After my mother died I thought, this is all way too sad and then, what the hell are you waiting for, Betsy? Do your thing. So, I sat down and wrote a play called Pieces of Evelyn. I'd never written a play before. I didn't have an MFA, and not much experience in the theatre. But I felt knocked-up with voices, particularly Evelyn's, along with a host of loud characters, and a story line I knew I could sew together. Anyway, I had no choice; Evelyn wouldn't leave me alone.
It reminds me of when my daughter, Jesse, was in the middle of birthing my grandaughter, Elizabeth. Jesse was red-faced, sweaty, utterly exhausted when she said, "I can't do this anymore, Mom", and leaned her head back on the pillow. I held my girl's hand, looked her in the eye and said, "Sure you can. Besides, sweetheart, you've got no choice. Now, push." And slippery, wet Elizabeth was born with that crazy head of hair.
Pieces of Evelyn arrived kinda like that. The labor took a few months, and wasn't nearly as painful; it was a rush of spilling myself onto the page, setting loose all those voices that had been living in my head for years. Some days I couldn't write fast enough, but I got it done. I birthed Evelyn. And like any mother with a new baby, my first play felt beautiful to me. When I held the finished manuscript in my hands, I was so happy, so tired, so proud; I'd written a play. Who knew?
Pieces of Evelyn went on to be done as a staged reading in 2004. Then, last January, it had a run at the Shawnee Playhouse as the first winner of their Original Playwright Series.
This past Saturday, Pieces of Evelyn won the annual *NEPTA award for best original play. Who knew? I tell you this because, although sometimes I walk around not believing a word I say, this much I do know: it's never too late to become a playwright, or a farmer, or whatever it is that you have a hankering to do. The bottom line is: do your thing.
*Northeastern Pennsylvania Theatrical Alliance