Wednesday, November 6, 2013

So This is What It's Like to Lose My Mind

Last week when catching up with a friend on The Facebook, I half-jokingly described my existence as follows:

"I spend 80% of my waking hours auditioning for work on camera, preparing to audition for work on camera, busting ass to try to get more auditions for work on camera, working out to be in shape to work on camera... and every once in a while, I get to actually work on camera. When I'm not doing those things, I go to screenings to watch other people work on camera."

We laughed, but it's essentially true. Every morning I get up early and research the latest castings, connect with my agent on what's out there that's right for me, and what connection I have with that office. I audition when I can. I prepare self-tapes when my agent can only convince them to watch a link instead of calling me in the room. On my own dime. Multiple times a week. I send postcards, thank you cards, thank you gifts, connect with casting directors and producers on social media platforms. I attend workshops, screenings, premieres, networking mixers, industry Q&A panels, film festivals... anything that has the potential, however remote, to put me in a conversation with somebody developing a project somewhere. I work rooms, exchange business cards, follow up with emails, send updates to stay on radars. I have checklists and databases full of names and details so that with a single click I can pull up a contact history and see exactly how and when I've communicated with him/her in the past. If it's been too long, I make an excuse to reach out. I schedule coffee meetings, lunches, and happy hour drinks. I attend other professionals' events to support and promote their work even when it doesn't include me. I practice yoga and go for long runs and obsess about eating incredibly healthy to stay in shape. I get callbacks and "so talented" with regularity. My agent raves that I'm so proactive. I literally do not know one other person who devotes as much time and energy into this as me. Day in and day out. I know we shouldn't compare, but jesus christ! I live and breath this shit. I write a fucking blog about it!

And yet BARELY ANYTHING IS HAPPENING. Auditions are still few and far between, I haven't booked anything in a goddamn half year. Granted I'm going after bigger roles than I ever have before, but I feel like I'm going mad. How the hell do you stay focused on doing everything you possibly can when NOTHING is going on????? How do you stay poised, flexed, ready to pounce on the slightest opportunity should it wander by and not go completely bat-shit crazy when it doesn't?? When does it happen??? When will I not feel like I'm shouting in the middle of a vacuum and no one can fucking see or hear me. When will people stop saying, "She's great, buuuut we'll bring her in when she has a few more credits." That is my least favorite, yet frequently heard, phrase right now. I could go all Fight Club on the next person who dares to utter it in reference to me.

I feel like I'm in the middle of that SATC scene when Charlotte and Carrie go to the affirmation workshop.  In response to Charlotte's genuine fear that it's not working, the presenter says something totally NOT helpful like, "Maybe you're not really out there. You just need to really put it out there."  This video sort of cuts it off, but Carrie grabs the mic and essentially says, "Oh she's really out there, bitch.  She's putting absolutely everything on the line, so the least you could do is give us something more useful than that bullshit non-advice."  Well... more or less that's what she says.

I know I still have to live my life, and I do. I socialize and I date and I have hobbies and do stuff for fun here and there when I can, much like any career-focused person would. But my god, I am seriously putting it out there. I feel like I'm crouched in starting blocks, propped up on my finger tips, tush in the air waiting for that gun to go off.... But. It's. Just. Not.

But there is one ingredient in this mix that is essential: TIME. It's the tricky part and there is no set amount. For every different recipe -- yours, mine, his, hers -- the quantity is completely different. Some need only a dash. (Bastards!)  Others, barrels. Yet it is essential. It is inescapable. And my god, the waiting is crushing. Perhaps my recipe calls for a year. (Or maybe a decade? Help me!) I don't know. Either way, the only thing there is to do is to keep doing what I'm doing, keep believing and putting it out there.  And just be ready. (Patience is not a genetic gift I was given. It is hard. Oh so hard, folks.)

But I have tasted the high highs. I have felt the pure joy of acting for a profession. So no matter how long this business is going to make me wait for it, I will.

Anything else would just be settling.  And I will dream my life away before I do that.

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