Mon. April 16, 2018: Letting Go #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, April 16, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury DIRECT (as of yesterday, thank goodness)
Jupiter Retrograde
Patriots’ Day

Today is that weird day known as Patriots’ Day here in MA, about the official start of the American Revolution. However, I’m not taking the holiday this year; I’m on site with a client.

The Upbeat Authors theme today is “letting go.” The timing is interesting, because I’m in the process of doing that on many levels.

One of the hardest things I had to let go was my career working backstage on Broadway, when I moved from New York to Cape Cod. I was aging out of the work, slowing down, and didn’t have the physically or the mental stamina to keep doing what I did best. I knew I wanted to leave while I still loved it, not wait until I was in pain all the time and bitter. I also knew if I was going to make the commitment to my writing, it needed to be full-time. There’s a saying “the theatre is a jealous mistress.” That is not a myth. It is a reality. I had to choose between working backstage on Broadway and writing while exhausted, or writing (and yet, I’m still often exhausted).

I chose writing.

I let go of tech work backstage on Broadway.

Letting go of that career, writing full time, and moving to a completely different region was a lot. The stress and frustration increased when I arrived here and the expectation was that I would continue to work in technical theatre around here — for free. “For fun.”

And the attitude of “oh, we don’t pay for writers,” yet the constant stream of demands from local strangers that I should write for them without pay and be grateful for the opportunity.

And, how, exactly, am I supposed to earn a living? Oh, yeah, at a minimum wage or less job that has nothing to do with my career, because my career was never a “real job” in the first place., according to the locals.

Uh, no.

I had to let go of the fantasy that I moved to a place full of vibrant, working artists. That was the hardest, more wrenching, and most disappointing part of the move. There are plenty of vibrant, working, WONDERFUL artists here — but they’re not getting paid what they’re worth. Too few of them make their living at it, because the community does not support them as working artists. The community — and the artists — consider the art something to do ” on the side” which has never been my take on being a working artist.

I do not work in the local theatres for free, and the handful of local writing clients I have pay me. The rest of my clients are based at a distance, and we work remotely, or with infrequent in-person meetings (I do not work by phone).

I’ve “let go” of the idea that I’ll convince these entrenched individuals with their mis-spelled materials (which means they’ve lost my business) to pay writers. I’m not even talking about paying me, just, for the love all that is Oxford comma, pay SOMEONE fairly to come up with decent materials.

I get my work elsewhere.

I don’t argue with them. I say “no” and move on. When they try to argue, I add, “This is my business, not my hobby. You get paid to work. So do I.” That’s that.

I’m in the process of “letting go” of a lot of stuff I’ve accumulated over the years. When I moved up from New York, it took two moving trucks to get it all here. I still have a basement full of stuff that I haven’t gone through. I’m in the process of doing it. I’m “letting go” of what no longer works for my life.

I do NOT believe in the “if you haven’t used/worn it for a year, throw it out” or “for everything you bring into the house, throw something out.” During lean times, digging into stuff I’ve kept has sustained me through them, and given me the security to work out of them. As I’m letting go of stuff now, I trust my gut to its meaning, and whether or not I see it in the future I’m building. To me, the above “rules” are a way to get people to throw things out so they buy more things.

I’m even giving away books. I still have 250 boxes of books in my basement. I’m giving way mostly fiction, books I either don’t remember or know I won’t re-read. I’ve built my non-fiction library over the years, and I’m keeping that. With the way libraries weed out books nowadays, I often can’t find the books I need for research. So, when I buy them, I keep them. I end up using them for multiple projects.

“Letting go” of what no longer serves your life allows you time and space on both physical and emotional levels. I like to use the past to build the future, not just eradicate it to start fresh.

You have to do what works best for YOUR life. The best we can do is listen, offer our personal stories, and try to help each other navigate these choices.

 

Published in: on April 16, 2018 at 6:48 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 16, 2018: Letting Go #UpbeatAuthors  
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Fri. Sept. 9, 2016: The Importance of the Individual Voice

Friday, September 09, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and hot

Still exhausted, getting over the cold. By mid-day Wednesday, I found social media irritating to the point of no return, so I logged out for a few days, and feel much better.

I’m busy doing internal work, so externals, no matter how well meant, don’t work for me right now.

I did vote yesterday, in the primaries. Did my civic duty. 😉

I’ve been working on material, re-evaluating how and where I want my writing career to go, and trying to get well. I’m also working on ideas for a couple of essays. I have to develop them and then do a few rough drafts before I see if I have anything worth pitching. Essays are the hardest for me. Fiction is much easier.

I also need to go through the backlog of material. Some of the rights-reversed stuff is ready to go out again, so I have to do my research and get going on that. If it’s submittable, it needs to be out in the world earning its keep!

Been helping some people put together collaborative projects this week, too, which is always fun. I love to see other artists who put in the work succeed! I don’t believe we are in competition with each other. I believe we are in this together, and when we support each other, that’s when the best work happens.

I’m looking at my own roster of projects. I have to adjust my schedule. I got way off-schedule with what my agent needed for what used to be CHARISMA KILLINGS, and I need to get back on schedule for everything else.

Company’s in next week, which will be fun, but means I have to adjust my writing schedule, and I have work to deal with, too. Lots of juggling – makes me wish I’d gone to circus school! 😉

One of the things I’m doing a lot of thinking about is “voice.” I worked many years, first to both find my voice and then to hone it through craft. So when someone tries to change that voice into THEIR voice, to water it down to make it sound bland and like a different tone – especially if it’s not a work for hire where that’s the deal – I balk. Making a piece the best it can be is different than diluting the voice. I’m always eager to make a piece better; I am not willing to lose my voice in my original work. Then it’s not mine and not what I want out in the world. If you’re paying me a good deal of money to sound like someone else or an imaginary figure who supposedly wrote the piece, that’s one thing, but when It’s MY work, going out under one of MY names, it needs to sound like me.

Isn’t that what so many women and people of color have fought to do for centuries? Have THEIR voices heard?

It’s one of the reasons I dumped the bulk of my magazine subscriptions. Everything is a sound bite and sounds exactly the same. Every magazine article in every magazine could have been written by the same machine. Sorry. Not interested. I’m interested, both as a writer and a reader, in individual voices.

I was lucky enough to spend some time last night with a good friend who now lives in Europe. She’s happy there – I think she and her husband will stay. It’s been a bit of a shock for her to come here, where mindset gets narrower and narrower. She completely understands my dilemma about whether to stay or go in the next year.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on September 9, 2016 at 9:24 am  Comments Off on Fri. Sept. 9, 2016: The Importance of the Individual Voice  
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