The Young Dramatists Issue 1
Aleshea Harris: Dear Writer

Inspired by Maria Popova’s beautiful book The Velocity of Being, we’ve scattered letters of encouragement from some of your peers across the country. We hope their words bolster you through your drafts, readings, productions, and reviews.

Aleshea Harris

Dear Writer,

I experienced a difficult adolescence and young adulthood and found myself transient. A high school friend’s living room couch, the day room of a dorm, hotel rooms…these are some of the places I dwelled, feeling all the while that I didn’t belong anywhere. It was very difficult to manage coming of age without a sense of place.

I began writing plays at this juncture because it was the only way I could place my feet on the ground. A lot of my focus as a young writer was on making stories filled with characters who understood what I was going through, who were beautiful and complicated and worthy, despite their obstacles.

Playwriting remains the harbor I can return to in the midst of life’s chaos. Through writing, I create counter-narratives that save me and (hopefully) a few others. My practice was and is my home. It is where I put my feet, flex my muscles, and talk back to the chaos. Though my plays have evolved, they continue to center on people feeling as I did as a younger person: displaced, unloved, and deeply wronged. But through the narrative I try and give them what younger Aleshea did not have: a sense of power and the ability to reclaim.

My advice to you is to find joy in the journey of being a writer. There is no destination. I don’t believe one ever “arrives.” I think that as makers, we continue to use those difficult parts of our lives to soften the road for someone else. It is challenging but if you’ve decided that you are a writer, you understand that it is worth it.

Remember that someone you’ve never met is waiting to hear from you by way of what you’re crafting.

Be brave.

Sending light,

Aleshea Harris
Aleshea Harris

’s Is God Is won the 2016 Relentless Award, OBIE for playwriting, and Helen Merrill Playwriting Award. What to Send Up When It Goes Down had its critically-acclaimed NYC premiere in 2018, was featured in American Theatre magazine’s April ‘19 issue, and is currently on tour.