by Lindsay Joy · June 3, 2014
On being a reject:
There are certain things you must know if you are foolish and passionate enough to declare playwriting as your chosen profession. You must know that a big part of your existence will be opening emails and letters that start out, “We regret to inform you…”- it happens, often. Padraic Lillis once told me to just stop reading after that fateful line. His advice was to just ignore it and move on, to keep making good work and that the rest would fall into line. For the most part, I can just move on. I don’t take every little rejection as a blow to my artistic little soul, but some rejections sting harder than others. Sometimes, when you apply for something you want badly, you hang your hat on those hopes. You let yourself get a little drunk on the idea that you are perfect for it, made for it, would be such a great fit for it. “We regret to inform you” hurts a little deeper from those institutions. Those rejections are harder to shake.
A couple of weeks ago, as I drove my friend down to Tennessee, I got the dreaded email. I had been a semi-finalist from Juilliard, and I wasn’t passed onto the finalist round. My interview had gone well. I felt great about the piece I submitted for my portfolio. When I walked those hallways, I felt like I belonged there. I even had this fantasy about getting the security guards at the Juilliard door little Christmas presents, because we would –no doubt- be great chums by the time the holidays rolled around. I also had been holding onto this idea that maybe the universe felt like it owed me one- this past year had been a doozy- and it felt like the tides might be turning in my favor. The truth is- the universe doesn't owe me shit. Juilliard doesn't owe me shit. Sometimes, it just ain't your time, kiddo. Walk it off. Rub some dirt in it- as my old softball coach would say.
Instead of rubbing some dirt into it, I walked into the middle of a field in Tennessee and blubbered like a baby for a half hour solid. Like- hard sobbing complete with snot bubbles and drool. I called my mother, and told her I was a failure. I called my best friend and told him I would just never be good enough for Juilliard. I don't have the right pedigree- is what I told him. A pity party laced with self flagellation ensued. I'm too old. I don't have my MFA. I didn't get that other thing that is like a benchmark before you get this other thing that will get you into this program. I don't know the right people. Blah blah blah- I'll never measure up. Boo-fucking-hoo- New York is so hard.
It is hard. It's fucking hard. You spend a year of your life building this little world. It costs you something- or at least it fucking should cost you something. You let people read it...you let them judge it. You hope that you've written something undeniable. You hope you've written something that lights people up with the same ember that kept you writing and re-writing for all those months. But for every yes, there are many more no's.
I can say that the rejection from my dream program put this opportunity into sharp focus. I might not be traipsing the halls of Juilliard next year, but I will be traveling to three different colleges for three different productions of a play that I'm already proud of. So, suck it, Juilliard. I'll do this my way.