T-to-the-A

A word, please…

In Essays, The Daily Drool on February 17, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Ahhh, the life of a writer.   Let’s talk about it.

But first, a brief backstory:

I moved out to LA to be an (yes, I’m admitting it) actress.  Why the parenthetical?  Because there are so many of them out here, and so many of them are better geared for the grueling audition/waiting tables/staying positive in the face of all the other faces, challenges that accompany that ambition.  A little like the game of life.  Remember that game?  You got to head out the starting box, hoping you’d land on “College” so you could maybe be a lawyer or doctor, so you could earn more money, so you could buy more things… Well, if you were to have a little “Check the box” sheet handed to you on your way off the high-school podium, you can bet it would list a great many scary things next to…

So you want to be an ACTOR?

– Acting is a full time job with no gaurantee of payment.  In fact, you’re most likely going to have to keep up a less fulfilling, monkey-could-do-it type job to pay for those headshots and acting classes, so get used to pulling some looooong hours.

-You will need to possess good interpersonal skills.  Meeting people, remembering their names, and charming the pants off those who will listen is tantamount to getting ahead.

-Auditioning is like going on a new job interview every day.  Get used to it.

-There are no gaurantees you will succeed.  You may waiti tables for 1 week or 10 years before you get a break.  You may never get a break.  Make sure you are the kind of person who enjoys the ride.

-At some point you will have to test your mettle via person(s) who will offer a little “You wash my back, I’ll wash yours” kind of deal.   Of what mettle are you?

Well, I might have looked at that and shaken my head with a great big “Not for me!”  But then, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that things I’ve since learned about writing would’nt have looked that great either…

So you decided to become a WRITER?

-Writing is a full time job with no guarantee of payment.  In fact, you’re most likely going to have to keep up a less fulfilling, monkey-could-do-it type job to pay for those expensive degrees. so get used to pulling some looooong hours.

-You will need to possess good motivational skills.  Getting home after a long day, turning on the computer, and writing without anyone telling you to do it is tantamount to success.  And you should probably still work on those interpersonal skills if you want to win anyone’s confidence in your work…

-You do not have to audition.  Ever.  But you will go on copious job interviews.  The only difference is, they read your “audition” in the privacy of their own office, bathroom, den, etc…  You do not have to watch as their faces alternately grimace and/or cry with disgust.  You will only get to see their faces if they like your pages and/or this person is doing you a favor because you know someone who knows someone who’s sleeping with them and they promised to sit you down in order to keep tapping whomever it is they are tapping.  This could be uncomfortable and have you longing for a polite “Thanks but no thanks” via post. Just take it in.  At least you don’t have to sing “Yankee Doodle Dandee” in a room full of people picking their teeth.

-There are no guarantees you will succeed.  You may have to wait tables for 1 week or 10 years before you get a break.  You may never get a break.  Make sure you are the kind of person who enjoys the ride.

-At some point you will have to test your mettle via person(s) who will offer a little “You wash my back, I’ll wash yours” kind of deal.  Of what mettle are you now?

Sooooo, what?  Who cares?  Well, maybe no one, but it’s the subtle differences that have filled me with conviction as I press on with the keyboard.

Subtle differences like knowing I’m a much better writer than I ever was an actor, and the fantastic, lovely element of comfort that comes from doing your work in the privacy of your own home vs. in front of a camera.  I get to falter and mis-step all I want without anyone ever knowing… it’s called a “DELETE” key.  How often do you find yourself wishing you had one of those at your disposal?  And I get to spend a lot of time bending language to suit my tastes – something you don’t get to do that often with reality.

And all of this is really only interesting if you take it all in as a “Hmm, you never know where you’re going to wind up, do you?” sort of thing.  Because, if you’d told 19 year old Me that 30 yr old Me still would’nt be gainfully employed or owning any sort of property, I might have tossed both those little informative packets and reached for a “So you want to be Financially Secure” type life instead.  But I’d have missed one hell of a ride.

Looks like I’m the type that enjoys the journey after all.

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