Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunny and pleasant
Quick check-in and then I’m going back to bed.
Made it through the matinee; ran around the corner, grabbing a salad at Thalia, and worked the other show. It was fine. Caught the train and was home just before midnight, and then couldn’t sleep. Of course.
And I gave my notice at the show . Some would call it an act of courage; others an act of lunacy. But I can’t sort out all the family things and move on with my life if I’m constantly going back to do shows, especially when everything changes so much. At this point, after 3 ½ years, I should be able to go in and run a track without even blinking, much less thinking; they shouldn’t keep reinventing the wheel. But that’s not going to change there; film people are at the top, and they run it like a film set, not a theatre. Personally, I think it hurts the show, but it’s not up to me. It’s not something I can control. What I can control is whether or not I’m in a situation that’s been causing me constant stress and upset for months, as I try to juggle everything. So I had to either shut up and put up or leave. And I chose to leave. It’s always scary to cut away the safety net, but it’s necessary. My last day is in a few weeks.
The bottom line is that I’m a writer. That is my passion and vocation. As long as I devote a good bulk of time to work that’s not writing, especially when it’s about money choices, I’m going to be miserable. If I’m a writer, then I’m a writer and I better find a way to make a living at it. I’ve been moving in that direction during this transition period, and now I’ve reached the point where, if I’m going to do it, I have to do it.
And for me, right now, being a writer means sorting out the home life. Getting that stable. Taking care of the people that need it. And that’s something I can’t do if I keep canceling appointments and changing plans whenever the show needs me. At the same time, if I’m on the show’s roster as a swing, that’s my job – to be available when they need me, not when I happen to feel like working. Our needs are getting farther and farther apart. And I’m a big believer in “don’t say you’re a swing and then never be available” – either do it or don’t. The time has come for me to be in the “don’t” category.
That doesn’t mean I’d never work another show or set foot on another set. But the circumstances have to be right. It’s not the “day job” anymore – although, I don’t consider it a day job – I’ve considered myself, for the past few years, as running two full-time careers, which gets exhausting. It needs to be something I do on the side, and the writing needs to be the main focus, which is tied into the family stuff.
A reader commented here the other day that when her students ask her how to be a writer, she says, “Get a day job.” I disagree with that. There are some Anthony Trollopes still out there, who can do both. But let’s face it – you can’t keep splitting your energy for years and years and years and turn out your best work. If you’re going to be a writer, be a writer and make a living at it. Sock away money in the day job so you can take a year off, or so you have a six month cushion as you line up paying writing gigs, and then do it. The older I get, the more I agree with what Arthur Miller told me in the early 1990s: You’ll never be a writer until you have to use it to pay the bills. He meant as long as you have a safety net of another job, you’re not going to be hungry enough (in every sense of the word) or want it enough to make it THE priority and do your best work. If I’d listened to him then, I’d be ten years farther along in the writing career, but I would have missed out on many wonderful theatre and film experiences which have served my work well.
Read interviews with Nora Roberts or Janet Evanovich – their lives support the writing. That’s how they get it done and stay on top. They go in their offices every day and put in a full day, and THEN they go out and live the rest of their lives. Far too often, people don’t realize that writing is work. Just because you enjoy it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be approached with professionalism and a strong work ethic.
I’m going to send out my weekly Nano email, and then go back to bed and catch up on some sleep.