The Recipe of Me

Writing, especially my blog posts, isn’t something I do every day.  I find it takes me quite a while to get into the groove of the words and the message I want to convey.  I may have a tidbit of an idea germinating in my head but it takes some cogitating before I’m at a point where I can put it down on paper.  I use other things to help this process move along.  Finding a quiet place is one way.  Which usually involves turning off all outside stimulation, TV, radio and internet.  That last one is becoming the hardest to do.  I think I’m becoming addicted.  Again, off topic.  Reading past posts is one way I get in the right space in my head to write my thoughts down in a cohesive manner.

Which is where found myself the other day when I had some things I thought would make good posts.  I started reading older posts and in the process realized something about the way I think and find ideas.  I’m greatly influenced by what I’ve recently read, seen, heard or otherwise absorbed.  My posts are littered with references to movies, books, articles, TV shows, news reports, documentaries, conversations.  Which made me stop and think for a minute.  Was I incapable of thinking for myself or was it more a case of being open to new ideas and new ways of learning things?  I’m coming down most squarely on the side of the latter case.  Learning for me is like breathing and I’m constantly seeking out the why and how of things.  The inane facts I have in my RAM memory would put anyone to sleep, or wow your socks off.  I’ll choose the latter on that one as well.

In looking over all these influences and their ensuing posts, I realized that all of these tidbits and ideas make up who I am and what I think.  After all, I didn’t just take everything that crossed my path as gospel.  I weighed what I read and learned and made up my own mind on whether or not I agreed and accepted what I was being presented.  My sister says I need three pieces of facts before I’ll accept something that I feel skeptical about.  This used to make me defensive when she said that but I’ve come to embrace it with open arms.  It’s what makes me, well, me.  Finding my own way to my truth and adding a little bit here and a little bit there keeps me current, involved, active, evolving, seeking, challenged, growing.  And I can’t think of a better way to create this piéce de rèsistance!

Silly Obstacles

I stopped writing for a while.  I couldn’t figure out why as I really enjoyed doing it.  And for the most part I appreciated the comments and the feedback I received from the 3 people that read my posts and commented.  But for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to continue with the endeavor.  And it was really bugging me that I couldn’t pinpoint the cause or the event that precipitated my ceasing to put fingers to keys (the modern day version of pen to paper I guess!).  I let it sit for a really long time and didn’t do anything about it.  I didn’t even think about the issue, or so I thought.  It was never far from my brain.  I’d ruled out having nothing to say because honey I ALWAYS have something to say.  Just ask my closest friends and family.  I’m sure they’d admit under their breath and out of my hearing that me having nothing to say would be a refreshing change of pace.  But there you have it, I’m a talker.  And a writer.

So what was with this aversion all of the sudden?  After cogitating (see Willie Shakespeare, I can make up words too!) on it for several weeks, ok months I know, I think I may have figured it out.  And it’s a situation that isn’t going to go away, especially if I have the kind of career I want to have going forward.  The details of the issue aren’t important.  What is key here is realizing I was letting someone stop me from expressing myself fully.  That’s an old behavior I thought I’d put on the shelf long ago.  Apparently not.  I was surprised it reared back up but there you have it.  It’s back and needs to be dealt with.  And the pen needs to be put to paper once again.

Fail Magnificently

A project I recently worked on was an audiobook called Majestie, a biography about the King James of the King James Bible .  I really didn’t know much about this particular royal and the book, by David Teems, was written wonderfully.  It made the reading and directing it a bit of a dream.  The book dealt with the conflagration of events and people that came together at a particular time in history to shape not only the Bible in the title but the English language as we know it today. And this was all spearheaded by a misshapen redheaded king from Scotland who had a keen mind and a vision beyond his horizon.  As I was reading the epilogue this evening, in the last few lines, the author comments on how grandly King James thought, saying “when he dreamed, he dreamed big, like a king.  Where he loved, there were no half measures.  Where he failed, he was absolutely magnificent.”

That last part really struck me.  King James so committed to whatever project he did that if it succeeded, it was going to be huge.  Undertaking a translation of the Bible so the common man could understand and read it was no small task when books were so rare and so few knew how to use them. Hundreds of words were introduced to the English language that are still in use today.  It was monumental in it’s scope.  But in doing this he also took the chance that it was going to be a monumental failure and he might be dethroned or worse, as was common in those days, beheaded.  It was a big risk but he took it anyway.

I’m in the process of creating and producing a project with a colleague of mine, Maritza Cabrera.  It involves writing in a form I’ve never done before and using lots of dialogue something I’m unfamiliar with.  I was so panicked at writing my first episode that I thought and thought about it for over a week. I knew what I wanted to say, I was just afraid I wouldn’t know how to say it.  I finally gave myself a good talking to, saying that no one was going to mock and ridicule me, much less behead me, for attempting to write a web series.  At the very least, they would applaud the effort.  At long last I was able to put fingers to keyboard.

Reading those words about King James made me realize that in whatever I was going to attempt, there was always a chance of failure.  But if I hedged my bets, only sorta committed to it, kept my fingers in other pies, I’d produce mediocre work.  If I fully committed, it would be a magnificent success or a magnificent failure but either way, it would be magnificent.  And you can’t succeed magnificently if you don’t take the chance you’ll fail magnificently every once in a while.  I’ll take my chances.

Dirt Sifting

One of my favorite blogs to read is The Simple Dollar by Trent Hamm.  He does a daily blog generally about frugality but he also touches on many other subjects.  He is a prolific writer, churning out 2 postings a day and I don’t think he’s missed a day yet.  At least not since I’ve been following him.  The other day he posted something sort of off the beaten path for him.  The value of doing grunt work, or slog work as he called it.  It’s the necessary but mind numbing work that exists in every job, whatever it is you do.  It can be data entry, invoicing or in his case, dirt sifting.   Really.  He got paid to go through dirt.  One of the most challenging things I am finding about this transition to working for myself is consistently and purposefully attacking the grunt work that exists for me.  In my case, it’s doing things like auditioning on the pay-to-play sites, sending out an invoice, writing a blog post.  Finding the concentration to just get it done isn’t the easiest thing for me.  When I finish a post, it’s a natural ending point so I break off, go out of the office and it’s 45 minutes later before I return.  Goofing off instead of going back to the list of topics I’ve identified I’d like to write about.  I do the same thing when I finish an audition.  I feel like I need a reward for completing something so I head to the fridge, or check my email for the 98th time, or get lost on the interwebs.  All because of a lack of focus and discipline to just get the job done.  I used to have the same problem when it came to doing forecasting reports but I was able to knuckle down and plow through them.  I need to find the same focus I had then and apply it to my work today.  I know I can do it, it’s just a matter of figuring out how I did it before and doing it again.   It’s not fun, but it is necessary.  It’s on the back of diligence that a strong career is forged.  If you can do the dirt sifting well, you will excel at the bigger tasks.