Thursday, September 27, 2012

Does everything happen for a reason?

Many people believe everything happens for a reason.  Others say that to make themselves feel better when something goes wrong or they don’t get something they want, such a book sale, agent representation, new job, client or booking, or a house.  Sometimes we wonder what that reason is, or when or if we'll find out.
There are quotes on the topic, a song, blog posts and assorted books about it.

Most of us know people who, for example, lost their jobs, got divorced or didn't get into their first choice college.  They were unhappy at the time and perhaps uncertain about the future.  They might have tried to ease the sting with clich├ęs such as “bad things happen to good people."  But soon after, they found another job that paid more money and/or they liked better, or they met someone better to and for them, or loved the college they did get in.  In cases such as these, it’s easier to believe that EHfaR. 

Unpleasant things happen that we can’t control.  We can benefit and grow by dealing with them in healthy ways.  Other bad things happen because we don’t take steps to stop them.  We make bad choices.  Some trust in and rely on EHfaR when, for example, they fritter days away instead of working, even though they can’t afford to, or they drink, shop, or eat too much.  Because they frequently choose the high of instant gratification, of what is or seems like fun at the time, they may repeatedly pay the price with, perhaps, hangovers that impact their abilities to be productive the next day or more credit card debt...and more interest owed.  What’s the reason then?

Admitting that we’ve made mistakes or are engaging in self-destructive, self-defeating behaviors is difficult.  Accepting or finding and utilizing help can be even more challenging. 

We may never know the reason why good or bad things happen or people do what they do.  Maybe sometimes there isn’t one.   

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Journey vs. Destination

Some say life is about the journey, not the destination.  What do you think?

 Most authors don’t spend many, many hours hunched over keyboards researching, writing, editing and submitting manuscript(s) for only the joy of the process.  Most actors don’t hope for, prepare and learn lines for, and run around to auditions and callbacks only for the fun of “getting to act/practice our craft on a Thursday afternoon,” as Michael Kostroff, whoteaches Audition Psych 101, says. 
While I do enjoy the adventures along the way, I still want the satisfaction, validation, career and monetary benefits of getting where I’m going.  At the same time, it's important and valuable to step back from the hustle bustle of everyday life to enjoy and be in the moment, and not think constantly about where you’re supposed to be or what you’re supposed to do next.  
When you're an actress, author or feelancer, achieving goals often depends on others choosing you from among available options.  I don't get to decide that today's the day I'll get to go to a great audition or that I'll book a job, big or small.  Each opportunity to be at a major casting agency, each job is a reward in itself. 

But can it be enough?  I still want to book that national TV commercial.  Or if I get a request from an editor, to sell that manuscript.  The closer I get, the harder it is not to be frustrated and/or disappointed if I don’t. 
That doesn't mean I don't appreciate each step along the way.  Callbacks are wonderful because they show me, the talent agent and the casting director that the client thinks I’m in the ballpark.  When I get a revision letter, I know the editor or agent is very interested.  Author friends say, “You’re almost there!”  
"Almost there" is good.  It isn't "there."  So I do more work to prepare for the callback.  To make the revisions.  I enjoy and learn from the process while I look forward to attaining my goals.             

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Letting yourself down

Most of us have seen people on reality TV shows crack under pressure at critical moments.  They’ve worked hard and waited a long time to get this far.  Their dreams are at hand.  But American Idol contestants forget lyrics.  America’s Next Top Model aspirants can’t seem to take direction during photo shoots. 

Sometimes we just don’t do our best.  We may have carefully and thoroughly prepared.  We think we’re ready to ace the interview/audition/presentation, but we let ourselves down.  So how do we judge our performances?

Be kind--tell yourself and believe things like, “Everyone has an off day now and again.  I’ll do better next time.”  Then let it go. 
On the other hand, if we let ourselves off too easily, we may not grow and improve.  For example, there are those on AI who are so convinced they're fabulous singers they don't hear the judges' honest critiques or think they could benefit from advice.

Be analytical--review in detail what went wrong.  See what we can learn and put to good use in the future.  Sometimes we want it so much and/or worry so much about what we’re doing that we stay in our heads instead of being in the moment and trusting ourselves. 
Maybe we can recover, regroup after an initial stumble.  Or maybe we get even more in our heads, flounder and go downhill fast.  Consider studying and implement techniques to reduce and deal with nerves.        

Be practical--Consider accepting feeling frustrated and/or disappointed.  But know that in many situations, it’s not how we think we did, but how our audience perceives our efforts.  Maybe our standards are too high and we're being too hard on ourselves.  Perhaps we don’t think we did a great job, but the client is satisfied.  Solicit opinions from trusted colleagues and friends trust to see if theirs mesh with yours.  Accept constructive criticisim, support and find the motivation to move on.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Back and forth

When I was Gainfully Employed in the days before MapQuest and GPS, my job required frequent travel to visit clients in several Midwest states. I'd drive around Milwaukee, Kansas City, Louisville and even Topeka to see see five to seven advertising agency or advertiser clients each day. For another job, I had to visit many clients every week. No matter the weather, I had appointments to keep. Fortunately, most were within walking distance, but a few were in the distant burbs.

Good things about desk jobs are that you always know where the bathroom is, where to get a glass of water. And you have a space, even a cube with a few drawers, to call your own.

Many years of commuting to my company's office, then going to at least one client, then back to the office and then to another client--usually carrying a heavy briefcase--prepared me for being a working actress.

Yesterday, for example, I had an on-camera audition downtown that took about half an hour, plus driving. I had to go back home, then went to help a friend. We both happened to have a callback around the same time just past downtown (and, coincidentally, were paired up). We were there less than 15 minutes. Then back to my place. At night, I went west of downtown to work on a cable TV show and go out with friends, making three trips in one day.  Today I had a TV series audition that took less than 5 minutes. So I can spend more time commuting than I do at my destination.

At least I live in the city, not the suburbs like many actor friends. Most auditions are downtown, but jobs can be anywhere. I had an ongoing VO job in Evanston, and now have a client in Oakbrook, which can take an hour to get to. I do most VO auditions and some jobs from home, which is time-saving and can be done around my schedule.  That's convenient, especially when, like today, an audition arrives late afternoon and is due by 9AM the next morning.  

But despite all of the back and forth, I usually prefer being there in person.  I enjoy interacting with colleagues, as I did when Gainfully Employed, and also the opportunity to take direction and grow relationships in a way that can't be done via e-mails.