(This blog pertains to events that occurred in late 2007/early 2008.)
In late 2007, my son Brian sat me down and had a short yet very important discussion with me. He told me, “Mom, you’re a writer. And writers, write.” That was something I had not done in years. During the deepest time within my years of depression, I stopped writing. While many professionals suggest journaling as great way to deal with stress and serious health issues, I could barely string two words together in a sentence. I kept a few journals but they were sporadic and quite limited in information. Plus, I rarely wrote in the books. When I did, my words made very little sense. Most of the words were just put down in some random order -- nothing logical and certainly nothing worthy of any mention. If I read what I had written, I barely understood what I had put down. There was no logic; my writings were those of a “mad woman” riddled with pain and living in a world of heavy drugs to ease that pain.
Brian helped me apply for a literature grant with United Arts of Central Florida. That process was far from easy, however, so Brian assisted through every step. He explained how I would apply for the grant and told me I may not get it. But, he still wanted me to pursue it, and to do the project regardless of whether I received the grant or not. This was simply a vehicle to get me started. Filling out the application was difficult for me. Remember, my brain was still foggy. I could not fully comprehend every question asked on the forms, so Brian was there to explain. I wrote the entire application myself, but Brian was on hand to guide me -- to make sure I answered every question and to ensure I stated my reasons for wanting the grant, etc. in a logical manner. And, when it was time to state my case before the panel -- the adjudication process, I was absolutely terrified.
I stood there before a panel of three professionals -- all highly respected members of the arts community in Orlando. One of the panelists was a theater professor at the community college where Brian and Adrienne had taken classes. I knew this individual; he was a well trained actor, director and playwright. How in the world did I expect to convince him that I, Marilyn Wattman-Feldman, could write a play? That’s right! I had decided to write a play, that was my grant request. I was asking for money to help me write a play and take that play to a pubic play-reading -- all within a 12 month period of time.
Even a trained professional would have challenges with this project, let alone someone who had never written a play. Oh, I did a short script during a college creative writing class. That was the total sum of my play-writing experience. And, I was the mother of two talented thespians. Plus, I had actually judged play-writing at the local/district level of Thespian competitions during my daughter’s high school years and time with Lake Howell’s Theater company and membership in Thespian troupe 4937. As a writer, I had been asked (last minute) to help with judging one year and the second year, I had actually been asked back to judge again. Much to my surprise. But, to actually write a play myself. Who in the world did I think I was?
As I stood there, before this trio of real pros, I realized I had no idea why they should award me this grant. Why should they give me the money to do this project? After all, I was really clueless. But, I had to convince them otherwise, or so I was told by Brian. Again, he was there to get me through this ordeal. And, he reminded me, it did not matter if I got it or not. At least, I tried. That, he told me, was a big step in the right direction. So, based on that, I stood before them and attempted to answer their questions.