Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Fate and the Self-Reliant Playwright

The young playwright Neil Simon
Neil Simon — a boy made pathologically self-reliant by his parents’ shaky-as-a-quake marriage — quoted Heraclitus to describe his journey.
“If character is fate, as the Greeks tell us, then it was my character to become a playwright, not my destiny,” Simon observed in his memoir Rewrites. “Destiny seems to be preordained by the gods. Fate comes to those who continue on the path they started on when all other possible roads were closed to them. Fate is both your liability and your hope.
“For a man who wants to be his own master, to depend on no one else, to make life conform to his own visions rather than to follow the blueprints of others, playwriting is the perfect occupation. To sit in a room alone for six or seven or ten hours, sharing the time with characters that you created, is sheer heaven. And if not heaven, it’s at least an escape from hell. After ten years of writing with my brother or with other staff writers, together in one room, screaming for my own voice to be heard, or whispering it to another writer with a voice more commanding than my own, the day I typed the title page of that first play in the unlikely environs of Coldwater Canyon I knew I had found not only the one thing I was certain would make me happy but I also knew I was about to enter the only world in which I could possibly exist.”

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