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Behind the Scenes

When I was acting, I used to love the rehearsal process. In fact, the process was almost better than the performance. It was spontaneous and fun and there was no pressure and you were there to learn and to try new things. And if you tried something new and it worked, “Great, keep it.” And if it didn’t work, then okay, try something different, no harm no foul.

I realized this morning that I need to incorporate more of that into my real world – especially in the projects I’m working on at the office and at home. Both of those theaters, if you will, involve some kind of action.

Work is full of interactions (written and spoken) and having to making choices. I’d like to start making choices and acting on them. Get them out of the way and just move on. Either they work or they don’t. I’ve gotta stop putting things off because I worry about making a wrong choice, or writing a crappy report, or getting a bad reaction from the audience/critics. Oh, and it turns out I’m consistently my own worst critic; well, except for a couple of corporate busybodies colleagues in our office in Henley who seem to have become my own personal Michael Riedels. Fuck ‘em.

I do the same thing about writing stories. How many fiction-writing books have I bought and online courses have I enrolled in? And yet how many stories do I have to show for it? Um, none. I have to realize that like getting ready for a show, the “work” has to be done before something can be put up on it’s feet (yes, another acting reference).

But no, part of me just want to sit down and have the story (or internal education piece on the marketing/distribution impact of UCITS III) magically go from some hidden spring of creativity, out of my fingers and on to the page (or computer screen). I suppose it doesn’t work that way. I need to stop worrying about the end product and just do the work. Why do I find it so hard to let myself write a crappy first draft? It’s just a read through … just an early rehearsal that is in no way meant to be performed. Get the rubble out of the way, find a gem here and there and then polish it up.

Maybe I think it should be like a good improv … witty and clever and smart and off the cuff. Then I remind myself that the best improv comes from lots of rehearsal … yes, there are kajillions of improvisation classes. What you see on the stage or on TV comes from lots of practice. Shocking, right?

(and interesting how with just one little vowel, improv becomes improve ... something I noticed via a typo ... see, more process)

I believe there is some gospel according to a bumper sticker (or was it a t-shirt) that says, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” I can buy that, if the meaning behind it is get out there and do it like you mean it. However, the in best rehearsals I used to have, it wasn’t about phoning it in, it was about putting yourself on the line, making new choices, trying new things, and feeling safe enough to fall flat on your face, say that didn’t work, and then try it again from the top.

You can’t go “back to one” in the real world, but you can learn from the process and do it better (or at least differently) next time.

:: :: ::

And as if to smack myself in the head to prove my point … I had some of this in my head before I sat down to write it, and yet I’ve reworked the text three or four times, added and deleted some shit, and then reworked it some more before (and after) I posted it.

Am I not a little too old to be learning absorbing all this?