Thirty-one plays in 31 days, that's how many dramatic works of art playwright and Northwest Missouri State University theater Professor Amanda Petefish-Schrag pledged to write during the month of August.
In the end, Petefish-Schrag was one of only about 100 playwrights — out of hundreds who made a similar commitment by entering an international contest — to reach the goal.
Even better, one of her plays, "Sunday in the Park with Carla," was selected for publication in an anthology being compiled by the contest's organizers.
"I wanted to challenge myself just because it sounded really hard," Petefish-Schrag said. "It's something that I ask my students to do, and I need to put my money where my mouth is.
"An idea is not worth anything in your head. They are worth nothing until they are put on paper. At the end of the day, I just really wanted to see if I could do it."
The anthology is being put together by a California-based center for playwrights. Petefish-Schrag's contribution is about a young man and woman who find each other while seeking solitude.
So many people writing so much over such a short period turned out to be a much more involved undertaking than anyone had planned on, Petefish-Schrag said.
"Really quickly it became bigger than they thought it would be," she said. "It really makes you feel like you are part of something much bigger than yourself or your work."
Petefish-Schrag said what she enjoyed most about the project was that it encouraged so much "raw writing." There were no length limits and no restrictions on content.
"Being in the academic world, you get so caught up in the final product," she said. "You get so stymied in the initial process that you lose sight of the creative process."
Petefish-Schrag admits that many of the plays written for the project, including several of hers, probably won't ever amount to much. But she does plan to expand and refine a number of the pieces, including "Sunday in the Park with Carla."
"I'm really thrilled and honored that one of plays was chosen for the anthology," Petefish-Schrag said. "But the greatest thing is that it was a terrific way to get people writing."
For Petefish-Schrag, creating new plays is a matter of continual editing and revising — of always trying to make the work better.
"It is a constant process. There is that part of you that isn't satisfied with what you have," she said. "Everything you do is always a work in progress."