Monthly Archives: May 2011
A friend asked me a couple of days ago what my advice would be about putting on a show.
I almost instantly launched into a rant about Marc Maron’s recent interview with Conan O’Brien, where Conan talked about his ‘burning building’ approach to getting shit done.
You can listen to the interview yourself over here – but in a nutshell, he says that even though people congratulate him on stuff he’s managed to do in this lifetime, really he thinks the ‘secret’ of this success, is putting himself in situations where he feels he has no alternative BUT to get it done.
This means, for instance, committing to a project deadline before you’ve even had time to freak out about how serious the commitment is and whether or not you can actually do it. The bottom line is, the fact that you’re committed with no escape route or room for procrastination in sight, you just do what you need to do and bam. You’re through the door.
I realise now how much that principle has come into play in my own life…
- the first play I ever produced, happened because the theatre venue sent out an email saying they’d had a show cancellation and did anybody want to do a 4 night run of something in 5 weeks time? Without so much of a synopsis written, I said yes. And we did it!
- the first time I ever signed up to do stand-up (I just rang up and entered Raw Comedy), I had no idea what my set would be. But I knew that a deadline would force me to come up with something.
- When we moved to Canada, one of the first things we did was just book the damn tickets! It made it real. It gave us less leeway to question the sanity of moving across the globe with small children, and more focus on just getting done what needed to be done.
Ergo, my advice if you want to put on a show?
Book the venue. Or the tickets. Just make it real.
The rest will follow. (You’ll make sure of it).
Note: forgive me for my absence this week, I’ve been mad at work on my other beloved project of late: Small Hands, Big Hearts. I’d love if you would care to pop over and take a peek!
Part Three: Shut-Eye
I used to (up until this very minute) subscribe to the “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” theory of getting stuff done.
I say ‘used to’, and ‘up until this very minute’ namely because this very contradiction pretty much sums up the state of things right now: that is:
a) Right ‘up until this very minute’, I stay up WAAAAY too late each night getting my work done; only…
b) I ‘used to’ not feel bad about it.
If I could survive well on just a few hours sleep, you know, function properly, be happy as little Snow White, fa-la-laing while little Disney birds sat on my pastey fingers, then I could keep it going indefinitely. And without guilt.
But…at the ripe old age of 32, it’s catching up with me.
It may be all well and good to sleep when I’m dead, but I fear now that if I keep compromising my sleep while I’m alive, my body might just take me up on the dare…
Or rather, a solid sleep routine.
Which will then, feed into my new morning routine.
Which will help me calm and slow the heck down…
Wow, these really are connecting now, aren’t they? Maybe I should rethink the whole ‘this ain’t gonna be a lifehacking blog’ thang…
The real struggle is post-gig; it doesn’t matter how low key the gig is, post-performance I inevitably cannot sleep for many hours. It’s the adrenalin, the analysis, the pats on the back, the slaps on the forehead, the new material I want to work on…it’s like being high as a kite and then trying to go have a nanna nap.
When I was at Adelaide Fringe it was perfect – my wonderful host Julie was such a gem and was all “just sleep all day if you want to!” which meant that even while my nights ended late (some of them being technically ‘mornings’ I suppose…), I was able to compensate for it. Note, however, that I didn’t have kids with me. During festivals when we are all together, it’s a different story.
Mummy gets cranky. Very cranky.
(I said that last bit in an Arnold Schwarzenegger/Sylvester Stallone hybrid accent, in case you were wondering.)
I need a strategy. For the high and low seasons of this mummy/performing combo.
Oh heavens. Several of the comments on my past coupla posts are inspiring me so ridiculously much, I could possibly start another blog stemming from each of them respectively. Which, naturally, is exactly what the internet needs. More blogs. And emails. Oh yeah, and possibly trolls.
I particularly love the stuff on ‘taking the time to get good.’ I’ve been mulling this over a lot this past week. In doing so, I remembered a moment way back in the early days of my career (you know, those really early times when you’ve had enough of a taste of success to make you completely and utterly deluded about your impending meteoric rise), having a post-gig chat with a much more experienced comedian. He proceeded to give me some of the best compliments of my life about my potential, and then said: “You do know comedy involves a ten year apprenticeship, don’t you?”
And I didn’t believe him.
I kinda nodded and smiled, but thought secretly to myself “Yeah, maybe for some, but not THIS little pile of brilliance!”
Dear Lord, I was full of myself.
Now don’t get me wrong. To even bother pursuing a career as an artist, I think you have to have some degree of delusion. It comes down to that whole ‘Champions Lie’ idea (that I first encountered on a Nike ad, no less), that is to say, it’s all so very impossible, that you have to lie to yourself, to tell yourself that you can do it, even when the reality is that you quite possibly can’t, to even have a HOPE of getting there!
What I’m saying is, you kinda need to be full of yourself. You need that confidence. You need to, as Eddie Izzard put it in his doco, BELIEVE.
What you don’t need is to feel entitled.
Which is what I think I was back then.
However what I’ve realised since is that:
a) there is a long apprenticeship period to this thang; and
b) that is okay; and
c) the shit I was flogging before really wasn’t nearly as good as it needs to be. Not even close.
That was another part of the Eddie Izzard doco that struck a chord with me – when he was talking about how early on in his career he was parading about as though the material he had was brilliant, when, in his own words “it really wasn’t.”
I’m currently working on my show for the Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival (well, re-working it, to be accurate) and I have never felt so motivated to work hard. To make sure the delivery is there, for sure, but more than anything, to work on the material.
Anyhoo, I wanted to share a couple of bits that regular reader and friend of mine Mona posted on here recently, just in case you’re not a comments looker. They’re too good not to share on here; they spoke to me loud and clear and I hope they might speak to you too…thank you Mona!!!
2. John Wells (creator of ER and The West Wing) on what he would say to himself back in his uni days:
“I wish I’d known how long it was going to take. You come out and you sort of assume it’s going to be a couple-of-years process and you don’t really start making any headway until you’ve written about a foot and a half of material, measured up off the floor. That’s when you really start to think of yourself as a writer in the way you look at the world. It’s a craft that takes a tremendous amount of time.
“I wish I had more of a sense that it was much more like learning to play a musical instrument. After four or five years you start not to embarrass yourself. It takes 10 years before you can even begin to call yourself proficient. (…) It looks deceptively easy from the outside. If you look at the lowest common denominator you think “I can do that.” The craft that’s necessary – the time it takes to have enough trial and error to keep going with it — that takes a very long time to develop.”
A flipping men.
*Image courtesy of gfpeck
Kids, be good to your mums.
Mums, be good to your kids.
Happy Mothers Day! x
Part Two: “Getting a New Morning Routine”
Again, inspired by a recent blog post by Sarah Wilson (my fave lifehacking blogger by a long shot), I have realised that my morning routine needs a massive overhaul.
On a side note, after reading said post, I have hereby decided that Winston Churchill’s morning routine is:
a) my personal fave; and
b) utter proof that of his considerable responsibilities, child-rearing duties were apparently not one.
The thing is, when it currently comes to my morning routine, I don’t think the motions I go through really qualifies…
7.30am – Am awoken by screaming and/or a child of some description jumping on my head. I do wish I was joking.
7.35am – General denial that the day has started without me.
7.38am – Somebody brings me a cup of coffee. This is usually my hubby (bless) or my daughter (bless) with a coffee that were I making it, would be deemed too watery. But at 7.38am with sleep in my eyes and with no effort on my part to get it into my hands? Bless.
7.42am – Pry myself up and into the kitchen, where I proceed to throw lunch into the kids lunchboxes. This is if they haven’t just seized the day and started doing it THEMSELVES. Yes. I can’t believe it either.
(Note: this was completely without prompting. Indeed, I suspect that the only contribution I had to this ‘we’ll make our own lunches from now on’ development is my ridiculous lazy slowness of throwing lunches together. Hence, their response to take it on themselves. They’re fast. They throw in what they want. And presto! Early to school for handball.)
7.43am – Wonder whether I’m a bad mother.
7.44am – More coffee. Wondering ceases.
8am – 8.30am – Wave the kids off to school and stare at my toddler, who stares back at me with a look that says “What the shizz do you expect me to do now?”
8.30 – 9am – Try to avoid staring at my kitchen. Eye off the cornflakes on the floor. Talk threateningly to them. Occasionally dab stuff with a cloth. Drink more coffee.
Ergo, not exactly a routine. More a scene breakdown of a very sad sitcom. Seriously. All I need is to add an annoyingly pert neighbour and a lesson at the end and I’ve got a crappy development deal.
In my defence, this state of affairs isn’t total laziness. Part of the way I get things done round here, you see, is to do most of them late at night. A typical night for me is bed at 1am. Sometimes earlier. Usually later.
My hubby knows and supports this move – it is, after all, a choice that lets me play stay-at-home Mummy bear throughout the days (with work squeezed in here and there around Mister 2’s naps, etc.) – meaning that he is cool with me sleeping later than I would otherwise do and hence the fam being on caffeine duty.
Secondly, I have a thyroid issue, which, while being treated, does mean that my energy levels are not what they oughta be. And my hair falls out.
Point is, there are reasons for this gross neglect of quality morning time. Don’t get me wrong, I am also completely and utterly lazy. I’m just saying that’s not the ONLY factor playing a part in this morning pile of steaming turd.
So yes. Morning routine. It has to happen. For a little while there in Canada I had a thing going where I’d wake up before the kids, have a herbal tea and a shower, followed by some writing. It was awesome. And it lasted a week.
But…it has to happen.
I’m thinking exercise (Wii Fit perhaps most realistic, given that babysitting is not an issue, I can’t use the weather as an excuse to get out of it and my avatar makes me look like Uma Thurman – you know, if she was rather chubby), followed by a shower and writing.
And coffee…which, I should be changing to herbal tea.
But come on, for now, let’s not get crazy.
*Image courtesy of Lynda C Watts
For the record, let me assure you I have no intention of becoming a lifehacking blogger – I think the gazillion out there are doing a perfectly adequate job without my help.
But I have been really contemplating some changes that need to happen in my life; I started writing a list of them on here, only to realise very quickly that when it comes to each of them, I actually have quite a bit to say.
So rather than risk writing a novel on here (I love how I have the gall to refer to that kind of productivity as a ‘risk’), I’m doing what I do best in surviving the daily parenting grind of all three of my kidlets: I’m dividing and conquering.
Ergo, may I humbly present…
Part One = SLOW THE SHIZZ DOWN, DEARY
Tonight, after an extremely late night the eve before (spent seeing my dear friend from school days Sarah Collins’ very lovely show: seriously, I teared up more than once), I found myself pooped, irritable and heading straight for the computer to do my work…only to be interrupted by my hubby who staged a most brilliant intervention in the form of a candle lit bubble bath, incense and herbal tea. (And no, that’s not a metaphor).
And oh by heavens, was it needed. At the risk of going all Scooby Doo on your ass, what more can I say other than…
It was halfway through this bath, however, as I was drinking a glass of lemon infused water (yes, he put LEMON in it. I don’t know why that makes me want to do jumping jacks but it does…) that I realised that I was engaging in a ridiculous quest to finish the water as quickly as possible.
Then it hit me. WHY THE FREAKING RUSH?
I know the answer of course. It’s a shocking habit which has been long entrenched: I eat fast, I type fast, I am obsessed with getting things done and making them happen…NOW! This ridiculous obsession with overachievement, no doubt stems back to losing my mother young, meaning that I realised very early on in my life that this life thing is most definitely finite and therefore, one should proceed through it trying to suck every last morsel out of it as quickly as possible – as though it were a buffet on a sushi train that might not ever come back.
The only problem is that – just like sculling my lemon infused water – I then rob myself of really experiencing the flavours. Worse still, I get indigestion. And worse even than that, is that even if I do manage to find enjoyment in there, within seconds I’ve digested it and it’s all over. Next.
Timely then that an hour or so later I read this great post on Sarah Wilson’s blog (which I love more the longer I read it) about the need to slow things down and specifically, how “being great takes time.”
I do want to be great.
I do need to take time. (Longer timeframes on goals. For the small and big things).
And dear heavens, I need to engage in more bubbly bathdom.
(And no, that’s not a metaphor.)
I know what I need to do….but HOW?!??!?!?!
1. Your recent responses to my extremely dubious excuse for a poll, that of the “should I go for baby number 4?” variety. Most of you said YES! NOW! HOP TO IT AND PROCREATE, LADY! Which, while very encouraging (I’ve always dreamed of having a personal cheersquad at various inappropriate moments in my life), was also, well…yes. Freaky. Yet actually strangely helpful.
We’ve since made the call to wait. “What?” you say. “You mean all poll results on this here site are not going to be adhered to? Pffft! Double pffft! Physical pffft!”
Let me appease your pffft-ing by telling you that the big reality check of having you guys going “come on, do it!” actually helped us come to the conclusion that we don’t want to.
Rebels are we.
2. The ridiculously loud thunder outside my door as I type this. Or more specifically, that it represents a hefty storm I will have to drive through to go see THIS ball of goodness tonight! I’m so excited. Sarah and I have known each other since early primary school years and apparently there’s a hint of a mention or something of a character based on moi! I feel so Miss Piggy even writing that. Truly excited. But yes, driving through rain. Don’t like.
3. The ever-fading hope that my floor will ever be truly clean. Ever.
4. This little dude. Oh my heavens. He is two and how. He’s the first of my children to uncover the wonders to be found by pushing chairs around the house. Seriously. The kid can find anything. And he does. From overflowing the kitchen sink (“doing washing!”) to helping himself to frozen peas, to working out a quite elaborate way that he can open the front door into our unfenced front yard…ay carumba.
Both hubby and I find ourselves searching for paper bags to chant into, crying “This too shall pass…this too shall pass…why is good scotch so expensive…this too shall pass…”
5. How quickly July is approaching…namely cos with it comes Los Angeles, solo and musical improv awesomeness and general all-round freaking faboosh.