Some Time

I find myself with half an hour or so before I have other things to do, and I realize that I am taking a piece of good news very badly. Now, I am not going to be able to disguise this enough should I begin to speak about it specifically, and disguising it is something I should do, so I will just have to ask a related question.

Why is it that some people, regardless of their staggering lack of competence and obvious blind ambition, seem to be able to trip their way up the food chain, whereas other people of enormous talent and at least medium drive seem to spend so much of their time completely stalled? It really seems painfully unfair, the kind of unfairness that requires and explanation.

Of the latter group I have only this to say: It should be hard to be successful. It should be enormously hard. Doctors have to study for years and years, hours every day, sleepless nights, thousands of patients, millions of intensely studious minutes before they are allowed to treat people, and that is a science where the answers are somewhat clear. As an artist, you are saddled with the responsibility of expressing the inexpressible, of soothing the savage breast, of being the food of love, and it should be extremely difficult.

Songwriters and actors should be one in a million, not a dime a dozen, and the glut in our market of purveyors is unfortunate because it allows complacency among the above average. If you get on stage and make it through your set without forgetting a whole song, then you’ve won the day, and the same is true if you remember all youor lines. Maybe if people weren’t so damn impressed that we remember our lines, we would demand more of ourselves.

So ask yourself if you have worked as hard as a doctor has worked since he graduated high school. If you have, and you aren’t successful, then, seriously, quit, because you obviously have no talent at all. My guess is that if you get an hour a day writing in, you feel pretty good, if you can write two songs a week, you feel great and if you are off book before tech starts you feel ahead of the curve.

I know for myself that I have never worked as hard as I need to. There are five or six phone calls, just phone calls, that I should make that will help my career, and I’m not making them. So, don’t think I’m accusing you of anything that I don’t hold myself responsible for. If you tell me you want me to produce your play, but then you don’t keep writing me and reminding me, it’s really your fault, not mine, that your play won’t be produced.

But, allowing for the fact that it should be difficult, why do I hear about performances of plays either starring, produced or written by people who are really bad at their jobs? My friends Dan, John and Anthony are all three *amazing* directors. So why are so many bad directors working? I understand, they hustle, they have connections, they’re handsome, some other bullshit (all of which I don’t believe too deeply) but how is it that they *keep* working?

I have worked with a lot of people in New York on a lot of different projects, and I am proud of almost all of it, even the stuff that wasn’t all that good. There is one project that I was barely attached to and the guy who was in charge of it was, hands down, the worst person I’ve ever worked with. And he is now enjoying a sort of success. He’s unpleasant and untalented.

You don’t have any answers, and there’s no higher power to ask. Maybe it’s absurd, on September 10, to ask why some things happen to some people, but the question isn’t so much, “why is cruelty dealt out unevenly” but more, “why is financial success in the arts so heart breakingly arbitrary?”