I found someone who thinks EXACTLY like I do. Almost as if I put the words right into her heart and mind.

The strangest thing happened. 

I attended a rehearsal for Caught in the Middle, the musical that I wrote more than a year ago for a summer camp. It's being produced by a local theater company and makes it's world premiere on Friday night. 

You should come.

As I'm watching a scene, one of the characters stands, moves to center stage, and begins talking about the nature of teaching. "There are two kinds of teachers..." she begins. Then, after a series of jokes, she speaks lines I don't exactly remember writing, but I can hear myself onstage, I hear someone other than me saying things that I believe with all my heart.

It was like watching a different version of me. Someone with all of my beliefs in a decidedly younger, more female body than mine. 

It makes sense, of course. It's only natural for a musical that I wrote to contain lines that have come from me, but it was surreal to see a person standing in for me onstage, spouting my philosophy. Filling my role. Professing my beliefs with the same conviction - albeit faked - as me. 

Ever since I wrote my first musical - a rock opera entitled The Clowns - a few years ago, there have been few things as thrilling as watching actors speak my words. Even if you've never wanted to write a play or musical before - and I never did and often still don't - I can't recommend it enough. 

Hearing the words that you write in your head is one thing. 

Hearing a professionally trained actor - or in the case of Caught in the Middle - a talented teen actor speak your words is remarkable. 

And if that's not enough to get you excited about writing a play, you can look forward to the day when you can bring your seven year-old daughter to a rehearsal and watch her stare in wonder as your show unfolds before her eyes.

Wait for the moment when she asks you to write a show just for her, so that she can take the stage and sing and act someday like these big boys and big girls in front of her.

Wait for the moment when she tells you that she loved what she saw and can't wait to see it for real this weekend.  

Wait for the moment when she kisses you and says, "You write good stuff, Daddy. Funny, too."

It's a pain in the ass to write a play. Even more so when you're writing a musical. 

It's an even bigger pain in the ass to get someone to produce it.  

These singular moments make it all worth it.

I think. 

Resolution update: March 2015

Each month I post the progress of my New Year’s resolutions here as a means of holding myself accountable. The following are the results through the month of February.


1. Don’t die.

Didn’t even come close to dying.

2. Lose 20 pounds.

I remain just one pound down. At this pace, I will miss this goal by a lot. It’s mostly been my inability to get to the gym regularly in March due to illness and scheduling.

3. Do at least 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups five days a week.

Done. I’ve added a plank every morning as well.

4. Stop drinking soda from two-liter bottles.

I didn’t drink soda from a two-liter bottle in March, and my soda consumption remains cut by well over half. I’m also drinking more water than ever before.    

5. Practice yoga at least five days a week.

I tried last week to restart my yoga routine after healing from an injury and  realized that I could barely remember it. I’ll be meeting with my yoga instructor in April, I hope.

6. Learn to cook three good meals for my wife.

No progress


7. Complete my sixth novel before the end of the summer 2015.

The book remains about half finished, and I am about to launch back into fiction, but for reasons that are complicated, I may actually be putting that half-finished novel aside temporarily and beginning a new one.

It’s crazy. I know  

8. Complete my seventh novel.

This book remains about half finished as well.

9. Sell one children’s book to a publisher.

I have three books written and ready to go. I have three new ideas that I plan to work on in 2015. We will submit one or more of these books to editors at some point soon.

10. Sell a memoir to a publisher.

The memoir is written and is being polished now.

11. Sell a book of essays to a publisher.

My book of essays did not sell, but the responses that we received from editors were exceptionally positive. In a few cases, it was not a pass as much as a request that the book be reorganized and written slightly differently than it is currently constituted. I will do so. Fiction is now my main focus, but this remains a priority in 2015.  

12. Complete a book proposal for a book on storytelling.

Progress continues.

13. Write a new screenplay.

I’m still revising my first screenplay based upon film agent’s notes. No progress on the new one.  

14. Write 50 pages of a new memoir about the years of 1991-1993.

I have 25 badly written pages for this memoir that must be transformed into 50 good pages in 2015. No progress yet.

15. Write a musical for a summer camp

Excellent progress. It’s moving along well.  

In addition, I completed revisions on the musical that my partner and I wrote last year. In the fall, it will be produced by a local theater company.

We also have interest in our first musical – a rock opera – from another local playhouse.



16. Publish at least one Op-Ed in a physical newspaper.

I published three more pieces in the Huffington Post last month.

How to be a Grownup

12 Things Teachers Think But Can’t Always Say to Parents

Why “Your Child is Not As Gifted As You Think” Is the Worst Thing That a Teacher Can Say

Again, this is not a physical newspaper. Writing pieces for physical newspapers is part of the plan to launch my next novel, so this may happen in the fall if not before.

17. Submit one or more short stories to at least three publishing outlets.

No progress.

18. Select three behaviors that I am opposed to and adopt them for one week, then write about my experiences on the blog.

My first idea: Backing into a parking spot. I rightfully assume that anyone backing into a parking spot is a lunatic of the highest order. I shall spend a week backing into parking spots and see what wisdom I can glean.

I have not begun this experiment yet.

19. Build an author mailing list.

Third email sends today. Things are good. The job remains twofold:

  • Create engaging content that will keep readers interested.
  • Build my subscription base.

20. Build a new website for matthewdicks.com

Nearly finished. I will be migrating my blog and website over to the new website at some point in April.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will open this blog one day in April and find an entirely new look. I hope you like. 


21. Produce a total of eight Speak Up storytelling events.

Two down and six to go. We have two more shows scheduled in April, at both Real Art Ways and Connecticut College, and we have two new partnerships with local venues that we will be announcing soon.

22. Deliver my fourth TED Talk.

I will be delivering a TED Talk at Boston University in three days. I have also pitched talks to two other TEDx events in 2015 and await work.



23. Build a website for Speak Up.

Done! It’s a single page on my new author website, and it’s not nearly as robust as we want it to eventually be, but Speak Up finally has a webpage where you can find dates of events, ticket information, an opportunity to sign up for the mailing list, and more. You can find our webpage at speakupstorytelling.com.

24. Attend at least 10 Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

I performed in a Moth StorySLAM at Housing Works in New York and a GrandSLAM at The Somerville Theater in Somerville, MA, bringing my total number of Moth events in 2015 to four.  

25. Win at least two Moth StorySLAMs.

I’ve competed in one StorySLAM in March, receiving the two highest scores of the night from two judging teams (9.6 and 9.4) and the lowest score of the night (7.9, which is also the lowest score I have ever received) from the third team, which landed me in second place. I still cannot understand what happened, and when I think about it, I still get a little upset.

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Like the February GrandSLAM in NYC (and six before it), I placed second in the March GrandSLAM in Boston. I was chosen to tell from second position, which is an exceptionally difficult spot to win from, but I was still in the lead when the seventh storyteller took the stage and beat me by a tenth of a point.

I compete in another GrandSLAM in NYC this month.



27. Launch at least one podcast.

The MacBook Pro has arrived, complete with GarageBand, which was critical to my podcasting efforts.

I have crossed over to the dark side, at least in terms of podcasting.  

My website is nearly ready to receive podcasts.

This will happen soon.     


28. Pitch at least three new projects to two smart people.

I pitched one of my projects to one person in January. No further progress.

29. Host at least one Shakespeare Circle.

Nothing scheduled yet.


30. Enroll in the final class needed for certification as a high school English teacher.

No progress. 

31. Set a new personal best in golf.

There are rumors that the golf course may open in April. .  

32. Post my progress in terms of these resolutions on this blog on the first day of every month.


The payoff for a writer or a performer is an infinitesimal sliver of the job. Too many forget this and aren’t willing to do the work.

Saturday was a good day for me.

It began with the first performance ever of “Caught in the Middle,” the tween musical written by writing partner, Andy Mayo, and myself. It was produced at a performing arts camp in Bloomfield, Connecticut, and like our previous musical, The Clowns, I fell in love with the show while watching it performed on stage.

image image image image

Then Elysha and I left for New York so I could perform in The Liar Show in the West Village. I told a story about my unfortunate participation in a bachelorette party in a McDonald’s crew room when I was 19 years-old.


A friend was kind enough to comment on how much I had going on that day. “It must be exciting to have so many creative things going on in your life,” she said.

It’s true. Days like Saturday are exciting, but they come with a cost. When I talk to fledging writers, storytellers, and other people involved in the arts, I’m always quick to remind them that days like Saturday are few and far between.

They account for about 1% of the job.

The other 99% of the job is a lot of hard, tedious, and lonely work.

“Caught in the Middle” was more than a year in the making. It involved writing, collaborating, rewriting, revising, and more rewriting. It was hundred of hours spent crafting scenes, integrating music, developing characters, and agonizing over plot. My writing partner, Andy, had to poke, prod, and cajole me to continue working.

It wasn’t easy.

My invitation to perform in The Liar Show was the result of almost three years of storytelling, including more than 40 appearances at The Moth and other storytelling shows and the launch of our own storytelling organization, Speak Up. Thousands of hours of work have made me the storyteller I am today and gave me the opportunity to perform on Saturday night.

I didn’t happen overnight.

I was reading Billy Crystal’s memoir, Still Foolin’ ‘Em, and learned that in order to pursue his career in comedy, he became a stay-at-home father in a time when that was exceptionally rare. When his wife arrived home from work in the evening, he would join her for dinner and prepare his set for later that night, sometimes writing and sometimes rehearsing.


Then at 10:00, he would embark on an hour long commute to New York City, hoping for a spot on the stage at Catch a Rising Star before 1:00 AM so that he could perform his ten minute routine.

Then he would return home by 2:00 or 3:00 and begin the routine again at 7:00 when his daughter awoke and his wife left for work.

Billy Crystal did not become the entertainer and star that he is today because he was talented. He worked exceptionally hard, made enormous sacrifices, dedicated his life to his dream, and was smart enough to marry a woman who supported that dream.

By the way, he sacrificed to find the right woman, too. He transferred colleges as a sophomore, leaving Marshall University, a baseball scholarship, and a chance to play the game he loved at the college level for Nassau Community College and later New York University after meeting his wife and knowing that a long distance relationship would probably not last.

Rather than risk losing the woman of his dreams, he gave up baseball to chase her down.

The man understood how to make sacrifices.

So yes, Saturday was a great day for me. I loved watching something that I had written performed onstage. Hearing my words in other people’s mouths is always thrilling and makes me want to write for the stage again.

And yes, performing alongside the likes of Ophira Eisenberg, Tracy Rowland, and Matthew Mercier at The Liar Show was thrilling, too. Simply being asked to perform in this popular and well-reviewed show was an honor.

But it was a long, long road to Saturday’s payoff. Many, many miles.

Too often, I think that writers, performers, and other people striving for a career in the arts see those 1% Saturdays and dream the dream, forgetting about the 99% (or worse, glamorizing the 99%) that is required to make those Saturdays a  reality.

The best moment on Saturday for me was a simple one. Standing off to the side, watching these teens and tweens perform the show, I caught sight of my daughter, sitting in the audience, watching my show with rapt attention. Bopping her head to the music. Smiling. Leaning forward in anticipation. Laughing at my jokes.

This was better than all the applause I received that day.