So, it’s been a criminally long time since I last blogged. Why you ask (or not) well I’ll answer it anyway. Life, work, distraction, motivations. Here’s the truth and the sad thing about modern life and society; I want to write every day. I just feel so damn guilty because it’s not something that is bringing in money (sadly I’m not one of those blogs that is monetized – probably because I don’t bloody blog enough.) In today’s age we are conditioned to think that if it’s not gonna make us rich, it’s a complete waste of time. (Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to be rich, but is that our only motivation?) Often we don’t pursue our passions because it’s not seen as something that will lead anywhere. Yes, there are the JK Rowlings of this world but that kind of success is rare, as we are often told (bludgeoned over the head with.) And there is that sense of judgement and derision which is such a sticky residue that it’s hard to get off. I admire the teflons of the world – Stallone was told numerous times that it was a big fat no re Rocky. ‘You’re too ugly, too unknown, it will never sell.’ How he didn’t punch himself in the face and torch the script right there is beyond me, but he didn’t, and it’s what made him. He pursued. He had faith. Man, I’m jealous – how do I get that?
It took me 5 years after graduation to apply to a summer drama program in New York, even though I knew I wanted to go a further 3 years before that, for fear of what people (mainly the elders of the family) would think. Dad always thought actors were drug addicts or porn stars. In some cases, yeh he was right but I tried to reassure him that if I had wanted to be either of those things, I WOULD be already. He didn’t see the humour. I remember at Uni getting the prospectus for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I was SO excited. As I leafed through the pages, a grin on my face, my housemate said – is that where you are going yeh? ‘Maybe’ I replied. She looked disappointed for me, probably realizing I was foiling myself. ‘You should go, you will be great.’ Her enthusiasm and support was lovely, but I was much more used to listening to the doubters. Besides, she was going to be a doctor so what did she know? She was going into a ‘real’ profession. It used to be much more of a taboo to say you wanted to be an actor or a writer. People would look at you as if you just said you wanted to transform into an underwater mermaid – interesting idea, never gonna happen. I’d get a look of pity, as if I had just declared I wanted to climb Everest naked – an idea doomed to failure. Oddly I got a more positive response if I said I wanted to do something benign like work in customer service (does anyone actually aspire to that?)
The negative voices pervaded; ‘You should be earning, saving, doing ANYTHING.’
‘At your age I had a mortgage and 3 kids to support, get your head out of the clouds.’
I’m sad to say I definitely let it affect me. I’ve done so many shit jobs I can’t even count, stuff I’ve absolutely hated. With people I’ve hated! All for the ‘greater good.’ But what is that exactly? I’ve been miserable. Completely creatively unsatisfied. Another thing a shitty 9-5 does is drain your energy and then the last thing you want is to switch a computer on again after staring at one for 9 hours. I admire the people that do have the discipline, but I hear that voice in my ear ‘it’s never gonna happen, it’s a waste of time -give in to the void of the humdrum.’ Except I don’t want to give in to the void.
When I applied to AADA, I was at a low. Uni was well in the rear view mirror and I was doing a succession of crap jobs thinking is this it? Is life never gonna be fun or satisfying or stimulating again?
After my audition, and 4 long weeks going by, I got the letter on my doorstep. I remember I was shaking, which showed me just how much I wanted it.
When I saw that I was accepted, I was ecstatic.
When Jennifer Aniston said Vince Vaughn was her defibrillator, I kinda knew what she meant, because NY was definitely mine. I was very lucky because my experience was wonderful. I had an amazing, funny, supportive class, an inspiring teacher and great housemates to boot. It was as if the stars had aligned. That is so cheesy, but you have to understand the stars don’t usually align for me – this was something really special. It made me have an epiphany – life could be great, I could be creatively satisfied, mentally stimulated and excited about things once again. It just took courage for me to pursue a passion.
Now I know this isn’t always an option. In fact 95% of the time it’s not. This isn’t an after school special. Life a lot of the time sucks, and it gets in the way. And it’s frustrating.
But it starts by overcoming the fear. The anxiety. By ignoring the people who are too keen to piss on your parade. Those success stories you hear about are because people said ‘great story, but Imma do it my way haters.’ I wish I had that resolve sometimes. I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty scared about uprooting and moving to New York without knowing anyone. But it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. Fortune indeed, favours the bold.
It’s the ten year anniversary of my trip to NY and I think of it often. I’m still friends with those I met there and I know I’m so lucky to be. Nothing I do now will discount that experience. I just need to somehow harness the magic of that trip, and apply it to my life. So I’m starting by writing again, I’m starting by blogging again. And any suggestions you have, I’m all ears.