I was going to quit acting in November.
Well, I was supposed to quit this time last year. If you remember, in 2017 I quit my job for unrelated reasons and decided that, while I was young and free of much responsibility, I would go after my dream of being an actress…for one year. After that, I’d have to face the adult world, head-on.
But a year passed and things were going pretty well. I wasn’t making much money and most projects I worked for free or less than minimum wage. Had I needed to pay rent or buy groceries or pay for gas, I wouldn’t have lasted. But 2017 was a pretty good year on paper. My resume was a lot fuller, and I kept at it another year.
Unfortunately, 2018 wasn’t as good to me. Several paying gigs fell through, and overall I got fewer roles. There were positives; I got my agent, I was cast in my first union project, a short film I’d written and directed got into a couple of festivals. But in November I was nearly out of money and things were looking bleak. I finished an expensive acting class unable to pay for another with no projects on the horizon and nothing else planned. I figured I’d chill for the holidays and get a job in January. It was not long after this that I found out I’d gotten my first union job. It was so much fun to work on, and more importantly, it paid. Not a crazy amount, but enough to afford Christmas presents.
As I entered January, already applying to jobs, there was a surge in indie short films. There was a mentorship program helping female filmmakers create five-minute shorts, and with those came more acting opportunities. I got three roles and one background appearance from those, the last of which I’ll be shooting my part for tomorrow. So January ended up being really busy. I still applied for jobs, even interviewed a bit, but no luck there. And I was lucky enough to get a bit of money from the short films, which is good because I was this close to hitting negatives.
Something else was keeping me busy, too. A friend from that expensive acting class I mentioned earlier encouraged me to make a short film, and so I wrote a simple script, got together some cast and crew, and we’re planning on shooting it later this month. It won’t make money, but it’ll be fun and it feels good to be working on something.
Of course, if you know me, you’ll know I’m always working on something. If everything else were to fall away, there’s still my big bad book, known here as SC. I’ve been working on this thing for nearly a decade, but something seemed to change when I plotted the entire novel (and it’s sequel). I’d always had a vague direction of the story, but the first draft was so bad and so…wishy-washy, that all the drafts after it struggled to find footing. It was like they were all first drafts on their own, trying to follow the actual first draft while not actually following it off the bad-writing cliff it fell off of. I dunno if that makes sense to you, but it makes sense to me.
Having outlined everything, it was like having a map. Every time I got stuck, I had something to reference. When I wasn’t sure what came next, I could just check. Writing has been a lot easier since I figured out the plot, and since I wrote the outline, I’ve written over 18k words. These 18k words feel a lot more like a proper first draft than any of the others ever did.
But back to the acting thing.
My acting “career” has become like a bad boyfriend. It gives in just enough to keep me in the game, but not enough to be healthy for me. And objectively, acting is a stupid career to try to go after, but even with the less-than-stellar 2018 I had, acting is keeping me happy. It’s like those mice that kept pressing the dopamine button until they died of starvation. That’s acting. And I may very well die of starvation pursuing this, but is it so bad to die happy?
3 thoughts on “A Good Kind of Busy?”
I enjoyed reading your post. I don’t know any actors and I think it’s great that you are pursuing what you love. I hate my job and since I’ve started working on my novel I want to do that and not work but bills etc. I realised too that a plan would help my messy novel I’ve never been a planner but I can see the benefits now. Best of luck. If we don’t pursue our dreams what else is there. Even if it doesn’t get us money we are doing what we are meant to
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Thank you for your support! There’s always balance, you can work a day job and write in your spare time. It’s not one or the other, many artists still have day jobs.
If you decide to try planning out your novel, there’s different levels of planning to think of. When I first tried planning I went overboard with it. Now I just have a point-form rough outline which is a bit more flexible. It all depends on what works best for you, and it can take some experimentation to figure out what that is. All the best with pursuing your dreams!
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Thanks. The balance can be tricky but it’s doable most times
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