I have much to be grateful for and am not always the best about expressing it, so here goes.
I have a great family and swell friends. I have a solid relationship with my Savior and my Heavenly Parents. I’ve been blessed with an itch to make things—good things. I almost always have ink on my fingers. I live in a nice home where there is little, if anything, wanting.
I’m thankful for all of these things. However, if I were to point at one blessing being dominant this year—can a blessing be dominant?—that blessing for which I am truly thankful is opportunity. Today I’m pondering the many opportunities that have come my way this year. Be prepared: I may just wax sentimental, and I’m about to list a whole mess of firsts, so I hope you don’t mind that word too much.
First and foremost (What did I tell you?) there is the constant opportunity to see and experience good art. I have been able to attend so much theatre and film. I’ve been touched by an array of amazing performances. Just one was an thrilling, uncut production of my favorite Shakespeare play, As You Like It, done by the RSC in Stratford. I’ve loved that play since first reading it in Mrs. King’s seventh grade English class but I’ve never seen it done quite right. The RSC production blew my mind; it contained all of the innovation and honesty and love that attends thoughtful renditions of Shakespeare.
I also read some fabulous stories and histories. Stories are opportunities!
This summer, for the first time since 2009, I was able to travel. I renewed my passport—check the metaphor—and went back to the UK for the first time in seven years. I rekindled my affair with the Victoria & Albert Museum and started new flings with the Wallace Collection and the Courtauld Gallery. I visited Jane Austen’s cottage in Chawton (more details of the trip to come in future posts, I promise). I stood in the Austen family dining room, gazing at the tiny, octagonal table where Jane spent her days observing her neighbors while writing with a dip pen.
I made my first jaunt to France. Just for a weekend, sure, but goodness—what a weekend. I got lost in the Louvre and was blown away by the d’Orsay (I stepped into the main hall of the d’Orsay moments after buying my ticket and promptly burst into tears). I took a train north to Rouen and sat in a tower room where the prisoner Joan of Arc might well have sat, and I stood within feet of the place where she died. I visited Versailles, and had a lovely chat with a novelist/historian researching Marie Antoinette.
I followed the UVU Study Abroad class to Scotland for my first international premiere: a one-act version of Martyrs’ Crossing performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. I ate fish and chips on the Royal Mile. Climbed to the top of the Scott Monument. Reacquainted myself with Mary, Queen of Scots. Flirted with a guy who also had a show going on at the Fringe. Survived my first haunted cemetery tour.
A number of tricky pieces have fallen into place this year. Several universities and companies are actually seeking out my work, which is great. I received my first commission, which was all kinds of fantastic. I am working on a number of projects—some original, some in collaboration with others—that I’m really excited about. I’ve had great chances to talk about my work, which has been helpful in a lot of ways.
I have met some cool people this year, and every person you know is an opportunity. I’ve been able to hang out with cool artists from a range of fields; some who share my faith, which is cool, and some who don’t, which is just as cool. I’m steadily meeting and engaging with other writers online. I got to see one of my short plays performed by a group of eager and hard-working middle schoolers this fall, which was great fun. Just this week I saw my fifth BYU production cast, and I’m looking forward to spending time with them making the play better in rehearsal. Next year, there are at least three other productions—two at universities out of state, and one at a high school in Salt Lake—where I can meet and make new friends. I have been invited to be part of the Playwrights Lab at Plan-B Theatre Company, to read a play of my own and to witness the work of several fine writers whom I admire. Other production opportunities lurk on the horizon, and I’m ecstatic about all of them.
For the past several months I’ve been working a great part-time gig in the casting office at the LDS Motion Picture Studio. I have so many good friends there, and the job was an incredibly well-timed blessing, helping me make ends meet until a permanent position came along.
And that position has indeed arrived. I will start a shiny new job come December. A grown-up job complete with regular hours and health benefits, not to mention a very tall building and a parking lot. No, it’s not teaching, but it’s writing, and the work will challenge my creativity. I admit that I’m more than a little thrilled at the potential regularity of it. While it’s cool to make your own hours, freelancing is tricksy and hard. I like deadlines; it makes such a difference to have a goal in mind. I like being able to define chunks of my day as work work and theatre work.
Good stuff is coming.
So while I am grateful for many, many blessings, on this Thanksgiving morning I thank God for the bounty that is opportunity.Previous post: Little Karl.