"However, this is what I believe, with all due respect to my peers:
our general laziness,
inability to commit,
lack of talent,
and unwillingness to truly listen and change—
are the real reasons we—the “emerging” playwright—fail."
I love the "with all due respect" line. That makes it more respectful.
I actually find the post, to say the least, ham-fisted and frustrating.
Smart takes the stance that writers who complain about the obstacles they face should hold up a mirror to their own failings. Fair enough, I guess. I'd agree that talent and elbow grease are key components to a successful career, as well as a certain mental toughness. I'd also agree that in the social world of playwrights (such as it is) talent can often be the elephant in the room. It's a messy and subjective and weird and lends itself to tactlessness. People don't like to talk about it.
The essay, though, ignores the very real class issues involved in, oh, every aspect of American life. Smart also overplays the provocateur. Referring to his list as the "real reasons" implies that other, systemic complains are imaginary, excuses. He is saying that writers who do not submit to criticism easily, who protect their work too closely, who don't "fix" their plays, or whatever else...are artistically failing and it translates into failure professionally. It is, in short, a reassertion of the idea of a meritocracy.
Frankly, I don't see why there cannot be both lazy writers (I'm sure there are, but most of the one's I've met work pretty hard) and systemic roadblocks. I don't see why these notions need to compete with each other. One is no less real than the other. The work habits of individual writers seems to be an entirely different issue than whether or not racism or commercialism can frustrate people.
I imagine, reading this essay, that Smart has had long nights of merciless editing and on those nights, he feels a lack of sympathy for those recite a litany of external torments for their lack of success. He seems more intent on blowing off steam than constructing a careful argument. (What, for example, does the label "emerging" have to do with a willingness to be a ruthless editor of one's own work? Is he really intending to say that people who complain about racism should just work harder? Really?) I wonder if the real issue here is just tone. If he'd said "sure there are systemic problems, but you can also get in your own way if you don't look in the mirror," I think I'd object less. Regardless, give it a read. Love to hear what you think.