Richard Stayton, editor-in-chief for the last 20 years of Written By, the WGA West’s monthly magazine, has resigned to return to his first love – playwriting. Leaving, he says, was a difficult decision.
“No one is pushing me out the door,” he writes in the magazine’s latest issue. “But I sense that this is the right time for my decision. The thrill isn’t gone, but my focus is no longer totally on this magazine, which has consumed me, willingly. I’ve never been able to work for long in a job that I’m not 100 percent committed to. And lately I’ve noticed that my mind wanders off-topic, to my own creative writing.”
“Being editor of Written By is the best job I’ve ever had,” he writes, recalling how difficult it was to tender his resignation. “My voice cracked. I choke back a sob and look down, unable to meet the stern, pitiless gaze of my audience – the Writers Guild of America West board of directors. This is a tough crowd: formidable and battle-scarred by strikes and tense negotiations. I take a deep breath…hold it…wait another beat…exhale.”
“…And it’s not because of the money,” he tells the assembled board.
The room, he writes, immediately erupts in “volcanic laughter” that “rocks the conference room table, shakes the windows.” He remains stoic, “secretly delighted by their merry convulsions,” noting that he’s just “successfully employed a technique observed while serving the best writers in the world. Timing is all, you taught me. Pacing. Rhythm. Yes, timing is everything. And timing is why, after 20 years as editor of Written By, I’ve made the difficult decision to resign.”
“I will miss fighting alongside you in the union,” he writes. “So many enemies, yet the WGA thrives because you’ll take a bullet for your sisters and brothers.”
Stayton, the former theater critic for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, is the author of After the First Death, a play that won the Goshen Peace Prize and was produced in theaters across the world.
“It’s past time I return to my first love,” he writes. “Maybe I have something to say; maybe I don’t. Maybe it will be worth something to someone; maybe it won’t. But I do know nothing can equal that daily attempt to lose yourself in the act of imaginative writing.”
“That’s it for me,” he concludes. “Sincerely, it’s been an honor and a privilege to serve you, the best writers in the world. Adieux”