Monday, May 30, 2011

Missed Opportunities to be Mediocre

Lately I can see that I’ve missed two opportunities to be mediocre.

I attended two plays that were not ready for the stage.  

The first was by a man about my age. This was his 50th play to make it to full production.  His was a variant on the movie Life is Beautiful, but it took place on an ordinary day, in which deceitful adults tried to lie about their misdeeds to a child.  The characters were stereotypes. The play had no surprises. The humor was the embarrassing sort.  I left the theater thinking I’m glad I’m not so famous that people are afraid to tell me when my work needs work.

The second was even sadder. Again, the play was no where near ready to be performed. It had a few good scenes and an excellent premise. But the author didn’t really have an opinion about his controversial subject matter and that led to lots of illogical actions and unexplained anger in the characters.  This author is about 1/3 my age.  His play won a national award.  He would be justified in thinking that winning this award and receiving professional productions at paying theaters is proof that he is writing at a professional level.  He’s not. Not yet. He has the potential.
I left the theater thinking I’m glad I didn’t receive fame and glory for my early unprofessional work.

It’s odd looking both back and forwards to my writing career of mediocre successes. Books that were published but only sold about 10,000 copies. Plays that were performed in one theater, but never again. Poems and short stories that were published in anthologies for narrow market niches.  Yet I continue to write because I’m addicted.  

I’ve always written.  It's a high when it's going well and it's a focus when it's a struggle. It's like a movie in my head when it's flowing.  And it's like gardening when I do the prep work.  Engrossing, pain-relieving, a way to explore my thoughts without getting angry or afraid, a way to recognize flaws as part of life, a way to live life with more fun.

Much as I’m glad my weaker works have been ignored and rejected, I’d like more success for my artistic efforts that fulfil their dramatic potential.  This ruminating makes me wonder how many works by others have I missed that I would have enjoyed if I’d found out about them. How many movies or books I might have preferred to the ones that did manage to make it into my realm of awareness.

Virtue is not rewarded – it is randomized and so are the rewards.

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