A month ago I went to an experimental theatre show where the performers called members of the audience on their cell phones and asked them personal questions. Most of the questions asked were fun things like, “Do you have a boyfriend?” “Is he a good kisser?” “When were you last embarrassed?” etc. The performers knew me (and I them) which is why I was surprised when they phoned me and asked things like, “What drives you?” “How do you measure success?” “Do you consider yourself ambitious?”
I answered their questions candidly but was caught off guard. Why didn’t they want to know about the last guy I made out with or a time when I was scared shitless? Why did they choose my career as a topic?
I left the performance feeling a little judged, almost that my desire to create and produce was shameful. Now there’s two ways I can view this: 1) I was being judged or 2) I’m insecure about way others perceive me. And as option two is the only one I have control over, since then I’ve been talking with friends about how others see me (because that’s what will help my insecurities, right?). I think my friend Riel put it best when she said this about me; “You follow through. You say you’re going to do something and you do it. Most of us just sit around talking about it.” This is not a bad quality to have.
So, with that in mind I have compiled five anecdotes on what I do or have done that makes me ‘successful’ in some people’s eyes so that you can go to experimental theatre shows and have them ask you awkward but not silly questions as part of the show.
1) Like you, I come up with ideas all the time the only difference between you and me may be that I write them down. Well, I try to. When I’m lucky I’ll have an idea so strong I can’t help but be compelled to write it down. This is the reason I always carry a notebook. If I leave the house without paper and pen I feel naked. I’ve recently heard that this is what David Sedaris does, he keeps tones of journals then later sieves through them for story ideas. If it’s good enough for him it’s good enough for me! Although this compulsion to always write my thoughts and feelings down is exactly what led to me writing so much bad teen poetry.
2) I constantly make To-Do lists. I don’t always get around to them but just by writing them down they linger in the back of my brain. Often I’ll forget about them by being on Facebook too much or watching stand up about Hot Pockets ad nauseam. In my To-Do lists I make sub- to-do’s and action steps. For example when I wanted to get Dance Dance Party Party VanCity up and running I only had to do a couple of things. I e-mailed the Community Centre I wanted to have it at, then I set up a facebook group, then I messaged people to join my group, I made a press release and sent it to the media, I made a mix to dance to, and then I showed up on the day. Granted after ten years of putting on events I’m well versed in the actions I have to take to make something like this happen.
3) Before The Secret* even came out I believed in the power of visualization. When I started the website TeenAngstPoetry.com I dreamed of compiling a book from the get-go. After three years of blogging, promoting and sending it to magazines and media people I got an email from an editor at Random House who thought my website would make a good book. That’s the power of visualization! See it, want it then do a lot of of hard and boring work spamming your idea/product to any and every media outlet.
* Confession: I’ve never seen or read The Secret but I think I get the gist.
4) When I started theatre school we were told to write three goals we wanted to achieve in our careers into our journals. These were my goals: 1- to publish an anthology based on my Teen Angst Poetry website 2- to do a Fringe show and 3- To perform in the High Performance Rodeo – an arts festival in Calgary, my home town that I adore. Within one year of graduating theatre school I’d accomplished all three dreams. Lesson learned: dream bigger! New goals: 1- Finish and publish my novel that I started writing during my MA 2- Get my own show (What is it about? What medium? Radio? TV? A Movie … I don’t know yet. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it) 3- Make millions upon millions of dollars and have a Dance Party for the world 4- Become the White Oprah (Oh, wait that’s not my goal that’s Dina Lohan’s)
5) I’m lucky to have been raised by parents who told me that “an overnight success takes ten years.” In order for dreams to come true you’ve got to put in a lot of hard work and ask for what you want. Submit yourself, your resume, your show, your website, your writing to anyone and everyone. Remember JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by not one, not two but twelve publishing houses and everyone knows how well her persistence has paid off.
So, now that I’m a career coach I guess I’ve got to suffice my methodology into a snappy catch phrase. Here it is: You wanna do something? Just fawking do it! Make a plan and fawking do it!
I’ll see you at the massive dance party in 2013.