Four Years of Acting Training...
...and the majority of my time since graduating has been spent writing. Well, majority of my creative time, I should say (don't ask me how many hours I've clocked on Civ 5 in the last few days, please).
I know I'm not the best writer, but I have always been confident in my writing abilities and I know I always add a unique style and voice to everything I hammer out through my nice clicky keyboard.
Acting is something I greatly enjoy, but the whole business part of it has really sapped a lot of my drive to do anything with the training I've been so lucky to have.
Writing has always been the fallback, not the focus. That seems to have shifted somewhat.
I've been having a lot of thoughts about this recently and wanted to spew them out so I will no longer be merely tormenting myself with the thoughts - if I get it out there, maybe they'll be more than just thoughts.
Sunk Cost Fallacy and Moi
There's a term in psychology called the "sunk cost fallacy" where people are less likely to abandon a project or goal or some other objective after having allotted a lot of time, money and/or effort towards it, even if it would make them a lot happier to stop whatever it is they're trying to do.
I don't feel I've ever been too much a victim of this; yeah, it bites to end a project after spending so much time on it, but you learn from it and you move onto the next one - that's always been my MO.
For instance, I used to write a lot of music. Heavy Metal ballads and the like (I still have the music notation on my computer somewhere). I even recorded some of them, and let me tell you - my first handful of songs SUCKED. They sucked a lot.
But then something interesting started happening around song number five that I recorded - it started to sound half decent. I haven't shared my music much with other people for a laundry list of reasons, but I am pretty proud of the stuff I was able to record during the last two years of high school and the first couple years of college.
Yeah, other people could listen to it, but it was really mostly for me - improving my skills so I could get better at it.
I once played an instrumental ditty I recorded for some people and they told me it sounded pretty professional. They were my friends, sure, but it was a very proud moment for me given that I'd had no studio or engineer to work with, just my own abilities with a guitar, some virtual drumming software, a Garageband knockoff for Windows and good ol' Guitar Pro 5.
I haven't written any music for a while. Even though I've accumulated a lot of relevant skills to self-record and write music, I haven't done so for the plain reason that it doesn't interest me anymore. At least, not right now.
So many hours spent on songs no one will listen to - sunk cost fallacy has got nothing on me.
And yet, when I think about the way I'm treating acting right now, it bothers me a lot more.
Four intense years of honing my skills at a not inexpensive school, and now that I'm out I'm kind of "meh" about the whole acting thing. I'm still submitting, but I'm finding it really difficult to get myself out there.
Now that I think about it, I'm having difficulty "getting myself out there" in general. Could it just be I'm afraid? Maybe. I could be letting fear get the best of me. I'm having similar troubles "getting out there" for acting just as I am finding the desire to "get my script out there."
Maybe the problem isn't acting - maybe the problem is just fear
That could very well be possible.
But I also know that it's possible that I may be having a focus shift. Or I could be expanding creatively. Or a number of other self-progressive sounding things.
This post is a little unfocused and that's okay. I'm really spewing the spew today and that is okay. Also rhyming is okay, bae. Sashay with the play.
Moving right along.
I have expressed some of these thoughts to people close to me, and one of them said something interesting when I was lamenting the fact that I have an acting degree but I'm not doing acting, I'm doing writing (that killer phrase there should prove to you that I am so totally doing writing so good).
I was told something to the effect of "Yes. And?"
I dunno, but there's something deeply profound about those two short syllables separated by a small pause and ending with a higher shift of inflection.
"Yes, I do have a theatre degree. And what about it?"
What about it indeed.
An acting degree has taught me more than performance; and as I'm writing these stories I'm realizing that I'm still utilizing many of the skills taught in my myriad of classes.
Story structure. Character. Action. Being "in the moment". Removing inhibitions. Point of view. Willing to be vulnerable. Honesty. Simplicity. Communication. Looking in, looking out.
A sense of play.
I'm using all of these things and more as I write, just from a different artistic perspective.
Yeah, my grammar may not be the best and I may still make some amateur mistakes when it comes to writing due to a lack of knowledge, but has it really suffered all that much because I pursued acting instead?
No. I think it's made my writing stronger. My time spent in another mode of art was not, and never will have, been wasted.
And you know what? I'll probably be acting up a storm soon. I know myself - I always come back to what I love, even when I neglect it.
Oof, that sounds like I'm in some sort of abusive relationship with my Muse.
Acting, writing, even the music... there is room for all of you. And maybe we can work together to topple over that giant mountain called Fear.
I'm not having an identity crisis. I'm expanding my creative horizons.
Pretentious? Maybe. But healthier, I think.