Throwing Mud at the Wall – Let’s See What Sticks!

Tigger naps while I write

The cat naps while I write

Sometimes it can get exhausting trying to juggle a day job plus feeding my artistic soul. Sometimes it can get so hard I think about giving it all up so my life becomes somewhat manageable.

Once upon a time it was a lot easier to make a living as an actor in Orlando than it is now. My friends who do have to travel a lot. I enjoy being home. I enjoy being with my family (human, furry, avian) so I stay home and do community theatre, the occasional movie shoot, and while I still love acting (and definitely still love being paid for it) my questions always are, “1. Is this a good enough role to give up sleeping with my hubby, walking my dogs, cuddling my cats, and giving up coffee in my garden with the squirrels and cardinals for?” So far the answer has been no. “2. Will I make enough money to buy us a beach house?” So far the answer has been no on that as well (dagnabbit!) – and less and less acting seems to be paid these days. And to add insult to injury, not only do they not pay you, but they expect you to get yourself wherever they want you to go (though they do still feed you once you’re there). I have good friends who are directors that I would do that for. But only so far. And since we’re nowhere near dysfunctional enough to qualify as reality show material (thank God) I’m not looking to TV to provide extra income either. I do enough theatre to keep my skills up (because I love it and just in case) but I no longer expect it to pay the rent (though if it does – bonus!)

So me being me, I prayed for guidance and was literally flooded in the space of one morning with writing competition notices – in my email, on my Facebook page, from friends and colleagues going “Hey, I got this and immediately thought of you.”

Last Friday night I met with my former Artist’s Way friends who I still meet with and study creative books with (we have since done Vein of Gold and Walking in This World – all by Julia Cameron – and are now studying The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte – I highly recommend this one as well). I love this group. When we get together, great things seem to happen for all of us. One of my fellow Desire Mappers got a flyer for this particular conference I was interested in attending and gave it to me. She got it on the very day we got together.

You can call it coincidence (and you may be right). I look at it as a direct answer to the question I posed my Heavenly Father – “You made me a writer, an actor, a musician, a photographer. Did you really intend for me to spend my life in corporate world?” I look at it as a boot planted firmly on my backside to propel me in the direction He intends for me to go.

Hubby and I went to see Bill Engvall at SeaWorld

Valentine Present from Hubby – VIP seating at Bill Engvall’s show at SeaWorld

So last weekend was a writing marathon. I had two deadlines in a couple of days. I now have Los Angeles time on my phone so I don’t have to keep calculating the difference between Los Angeles time (the source of screenwriting deadlines) and Florida time (the source of when to go to the beach). It tickled me that both of these deadlines were so close (what were the chances of that?). It tickled me even more that I had two screenplays ready to go and a column I wrote over Christmas vacation that would be perfect to send in.

As it turned out, when I looked at my favorite screenplay (which placed in the finals of one contest and the semi-finals in another back when I first wrote it) I ended up rewriting it. For one thing, I wrote it in Word. I use Final Draft now. For another, the things that weren’t quite right (but I didn’t know how to fix before) I know how to fix now – and did. I wrote from 3 a.m. Saturday morning to somewhere between 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning (when I looked at the clock and said “Oh wow. I’ve been writing for over 24 hours!” until I looked at the clock again and realized I was supposed to sing at church in an hour so writing time was done. I haven’t done that in years. I was also on for noon Mass. The high that I felt from doing what I love to do carried me through all of that. It was a blast. I only entered one screenplay – my favorite (entering competitions is expensive). And it’s even more of my favorite now than it was then. I took out some scenes, added more, but I was pleased to note the structure is basically the same.

This screenplay was inspired by Dolly Parton’s song Family. It’s my favorite song of hers and I had it on repeat while I was writing the original. It’s from my favorite CD of hers Eagle When She Flies . I was listening to it on my way home the other day and it struck me for the first time how many songs from that CD (Rockin’ Years, Eagle When She Flies, If You Need Me, What a Heartache) worked their way into the various characters and plots of this screenplay. So Dolly, if you’re reading this, thank you for the inspiration and please keep your fingers crossed. I would like nothing more than to see that movie made (pray for us) and to have your song Family be the title song for it.

So by Mass time Sunday morning I had that screenplay submitted (which I won’t hear about until months from now – which is annoying, but whatever) and a column that I love, that made all of my family laugh (a rare feat in itself) is off to seek its fortune as well (though I’ll only have to wait until the end of March to see how it did).

Best case scenario – I win both. First prize in one is attendance at a conference in April. It also tickles me that the only two writer’s conferences that tugged at my heart and told me I should be there are a month apart in the opposite direction – not spaced out so I can afford them. Impossible to choose between, because they both speak to what I want to do with my writing and with my life. One is sold out. The only way I can make that one is if I win (though it’s on my list for next time just in case). I plan to win. We’ll see if their plans coincide with mine. I hope they do. It’ll be tricky if I do win that one to get myself there (that would involve plane fare and time off from work) but if I’m meant to be there (and I hope I am) I’m confident it will all work out.

In the meantime – I signed up for the Writing From Your Soul conference in May. I’m going. Registration is paid. Hotel is booked. Luggage is located and ready. Sun Pass is standing by to cover my tolls. All that’s left is to get a rental car (if it breaks down I can call for another) and food for the trip. Followed by a book competition in the fall. Best case scenario, I win that too.