You did more than you think.
I'd often complain about how much writing I didn't get to do. How I had a writers' block and I wish I didn't let my day job get in the way of my passion.
But looking back, I DID A LOT this year.
What I wrote this year:
1. Several drafts of my play Delivery happened this year. Thanks to the incredible folks like Manuel, Ann Pittman Zarate, Nan, Liz (at the HBMG National Playwrights Retreat in Colorado), Liz from the Alley Theatre, Raymond (writer bestie), Stephen (Houston's dopest director!) and the all beautiful actors who breathed life into the characters, offered feedback and worked with me. Thank you to Scriptworks for the developmental grant. And a special shout-out to North Forest High School the place and students that inspired the play.
2. I wrote several short plays including Queens of Little Africa, Midgets and Digits (thanks Noah Martin for letting me be a part of 14/48 Festival. I love it every year. Shoutout to Jorge for always making sure I have a comfy and productive night to write these plays) AND I wrote a short for the Austin One Minute Play Festival.
3. I wrote my first short film, Lala and Lalo, thanks to Nasir and completed a television pilot that I'm pretty sure Ja'Michael and I will star in one day.
4. I finished 2 One-Acts called Felices de Los Cuarto and 99 Problems and Yoeslan Ain't One. Thanks to Caridad Svich's course.
5. Oh, I also wrote first drafts of two full-lengths: The Breathe Before the Jump and Yema, Yosi and Timely Things.
6. Not to mention 12 months of morning pages.
7. I even started my own writing coach business where I worked with dope creatives to help them write their dope stories.
Productions: 2 (Austin One Minute Play Festival and 14/48 Festival)
Residencies: 1 (National Playwrights Retreat)
Grant: 1 (The Scriptworks Developmental Grant)
Invitations to Speak/Workshop: 2 (University of Texas-RGV Panel on Afrolatinx stories and Workshop for Dr. Marci McMahon's course! and the Women of Color Panel at Texas State University)
Readings: 2 (One in Creede Colorado at the Playwrights Retreat and another in Houston, Texas directed by Stephen Miranda)
Workshops and classes taken: 3 Caridad Svich's Playwriting course where I wrote a draft of Felices de los Cuarto, Fuenteco (where I came up with Lala and Lalo) and Writers of Color class with Adrienne Perry.
Performances: 2 (Invited to perform at the Fuenteco showcase and Writers of Color Showcase)
Research trips: 1 (Mexico City where I wrote Felicies de los Cuarto)
Personal Retreats: 1 (Where I wrote a crap draft of Yema, Yosi and Timely things)
Writers groups: Had one meeting of Black Women Writers, wrote with Fuenteco and started writing regularly with Nick, Sophia and Elizabeth (Love them).
Regret: Not going to the Spanish writing workshop because I was scared.
Shout out to writing circles, writers groups and Skype/phone sessions with folks like Raymond and Héctor. Thank you to everyone in my circle for the love and support. I truly couldn't have done it without you. Shout out to God who set it all up. #amwriting
As a kid, I loved playing M.A.S.H with my friends. Choosing four options for my life in the categories of Job, Husband, number of kids, and Location, allowed me to dream as big as I wanted and leave the rest up to chance. If my M.A.S.H. results were any indicator, I would be a famous actress by now, living in a LA, married to Aaron Carter or Bow Wow, with three kids.
Thank God M.A.S.H. doesn’t hold any weight in real life.
God decided to do something entirely different; constantly proving to me that my life is in His hands. First off, I’m not an actress, but a writer who creates roles for actresses. Particularly, Black actresses. I’m not living in LA, but I’m in the vibrant city of Houston and I’m not married to Aaron Carter or Bow Wow (thank God), but I’m working on a maintaining a healthy relationship with myself at the moment.
One of the hats I wear that is central to my identity is a writer. I believe it’s my purpose. Writing for the stage has, if I’m not comparing myself to others, been fruitful. I’ve gotten a regional production, a commission, had several readings, and two developmental residencies. More importantly, I’ve worked with some pretty amazing directors who have brought out the best in my work. I’ve had the dopest actors breathe life into my characters. I’ve written plays that have helped people connect to their true selves and others that need to rest in my file cabinet. While I’ve obtained something that would look like success to some, to me my life looks a lot like the transition from one scene to the next where a group of folks in all black gather the props and prepare for the next scene. Unlike the theatre, my transition is anything but seamless.
I’m a Millennial. A part of the generation of dreamers and doers. The group with the lofty goals because we were told at a young age that we could do anything. One of the things that I struggle with is dissatisfaction with the present. In my prayers, I ask questions like “Why doesn’t my career look like so-in so…?” “How can I do X Y and Z faster?” “Why am I at this day job?” All of these questions stem from my looking to the future instead of being fully present.
I want regional, national and international premieres like Lynn Nottage.
I want to head my own company like Shonda Rhimes.
I want to do “this” and “that” like [insert colleague name].
Now, there’s nothing wrong with these desires, but sometimes I have to wonder am I ready for these opportunities? Or is God using this “transition time” to grow me? Is this draining day job teaching honing my skills for presenting and writing dialogue? Is it helping me see a problem that I need to work to remedy in the world? And what if Shonda Rhimes handed me the keys to her kingdom tomorrow? Or Lin Manuel Miranda took me under his wing to write the book to his next musical? Or Issa Rae said “Here’s a role on Insecure”? Would I be ready? The truth is it’s these transitions in my life that are growing me. Confirming my dreams, but also teaching me humility, compassion and determination.
It seems that when you are in transition, you are the most venerable to feeling downtrodden. But that’s when the most beautiful things are brewing up in your life. For me, it was the play I wrote while teaching at my old high school. A job that was both rewarding and challenging. I wrote the play called Delivery based on the magical and creative beings that my students were. It was in that classroom where I was sometimes cussed out and dealing with behavior that honed my skills in relaying information, being intuitive to emotions, and presenting engaging material that prepared me to give workshops at colleges and speak on panels. It was also there that made me understand that my purpose is beyond me. It’s to foster creativity in my community. Truth is through all of the hardship, I made connections with some pretty talented students who will go on to do great things. I am grateful that God let me be a small part of their journey. It was that experience that made me who I am today.
Transition is a hard time that helps us realize what we are made off. While I’m swimming in rejection letters, or hearing “write this over” from colleagues, it’s these moments that make me in the words of Ciara "Level Up". A skill that serves me well in the classroom, on the page and in life. My transitions may not be nice, neat or timed, but they are exactly what I need to put on the grandest show. The show of my life.