointment that I find myself in upon learning of the rejection.

This most recent crashing disappointment was partly a surprise because of a particularly potent mix of long-shot and being perfect for the thing. The thing this time was a residency at the Boston Public Library for a book for young people. Now – it was a long shot because I have spent most of my life in the arts in theatre, not fiction, so I don’t have much of a fiction resume. But I was kind of perfect for it because my book for young people takes place in a library, in which librarians are the heroic figures and is called The Library Book.

I mean, it’s like, made for a residency in a library. So I simultaneously thought, “They’ll never give me this” AND “My book is perfect for this.” And I guess both things are still true.

I had been, without really realizing it, waiting for this rejection letter (or the acceptance, I thought maybe an acceptance? This time?) I was planning some dates for my theatre season and realized I wasn’t comfortable booking dates because a part of me was still waiting to hear from the library folk. So I looked at the application again. There, I saw that it said that they would notify the recipient by June 30th – which is now quite a while ago. So – I guess they’re not bothering to tell the rest of us that we’re out the running. Sometimes I don’t even notice I haven’t heard from a place until I look at my list. Sometimes it has no impact on me at all. This time it sunk me like a lead balloon. And logically – it would be a real pain in the neck to relocate to Boston for 9 months – so maybe I should be relieved. I should be. But I’m not.

 

*Wondering why I’m telling you about all these rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

You can help ease the sting of rejection by becoming my patron on Patreon.

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Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

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This blog is also a Podcast. You can find it on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Soundcloud, click here.screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

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Rejection and The Beats

For a while there, in my youth, I was obsessed with the Beat Poets. My preference was for Ferlinghetti but I finally read Kerouac before I went to college. I taped a paragraph from On the Road to my dorm room wall. (This whole Beat thing MAY have been inspired by an incredible children’s book called Suzuki Beane which features a hip child beat poet. Or maybe not.)

My Dad knew I was into the Beats so he gave me a copy of Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson, one-time girlfriend of Kerouac. This book changed everything. I realized who was missing from the whole Beat conversation and who had been included and who had not. I stopped finding the Beats so sexy and found them more sexist. And so, began a lifetime of making work that focused on women’s stories. To go from being Minor Characters to Major. Thank you, Joyce Johnson.

But since there isn’t a Joyce Johnson Minor Characters residency, I had to apply to her ex-boyfriend’s house residency instead. The Kerouac House declined to accept me again.

*Wondering why I’m telling you about all these rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

 

You can help me become a major character

by becoming my patron on Patreon.

 kaGh5_patreon_name_and_message

Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

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This blog is also a Podcast. You can find it on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Soundcloud, click here.screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



Rejections of May, like sweet flowers, Bloom
May 31, 2017, 12:36 am
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , , , ,

The nice thing about NOT applying to places like the Millay Colony (which is reported to be a place of artistic magic and wonder) is that you can imagine how great it might be if you ever got it together to apply. That’s how it used to be for me.

However, I have now applied so many times, I could buy a couple of weeks worth of groceries with my application fees.

Luckily, my patrons at Patreon make that outlay of cash worth the price of rejection as I now get paid more to get rejected than I pay to apply. Is it discouraging to be so often rejected? Absolutely. Every time.

But on the bright side, if I’d gotten accepted, I’d not be writing this post now. I’d be suiting up to go write at a residency, where I can promise you, I would not be blogging until I returned because I’d be head first into my creative writing. It’s May. It’s Millay Rejection Month.

*Wondering why I’m telling you about all these rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

 

You can support me by becoming my patron on Patreon.

 kaGh5_patreon_name_and_message

Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

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This blog is also a Podcast. You can find it on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Soundcloud, click here.screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



Rejection Season Has Begun
May 5, 2017, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , , , , ,

It’s that time of year when rejections pop up like pansies.

Four rejections* to follow..

 

Residency Rejection

On the application, it said something like, “This residency is for emerging artists. What is your definition of emerging and why do you identify as such.” (I’m paraphrasing. I don’t remember the exact wording) Now…I’ve written about Emerging Artist stuff before. And if you’ve read that, you know that I’m not so keen on being called an Emerging Artist.
However, this seemed like a great writer’s residency through the auspices of a writer’s advocacy group so I had to fill out the application.

I struggled with how to answer this dumb question. Because why are you asking me, Writer’s Organization? It doesn’t matter how I define it, since in order to qualify for your little prize, I have to fit YOUR definition, not mine. Why don’t you tell ME how YOU define Emerging Artist and THEN I can tell you if I qualify? If I don’t, I can save my time filling out your silly form.

I knew I was being asked to do some sort of explanation of my own emerging-ness. I felt like I was being asked to first define my lowliness and then sink into it, to somehow ingratiate myself to a panel. I’ve done this before. I have bent to the sense of the question. Tried to frame my answers to the likings of artistic committees. I do it all the time, in fact.

But because they so directly asked this question that I have answered truthfully and honestly for myself of how I define an emerging artist and whether I identify as such, I couldn’t resist just putting in an edit of that blog. The one in which I stated how definitely I do not like to be identified as an emerging artist and what I think it means. I just – laid it out. Because fuck it. I wasn’t going to get that residency anyway – and rather than just stop my application half way through, I thought – “Ah, what the hell. Maybe a little cold water truth telling in an application will feel good.”
And it did.

The rejection notice came a couple of months later. And maybe it was just my perception but that rejection letter was one of the most ingratiating I have ever seen. The two things are probably unrelated. But it somehow pleases me to think they are.

 

Nancy Quinn Fund Rejection 2017

 

The very first grant my theatre company ever applied for was this one for $500 and we got it. The restrictions of this grant now are such that you can only get a small percentage of your budget with it…so 16 years later, if we’d gotten this grant, it would have been less than the very first grant we ever got. It’s also one of the most extensive applications.

 

Why do I keep applying for these? Well I often don’t. But – it’s the sort of grant people ask you if you’ve applied for when they’re trying to be helpful. In a way, it seemed easier to go through the reams of paperwork than to explain to people how not worth it it was going to be. I figure, if we got it, it would be a good seed grant for others. We didn’t get it.

 

 

Edward Albee Residency 2017

 

I’ve been doing this rejection project long enough now that I have several annual rejections. It would be funny to mark time by rejections. Like – this isn’t April, it’s Edward Albee Residency Rejection month.

 

Another Residency Rejection

 

The rejection notice seemed to beg us to understand that they received 200 applications so we’re supposed to feel bad for the people who had to make this decision because they had so many things to read, I guess?

 

Anytime I read a rejection notice that tells me how many applications they received and how hard it was to make the decision, I just laugh and laugh.

 

Really? I’m supposed to feel better because 190 other people get rejected too? I’m supposed to feel less rejected because it was hard for you to do the rejecting? Please.

 

Imagine this were dating. And a person you asked out said no. And then they said, “I had 199 other people ask me out so you can understand that I had a hard time when there were so many other more attractive people than you.”

 

Um. Thanks?

 

This is not news, I’m sure, but almost every rejection letter I’ve ever seen is designed to make the person doing the rejecting feel better, not the rejectee. It’s logical. But it still sucks.

 

*Wondering why I’m telling you about all these rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

 

You can support me through the season by becoming my patron on Patreon.

 kaGh5_patreon_name_and_message

Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



Lark, Drama League and Loose Ends Rejections
March 19, 2017, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , , ,

In a climate wherein it feels like my entire worldview has been rejected, writing rejection posts hasn’t felt like quite the priority it once was. However, one must go on.

‘You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” 

Thanks Samuel Beckett. Here’s some rejections:

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Despite my generally agreeable personality, I may be a little bit of an iconoclast. I mean it’s not NEWS necessarily but I hadn’t quite worked out the depths until recently. As an artist, I’m already on the edges – at the periphery of the culture as a whole – but I’m also at the periphery of the arts culture. There is a way to belong within the medium – to be at the center of an arts community. I do not fit in there either. I’m a playwright but I’ve never received a single acceptance or acknowledgement for my writing. Am I a lousy writer? I don’t think so. I just don’t write the kind of plays that get selected for writing groups and writing retreats and writing development programs.

Which – when I think about it – is fine – because I’d much rather develop my work myself. I’m not really interested in fitting in to the establishment. So it’s logical that it does not accept me. Anyway – this is the most recent Lark rejection. There have been a lot of them. As there are for many playwrights I know.

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And because I feel bad posting a single rejection, especially one I didn’t have to pay to apply for, this post has been waiting for subsequent rejections before I felt I could post it. Somehow, I hadn’t received a lot of rejections between this Lark one in November and now. But – rejection season is now upon us. And then I received one from The Drama League. Now, when I got this one, I had NO MEMORY of applying or even what it was. But in search of some text to use for a recent application, I discovered the Drama League application and discovered that it was for funds and assistance in developing a piece. Which I could have absolutely used. But alas.

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Additionally, in looking at my rejection spread sheet, I’ve discovered quite a few things I’ve applied for that I never received rejections for but for which I was clearly rejected, as months, and sometimes years, have passed. So – in the interest of being a rejection completist – here are all the things I’ve applied for since I started keeping track that I just got no response from.

LMCC Workspace, Left Tilt Fund, Center for Fiction, Nancy Quinn Fund (2016,) Purple Rose Theatre Company and the Kevin Spacey Foundation.

 

*Wondering why I’m telling you about all these rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

You can help me weather the storms of rejection by becoming my patron on Patreon.

 kaGh5_patreon_name_and_message

Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 



New Victory, NYFA and a Space Grant Rejections
October 17, 2016, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , , ,

I’m tending to cluster these rejection posts these days. I figure they’re less overwhelming in groups. So here are three

New Victory Rejection

Whenever I make a show, people tell me “this would be great for children” and so I apply for things that help support making Theatre for Young People. One time, this worked out. But the one venue that would make the biggest difference in this arena in NYC has never accepted me. I apply and apply. But, alas, no…again, no.

It’s alright. I understand. Award-winning Broadway director/designers apply for this same thing and of course they are accepted. See also, why people give awards. It is a bummer, as ever, to be rejected – particularly from the place that has the potential to make the biggest difference, not just for me in the city, but worldwide – as the New Victory has a reputation for leading in the International Performing Arts for Youth community. But no. The answer is no. Again.

SPACE GRANT REJECTION

It was probably greedy to apply for another space grant when I have one already. But the one I have is such that I can’t actually use it enough to really make a piece – so I needed a supplemental space grant that would not require additional staff funding for the venue (a cost that is more than renting rehearsal space) But probably the fact that I already HAVE a space grant elsewhere did not help my case when applying for this new space grant (which, in case it wasn’t clear, I did not get.) I will say, though, that there are companies who GOT a space grant who have their own spaces, like THEIR spaces…so maybe I’m not the greediest applicant.

Also, side note from those who DON’T make theatre in NYC – a space grant is a gift of theatre or rehearsal space. It’s not a GRANT in that it’s not money but it is a gift of free rehearsal or performance space, depending on the grant.

Given the difficulties of securing rehearsal space in this city, they are tremendously important.

NYFA

I’ve been doing this Rejection documentation project long enough now to have multiple years of rejections of the same thing. This Fellowship I just got rejected for is one I have applied for in multiple categories – fiction, playwriting…maybe even something else and I just, of course, like 99% of the people who applied, got yet another rejection.

Are we bored of rejections yet everyone? I am tired of writing about them, I know that much – And I have failed to post as many as I’ve written. That’s the thing. It is a grind to get rejected again and again. One does cease having interesting things to say about them.

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*Wondering why I’m telling you about all these rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

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You can help me weather the storms of rejection by becoming my patron on Patreon.

 kaGh5_patreon_name_and_message

Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



Henson Rejection and also a Residency
September 27, 2016, 11:43 pm
Filed under: puppets, Rejections | Tags: , , , ,

For the I-don’t-know-th time, I got a rejection from the Henson Foundation. The first applications we ever filled out as a company – almost 15 years ago – were for the Henson foundation. We were so sure we were going to get those. (We did not.) I have a bit of nostalgia for those applications – the ones we poured our hearts and souls (and drawings and writings and so on) into because we were 100% sure we were going to get them.

I can never apply for something with that sense of surety again. Even when the acceptance is a given, I am still not 100% sure I will get it. Even if it’s already been offered to me. This is not because I am inherently cynical. I’m not. I’ve just been offered things that were then rescinded…so until the acceptance letter is in my hand, or the check, or I’m standing in the space, I don’t fully believe any artistic offer.

But I did once have so much belief in my own ideas that I was 100% sure every one would be accepted. That first one was for the Henson Foundation. And it was also the first rejection. And the most recent!

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And a French Residency…

Residencies used to not really appeal to me. The thought of extracting myself from my community, taking myself out of a work loop, with no way to make money in the interim…it all just sounded like more trouble than it was going to be worth. I don’t have too much trouble making time for writing in my daily life – so I didn’t think I needed a retreat to do it.

That was before I wrote a novel and then tried to edit it. Turns out I can write in my daily life but I cannot edit. I can make myself edit a play when I have a process or production on the horizon but my fiction…well…I need to go AWAY to deal with that. The novels are just too easy to ignore, to let languish. So the LNAF residency in France seemed like a great solution. Beautiful. Focused. International.

Got their biggest pool of applicants ever this very year. Of which I am, shockingly, not among the accepted.

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*Wondering why I’m telling you about all these rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

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You can help me weather the storms of rejection by becoming my patron on Patreon.

 kaGh5_patreon_name_and_message

Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist




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