In the wee hours of the morning, I find myself dreading the workday. Most days, I wish I could just stay in bed and sleep. I hit the snooze button too many times for my own good.
But this morning I wished for something else.
I wished for a life that makes me want to leap out of bed and chase after it. Like a mad woman. Like a dangerous girl.
And although I haven’t been able to embody a whole lot of the things I have learned in this life, I do know this: If you want it, you have to go after it. No fairy godmother is going to come around with pixie dust that will let me grow money on a tree in the backyard or grant me an infinity of wishes.
I can hedge my bets and pursue a new job, or find a way to telework, or move to a new house, or start taking a new class, or any number of things that change my current situation. But I know that each one of those things will result in the same state of mind in less time than I’d like to admit to myself. I can use these skills–this ability to write–in a multitude of ways that will afford me a reliable paycheck. Reliable paychecks are good…they are the stuff of “making a living” and paying the bills and putting food on the table. Part of me is ashamed to find fault with my fairly blessed life.
But another part of me is not ashamed. I am not ashamed to dream. I am not ashamed to want more, to want better, to want passion, to want success doing something I love. I will hold on to this wish–this dream for a more authentic life–and I will hold on to this job in the meantime, but I promise myself to keep going after the dream.
It’s too easy to give up, anyway. This life means too much to just sit back and let it slide by.
Don’t let your life slide by, people. It’s too short and comes with no guarantees, but it does come with hope. Gather up your wherewithal and go after what you really want.
On “making it” into the world of comedy.
Sage advice from a comedienne who started her career writing bits for a puppet (Topo Gigio on the Ed Sullivan Show). You cannot afford to wait around for the perfect situation. Get your foot in the door and then your elbow and then, like the hokey pokey, your whole self. I’ve been waiting for a very long time for the stars to align, my writing room to be completed, my favorite pencils to be on sale…yadda, yadda, yadda.
Once you have decided that you aren’t going to wait around anymore, be vigiliant for those cracked doors just waiting for you to insert yourself. You are the only one who puts limitations on you. And, likewise, you are the only one who can strip them away.
Get to stripping, do the hokey pokey, and get in the door!
Advice from a master
It keeps me up at night…trying to figure out what a character wants. They are born and living only in my brain until I relinquish them to the world at large. I think this snippet of advice from Mr. Vonnegut is true. And as simple as it sounds, actual human beings are pretty complex and often times have no idea what they really want. Our friends may be better at knowing what we want than we do ourselves. I say I want a different job, but what do I *really* want? More money? More security? To be my own boss? To not have anyone to tell me what to do? Freedom?
Consider what your character(s) want/s. If it isn’t clear to you, workshop that character until they have it: desire. For something…anything. If they do already “want” something and it is something simple (like a glass of water), why is this simple thing so important? Does your character get what they want or not? Do they even understand this about themselves, or are they, like most of us, oblivious to this driving force? If they DO get it, is it everything they hoped it would be?
After pondering these questions…write for 15 minutes and see where you, and your character, end up. Good luck!
From Astrophel and Stella, 1591
I cross-stitched this in fancy script once upon a time. Framed and matted, it hung over my bedside table so I would see it when I woke up in the morning and when I went to bed at night. What a sappy romantic, right?
It reminds me that I have something important to write, and where to look to find my source. And I don’t mean that in a lovey-dovey way, of course. One of the things you will hear from other authors and teachers is to “write what you know.” When I was younger, I had a real problem with that advice because I was at least self-aware enough to understand that I didn’t know much. And how do sci-fi, fantasy, crime thriller, etc. writers write what they know when what they want to write about requires time-travel or alternate universes or to BE a murderous phychopath? And if I’ve had a pretty crappy life, that is quite frankly, the LAST thing I want to be writing about.
For me, it means, “write your truth.” And when you strip your life’s experiences down to the nuts and bolts, whatever this life has taught you is what you should be writing about. Of course, you can apply it literally, which will add the richness of first-hand experience to your craft, but again, that is because it is true.
For me, these truths are stored in my heart, and that is where I should look when I am wondering, “what do I write next?”