Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ten Years in Boston, Part 1 (output)

Ten years ago, I moved to Boston.  My wife, Tracy, had landed an exciting job in her new career (moving from corporate engineer/manager to academic librarian).  We arrived with some trepidation, a white couple with two black kids--a kindergartner and a 6-month old baby--moving to a city with a tough racial past.  And we were buying a condo in a mostly black neighborhood in Roxbury (which would be something new for all of us).  We had very little money and no contacts or friends in the area.

In the decade prior to arriving in Boston, we'd lived in 5 houses in Colorado (where we spent 7 years), Missouri, and Illinois.  Anyone would have been surprised to find us still in Boston in 2010.

But here we still are (though we've lived in three different houses since we've been here).  Ten years seems like a good point to reflect on how I've been doing, writing-wise, since I've been here.  Plus, I enjoy making lists and counting things, so this provides a good excuse for doing both.

Since 2000, here's what I've written:

3 full-length plays:  Pieces of Whitey, Constant State of Panic, and Fire on Earth.  Two of these have been produced, all have had readings and workshops.

4 one-act plays:  The Light Collectors, The Next Big Thing, Reassembling Sasha, and The Sky is Falling.  All have been produced, three are published.

21 ten-minute plays: 
Christmas Flight
Confirmed Sighting
Counting Rita
Den of Iniquity
Escape to Wonderland
Flying the Friendly Skies
Invisible Husband
Measuring Matthew
Out of Time
Perfect Vision
Phoenix Funeral Draft 3
Pumpkin Patch
Schedule Meisters
Ship of Fools
Special Education
Stick up for Mars
Stop Rain

1 feature-length screenplay:  The Three Great Loves of Christopher J. Tomaski (an adaptation of my one-act play.  Never produced, but it won a couple hundred bucks in a national competition)
2 novels:  Moving (A Life in Boxes); Buried Treasure.

2 non-fiction book proposals

I'm always trying to figure out if I'm working hard enough, being sufficiently productive.  This list seems like a pretty long list, but it is over a period of ten years.  Five full-length works in ten years isn't bad, but it's not exactly speedy  (from 1990-2000, I wrote 7 full-length plays, 1 novel, and 4 screenplays).  Though twenty ten-minute plays should be worth at least a full-length play or two.

In my defense, I'd like to add that during the past ten years, I was also pretty busy being a stay-at-home dad for two kids, with no money for daycare or babysitters.  And I also moved a couple times, fixed up a house, coached some soccer, ran and started some gardens, etc., etc..

I've also gone back and forth between writing books and writing plays, which has been great fun, but also can kind of slow down the whole process (and career).  When I arrived in Boston, I'd been away from Denver for 3 years, which had been an important theatrical home for me.  I'd written a novel (which wasn't published until 2006) and found an agent for a non-fiction book, semi-memoir about race in America.  I was still working in theatre and trying to work in film, but most of my energy had been spent on books, though I was researching for a play on illiam Tyndale and the creation of the English Bible (starting the germ of a play that has ended up becoming Fire on Earth, ten years later).

Now that the kids are older and both in school, despite a zillion other obligations, I feel like my writing pace is getting closer to what I'd like it to be.  I'm happiest when I feel like I'm being productive and both starting and finishing projects that are reaching audiences.  It's been a good ten years here, a productive decade.  I'm confident the next one will be just as fruitful, or more so.

(next:  Ten Year in Boston, productions and publications--has Boston been a good spot for my career?)

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