So, you might recall that I was hinting around (but superstitiously not revealing too much) about a “big thing” for which I put myself “out there” a couple of months ago. Okay, well my plan was to have next week’s column announce some splenderrifically delicious news about a new chapter in my writing life… but at this point (even though I haven’t heard the official word that I’m not moving forward with this “big thing”), I’m thinking there’s value in sharing where I am right now, which is absolutely certain I didn’t make the cut.
I mean, even if by some miracle I am selected as one of only three writers in this year’s Warner Bros. TV Comedy Writers Workshop within days of posting this column, the fact remains that right now, I’m suffering from something actors face every single day: the let-down.
Ah, the let-down. I remember it well, from my days as an actor. Without sounding like too much of a dick, I have to tell you that I haven’t experienced the let-down that often since retiring from acting. I decided to write books… and then I wrote books. I decided to cast movies… and then I cast movies. I decided to produce showcases… and then I produced showcases. For as much disappointment as I felt when I was an actor, I’ve felt as much joy of success as a non-actor. So, when I tried something really brave and scary and new to me in the world of writing (a craft that, thus far, has proven very successful for me), I suppose a part of me was certain that — while it was both a totally new kind of writing for me and an enormous longshot — I still had enough of the goods to get in the room.
And on Friday, I began noticing posts on message boards (yes, those very same message boards that inspired The Blind Leading the Blind column) in which writers who’ve been doing this spec script/contest thingy for years shared the good news: “Calls are rolling out today! My interview is next week.”
After reading a third post of this ilk (and yeah, it could just be the same one guy posting at three different message boards, but you know that’s not how the mind works while in the throes of the let-down), I paged back through my Caller ID. Twice. Nothing resembling “Warner Bros.” in the mix. A call from an agent at William Morris (about an actor’s deal on a film I’m casting). Another from an agent at Innovative (about another film I’m in pre-casting for). Yet another from an on-the-rise actor who wanted to thank me for casting her in the pilot she shot through me earlier this week. All wonderful, exciting, affirming-my-life-is-dang-cool calls. But not THE ONE.
Yeah, I know… they say notifications don’t go out ’til the 8th, but you know if people are getting calls on the 5th and you’re not… well, that call (or email) on the 8th is going to be of the, “Thanks but no thanks” variety.
How do I know? I’ve written that email.
I’ve rolled out all of the good news calls to the cast members or their reps and then out go the emails, moments away from my deadline for letting everyone know “either way” whether they will be advancing in the process, with a, “Wow, thank you so much for doing such great work. Unfortunately…” in there somewhere.
So, never one to shy away from turning a personal experience into a launchpad for a column (or at least a blog entry), I decided to really embrace this let-down as a wonderful reminder of how actors — maybe even many readers of this weekly column — feel… well… more often than they’d probably like to feel.
See, it’s really easy to talk big about finding a way to “let it all go” when you walk out the door. You’ve submitted, you’ve scored the preread, you’ve done your prep work, you’ve auditioned, and you really, really, really want this role. For whatever reason. Great script, amazing director, fabulous costar, excellent money, whatever. And you’re supposed to “just forget it” and move on? Pff. Yeah, right.
Well, actually, YEAH.
There is absolutely a muscle in there somewhere (among the tools of craft, the business savvy, the ability to network without getting all sweaty) that does in fact make the “letting go” happen easier for some actors. Hell, for some people, period. But it really is a muscle. And without regular exercise, well, it gets weak. I’m sitting here in the middle of a lovely reminder of that, right now. And yes, I can rationalize so very many things about this whole process!
- Hey, I hadn’t written a spec script for a sitcom since 1990! Good to try my hand at it again.
- Hey, I actually had the balls to try something really brave and scary without any ramp-up time or coaching whatsoever.
- Hey, I got an outstanding meeting with the head of a pretty dang high-end literary agent off this little spec script of mine.
- Hey, I realized that — even at 37 — a gal living a super-fulfilling showbiz life can decide she wants to give something new a shot, come what may.
- Hey, I’ve written a seriously strong spec script that I could actually try to just (*gulp*) get to the show itself.
But I think I figured out why this feels like such a big deal to me. It’s because that muscle I mentioned before is weak. And because I’ve never done this before.
That’s why this felt like a good column topic. Because now I think I have a better understanding of the inherent pitfall in a piece of advice I regularly give. I make it a point to say that learning to “let it go” upon leaving the audition room is one of the first skills actors should master. But I neglect to discuss something that probably makes it much easier to do. You have to have a decent volume of “activity” in order to really “let it go.”
And by that, I mean, the stakes are higher when you’re putting all of your money on one roll of the dice than when you’re playing the nickel slots all night long. You pretty much have to care more when you rarely go out for something that you so desperately want. So, my advice (to you, to myself) is to “do it more.” Just get out there, stay out there, keep reaching for it because that not only increases the odds that you’ll eventually get something you’re reaching for, but also really helps decrease the impact of the let-down.
At least I hope so. I’ll letcha know.
Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000776.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.