“When you do your work with love, the work itself rewards you.”
One morning while watching the Muppets with Alex, a guest came out with this wonderful comment. What a powerful message to give kids about work — and what an inspiring mantra for us as writers. I couldn’t help but recall these words of wisdom when I saw a story called, “A Playwright Who Infused Striving Losers With Love.” The story, written by Ben Brantley of the New York Times, was about Lanford Wilson. Wilson is best known for his play The Hot l Baltimore, which brought together an appealing group of down-on-their luck oddballs and let them bounce off each other.
Here’s what Ben says about Lanford’s work: “…what was, and remains, wonderful about The Hot l Baltimore: its creator’s immense love for every one of his wounded characters. And not just love but admiration for the human urge to persist, to go wild, to keep dancing, even when the music has stopped.” He goes on to observe that the “empathy and respect” that the play radiates is “highly seductive” — so much so that he could feel the actors performing it “reveling in its warmth.”
Love, admiration, empathy, and respect. What wonderful qualities for a writer to bring to his or her work! How satisfying an experience for both performers and an audience to bask in their reflected glow! Think of amazing plays like The Glass Menagerie — and the enormous compassion that seems to surround their broken, life-tossed characters. It’s this ability to look boldly, yet lovingly, at frailty, loss, disappointment, and pain that makes these plays so enduring.
Here’s something worth thinking about: Are we laboring with love?