This month, I’ve been editing the sketch I wrote and directed, TRUE LIFE: I’M IN LOVE WITH AN INTERDIMENSIONAL MONSTER THAT STOLE MY HUSBAND’S BODY...which is coming soon! I’ve also been at work on my novel, and a screenplay under the guidance of the folks at Save the Cat! (Follow me on Instagram if you want more fun photos and updates on what I’ve been up to.)
Today I’m going to try something different with this section of the website, which is to make it into a little blog. I’m not sure what it will be going forward, but I hope it will include some juicy bits about film, art, and the human condition.
Tomorrow marks for me the end of a nine-month process that was reading and practicing the three Artist’s Way books by Julia Cameron. Last year when I returned from my month in Edinburgh with the post-show blues, I remembered how The Artist’s Way had helped me a bit, back when I was a super-confused, super-anxious, pre-therapy, just-barely-young adult in New York. This time, though, rather than diligently changing every instance of the word “artist” or “writer” in my head into “actor,” and rewording every piece of advice to fit my grand pursuit of “success” (whatever that is!) in the business of Acting…I kept my mind a bit more open.
What I found in my heart seems in retrospect to be very obvious, yet I went for years without knowing it, so convinced was I by my upbringing that it was necessary to be hyper-focused on one specialized pursuit—that I could “do whatever I wanted,” but had to make lots of money at it to be valid as a person. I found my love of film (which has been unshakeable since day one)…and a desire to create the worlds I love rather than waiting around for the call to briefly inhabit them as an actor. I also rediscovered that the endless flow of words coming out of my brain could be used not just for addictively journaling my stress away or pounding out academic papers, but to make stories, screenplays, novels—the way I used to write when I was a child, starting before I could even spell.
I’m not saying to heck with acting forever; in fact my whole point is that we should follow our whims and not judge ourselves if one day we blog post about some totally new obsession. What terrified me most was the revelation that my precious identity, like all others, is built on pillars of sand. The second it occurred to me that I could write, direct, make my own films, and all that not just as a side project to advance my acting career…I watched acting dreams that I thought I would “die” if I didn’t achieve melt away in the span of a few days.
Our identities are not set in stone as we wish they were. Any good story, myth, or religion shows us that we have to constantly die to our selves to be resurrected, to grow. This intensely American idea of picking one job and putting your nose to the grindstone is missing a massive part of the picture. Even as I write this, old abusive voices spring up in my skull telling me I’m only saying all this because I’ve somehow “failed” at acting. So go the countless articles and advice with which I filled my brain for the first few years out of college, before I loosened my grasp a little bit on the idea that I had to be good at things to be loved.
The only thing we can keep reminding ourselves in our Dark Nights of the Soul is the same thing all those religions and stories tell, which is: I am not I, you are not you; we are all part of the same Source, however you conceptualize it. It’s in our nature, as in all of Nature, to be creative. All the rest (accolades, productivity, choice of medium, career rewards) is just…nonsense. It's little errors of the human thinking process, that nice little set of stories and traumas and mental chatter that we call the ego. Fortunately life will repeatedly teach us this truth, whether we will it or not.