Things I’ve discovered while being on a media diet the past week:
All in all, though it was challenging, it was a positive and somewhat enlightening week for me…what it comes down to is, do I want to be a constant consumer of other people’s images/words/ideas, or do I want to be primarily a producer of my own?
It is possible that I am in a constant state of being too busy. Highly possible. Because, as I am coming down off feeling really incredibly stressed out and being able to cross a couple things off my list, I realize my plate is still pretty full.
First you add the perpetual stuff: day job, boyfriend, cat, house upkeep.
Then sprinkle in extracurriculars, which at the moment include: a class at Freehold, volunteer PR Coordinator for eSe Teatro, rehearsals for Studio Series Project, Slash Artists Collective prep/planning/workshops, yoga classes, going to the gym, remembering to take daily photographs for my 365 photography/writing project, and of course, filming/rehearsing season one of Causality. Oh, and keeping up with the ridiculous number of television programs on my agenda.
Now add a good dash of actual stuff coming down the pipes as well as theoretical stuff to prepare for: applying for Bumbershoot and possibly more than one Fringe Festival. Upcoming readings of Don Quixote. Graphic design work for eSe and other clients. Trip to Mexico! eSe Taller workshop with Myra Platt. Developing/rehearsing another long-term theatre project with one of my good friends.
And of course, I must continue to nurture my family and friendships, because they have always been my lifeline, via email/social media or preferably in person. I hate the phone.
Somehow, I manage it all, though not necessarly always well. Things slip. I used to keep it all in my head, but now have to put it into a calendar, and thank goodness for that! I guess I will sleep when I'm dead.
So...it begins again: the daily hawking and harrassment of all my friends, colleagues and acquaintances via Facebook, Twitter and email to pledge to this latest worthy campaign. The opening of the campaign page on Kickstarter to see where we're at and the disappointment as it slogs through sluggish slowness or elation when it begins to pick up momentum. And that wonderful, joyful feeling in the center of my chest when people pledge, which signifies not just a dollar amount (which in and of itself is important and the goal and all that) but something even bigger and more significant: this person believes and supports what I'm doing as an artist and human being.
Kickstarter is an interesting and fabulous animal - it works something like this, in the case of artists: you (or your group) creates an online fundraising campaign for a particular project. You must have a goal in mind, and there is a deadline. If you do not reach your goal by the deadline, you don't get ANY of the money. This is great, actually - it raises the stakes and creates a sense of urgency. And the beauty, for would-be backers is that you can pretty much donate any amount of money you want to, as little as a BUCK, or as much as you want. I, personally, am pretty strapped for cash at the moment, barely have two sticks to rub together, but somehow, have still been able to back projects in a small way...I like to call it "microphilanthropy".
Also, it works through word-of-mouth, via social media, email, newsletters and your actual MOUTH! The more people involved, the more people there are to get the word out, and if their people tell people and those people tell people...well, you get the idea. It has the potential to be very wide-reaching, and it can spread like wildfire when the momentum hits.
In running a Kickstarter, however, you have to be a little mindful. More than one per year and people get Kickstarter burnout. Didn't you just ask me for money for that other thing? My first two were two years apart. I worry now that my 2nd and third are not far apart enough, and perhaps my people are all experiencing the aforementioned burnout, despite the fact that it's for a completely different theatre company.
(On a side note (and this is MY blog, so I can rant if I want to), I always find it interesting that most extended family members are always right there when it comes to shelling out $$ for wedding gifts, or a child's birthday or what not, but when it comes to something like this, it's like crickets. It's more the principle of the thing, really, since I'm not the greatest when it comes to sending out gifts/thank you's etc - mostly has to do with being broke. I tried the handmade gift thing for awhile, but am never sure if those are appreciated, though they actually take more time, thought and effort than going to the store and plunking down a credit card. But whatever. I'm fairly certain that even if I was someone who sent out cards and presents to everyone's birthdays and weddings, these Kickstarters would still be overlooked by most of my family. It's just my weird art thing I do. They don't understand that each project is actually like one of my children, because that's just ABSURD. How could art be as important to someone as a CHILD or getting MARRIED for heaven's sake? Anyway. Rant over.)
This is the third campaign I've been directly involved with promoting. The first one, for Stings Like Acid by New Amerikan Theatre (of which I was one of the writers/produers) was an amazing, eye-opening experience that garnered us several hundred dollars beyond our original goal. The 2nd, for the Double XX Festival at Stone Soup Theatre started out similarly, had tremendous momentum behind it...and then I got fired over it - mostly due to a difference of opinion about how it was to be used (BAD, EVIL Carolynne for wanting to give each of the productions a little $$). Since a number of my personal friends had backed the project, many of them pulled their money after this occurred, and I saw the campaign lose momentum. It floundered and floundered...and then got "rescued" in the final week.
So now I'm helping run a campaign for eSe Teatro for the upcoming Oedipus El Rey at ACT's Eulalie Scanduzzi space in December. It started somewhat sluggishly, but now is beginning to build a little steam. The first few days were a little disappointing, and I felt personally responsible, but I guess this particular rollercoaster just started out with a straight and only slightly curvy track instead of a scary, upwards climb. It's only the beginning...
This actually occurred exactly a week ago, last Thursday, 3/29/12. Best day of my life. The moment I walked out of the building, I felt like an oily veil of fear, doubt and chaos was lifted and I could see more clearly than I'd been able to in a LOOOONG time.
But of course, now I'm unemployed, and have to figure out what to do with that. I'll be okay for a little while, and an even longer while if I am able to collect unemployment (which may be an uphill battle, but I have smoking guns and am prepared).
Of course, I remember being unemployed last time, for over a year. It was really hard. Specifically on the psyche and spirit. No one could come out to play, and many days morale was so low that I didn't ever make it out of my pajamas. The job market was so bad I just got discouraged and at points, just stopped submitting my resume because it felt like it was just getting lost in the email void, never a "We've received your resume, thank you" or a call for an interview or...NOTHING. During that time, I sent over 150 resumes/cover letters out and got TWO interviews. One led to a 2nd interview. But otherwise, nothing.
This was where it started - my devaluing of myself, that is. I had just come back from grad school where I had excelled - 4.0 for three years straight, while consistently meeting all my assistantship hours and participating in a variety of theatrical productions in multidisciplinary capacities - and an outside job to boot. Then I got back to Seattle and suddenly, I was nothing. No one would hire me. Many in my previous theatrical network had left town. The economy tanked.
Finally, I got hired at a small theatre, mostly because I'd designed brochures for the AD before grad school. So desperate was I to have gainful employment at that point that I accepted the low salary and dove in with both feet, despite knowing the AD was a "challenging personality".
I did okay for the first year and a half or so. But then the AD got sick and things started to go downhill, in terms of everything got piled on me and the Education Director. Lots of work, but no more compensation. And by the time she returned, I was dancing perilously close to complete burnout. I hung around through the summer with a bad attitude, and things seemed to get a little better in the fall - interesting projects to publicize, fun outside people to work with. But despite hiring an assistant, new and more complicated work got piled on...but still - no added compensation, no word of how I was doing, nothing. There was never any catching up - I was always a hamster in a stationary wheel.
In the month preceding my dismissal, things had started to come to a head...and the funny thing is, my getting canned had more to do with getting OTHER artists at the theatre some kind of small budget than anything to do with my own salary.
Now that I'm gone, I see how I've allowed my love of theatre to be taken advantage of and how I've allowed myself to be devalued and more importantly to FEEL less than or mediocre...something which started while I was unemployed and persisted through this roller coaster employment situation.
Well...no more. I'm hanging up my gloves in the Carolynne vs Carolynne fight. I have some mad skills. There are a ton of things I'm actually quite GOOD at! And instead of wasting all this energy feeling like I suck at everything, am going to expend the energy celebrating those skills and honing them even more. GO ME!
As I was driving home from Olympia this afternoon, it occurred to me I could use my unemployment as a great jumping-off point for this blog that keeps stalling. Make a commitment to myself to either get out of the house at least once each day or do something significant at home that has to do with honing these skills. And now that I actually have the time to write...here we go!
Day to day thoughts, rants and mental detritus.