I’m already facing an interesting challenge that requires me to develop better work practices…
Hmmm… “better work practices”. How about developing any work practices! It may come as a revelation that I’m actually a very casual ‘worker’. I don’t do well with ‘structures’ and I hate dogma. You know the kind of thing: There is one way to do things correctly and nothing else will serve you as well….
That’s not to say I don’t work hard. (I can hear a cliché forming: “You don’t get where I am today without working hard” … also I hate clichés). I’m tempted to say I’m lucky, I have a gift, I just read the words – but that’s a little too self-deprecating (I’ve been there, I’m trying to stop it).
Let me rephrase what I said above. I don’t have any formal work practices. I have an enormous amount of experience but I do what I do by instinct. People ask me why I don’t teach much and I think that’s the reason. Perhaps if I could get inside my head and analyze those instincts I might find something I could teach, but right now I just do what I need to do in whatever way brings me the best results… No, wait. I’m not even thinking about the results when I work… I do what I think works for me, how I would like to hear the story told – and fortunately that seems to coincide with what others like to hear as well.
I do stand up occasionally and talk about the art and craft of narration. Most recently I attended a wonderful VO conference (that’s VO for Voice Over) in Charlotte, NC, a few weeks back. Actually it was an ‘un’-conference; no set schedule at the start, it just developed from what people would like to talk about and what people would like to hear in the arena of voice acting. I spent an hour talking about what I called my ‘holistic’ approach (meaning, I think, that I had no idea what I was doing, I just had the goal of making a good book accessible to listeners). One of the things that made some of my session attendees prick up their ears was my belief that a book tells you, itself, how it needs to be read. You can analyze as much as you like the perspective of the narrator and the genre of the book and it’s style, and so on, but until you actually start speaking the words aloud you really shouldn’t narrow down your choices on the voice that’s going to come out. It’s a scary proposition, like throwing yourself off a waterfall. But I’ve done that, and I rather like it. It’s invigorating.
[I wonder if that’s similar to the difference between American and British stage actors. I’ve heard it said many times that American actors like to analyze the heck out of their characters and motivations and love the rehearsal process. British actors hate rehearsal and want to get to curtain up and first night ASAP. It’s a huge generalization but maybe has a hint of truth.]
Anyway. I’m heading down a path I hadn’t planned on when I started today… let me get back to the challenge I began with.
I’ve found that an interesting thing happens when you commit to something in the creative field. I say ‘you’. I don’t really know about ‘you’ and maybe I should confine myself to what I have experience of. So. This is what happens when ‘I’ commit to something in a creative field. Suddenly, what seemed a barren desert locale in the landscape of my mind is populated by several oases of ideas (ooh, that was a fancy metaphor). Seriously, during yesterday and in restless minutes in the night and sometimes during today, ideas would pop into my mind as to good subjects to use as starting points for this daily blog. After all, I’m going to have 30 days to fill (29…well, 28 now) and I should perhaps make a note of what they are as they pass me by in case the desert re-establishes itself at some point in the month ahead.
It’s a fear I’m sure I share with others. I’m also sure people have great ways of recalling those ideas. Me, nothing. I didn’t write down a single one and even if I try to recall them now many are probably lost forever (…or are they…?). So I shall now try on a ‘work practice’: I shall carry a notebook with me, and write things down. Okay, there, I said it and I’m committed – let me conclude there and wish myself ‘good luck’!
But before I go – I had written something down yesterday before I started this whole project (write something every day for a month). In fact I made a special effort to get out of bed and find paper and pen to jot this down before I lost it. Then I forgot to include it in my first piece. It’s really at the centre of this whole thing. So I’ll conclude with it here and then go find some pretty pictures to brighten this page.
“There are things I need to do in my life and I’m not doing them. I don’t know what they are yet. But I’m going to find out.”