Closing

I’m closing this blog. At least for now. I clearly din’t update here much, as you can see. I’m going to be using my Tumblr instead so feel free to follow me there. I’m leaving this one up for now because I was forwarding to my Tumblr and I want to let the posts link back, at least until I can move them all over. I like the format of Tumblr better and I’m trying to streamline my social media, have less of it but update it more.

And who knows, maybe this will come back one day. Just not right now.

Ciao!

There’s joy in learning how to cry

Tuesday night at Meisner 4 we each read our Spoon River piece out loud, then put our copy away and said it again in our own words.

I’d read it at least one hundred times over the week and had very little reaction to it. Just words on a page, words in my head.

By the time I finished saying it in my own words I was trembling and on edge. (half ready to cry, half afraid/wanting to hide) By the time one of my classmates had finished her piece  More

Wanna help me out?

Anyone reading this- I’d LOVE it if you’d take 5 minutes to take a survey and help me out. I’m doing an actor’s abstract for my level 5 Meisner class. All you do is write what you think of when you think of me in each of the categories. Thanks ahead of time!

Click here!

What Do I Want?

Class homework

Part of my homework for my spec class is my general letter to an agent. Michael is a big believer in learning both the art side, how to write a spec, and the commerce side, how to get a job. I appreciate that.

This letter will be the framework I use when I start writing agents. It’s hard. Damn hard. Which is sort’a the point. If it were easy then a good one wouldn’t stand out. I’m to write three paragraphs, three sentences each. In the first I’m to state who I am, in the second More

Nelli Clark

I WAS only eight years old; And before I grew up and knew what it meant I had no words for it, except That I was frightened and told my Mother; And that my Father got a pistol And would have killed Charlie, who was a big boy, Fifteen years old, except for his Mother. Nevertheless the story clung to me. But the man who married me, a widower of thirty-five, Was a newcomer and never heard it OTill two years after we were married. Then he considered himself cheated, And the village agreed that I was not really a virgin. Well, he deserted me, and I died The following winter.

          – Spoon River Anthology

This is the part I’m learning for Meisner 4. It’s a stretching piece for me. Much more vulnerable than I normally let myself be on stage. Or ever.

First Half of a First Draft

This is my phone lock screen. A constant reminder. (Credit- Austin Kleon, Steal Like An Artist)

My spec is coming along. I finished the first half of the first draft on Saturday. Which was right on schedule- a feat I accomplished by using my normal brain dump method of writing. I got to class and Michael said we each needed to read our first five pages out loud. Talk about locking up. I write quickly and freely because I have trained myself to do so. Part of that is assuring myself that NO ONE gets to see first drafts. Even if I want someone to see a first draft I do at least a little editing, as a way of keeping that promise to my sub-conscience so that it’ll cooperate when I sit down to write.

The sudden knowledge that I had to read five pages of a first draft out loud to a roomful of people who at least some of which of far more experience (and one of whom is a professional tv writer), and the fact that mine isn’t a sitcom so I don’t get that fast feedback of laughs, made me want to hide. More

Page by Page

Finished my first page-by-page of my spec! It has a LONG way to go but it feels good to get this far. I’ve always goofed around at scriptwriting but having the structure and deadlines of a class is helping me get through the slumps. I have to write it, because I have to turn it in or look lazy. That’s a stronger motivation.

The DNA chain I wrote for the pilot of Grimm.

The DNA chain I wrote for the pilot of Grimm.

I’m taking the spec writing class at iO with Michael McCartney. Who, by the way, is such a great teacher.  He really cares about us and what we’re doing, he isn’t all burned-out and cynical like some of the teachers I’ve met in Chicago. Michael gives us “art” homework, related to out scripts. He also gives us “commerce” homework, which relates to turning this into a career. Another thing I appreciate. It’s one thing to teach me how to write a script. It’s another to help me learn how to talk to agents and what to do once I have one. The goal of the class is that at the end of the 8 weeks I’ll have the 2nd draft of a spec script, as well as have started reaching out to targeted agents to build a relationship. More

Acting (a follow-up)

9 weeks.

Just over 2 months ago I was seriously and realistically considering walking away from acting and improv. Maybe forever, maybe for a year or two. It hurt. It hurt so much. Death of a dream and all that.

In that place of hurting and breaking I knew something had to change. That was my frustration. That I (me, myself) was the problem. Which I said in that post and people worried about me because I sounded (apparently) like I was super depressed (I was, sorta, but not in the dangerous way) or broken (I was broken). I didn’t say it well. I said it in a way that upset and scared people but I said it. (Take imperfect actions)

I cried a lot. I couldn’t stop. It felt horrible. And I prayed a lot. That felt horrible too. I said, I can’t keep on like this. I hurt too much. I’m not strong enough. I’m breaking. I feel it. Like a brittle tree I just can’t bend any further, I’m splintering. I’m not sleeping. I’m not exercising. I’m not writing. I’m working and working and stressing and being sick. I’m all worn-out. And I can’t keep doing this. I have no hope left.

I know not everyone reading this is a Christian and I don’t give a damn if you believe me or not but God answered me. Not then, no movie moment. For over a week I was there. For over a week I sat in my own sadness and I looked, really looked, at my goals and ideas and I realized that I was trying too hard. Which is weird. Because I am normally all over myself for not trying hard enough. But in some things it’s the letting go that matters. And I’m very, very bad at letting go.

(I need to work even harder at the work. I need to let go of the results. I tend to do the opposite.)

I realized that I wasn’t going to get everything. That hurt. And I realized a lot of other things that generally made me feel even more miserable.

Then I made myself go out to an event a friend had invited me to, get out of the house. I was still raw and still scared and still looking at walking away from it all after that run of classes was up. And feeling very anti-social.

That night I had a random, unplanned, completely chance in the sort of way that’s impossible to imagine, encounter with someone who works in the film/tv industry. She said I was perfect for a role she was casting. Absolutely perfect. As she blindly listed off several things that made me perfect for it (and handed me her card- this was a major house here in Chicago) I just stood there. The things she was listing off were some of the things that were preventing my success. Some changeable, some not.

(The things a talent agent had told me would keep me from getting work.)

The audition never happened- the role was cut.

I don’t care. 

(Well, I do. It was a “launch your career” sort of role. But that’s beside the point.)

It was God. And it was hope. And it was a relief.

Not a promise. I might never, ever get a single role. I might never act in anything. I might never sell a script or produce or ever make any money whatsoever from anything related to theater or film or tv.  

(Except I already have. It’s easy to forget that I’ve been paid for doing improv. Several times.)

Hope. That was all I needed. And from that came a realization that I didn’t say anything about because it’s easy to have a revelation that only lasts a few days and fades. But it’s been 9 weeks since that night and it’s stronger now than it was then.

I am the thing in my own way.

I was 100% correct.

I am what’s been holding me back.

Just, not in the way that I thought.

Not that I lack skill, that’s an objective statement. (One I can fix)

Not that I’m not suited for certain roles- of course I’m not. I’ll never be cast as the sexy lead, or even the cute best friend. That’s not how I read in scenes. (I think I’d rather be the cop or the murderer or the jerk anyway)

Not that people don’t like me. (Some don’t. Some do. That’s life.)

I realized that weekend- in between when she gave me her card and she emailed me Monday to let me know the role had been cut- that I had never once actually believed that was possible. I held her card and I had the realization that despite my occasional fantasies of making a living at writing and acting (these are tied together in my head), I never actually believed I could do it.

Never.

Yeah, I’d daydream about being interviewed on late night shows or flying to Europe to film but I never BELIEVED it. As much as I wanted it I never once thought it was possible.

(I thought I did.)

If you’d asked me, do you think you can make a living writing for tv?, I’d have said, yeah- of course. And I believed that. I thought I believed I could do it.

I didn’t.

I held that card that weekend and I felt something inside me wake up. It uncurled out of the bottom of my mind and only once it was there did I realize that it never had been before.

Belief.

Actual, real belief. That this is possible. I actually, really, truly, fully, believe that for the first time.

Ever.

It’s always been “I want to” and “I’d love to” and “I wish” and “One day” and “Maybe” and “If I can”. That’s how the voice in my head talks.

For the past 9 weeks it’s been “When I”.

That’s nice.

I hear you. I know some of you well enough to imagine that look in your eyes. The one where you want to be encouraging but you know that it’s easy to talk and hard to act. I get that. That’s why I didn’t say anything right away. That’s why I’m debating writing this now.

Hell, I didn’t realize the difference right away. It took a few weeks before I realized that the shift wasn’t emotional. I mean, it was in the moment it was filled with emotion. But my emotions have been all over the map since then for other reasons and this, this whatever it is, hasn’t shifted. It’s not a feeling. It’s… a worldview? Lifeview? I don’t know. It doesn’t need a name to change me.

(I’ve felt this happen before. It was when I was 12 and I wanted a horse and my parents said, sure, if you pay for it. It was unreasonable to expect and impossible for a kid and there were months (years) where all I had was determination-there was no visible hope. (At 16 I bought one.))

I’ve believed for years that I didn’t have emotions. And even when I felt them, deeply, I convinced myself otherwise. That I was defective. Actually, I learned (somewhere) that I wasn’t allowed to take up space (mental, emotional, physical, relational). So I didn’t.

(head full of lies.)

I decided that weekend to try to enjoy what I am doing instead of freaking out over what I am not doing. Ultimately, none of this is going to make or break anything- it’s just what it is. Nothing more or less.

With the belief that I what I want is actually possible I’ve quit fighting for it.

(Working and fighting aren’t the same thing. I’ve been fighting. It’s made me too tired to work.)

In the past 7 weeks, since July 1st, I’ve-

Told probably a hundred people that I’m a writer and/or actress. Without qualifying it or apologizing for it or rushing to assure them that I know how ridiculous it is and I have reasonable descriptions of myself too.

Admitted to someone that I thought her goal of running play seminars as a living was amazing and something I loved. Which I would have done before. Then I basically added, “Let me know if I can help you. I’d love to do something like that, and I’d love to work with you sometime.” Now, it wasn’t that straight-forward in the moment but I still marveled at my boldness that night as I lay in bed.

Been the main character in a friend’s video sketch . She was talking about them, she does once a month, and I said, “I’d really love to be in another sometime.” I’d been thinking that since I had a small role in one in Jan, but before I would never have asked to be in one. Then I did. And then she said, “Oh, yeah. I’ve actually got a role you’d be great in.”

Had several exercises in Meisner class where I’ve had genuine emotional responses. I mean, really felt something. And SHOWED it. I cried. In front of people. And got angry. Really angry. I sent a scene partner scuttling across the room because I scared him so badly. That felt good. And then I said, “that felt good”. To my class. So impolite. Which felt even better.

Signed-up for the two writing classes that I moved to Chicago almost a year ago to take. That I’ve been too scared to take because, what of I screw them up? 

Had an authentic emotional scene in an improv class. Improv. I was sad and scared and upset. It was the sort of thing I always thought wasn’t for me. Out of my reach.

Got a huge laugh in the same class. Without trying. I half derailed the scene where it happened because it startled me so much. I’ve always seen myself as the one who doesn’t really get laughs. And, that’s been true. I don’t get tons. Didn’t. The last 3 weeks I’m getting a fair share.

Finished, and posted, a fanfiction story I started 8, yes 8, years ago.

Auditioned for a big, audacious improv show. I got a callback. I’ve never, not one time, gotten a callback for a show. And now I’m in their 3 week intensive audition process. It’s going well.

Asked for permission to enter an acting class out of order. And I got it.

Signed-up for and am currently attending at out-of-state improv intensive.

Made several big decisions about the next year of my life. (Future posts)

Quit a job that I hated. I just quit. I didn’t wait until I had the excuse of another job or a move- I quit because I was miserable. No other reason. I took a proactive step to care for myself. Which felt real weird.

Scolded a homeless (?) man. He had it coming. It’s a long story- the point is, I’ve spent the first 8 months here ignoring him and keeping my mouth shut. Not to be polite, or out of compassion, or because I didn’t care. Not even out of fear. Rather, out of the idea that I didn’t have the right to have an opinion about the way he talked to me. (I never would have said it that way, not even to myself)

That post 9 weeks ago led the way to all of this because it made me SAY what the problem was. And then ask for help. And then I got help.

I’m still marveling over that.

New Mug

image

I found this yesterday, it the midst of struggling with posting that last entry and class and talking to someone about it.

Sometimes an impulse buy is the right decision.

Acting (my heart hurts)

 

Last week I went home for a week. Sometimes I forget how much I miss my family until I see them again and it all comes back- I didn’t want to return to Chicago. Not because Chicago is so terrible (though there are some parts I’m finding I hate as much as I love other parts) but because it’s so far. Only seeing everyone a couple of times a year is hard.

I came back out of sorts and restless, it didn’t help that my flight had been canceled and there was all that annoyance around getting back. Jumped straight into working both jobs, gotta hit the ground running. Gotta make-up for lost shifts at work. (absolutely exhausted- physically, mentally, and emotionally) Did a Meisner class on Sunday to cover the one I missed on Tuesday and then to my current improv class/show that night.

It was awful. I felt like walking away from acting by the end. I doubted my ability, my possibilities, my aptitude, my training/experience, myself. I not only left feeling like a failure at improv but also as a person. It was a of pain deep inside. Not the acute, “I can’t believe I did/said/whatevered that on stage”. I get those, they fade pretty quick. That is just (just. Hah!) shame and embarrassment. A sharp, stinging failure. But like a slap I’ve found that normally a good night’s sleep will get rid of that. Or at least let me deal with it rationally. This was something else and when I woke up the next morning I was crying in my sleep and felt worse than I had the night before.

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