When is a playwright not a playwright? When she's a mom.

When is a playwright not a playwright? When she's a mom.
The very unconventional breast pump used in my last produced play. Sadly, I didn't get a picture when the "nipples" were lit up.

2012 was the first year since 2003 that I did not have a play produced. This is not a random bit of bad luck. 2012 was also the first year since 2003 that I did not send out any plays to theatres or festivals. I also wasn’t writing anything new. A year without a play produced was the inevitable conclusion of a downward productivity trend that began in 2009 with the birth of my son.

My last produced play was “Pump” at the 2011 Pittsburgh New Works Festival. It was a good production that won a bunch of awards. It was also a play—a one-act play—that took me over two years to complete. I started writing a comedy about breast pumps while on maternity leave with my son. The script sat dormant for a while until I finished it while on maternity leave with my daughter. The result was "Pump."

I haven’t figured out how to write plays as a working mom. Last year I was asked to write a new play for an event, but I had to decline the opportunity for what would have been a pretty much guaranteed production. I couldn’t get going. I’m not a morning person (and my kids are early risers) which makes morning writing out of the question. Writing on weekend days would require asking my husband to watch both kids. My oldest is not quite 4 and my youngest is not quite 2, which makes them not quite easy for one person to contain. I could write at night after the kids go to bed, but by then I’m physically and mentally spent.

Still, I tried to write that play. Every night when I sat at the computer my fingers felt heavy. Words did not flow from me. They had to be forcibly extracted. I lacked inspiration. I lacked energy. I lacked the desire to write a play.

The term "work-life balance" is an over simplification. The life part has many forms: family life, social life, housekeeping life and (sometimes) exercise life. That's already a lot to balance without adding something else, which for me is playwriting. I know some people manage to keep up with their avocations even with young kids, but they must sacrifice something. For me, playwriting has been the sacrifice.

I blog to keep writing. Although my lists usually take longer to put together, many posts can be drafted over a lunch hour or during my daughter’s nap time or before Top Chef comes on.  It is difficult to write a play in such small chunks of time without it feeling choppy and disjointed.

Blogging is better than not writing, but I do miss my plays. I miss collaborating with directors, designers and actors to bring my ideas to life. I miss hearing my words spoken by someone other than me. I miss watching an audience's reaction. I miss applause. Oh, how I miss applause.

I haven't figured out how to write plays as a working mom, but that shouldn't stop me from trying to get produced which is why my 2013 uber list includes a goal of submitting my existing plays to theatres and festivals. That doesn't mean I will get produced, but at least I'll be trying. Even as a working mom I can find the time to write cover letters and synopses (even though I hate writing cover letters and synopses).

I am still a playwright even though I am a mom. I am still a playwright even though I am not writing new plays right now. I am still a playwright because I have written plays and will write plays again. That is what matters. I am a playwright.

 

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