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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dear Applicant

A friend whose book is making the rounds of publishers wrote today with rejection anxiety. Lacking any original wisdom about how to handle either the anxiety or the rejection, despite such a wealth of experience with both, I turned (as usual), to e.e. cummings but also to Larry Kramer, who was generous enough to include this passage in introducing The Destiny of Me:
Like me by the men in my life, my play had first to have its own history of rejections: by the Public Theater (both Joe Papp and JoAnne Akalaitis), Manhattan Theatre Club, Lincoln Center, Playwrights Horizons (both André Bishop and Don Scardino), American Place Theater, Second Stage, Long Wharf in New Haven, Hartford Stage, Yale Rep (both Lloyd Richards and Stan Wojewodski, Jr.), South Coast Rep in California, the Goodman and Steppenwolf in Chicago, and Circle in the Square on Broadway.

I list these not to either tempt fate (oh, the nightmare possibility of those reviews that begin, "The numerous theaters that turned down Larry Kramer's new play were wise indeed...") or flaunt my rejections (The Normal Heart, Faggots, and my screenplay for Women in Love were originally turned down by even larger numbers), but to offer this thought to other writers, and to the little child inside that one talks to: almost more than talent you need tenacity, and an infinite capacity for rejection if you are to succeed. I still don't know where you get these even after writing this play to try to find the answer.
As for E. E. CUMMINGS (as his name is given in the collected poems of 1954), below is the dedication to the volume of poems whose title page is found above:


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