When I first started to pursue writing seriously, I felt—as a popular Broadway song now goes—on the outside, always looking in. I was creating work but felt like a castaway on a deserted island, trying to build a house out of sticks. Way off on the horizon there seemed to be loads of people building beautiful structures everywhere, a secret club of writers in on exactly what it took to get produced, to be part of a life in the theatre. I was overwhelmed by the vast, unknowable sea between me and them.
Then I met Julia Jordan. Julia was a playwright on those distant shores, with multiple productions and a recent New York Times profile to boot. I was barely out of college with approximately zero credits to my name. So, I was shocked when Julia treated me, instantly and without hesitation, like a peer. She talked about my work, my fears, my struggles and aspirations as if I were no different than her fellow colleagues, or even the legendary writers she seemed to have in her orbit. To Julia, the concerns of a newbie songwriter were as legitimate—and maybe not so different—as those of a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright mounting their umpteenth Broadway show. Suddenly, I felt less stranded on my island. Suddenly, I felt less alone.
Julia suggested I join the Dramatists Guild, and so I did. It quickly became clear that the spirit of togetherness, uplift, and mutual aid that Julia showed me came from her involvement with the Guild. Yes, the Guild does amazing work protecting our authorial rights, improving our contracts, and providing resources for us to be the best, most informed writers we can be. But the foundation of those efforts—the thing that is with me whenever I sit down at the piano, or take that vulnerable step of putting a new piece out into the world—is that we draw strength from being a community. We have different viewpoints, we’re in different places, we operate at different speeds, but collectively, we are all in this together.
Sometimes, I still feel like I’m on my island, building a house of sticks; perhaps that’s the writer’s lot in life, to find oneself stranded, trying to make something out of nothing. But thanks to the Guild, I know I’m never facing that challenge alone.