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  • Sue Schleifer

When will this be done?


Last weekend I decided to make crawfish etouffee for the first time. The recipe called for making a roux. I stirred and stirred and stirred that pot. I asked myself, “when will this be done?” My husband is in the midst of grading final essay exams and term papers. He too is asking, “when will I be done?”

In both of these instances, an actual “done time” comes to pass. The roux turns a sufficient brown, or I get tired of stirring and say it is done enough. For Mark, he has a finite number of papers and exams to grade and a deadline for turning in his grades.

It got me thinking about how there are some things that don’t have an end, or it is not so clear when we have reached the end. I had a Zoom meeting a couple of weeks ago with a theatre professional who read my second play, “What Matters,” asked me questions about it, and gave me comments. When I ended the Zoom call, I was discouraged. I told my husband that I was going to put that play to rest for now and maybe forever.

I was able to move on because I was looking forward to working more on my third play with a Zoom play-writing group I had recently joined. I was just waiting to hear back from the book’s author for permission to continue with the project, an adaptation of his book. On Friday, I finally received an email from the author. He told me that the book was under contract for subsidiary rights for at least two years, so he couldn’t give me permission to proceed. More disappointment.

The following Monday was my first opportunity to submit ten pages to the play-writing group for reading out loud and feedback. Now what was I going to share? I pouted for a half day and then on Saturday I went back to work on “What Matters,” incorporating a few of the comments that I’d heard from the recent (critical) reader and other ideas I’d been thinking about. So despite the fact that I have already written several drafts, added and deleted characters, eliminated and added scenes and changed the ending, I had to accept that more work was necessary.

This was a helpful lesson. I could keep going even though I was discouraged and disappointed. If I hadn’t been part of the play-writing group I might have stayed in my slump. Sometimes it takes a small community to help us get through a rough patch, even if that community isn’t aware that is what they are doing.