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FEEDBACK FRENZY: Waiting for other peoples’ opinions!


Susan RubinI write something new. I am alone with it. I look at it at 4 PM and consider it my Best Work Ever. I take a break, and come back to the exact same work at 9 PM and decide that I will never write again!

In this strange vacuum where only I have looked at the new piece, I am looking into a fun house mirror. It is easy to see things in a distorted way because – at least I think this is the reason – nobody but me has weighed in, and perhaps this time I really have written embarrassing drivel.

The first person I show something to is always my life partner, because no matter what, he knows that I am standing and shaking as he reads the material. Waiting for the first hint of what I’ve really created. And I know, that he will find some value in it, because he values me as a writer, and he knows PROCESS is everything, and writing is re-writing.

So I get my first hit of reassurance from him. And I bask in it. Walk around breathing easily. Wow. I am on to a new project and somebody has said it’s amazing. Needs work, but it’s amazing. Wow.

Next I go back to the work and feel the twin pillars of Hope and Despair. Maybe my life partner (Charlie) is just being nice. Maybe I’ve really written a piece of crap and he has no words with which he can express this to me. On to Stage Two.

I have worked for several blissful years with a director/dramaturg who I trust, admire, and yearn to get notes from. I will send it to him now, in the second stage of wanting to know if I should continue writing, or take up another art form!

My collaborator will not hold back on his critique, but he will also not tell me it’s time to get a new pair of tap shoes and try my Time Step instead of writing any more.

What he will do is mirror back to me what he thinks I am trying to accomplish, and how well I am doing that. There is a certain comfort in his notes, even when they feel overwhelming, because I know if I follow his feedback, the play will get better. I know this.

Two weeks ago he read the first fragment of the first draft. He had insightful fascinating ideas for me. He told me I could NOT do some of what I was trying to do. But within that, he said some incredible things about the early work.

I could breathe, I could smile, I ate a lot of French fries and felt that was the right thing to do.

I don’t wish any longer for MY opinion to be the only one that counts. I know that plays are a communicative art form. And I need to know if I am communicating. I do wish that the highs and lows that come from waiting for and receiving other peoples’ comments, were not the height of Mount Everest. Maybe some day.


About Susan Rubin

I am primarily a playwright. My work’s been performed in Cuba, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and New York. The World Premiere of my newest play, “eve2” opens at LA’s Bootleg Theatre in July, 2013. It’s a surreal take on Eve and Adam, only this time, Eve gets a second bite at the apple! I write documentaries on subjects from women's reproductive rights, to the rise of the radical right wing, to violence against women. The documentaries tell brutal truths; they are balanced for me by my plays that are comedic, magical, musical and surreal. Telling stories with a different voice. I write for Ms Blog - part of Ms Magazine, founded by Gloria Steinem, and currently the longest existing feminist magazine in the US. Blogs let me talk to a large audience about difficult issues with irony and humor. Six of my Ms blogs are now a web series, “Vagina Dialogues” on Funny or Die.