I’ve written before about playwrights and rejection. I think it’s difficult, though, to understand just HOW MUCH rejection we’re talking about here, and how insanely resilient writers have to be.
Monica Byrne is a writer whose work I believe in. My company is a few days away from opening her fantastic What Every Girl Should Know . Between unsolicited submissions and the plays we request, Impact Theatre receives as many as 450 plays a year to fill the 3 slots we have available (the 4th goes to the annual classic and the 5th goes to a local solo performer). Those odds are just nuts, so you know we must really believe in Monica and her work– and we do. But What Every Girl Should Know wasn’t the first play Monica sent us. The first play she sent us was Nightwork. It was a really interesting play that wasn’t right for us. It made it pretty far up the chain before we sent the rejection. I was intrigued and asked her to please continue submitting. She sent us What Every Girl Should Know.
We’re the first theatre in the San Francisco Bay Area to produce Monica Byrne’s work, and we won’t be the last. My company has introduced dozens of playwrights to the Bay Area early in their careers, including Steve Yockey, Sheila Callaghan, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and Enrique Urueta. We’ve done world premiere plays by writers like Lauren Gunderson, Lauren Yee, Prince Gomolvilas, and Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. We know how to pick ’em.
The salient fact here, however, is that WE REJECTED HER FIRST. And when I asked her to please keep sending me her work, SHE DID.
Then she wrote THIS. She calls it her “anti-resume.” It’s a blog post that contains a link to a spreadsheet of all her rejections. It starts in 2007. It is impressive. Apart from the obvious bravery, it shows just how much rejection a writer– even a gifted writer who is on the verge of nationally-recognized success in two fields (take a gander at this)– can go through.
So read Monica’s anti-resume. Take it to heart. And keep submitting.