March 18th, 2014 donnahoke



A few weeks ago, I wrote about keeping perspective on your work in the spring months, when we get more than the usual amount of letters about how our work is not quite right for this production or that prize. It’s particularly difficult with the growing number of “rejection by announcement” notifications, the kind where you don’t even find out you weren’t selected until you see someone’s joyful Facebook post announcing that they were. My friend Gwydion Suilebhan, in this fabulous post about surviving this time of year, offers several more great coping tactics, including calling it “acceptance” season. Over the past few weeks, I realize that I have another, and that’s enumerating all the things that playwriting has brought to my life. Everybody’s list will be different, but everybody does indeed have a list, or you wouldn’t be writing in the first place. Here’s mine:


1) I never thought I could write a full-length play, and now I’ve written eight as well as more than two dozen short plays. The ability to do this, and to see improvement with each new work, has done wonders for my creative confidence, which, in turn, strengthens my sense of identity.


2) Creativity fuels my imagination, quells depression, challenges me, and makes me feel alive like nothing else.  I really could end the list right here.


3) I have reached out to people, and they have reached back. The comments I have gotten from audience members remind me that they are the final collaborators, and touching each other is the ultimate “success” in what we do.


4)  Helping my fellow playwrights gives me purpose. Both of my online projects,  Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project and Trade A Play Tuesday, have opened my community even more. And because giving another playwright an opportunity is as good as getting one yourself, I helped found and co-curate BUA Takes Ten: GLBT Short Stories, which serves as a reminder that there is so much more to all this than getting productions.


5) I have met people in-person and virtually who enrich my life daily. These thoughtful, generous, talented, and intelligent people are my community, they understand this life, they know that talking about theater can be as fun as writing it, and they give me a daily sense of belonging, stimulation, hope, and inspiration. Without a single acceptance letter, I still have them.  So thank you, whether or not we’ve ever spoken, for being one of them.


I may think of more things, and if I do, I’ll come back and edit, but these are more than enough to help me through some discouraging moments. What’s on your list?


Until next time,



P.S. It is Tuesday, and Trade A Play Tuesday is in effect. Read all about it here.





Written by donnahoke


Dramatists Guild Council member and ensemble playwright-in-residence at Road Less Traveled Productions, Kilroys List and award-winning playwright Donna Hoke’s work has been seen in 46 states, and on five continents. Her full-length plays include ELEVATOR GIRL (2017 O’Neill finalist), THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR (Princess Grace semi-finalist, currently in its fourth year in rep in Romania), SAFE (winner of the Todd McNerney, Naatak, and Great Gay Play and Musical Contests), and BRILLIANT WORKS OF ART (2016 Kilroys List, Winner HRC Showcase, Firehouse Festival of New American Plays); she’s also authored more than three dozen short plays that have had hundreds of productions, and has been nominated for both the Francesca Primus and Susan Blackburn prizes. She’s also a two-time winner of the Emanuel Fried Award for Best New Play (SEEDS, SONS & LOVERS).

Donna is also a New York Times-published crossword puzzle constructor; author of Neko and the Twiggets, a children’s book; and founder/co-curator of BUA Takes 10: GLBT Short Stories. For three consecutive years, she was named Buffalo’s Best Writer by Artvoice, the only woman to ever receive the designation.

In addition, Donna is a blogger, advocate, and moderator of the 12,000+-member Official Playwrights of Facebook. Recent speaking engagements include Citywrights, Kenyon Playwrights Conference, the Dramatists Guild National Conference, Chicago Dramatists, Austin Film Festival, and a live Dramatists Guild webinar. Her commentary has been read at #2amt, howlround, the Official Playwrights of Facebook, the newly released Workshopping the New Play, and donnahoke.com.

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. 1 Christine Evans said at 11:45 pm on March 19th, 2014:

    Donna, this is great. Thank you!

    And I’d add to what’s already implied in your post–what are ways we can say yes to ourselves and each other? I don’t just mean mentally–I mean through the building of opportunities to create and to work.

    It’s very important, given the numbers and the state of the theatre, that we define what matters and find a way to put it on stage. After all we are WRITERS. It’s up to us to create a vision and share it with people.

    I’m inspired by initiatives like The Welders, the Boston new play companies starting up, and many ways in which playwrights are stepping up as artistic leaders and authors not just of our plays, but our creative destinies.

  2. 2 Sheila Rinear said at 1:05 am on March 27th, 2014:

    Donna, everything I read that you’ve written (plays, blogs, emails) has inspired or motivated me. You tell me things I need to know/remember about why we keep writing and that rejection is part of the package…while ever believing in ourselves as writers. Thank you for being such a gracious pilgrim.

Leave a Reply