Tag Archives: Bad Times

Anyone need a house cleaner? OR The Existentialist Terror of Day Jobs

15 Jul

I feel like cleaning. Like finding pleasure in making things look better and relishing the satisfaction of an easy decision (“It’s dirty? I’ll clean it!”) The results of tidying are easy to measure. And wiping things down and pickings things up is relatively mindless, so one can be mindful while doing it. I want the sense of control and order that cleaning gives.

Sadly, this is not a late-blooming sense of maturity around cleanliness. Nor is a belated drive for spring cleaning. It’s a sign that things are a bit crap right now creatively.

The past few days have been a rough slog. Last week was all show, all the time, as I rewrote and rehearsed like mad to get the solo piece ready for Monday Night Marsh. It’s a relief to be able to spend some time on other projects. And it’s a bit overwhelming as well. There are so many options, so many things calling for my attention, so many loose threads to tie off as I near the end of this cycle of six-month goals.  There is comfort in an urgent deadline and the focus it brings. Now I’m back in the land of many options, of distant deadlines but needed progress, and it’s making me scattered and lethargic.

The main project turning my mind to runny egg is figuring out job options:  I am trying to figure out what day job will best support my creative work (and eventual career.) Do I start a post-production company with my friend? Do I try to develop a product and outsource its manufacture and fulfillment (ala the 4HWW?)  Do I become a bartender, tutor, or find myself a sugar mama, er, patroness? Or should I capitalize on this urge to neaten up and hire myself out as a house cleaner? Looking at all the possible jobs and career paths means facing a forest of question marks.

All of which leaves my head feeling like a gray-carpeted waiting room at a hospital. Call me when there’s a good answer on the job front.  Until then, I’m off to scrub a counter-top and rearrange some cupboards.

Resistance or Sometimes it feels better to do nothing

22 Jun

The week before last I was in retreat, working on my solo show (which is the main reason I’ve neglected to post here.) It was heavenly: I spent 9 hours/day working directly on the show, and the rest of the time relaxing by watching performers I admire. Spending so much concentrated time on my creative work was a gift.

Then this past week happened. As the Greek poets might say, it sucked donkey balls.

I knew it was going to be a let down, as I’d only have 2-3 hour/day to work on the show, but in the end I didn’t even manage that. A combination of work, classes, and travel, slowed me down mightily and I’ve fallen behind where I want to be.

And here’s the insidious thing: Now that I have the time to the work, I don’t want to. Even though (or especially because?) I have a class tonight in which the teacher is expecting to see progress and I want to make a good impression.

Fortunately, I’ve been around the creative block long enough to recognize this as Resistance. The idea of facing my failure to work on the show and the challenge of picking up where I left off (which seems like eons ago) is unpleasant. Worse still is facing my let-down expectations. Whenever I think about getting up on my feet, working a character or story, I immediately get a foghorn blast of “You’re nowhere near where you should be, you complete and comprehensive failure!” or some equally pleasant variation.

I’d rather do something else, like watch the World Cup, or read other blogs, or gouge out my eyes then actually doing the hard work of getting started again and accepting the piece and my progress as it is. But fortunately, I know the best solution in this situation is to take my cue from Nike and just do it. To get up, take action, and let it suck.

So that’s what I’m off to do. But I don’t like it.

Practicing, Patience

12 May

Working on the one-person show was a slog through waist-high mud today. I was enervated and uninspired. But the goals I set got done: the third draft (or tenth, depending on how you look at it) was printed, and  a complete walk-thru recorded, even though it felt like I sleepwalked through the last third. Success never felt so blah.

But it’s a good reminder that not every day is ripe with discovery and excitement. My goal is to explore storytelling and also to explore my process. This takes time. And patience. I’ve been doing this kind of thing long enough to know you have days, weeks even, where you swim against the tide until you stop, exhausted, only to realize the waters shallow enough for you to walk the rest of the way there easily.

So here’s to today.  Sh*t day that it was, I’m still one step closer.

Me vs The Flying Poo Monkeys of Distraction

10 Mar

I’ve got three big story development goals for next Monday. Last Friday, I accomplished one of my intermediary goals: to produce a draft of a 10-minute one-person show. It’s rough and it’s clunky, but seeing as I usually won’t let people see my stuff until its perfect (i.e. never) hitting send with the attachment was a big enough step in its own right. And, heckfire, it was readable, which was the goal: to cut through all the stalling and other mental crap and knock something out I could get into someone’s hands other than my own, and clearly enough written that they could give me feedback.

Me: 1
The flying poo monkeys of distraction: 0

The past two days have not been so productive. I have been working on two freelance projects and have done nothing else. Well, I managed writing practice each day. And I’m glad I at least got to that because it’s kept me (mostly) sane. However, for dos dias running, I’ve gotten no story development work done. With a (self-imposed) 15 March looming like a manic weaver, hulking like an incredibly green and muscled man, and bearing down on me like a grizzly, I’m feeling a wee bit antsy. Or at least, I feel antsy when I’m not busy trying to kick my own ass for failing to stay on track.

Me: 1
Flying poo monkeys of distraction: 2

It’s easy to fall of the wagon at this point. Or to reduce my goals and tell myself I was being unreasonable. The best way I’ve found to move on is to just move on. Fortunately, if my ADDish tendencies allow me anything, they allow me this. In a couple second I’ll be all “Ooh shiny!” and forget about my right foot’s attempt to kick my shapely rear end. Which is good, because otherwise I might strain something. All this sitting in a chair is cramping my quadriceps. Oh, yes, I am feeling —

Ooh, shiny!

Five Reminders That Help Keep Me Focused & Stare Down Doubt

4 Mar

I work hard, but not always smart. My mind does not move in particularly linear ways and I’ve had to learn how to ask the right questions to keep working effectively, or even just to keep working. Combine this lateral thinking with a systemic way of learning and a pefectionist’s eye for detail and you get someone who can waste a lot of time on unrelated or nonessential parts of a project.

Having clear, concise goals goes along way to keeping me focused. But that’s not enough: in order to keep myself on task, I have to deal with those voices that question what I’m doing.  This is especially important if I my goal is an exploratory one, where I have a general direction but not a crystal clear picture of where I’m headed.

A lot of these demons have come up recently, and I was forced to address them. I did this by creating a list of reminders for myself. They are answers and rebuttals to the most common arguments those neurotic little critters in my head throw at me to knock me off track.

The following five reminders give me a weapon with which to fight back, whether I need a swatter to knock out the flies of doubt, or a canon to blast the flying bullshit monkeys out of the sky. Continue reading