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What Exactly Does ‘Early-Career’ Mean?

So, I’m spending my days going through play submission opportunities, and residency opportunities, and development opportunities. And I somehow think that early-career is a good category to describe me. I am, quite literally, early on in my career. But then I start looking at these bios of the playwrights who have received these awards/opportunities/grants, who also self-identify as ‘early-career,’ and I’m thinking, “HOLY HELL, YOUR LIST OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS TAKES UP HALF OF THE FREAKING WEBPAGE, HOW IS THIS STILL CONSIDERED EARLY-CAREER?” How do I stand a chance at all of getting my foot in the door with my handful of short-play productions to date when everyone else appears to be a prodigy?

Does this make me a ‘fledgeling’ playwright, or god forbid, a ‘playwriting enthusiast’?

If you manage to read Outrageous Fortune without crying, then you are my mother who tells me that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. And then gives me a refrigerator magnet that says so, even though my fridge is not magnetic. The truth is, there is so much money out there for ‘early-career’ playwrights, with little to cushion the path towards ‘established.’ So it’s no wonder that these biographies are longer than the phone book. What other opportunities are there?

Then, where does that leave me? Do I have to keep applying to these 1,000-plus application pools in the hopes that I get noticed? Do I take my chances on a young company and risk letting my play lose its “premiere” status?

As much as I love the opportunities to hear from and talk with ‘established’ playwrights and receive advice on how to handle rehearsal rooms and long-term development processes, I really just want to know how on earth I get myself into that rehearsal room to begin with.

Until then, I remain ‘enthusiastically fledgling’ while throwing my plays out into the world like spaghetti on a refrigerator. Here’s hoping something sticks.

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