(photo credits: Pete Miesner)
I came off the high from this weekend thinking life was pretty good. I had feared my play written for That 24 Hour Thing would be a total disaster at the San Diego International Fringe Festival (I had 24 hours to write it, after all), and was thrilled when I saw that the script I was sure was complete and total refuse was taken by the brave and insane director and actors who signed up to participate in such a crazy venture and was elevated to a really wonderful comic piece that I could be proud of last night.
Let's just say a wonderful trip to Ghirardelli felt well deserved afterwards.
Imagine my surprise when, after picking up my kiddos upon arriving home from the Portland, Oregon airport, my phone buzzed to let me know that I had received an email. All I saw when I glanced at my phone was the two line preview with the sender's name and subject line:
Cheryl Coons - CONGRATULATIONS - Your song "First Impression" was...
- and I was up out of my chair, cheering and jumping around my house with my bewildered children trying to piece together what in the world was going on. "What?" they asked. "What?!" I came to a stop and crumpled to the floor in my kitchen, crying and laughing simultaneously. "What is happening?! Mom?!!" they persisted.
You see, this whole journey has been insane. It has been exactly 1.5 years since I decided to devote myself to a career writing for the musical theatre stage. I have been writing songs ever since I was able to hum a tune, and I had dreams to write for the theatre for just as long, but the practical voice (along with other unwelcome mental intruders) had, until 1.5 years ago, been very successful at keeping my efforts firmly seated in the "hobby" category while I pursued other noble endeavors like scrubbing toilets and working up the nerve to leave an abusive marriage.
Once I found myself a single mother, unable to provide for myself, I knew going back to school was not optional. I chose to continue where I had left off, seeking to add an English Bachelor's degree to my Associate's one.
It felt awful. Not right. Practical, but stupid wrong for me.
January 24, 2018 I had a true come-to-Jesus moment where heaven and I grappled for a bit over just exactly what it was that I was supposed to be doing in this life. And by grapple, I mean I asked one question - What is it that I am really supposed to be doing with my life? - and the answer I received - Holly, you have always f'ing known what you are supposed to be doing - was so strong and so clear that I immediately marched downstairs from the student lounge at Marylhurst University where said (internal) conversation had been occurring and changed my major from English to Interdisciplinary Studies. On the line that asked me to declare my concentration(s), I boldly wrote: Musical Theatre Writing.
Three days later I had been messaging a dear friend who was in New York City at the time. Our conversation sparked a song idea, which I wrote in a matter of hours. As it was my son's birthday, I quickly recorded as far as I had gotten, posted it to facebook, and set about baking a cake and focusing on my family, figuring maybe twenty of my friends would say "Oh, good job. Virtual pat."
The next morning it already had around 3k views. I was floored. It wasn't about being like "Ta-da-ta-dum, ME" as I watched the number steadily climb, it was about a nudge from the Big Guy Upstairs saying, "See? People like what you can do. Keep going."
And I have. I have kept going. Writing musicals and plays is what I live for, what brings me so much joy, apart from this amazing picture of freaking brilliance:
(photo credit: David Abrams, Facebook)
It's the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about when I go to sleep - writing, writing, writing, what's next, what's next, what's next...
I have had some wonderful opportunities in this very short time that I've been giving this my all, and the chance to have my work highlighted at the Dramatists Guild 2018 National Conference Songwriters' Showcase this month in New York City is so very incredible. I have Imposter Syndrome super, super bad right now, but I keep reminding myself that of the hundreds of songs they chose, mine is one of them, and I am fairly sure that they know what they are doing...but it is still so surreal and I hope I can live up to this incredible privilege.
Thank you, Dramatists Guild and ASCAP for believing in me.
And to my beloved, awesome children - for all the times you've peed on me,
I think we're even.