90 Days to Disappointing Glory

Over the past 90 days, I embarked on a little self challenge. I did an acting self tape every day. Like, every day.

My goals were plentiful, but the main focus was improving my self tape skills and making it something that I just do easily and without questions. There was also a technique for self tapes that I learned not long ago that I wanted to keep sharp (especially because I wasn’t going to be in classes for a bit).

I had a ton of travel on my schedule. I had plenty of other things on my plate. But I did it. I did a self tape every day. For 90 damn days.

Yet, the title of this post as the word “disappointing” in it. Why?

Well, my friends, that’s because my quiet goal was actually 108 self tapes every day. It’s a weird number, but any of you yogis out there know that 108 is a magical number of transformation. I quietly told myself 90 would be amazing. But I figured by the time I got to 90, I’d be able to just keep plowing through to get to that strange and wonderful 108.

That wasn’t the case.

Instead, I found I was often phoning in the self tapes. Sometimes, it was by necessity. I would be traveling and simply didn’t have ten minutes to set aside to get on tape. There were other times my travel plans went awry and I thought I’d have time and I didn’t. I was in about 20 states on the east and west coast and plenty in between (some multiple times) over the course of these 90 days. So, for me, the fact that I could keep up the commitment to putting myself on tape every day no matter what was totally worth it.

But by the end, I was drained. I was physically exhausted and creatively pretty numb. I still kept up my self tapes but I was phoning it in. The last self tape was me doing one line from a movie (a famous line, to be fair). I tried to give it my own spin. I was simultaneously rewriting a feature script I’ve been toying with for years that I finally have the motivation to redo. So, again to be fair, I wasn’t doing nothing. I just wasn’t focused on the tapes.

And when that magical 90 hit, something in me said “We’re done.” Not that I won’t do more tapes, I actually have made some promises to writers that tapes are coming (and if those writers are reading this, they’re coming!). And I really enjoyed the exercise and, for the few real self tape auditions I did get sprinkled in there, it certainly made it easy since I was already in the groove.

But part of me feels like I failed. I set out for a certain number and I didn’t do it. This is a habit I have of setting myself up for something pretty intense and then often petering out just before the finish line. That’s why and where the “disappointed” comes from.

I let myself wallow in this for about a day. And then I looked at the body of work I had accomplished and listened to my own instinct which is begging me to spend more time focusing on some other projects, and I accepted it. Though these tapes didn’t take a ton of time, I wasn’t devoting the type of energy in the end I needed to devote for them to have any benefit. But I was going through the motions, which is something I’m not a fan of.

On Monday (day 91), I took a long look at myself in the mirror and asked if we were doing this. I knew the challenged of the week ahead and the focus that has been begging for me to put it in other places. I know this weekend I’d be heading off to celebrate my husband (who helped me do these self tapes no matter what his chaotic schedule and despite the fact that he is not – at all – an actor). He’s celebrating a major career goal and the last thing I want to do is ask him to pause time from his own celebrations to do my thing for a minute. We’ve done a lot of my thing over the past three months. We can take three days and do his.

There’s an ambitious part of me that’s angry I didn’t finish those last 18 days. And the funniest part is, a lot of my actor friends are beginning their own self tape challenge in May. So it’d be a great time to get motivated by other likeminded people do to something like this and follow through.

But I’m on my own journey. And I’m learning from every major accomplishment, minor victory, and overly ambitious disappointment. I appreciate things most when I actually focus and follow through. And sometimes that means pulling focus from one thing to have energy to focus on another, rather than trying to half-ass a bunch of things simply because I said I would.

90 days of self tapes, especially given my atypical travel schedule, is something to celebrate. Other people’s challenges and journeys are their own. I can let them inspire me and need not worry about missing out on them. In the interest of balance as a human and creative person, it’s okay to tap out now and still revel in the glory rather than berate myself for the misses.

 

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A Year Ago

back in timeA year ago, I got some news that surprised me. Someone tried to tell me I wasn’t good enough for something. Well, the truth was, they did tell me that they didn’t think I was good enough for something. He basically told me I didn’t make the cut.

After I got over the initial shock since I found the assessment completely unfounded, I thought about the deliverer and I thought about the actual outcome of this news and its impact on the rest of my life. I realized that the deliverer wasn’t someone I admired who’s opinion I needed to listen to and the outcome I thought I wanted was absolutely unnecessary to the goals I had in my own life. Another outcome would have allowed me to check off a box that didn’t need checking in order to prove I live up to arbitrary standards of a system that’s becoming more archaic daily.

But rejection is never fun no matter what perspective you can later spin it into. It can bother you. And, despite the fact that I am now more relieved and well-aware that world is not one I want to be a part of, this one still bothered me for a while.

I mean, you want to get in an invite to the party even if you have no intention of attending.

So I was going to write a whole article in response going into detail about all the things I’ve done in the year since this day. But when this day neared, I lost my edge to write a vengeance-filled post bragging about all my accomplishments. First of all, it’s not really my style. And secondly, I just didn’t care enough. The truth is, this mattered so little to me by the time the day came and went, that I just let it go and forgot about it. I was too busy actually doing the things that I love to take time out of my day to focus on telling people that I’m doing the things that I love.

And when I realized I missed my chance for my year-later response, I couldn’t find a shred of me that really cared. It all felt so long ago and my life has been progressively getting better, more fulfilling, and happier since that day.

When the issue comes up, of course I’m candid and honest about how I felt about the whole situation. But the underlying truth of the matter is that I care about it a lot less now that I thought I would. Which, for the most part, is liberating. But a little part of me still wishes I were angry so that I could let their rejection continue to fuel me.

But I’m not angry. While initial frustrations and rejections can make for good tinder for a fire, they ultimately cannot sustain the flames. They can provide a little help making it burn brighter, but they flare up and burn out quickly. It’s the thick logs and constant care that keep a fire burning. For me, those thick logs are my own passion for creativity and storytelling, and the constant care is the diligence and consistency with which I approach turning my passion into a daily, viable reality.

To put it bluntly, I realized that the best way to show ’em up is to show ’em you don’t even need ’em. Cuz you don’t.

Show Me The Goodies

Listen, I’m open, people. I love new ideas and get extremely excited about the possibility of working on all sorts of new and enticing projects with passionate people.

But I’m at a point in my career (and life) where I don’t have time for empty promises. I don’t dislike people who make them, because I know most empty promises are not made by people who realize they’re empty. And many times, they may not be.

show me the moneyBut a whole lot of times, they are.

My point is simply this: Let’s be reasonable with each other people. If you’re going to ask me to take a meeting with you, and you pick the date, place, time and venue and are pitching your idea to me, I need to see some goodies that I get out of it before I’m enticed. That’s not because I’m selfish or an asshole. That’s because I’m busy and it’s human nature.

I’ll probably love your idea. I love most ideas because I’m just generally a fan of ideas.

But if you don’t have anything in place- no structures, no commitments, no tangible way of making the idea into a reality or not even a blueprint for how to get started- why should I care?

Again, not because I don’t care about you… but because I’m busy and have lots of ideas of my own. Because we’re human. And we need to know how something will serve us and make us as individuals better or more fulfilled. Otherwise, I’ll feel like you’re wasting my time. And I don’t have the luxury of time to waste.

So if you want someone to be as excited as you are by your project, actually show them something what they’ll get out of it. Show them what you’ve done, what you’ve already got in place to make this idea a reality, or show them your enthusiasm for having them on board and why it’ll be so good for everyone involved.

And for god sakes, pay for their coffee/meal/drink. If they’re giving you time to listen to your idea, have the courtesy to show them that small respect for their time.

Otherwise, they’ll walk away and be like, “Cool. That was an idea someone else had about a project they’re obviously really excited about and I don’t know why I should be too and not sure why I left work and drove 45 minutes to pay for my own lunch and listen to someone else’s idea and don’t know why I should be involved at all.”

Believe me. I know from experience.

How to Celebrity

Ijane lynch‘m lucky enough to work in Hollywood with people at all levels of the entertainment world. I’ve learned a lot from every experience and interaction I’ve had with tons of them and learn even more from other people’s personal stories. It’s no secret I hope someday to have a level of recognition for my work and influence like many of the “higher up” people I’m lucky to interact with.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from all the stories and interactions is to be a freakin’ awesome human being. No matter how “big” you may get.

To be humble, to be friendly, to be generous with your time and your money, to take time to chat with people on whatever set or show you’re working on,keanureeves to take time to get to know them and remember things about them, and to accept that once you’re “known” doesn’t mean you have to overlook anyone, anything, or take any of it for granted.

In fact, it’s part of your responsibility to be awesome. That’s part of the fun.

Every interaction you have will be a chance for a person to have a story about you. And because you’re part of the cultural fabric of society and are a recognized figure, people will delight in hearing these stories. You get the opportunity to make (lots of) someone’s day every time you have an interaction.

keyWhen I hear a story about an actor or public figure who went out of their way to be friendly and kind, I take note not only of how the interaction went, but also of the excitement of the person telling the story. And I always think to myself  “I want to give someone that same feeling when they walk away from something they worked on with me.”

It certainly doesn’t mean an obligation. And it certainly doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover. You can bring a level of professionalism while still being kind. And we should be clear, big-name celebrities don’t owe anybody anything.

But it is certainly an exciting opportunity.

And after having been lucky enough to see some wonderful people do it right, I know exactly what I want do to when I get the chance. I want people to walk away feeling excited and enthusiastic and like they were a real contribution to the creative endeavor’s success. Because no matter what level they contributed- fan or extra or executive producer- they are integral and important to success.

But more importantly, we’re all just humans looking for connection and happiness. So if you can give that in a meaningful way, you’ve just gotta, man.

Stay In Class

happy-studentI love learning. I’m an advocate for life-long learning. I download audiobooks for fun on all sorts of subjects. I get excited by the prospect of learning something new. I love being in learning settings with like-minded people. I often don’t even care if I’m going to ever apply or need the knowledge. I’m ok with just learning what someone thinks about something.

Like I said, I love learning.

I also love criticism. I love being evaluated. Of course it takes pretty tough skin because it’s hard to always divorce your ego from whatever evaluation you’re getting. But once you learn that what someone says is just their opinion and how they view a situation, you can learn more about both yourself and whoever you’re getting criticism from in the process. Once you see criticism as a valuable tool for gaining perspective on how the world sees you or your product- rather than something that should be avoided or something that always needs a response- you get to enjoy being critiqued and you get more opportunities for constant growth.

And growth means more chances to learn. And like I already said, I love learning.

But not long ago, I took a short “class” wherein we were evaluated afterwards. I put “class” in parenthesis because it’s not really a course. It’s what’s called a “learning opportunity” where you can get in front of individuals who may or may not be able to help your career and they give you feedback. It’s a little tongue and cheek because of some laws involved, but I’ve found a lot of success in these “learning opportunities” and have no real problem with them. One night, I had the chance to do a short scene in front of five different people. You only get a couple minutes or so in front of each one, so it’s not like there’s a ton of time to get to know someone. So I like using the chance to learn how I come across in an audition setting with other people. My feedback usually involves what type they see me as and some relevant or irrelevant descriptions of how I did.

The only reason it’s significant that I had several people this particular night is because the first four were pretty standard. I did well, they gave me feedback- some positive, some neutral- and we all went about our merry way.

The last guy I did my scene for was pretty proud of himself. Just in general. I didn’t like his vibe from thecocky-guy moment he walked in, but I let it go and did the work anyway. We don’t always get to choose who we audition for, so I used it as a LEARNING opportunity (see above) and went for it anyway.

His feedback was short and sweet. It was simply “Stay in class.”

That’s it.

Let me pause and tell you three ways to make my blood boil: Be passive aggressive, be consistently lazy, or tell me cocky bullshit like “stay in class.”

So, as you guessed, my blood boiled. I completely forgot about the other four evaluations I had that night (let alone the countless feedback I’ve gotten over the course of my near-decade long career) and wanted to walk back up and get in that man’s face.

It was a lazy thing to say. And a pointless one.

Sure, if you didn’t like what I did- I’m ok with that. But you need to give me a specific feedback if you want my respect. You need to tell me, “Your facial features were too big and unbelievable” or “It felt rehearsed” or even the generic, “I didn’t believe you.” Cool. Fine. I’m totally with you and those are things I get to think about and decide.

But this guy was essentially doing what another teacher did to me several months before that made me almost go on a rampage. The other teacher said, “General note… not enough specifics.” That means nothing. That’s a worthless sentence and serves no purpose. When I’m paying for an evaluation, I expect to be given one. It doesn’t mean I need to listen to you or believe you. It just means I need to be given to opportunity to know how you see me so I can decide within myself if I agree that whatever your pointing out is something I need to work on. I get to be the one to do that. You don’t get to keep that information from me as if I can’t handle it. It’s your job to tell me something you think is of value. And it’s my right to decide whether or not it’s of actual value to me.

But to top it all off, what made me really ticked about the evaluation “Stay in class” was more ideological. Yes, classes are valuable. Yes, it’s interesting to learn more. Yes, I’m obsessed with learning and a firm believer you always need coaching and further challenges and goals for your own growth. But, when it comes to self- expression, classes don’t teach you shit.

We live in a world where our youth have been over-educated (myself included! No complaints and thank you mom and dad!). There’s a class for everything now. And that’s great because classes can provide opportunities to delve into worlds you wouldn’t otherwise know and sometimes give you courage to do something you wouldn’t otherwise ever do. But at the end of the day, you can’t teach self-expression or creativity. They’re inherent. Your voice is your voice and you don’t need something or someone outside yourself to validate that.

And because there’s so many classes and so much available education, people can spend a whole lifetime believing they’re “not ready” or they’re “not good enough” or they “need more education.” Or even as troubling, people can choose to stay in school rather than following their passion because school provides security and following your passion means taking big risks and risks are terrifying. So we stay in school. We don’t venture out. We squash the creative voices inside of us that are begging to be let out to play because they don’t seem to have as much value in the real world. And eventually they get quiet. And they get sad. And you get sad, but you can’t remember why. And it’s because a part of you inside has been systematically shut down.

Fight back. Bring it back alive. People are infallible, no matter how much they pretend to be perfect. Don’t listen to anyone but your gut. If you do choose to listen to a few people outside yourself, choose them wisely. And only take a few to heart. Otherwise, let people’s opinions be just that- opinions. You can learn from them or ignore them. It doesn’t matter. By the time you decide one way or another, they could have changed them anyway.

If you think I’m a “bad actress” as was the case of this particular dipshit, fine. Cool. No problem. But I need you to give me a specific. I need to know something I can work on to get better. I don’t yet have an Oscar or my own sitcom, so I’m willing to bet I’ve got plenty to learn still. But if you’re saying you don’t like my style, that’s a different story. But don’t be lazy and give me shitty worthless feedback like “Stay in class” because not only does that mean nothing, it doesn’t serve any purposes. Classes can’t teach you how to be you. You have to teach yourself that. Then classes become enjoyable because you know what you want out of it, so you’re not attached to any sort of outcome.success kid

So here’s what I have to say to you, you lazy man who wrote “Stay in class” to me:

Stay out of my way.

Because I’m coming. And I know what I want and I know I have a valuable voice that won’t be served by listening to people who are lazy and don’t know the first thing about creativity. I’ve faced much bigger obstacles than you, and I look forward to making sure people know that they don’t need to be told it’s ok to be yourself, even if not everybody approves of who you are.

#OCLAPremiere

ocl step n repeatI’m not great at self-congratulation.

I am great at doing the work and sharing more credit with other people, whether or not they actually helped out as much as I say they did.

Was that self-congratulatory? Many apologies if so. I was trying to be self-deprecating. That happens to be my forte.

But last week I went out of my comfort zone and celebrated the premiere of The Other Client List, the web series I created, wrote, co-produce and co-star in that took about a year and a half to make into a reality.

It’s not like I worked on it all day every day for 18 months. But I did work on it a lot. And last week, I actually took a break to celebrate that work.

To be honest, it felt a little strange. All the focus and energy that went into getting the premiere up and away could have been used towards other creative projects. I could have been at home writing the book I’ve been tinkering away at for a long time. I could have been working on my new demo reel, or my new pilot, or a new character study for another project, or outlining episodes for yet another project. I had plenty I could have been doing. But I took a night to celebrate and show people the work.

I think part of the reason I’m hesitant is lingering fear. I say lingering because, for the most part, I’m pretty good at facing my fears head on when I recognize them. But there’s still a strong part of me that gets nervous when I put myself out in the world. I was nervous that it wouldn’t be well received. I was nervous that if I took time to look nice, I’d likely fall on my face and embarrass myself. I was nervous that people would be like “She spent all that time… on this?” I’m accustomed to taking risks, putting myself out there and getting rejected. It’s harder for me to get celebrated and to allow myself to be good at something. As a perfectionist and workaholic at heart, I’m always convinced I didn’t work hard enough or overlooked so many things that could have made my product better.

But last week was good for me. I told myself, as I scoured over the finished product again and again, seeing tiny fixes I wanted to make and things about my performance that I’m unsatisfied with, that I did the best I could with what I had at the time. And that’s really all we can ever ask for.

I think too often people get held up thinking something has to be perfect. I have that same inclination. For years I kept my stand up comedy offline because no performance was every good enough or I never got footage of a completed joke. But I’m slowly learn to get over it. I’d rather have a product I’m proud of online than have a thousand projects I don’t think are good enough never see the light of day. I appreciate the perfectionism and workaholic nature because they fuel and inspire me to keep doing better than the last venture. But I also respect the fact that letting them have too much influence in my life will cause me more frustration and pain than listening to them a little then letting them go.

I’m also learning how to relax and celebrate these accomplishments. The event last week was a real joy. And I enjoyed the heck out of taking an evening to gather friends and partners from all sorts of areas in my life to watch my work. I really enjoyed letting myself just let the work stand for itself. And I enjoyed people’s laughter and support. I realized that the rest of the web series will be viewed by people online, so I won’t get to hear the laughter or listen to direct responses (for the most part). So I sat back and enjoyed it. And when people said “good job,” I didn’t self-deprecate or try to downplay things. I smiled and said “Thank you.” I made sure the people who deserved credit got it, and I took credit for what I did proudly and unapologetically.

Because I did work my ass off. I put a ton of time, energy, money, and effort into this project. And it was time to celebrate that. And I wore an awesome outfit and didn’t fall flat on my face. And it all felt pretty daggum good.

But of course I have a western to finish off now and festivals to submit to and project to develop and imaginary characters to bring to life. So now it’s back to my favorite part… the work.

If you want to binge watch The Other Client List, click here: Season 1 of The Other Client List.

It’s coming!

OCL_Chalk_Collegiate_Pictures_v2_16x9_DateThe official premiere of The Other Client List is coming so soon! There’s still so much to do for it and so much to get prepared! And for some reason, the rest of my work and creative responsibilities haven’t stopped! So there’s lots to do! And somehow still the same amount of time there normally is in a day to do it! Is this making me go crazy? I don’t know! You tell me! I can’t seem to write sentences that talk about anything of substance! I have lots of blogs waiting to be written but aren’t getting written because I keep adding to never-ending to do lists! I am also only writing in short sentences that end in exclamation points! Here is the link to the Facebook event for our premiere! https://www.facebook.com/events/649995511777370/ ! Goodbye now!

Femoir: The Podcast – Partners! Show Notes

GoT-6I’ve been watching a lot of Game of Thrones lately… so forgive the very specific partnership picture. I talk about being a lone wolf, but if you watch the show there’s a wolf in this picture so I’m counting it (nerdy laughter!).

Anyway! The latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast is live in iTunes. And it’s talking about PARTNERSHIPS!

I talk about how I’m going to vary my intro like the Simpsons, then I dive into being “particular about my company,” and talk about a famous song from Chicago about partnership. I discuss my solo show and my stand up comedy, make a reference to a delightful Chris Tucker moment, talk about how I write about partnership often, discuss Stage 32, The Other Client List (my web series), talk about Closure, and how not all partnerships can work out.

And I also discuss my upcoming Western.

So much discussed! Take a listen and subscribe for free if it please ya!

And now back to Game of Thrones for me…

So Much Partner, Talk!

partners_backgroundI’ve been working on lots of projects lately. Which means I’ve had lots of partners. And I got to thinking about it. Then I got to writing about it. And then I got to publishing the writings about it. And now I’m sharing it with you.

3 Characteristics of a Good Partnership – Ms. In the Biz

And now I’m gonna go keep working on things. Perchance and perhaps you should do the same.

 

Femoir: The Podcast – GOALS – Show Notes

goalsIt’s back! And we’re gonna have new episodes every other Tuesday that talk about comedy and happiness, two worlds that I think should intersect more than they do.

This episode we talk about one of my all-time favorite things… GOALS!

I talk about a Dungeons and Dragons dice and how you need to sleep to be productive. I mention my new Kurt Vonnegut picture (and how he’s one of my favorite authors).

I also mention how people feel the need to lose 10 lbs, sodoku puzzles, the Second City Chicago, and SNL. And wrap it all up with a Pinky and The Brain reference before mentioning my own new goal and organization consulting business, Reasonable Revolution.