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Welcome
John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

Franny and Zooey


Franny and Zooey
[extract]

Zooey put a hand on each side of the washbowl and leaned his chest forward a trifle, his eyes on the general background of enamel. For all his slightness of body, he looked at that moment ready and able to push the washbowl straight through the floor. “The Four Great Vows,” he said, and, with rancor, closed his eyes. “However innumerable beings are, I vow to save them; however inexhaustible the passions are, I vow to extinguish them; however immeasurable the Dharmas are, I vow to master them; however incomparable the Buddha-truth is, I vow to attain it.’ Yay, team. I know I can do it. Just put me in, coach.” His eyes stayed closed. “My God, I’ve been mumbling that under my breath three meals a day every day of my life since I was ten. I can’t eat unless I say it. I tried skipping it once when I was having a lunch with Le Sage. I gagged on a goddam cherrystone clam, doing it.” He opened his eyes, frowned, but kept his peculiar stance. “How ‘bout getting out of here, now, Bessie?” he said. “I mean it. Lemme finish my goddam ablutions in peace, please.” His eyes closed again, and he appeared ready to have another try at pushing the washbowl through the floor. Even though his head was slightly down, a considerable amount of blood had flowed out of his face.
“I wish you’d get married,” Mrs. Glass said, abruptly, wistfully.
Everyone in the Glass family-Zooey certainly not last was familiar with this sort of non-sequitur from Mrs. Glass. It bloomed best, most sublimely, in the middle of an emotional [240] flareup of just this kind. This time, it caught Zooey very much off guard, however. He gave an explosive sound, mostly through the nose, of either laughter or the opposite of laughter. Mrs. Glass quickly and anxiously leaned forward to see which it was. It was laughter, more or less, and she sat back, relieved. “Well, I do,” she insisted. “Why don’t you?”
Relaxing his stance, Zooey took a folded linen handkerchief from his hip pocket, flipped it open, then used it to blow his nose once, twice, three times. He put away the handkerchief, saying, “I like to ride in trains too much. You never get to sit next to the window any more when you’re married.”
“That’s no reason!”
“It’s a perfect reason. Go away, Bessie. Leave me in peace in here. Why don’t you go for a nice elevator ride? You’re going to burn your fingers, incidentally, if you don’t put out that goddam cigarette.”

J. D. Salinger.



Aged Out: Foster kids getting through college


Fostering Lions program to support foster youths on Penn State's campus
According to the National Foster Youth Institute, about half of children raised in the foster care system finish high school. Additionally, less than 3 percent graduate from a four-year college.
To combat this issue, the Fostering Lions program launched at Penn State in the fall of 2018 with the intent of supporting foster youth at the university. Although the program is in its beginning stages, its goal is to operate fully at Penn State’s 20 campuses.
The program focuses on four key areas — financial aid, academic and career planning, social and emotional support, and logistics.
For many foster youths, the biggest roadblock when it comes to getting higher education is financial aid. Many students don’t have the necessary information to navigate grants, scholarships and other financial resources.
One of Fostering Lions’ main priorities is to help students utilize these resources so they can obtain their degree and have a positive college experience.
Cheri McConnell, the program coach for Fostering Lions, works with each of the students individually to ensure their success, well-being and comfort on campus.
“This program is not only just navigating Penn State and its resources,” McConnell said, “it’s also working with their independent living coordinators, being a contact for their foster families, and being a liaison to their guardian ad litem which is the attorney that every foster youth gets assigned.”
The program runs a monthly seminar series, in which someone from campus talks to students about topics ranging from financial literacy to student conduct to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). These seminars and other Fostering Lions events always provide meals to the students involved, as food insecurity can be a large issue for foster youth attending college.
In addition to the seminars, there are social events planned each semester where students get to leave campus and socialize with each other.
Students are also highly encouraged to meet with McConnell on a monthly basis — however, they can meet with her as many times as they desire. A pivotal part of the program is being a figure that these students can trust and confide in.
“Lunch will be provided. [At the meetings] I’ll ask them, ‘Do you have your schedule? Are you seeing your advisor? Are you having trouble in any of your classes and need tutoring?’” McConnell said. “’And how are you doing? Do you have laundry detergent to wash your clothes and shampoo to wash your hair?’”
McConnell’s office includes a plethora of snacks and toiletries available for students who need them. She emphasized that these students don’t always have a support system to help supply them with basic necessities, so part of her job is filling that role.
“Some students might not go to class because they’re lazy or they don’t want to, but I could potentially have a student not going to class because they don’t have clean clothes,” McConnell said.
Lucy Johnston-Walsh, an attorney that represents foster youth, has been involved with the program prior to its establishment. Through her litigation work, she’s seen firsthand the struggles these students face while transitioning to life in college.
“I’ve been really impressed with how small obstacles can really interfere with a student’s ability to remain in college,” Johnston-Walsh said. “One issue is that foster kids don’t always have a place to go during semester breaks. Through Fostering Lions, they could make connections and the dorms may be able to stay open for them like they do for other students, such as athletes or international students.”
Aqaveon Jackson is a student with experience in the foster care system and a part of the Fostering Lions program. His experience in the program has helped him with his financial aid. Specifically, Pennsylvania’s Chafee Education and Training Program offers federal grants for college students coming out of the foster care system.
“The Chafee came out and there was an issue with it because I was from a different county, so we talked about it and she told me she would help figure out the issues and she did,” Jackson (freshman- criminology and psychology) said. “Cheri has been so helpful for all of us that have been in or currently are in the foster care system. In this process she’s helped us so much and has always been there for us.”
According to McConnell, during the 2018-19 academic year, financial aid verified that 50 Penn State students were foster youth. This number, however, only shows students who correctly filled out the FAFSA and labeled themselves as foster youth.
On a campus with more than 40,000 students, it’s important to recognize that foster youth are among the student body and want the same from their Penn State experience as do their peers.
“They are kids just like you, with the same interests and needs and desire to obtain an education. They just, unfortunately, face many more obstacles in their life than most kids and they have come from traumatic backgrounds,” Johnston-Walsh said. “Just because they’ve had a difficult background doesn’t mean they’re that different. They just need a little more support along the way.”

If I had my life to live over again, I would have



"If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week." Charles Darwin



Jack Kerouac’s Naval Reserve Enlistment Mugshot, 1943.


The bottoms of my shoes

The bottoms of my shoes 
     are clean 
From walking in the rain

Writers aren't exactly people...........


Getting ready for winter


Greetings NYCPlaywrights



*** FREE THEATER IN NYC ***

Monday, Sept. 23, at 7pm
Free reading of 'The Distance' by Ken Jaworowski 

A thief plots her next heist. A young man forges an unlikely friendship. A woman fights to keep an impossible promise. And a retiree sets out on the longest journey of his life in "The Distance," a new comedic drama by Ken Jaworowski, directed by Laura Hirschberg and featuring Katie Braden, Jeff Paul, Ben Sumrall and Jill Melanie Wirth.

This free reading is on Monday, Sept. 23, at 7pm. It is being staged at ART-NY, 3rd Floor, 520 Eighth Avenue (between 36th and 37th). Running time: 70 minutes. Reservations are recommended. Make one here: 



*** BYLINES ~ LITERARY OPPORTUNITIES ~ NO FEES ***

More opportunities that pay at BYLINES

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*** OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLAYWRIGHTS ***

Theatre Southwest 15th Annual Reader's Theatre
Approximately 8-12 selected plays will be read and voted on by the attending audience. One $100 prize will be awarded to the play voted on as audience favorite.
 • Limit of two entries per playwright of an original work that has not been published or produced.
 • Monologues and one person plays are not accepted.
 • All genres are accepted (light comedies, heavy dramas, thrillers, mystery, sci-fi, satire) with no regard to language or subject matter.
 • All plays should be 5 to 10 minutes long, no exceptions. (If using standard play format a good gauge is 4-11 pages, excluding title page).
 • Plays should be conducive to Reader's Theatre with simple stage directions and a story expressed through dialogue, not action.

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The University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance 10-Minute Play Festival for spring of 2020 is open for submissions.
Nine selected 10-minute plays will receive productions as part of a multi-evening festival, produced in the newly upgraded Jose Quintero Theatre on the University of Houston campus. This festival is open to all applicants, amateur or professional. One selected submission will receive a productions.

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The «Neem-2019» award was created to support and identify underground dramatic waters.
The author of the play-winner will receive a cash prize: 2000 rubles. ($30USD)
The best plays will be staged in the format of reading, sketching or performance by Performance-troupe «Vibrating body».

*** FOR MORE INFORMATION about these and other opportunities see the web site at https://www.nycplaywrights.org ***


*** TIPS FOR PLAYWRIGHTS ***

“Keep writing. Find people you want to work with who inspire you. Keep asking questions, keep pushing yourself. Stay curious. The world is big and strange and wondrous. Explore. And as you do, try to be kind to yourself and to others. Also, be patient. Writing is a lifelong process. There will be times of great motion and times of stillness. My son plays baseball, and there is a fair share of failure. He’s learning that lesson and it’s a hard lesson. But he’s also learning what it feels like to hit a triple or turn a great double play. Most of all, he’s learning the sublime rhythm and beauty of the game, he’s learning about all the greats who played the game before him, and the privilege of being part of that tradition. I think baseball and playwriting are not so different from one another.”
—Naomi Iizuka

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1. Test your work before an audience—and embrace failure.
“I was very lucky as a young man because I had my own theatre company from the age of about 21, and I just put up plays all the time. So you have the best ideas in the world, you put them on, and they fall flat. And, because that was and is my love—writing drama, staging drama, understanding it—I had to come back and say, ‘Why did that not work?’ It’s basically an ongoing exposure. The playwright begins to associate the joy of writing a long, beautiful scene with the humiliation of seeing the audience go to sleep in the beginning of it. He weens himself of the impulse [to write a scene like that] little by little. It never goes away completely. Everybody has an urge to entertain an audience if they’re writing drama—I hope they do—but the other urge, to have the horror of boring the audience, can only be inculcated by putting on a play for an audience and watching it fail.”

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Ok first of all, rewriting is hard. Are you rewriting right now? I feel ya. I’m rewriting this article and like every other time I revise, it’s definitely hard work. There are times I’m great at it, and there are more times where I realize I have a lot to learn. But over the years I’ve acquired some rewriting tools that have served me well, and I’m very happy to share.

The tips below are the things I remind myself when I’m feeling stuck. They are by no means exhaustive, and I encourage you to use what works and throw out the rest. But above all remember – you have a play that wants you, and that’s special and worth working hard for.

1. File it and start over.

Usually when I read articles about rewriting, this part comes up sooner or later. I stand by it so wholeheartedly that we’re going to start right there. There is no shame, no loss, no downside whatsoever in beginning anew.

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The Top 3 Clichéd Writing Tips (and Why They’re Misleading)
   
Before beginning my writing journey, I often had a romanticized version of what life as a writer would involve. My experience was limited. Most of my playwriting knowledge came from researching YouTube videos of already-successful playwrights offering “tips,” and cultural adages that, when applied in practice, miss the mark. It’s often tricky for successful playwrights to explain their process in a way that offers tangible educational value, though I’ve found their advice more specific and (sporadically) useful than the platitudes that have entered permeated the cultural psyche. As a new playwright, you may have come across many of these clichés yourself and integrated them into your own work. “Surely these phrases—which have become wildly commonplace—must have value!” you say in great distress. To which I would actually agree… to a point.

Your First Draft Doesn’t Have to be Perfect… It Just Has to Exist!

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If you’re new to playwriting, try using a downloaded play script format template, or copying the layout from a published play script. Page to Stage won’t discount submissions that deviate from the industry norm, but using standard formatting will help the judges to appreciate how the play works, the actors to understand what they’re doing, and you to avoid such pitfalls as, for instance, succumbing to the temptation to overindulge in stage directions. On which note:
Your stage directions shouldn’t take up more of your script than your dialogue does. (If they need to, because the dialogue won’t make sense without a ton of supporting explanation, then your play may not be perfectly suited to the performance venue.)

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...Paradoxically, when years later I finally decided to write a comedy as such, I had no idea how to begin. The funny had come to me unconsciously, and dragging it into the conscious self took some study. I read plays, I watched TV shows, I diagrammed jokes. And while I’ll never be a true comedy writer—I’m most natural with the serio-comic—I learned quite a bit. So if you’re like me and want to articulate your funny bone but don’t quite know how, here are three principles to get you started.

SELF-DELUSION

Comedy is often found in the gap between how a character perceives himself and how we perceive him. For example, consider Valere in David Hirson’s La Bete. He is a buffoon who believes himself to be an inspired playwright, much to the chagrin of the acting troupe who’s stuck with him. He’s a close cousin to Corky St. Clair in Christopher Guest’s Waiting for Guffman. Both of these men believe they possess theatrical genius, but this is nonsense, and we know it...

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You have to keep the audience interested

The way an audience receives a play is very different from other art forms. If you’re reading a novel, maybe you’ll read forty pages on the first day; the next day you have a domestic crisis so you won’t read anything; the day after that you may read a hundred pages; the day after that you read about five pages before falling asleep; and the next day you’ll get completely gripped and finish the book. Essentially, you choose when it all happens. Or imagine you’re in an art gallery, and you see a sculpture: you can spend half an hour examining it, you can spend ten seconds, but it’s your choice. In the theatre, however, as an audience member, if you’ve lost attention and dropped out at some point, then the show has gone on without you: there’s no rewind button; you can’t go back. A play happens live, in real time – that is the basic condition of writing for theatre – and as a playwright you have to learn to deal with that.

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Read and see lots of plays and when you love or hate something, pay attention to that and really investigate why. Learn about different aspects of theatre like acting and design, so that you understand what you’re asking for in your stage directions. Finally, write plays that you would be excited to see.

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and sometimes the good guys win............


It started off as a rough week for writing. I put out a book that had been serialized on the internet about organized crime in Connecticut. This insane, crazy woman named Anna Maria Ferro didn’t like what I wrote about her boyfriend, a mob guy named Grasso that was so crazy his own men killed.  She followed me around the net taking cheap shops, which I don’t really care about but then she wrote two nasty reviews for the book on Amazon.
I work hard on these books, hours and hours and hours researching and writing. I get upset and stay upset over these cheap shot cowardly remarks. I least I use my own name when I write.
Anyway, about two weeks ago, I gave two of my books, “No Time to Say Goodbye” and “Short Stories from a Small Town”,  to the gardener who gave them to his father.   This evening the father called me and introduced himself. He said, “No Time to Say Goodbye” moved him tears and laughter, “once in a while at the same time”  and that “Short Stories” made him drive back to his hometown that left in 1955 and think about the people he knew there.
He said “You made me happy. I enjoyed what you wrote”
I have been very poor and very rich in my life. I know the value of a dollar. I’m no one’s fool. But if I were given the choice between ten million cash or keeping what he said “You made me happy. I enjoyed what you wrote”
I would take the words every time. They define my efforts. They recognize a superhuman effort. That’s what good writing is. Money comes, money goes. Believe me. But those words are mine forever and ever. You can’t buy that.