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Hilary Bettis

What inspired you to write your play?

For most of my life, I’ve felt ashamed of who I am. I’ve felt insecure and invisible. I’ve felt that the world I grew up in, rural America, was something to denounce. Something to overcome. A punchline for the sophisticated. I was either in on the joke or I was the joke.

When people started asking, “who are you as a writer, as a woman?” I would spin my past into whatever I thought they wanted to hear. But I always felt like a liar.

And then I became a mother. And I had the epiphany so many mothers have. God, I love these children. How do I help them love themselves as they grow up? How do I teach them to be okay with who they are when I’m not okay with who I am?

And so, I took a deep breath, dusted off my childhood journals, and asked my parents questions I’d been too afraid to ask. I started to see my own life, the people I love, the kids I grew up with in a new light. We were all just doing the best we could do.

My parents, and my brothers, and these kids, and Mr. Kugler, and county fairs, and FFA, and Cosmo magazine, and make-out sessions in barn lofts, and abstinence-only sex ed, and Jesus, and Boone’s Farm, and missing girls, and broken bones, and guns, and gangsta’ rap, and Garth Brooks, and the magnificent creatures that taught me love, survival, resilience, and freedom is what made me who I am.

And that’s good enough.

-Hilary Bettis