I'm 70 years old and have been writing for 56 of those years. All along
the merry way, ten thousand publishers and thirty thousand literary
agents, through their singular and combined efforts, have tried to
convince me that my work is not worth consideration. At this point, I'm
starting to believe that they may all have been right.
I sent Evergreen Review my first submission in (best guess) 1964.
Editor, Barney Rosset attached a brief handwritten note to the rejection
slip encouraging me to continue writing. Quite possibly there was not a
person on earth who needed that encouragement less. Forty-four years
later, after discovering Evergreen Review on the internet, I sent them
some work which, Editor-in-Chief, Barney Rosset accepted immediately.
So, now, my work is in there amongst writers like; Samuel Beckett,
Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, LeRoi Jones, Susan Sontag, and Edward
Albee. My worry now is that if it’s another 44 years before I see print
again, I'll be 110, and most likely will have lost all interest in anything
that isn't called chocolate pudding.
Thirty-some years ago I wrote seven full-length plays and, even after all
these years, I strongly believe that any one of those plays, properly
folded, might still make an excellent doorstop.
In 1980 however, Magic Theatre, Eureka Theatre, and another local
(San Francisco) theatre which I cannot, for the life of me, recall,
thought much more of my work.
The Assistant Artistic Director at Magic called me to tell me, somewhat
breathlessly: “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but… John Lion has
everything you’ve sent us on his desk, AND he has instructed us that
anything else you submit should be brought directly to him.” She
continued, “The last time Mr. Lion had more than one play on his desk
from one playwright, it was Sam Shepard!”
Meanwhile, the Artistic Director at Eureka, called me and invited me
over. Three people met with me, saying among other things, “Any actor
would be eager to sink his teeth into any of your characters.” There
was a lot of excitement in the air, during that meeting, discussing
structural considerations I'd never given a thought to. From that alone I
realized that these people knew more about my plays than I did.
Despite all that enthusiasm, Eureka did not produce any of my work.
That same year, Mr. Lion entered my play, “An Appeal for Shorter
Doors”, into the highly-respected FDG/CBS competition. Selected
theatres were allowed to enter one play in that contest. Magic Theatre
received over 1600 submissions for that competition; I didn’t even
know it existed. Ultimately, Shorter Doors was one of the top 25 plays,
out of (I forget) 27,000 or 37,000 entries. That play, however, was
Encouraged by Mr. Lion’s somewhat peculiar, unspoken support, I sent
that play off to two additional competitions: Louisville and The Eugene
O’Neill Theatre. It did not place in either competition. However, one of
the judges from Eugene O’Neill sent me a lengthy, hand-written letter
saying, “I think the other judges are wrong. I think this is a remarkable
first piece and it should have been staged by us. I really regret my
inability to represent your play better. Please continue writing and please
continue sending your ms to Eugene O’Neill.”
After one full year of hearing nothing whatsoever from Magic, I
received all of my plays back, in the mail, without comment.
I don't write plays any more.
In 1998 BILLBOARD BOOKS (the most widely recognized and greatly
respected name in the Music Industry) published my book—STUDIO
BASICS, What You Should Know BEFORE Entering the Recording
Studio… just in time for the digital explosion to render most of the
technological advice in that book completely and utterly useless.
I don't write about the business of music any more.
My very dear wife has told me, and more than once that: "There are a
lot of people out there who would enjoy your writing, but they'll never
hear about it."
I don't really know what to do about that; I'm not a publicist.
I think I'll probably just continue publishing my work on Estuary.
|There's no fool, like an old fool.