What Was I Supposed to Do?

The life of a playwright is tough. It’s not easy, as some people seem to think. You work hard writing plays, and nobody puts them on. You take up other lines of work to try to make a living – acting, in my case – and people don’t hire you. So you spend your days crossing the city back and forth doing the errands of your trade. Today wasn’t any easier than any other day. I’d had to be up by ten to make some important phone calls, then I’d gone to the stationery store to buy envelopes, and then to the xerox shop. There were dozens of things to do. By five o’clock I’d finally made it to the post office and mailed off several copies of my plays, meanwhile checking constantly with my answering service to see if my agent had called with acting work. In the morning, the mailbox had been stuffed with bills. What was I supposed to do? How was I supposed to pay them? After all, I was doing my best.

—Wallace Shawn, My Dinner with André

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