My kind and funny friend Rick Hall, who is an actor and a family man, says that an actor’s job is to audition. Every once in a while, you get a booking. That’s your vacation.
If you’re really lucky, every now and then you get a long vacation. A movie, or a series. A gig at a repertory theatre. But whether you are a performer, crew member, designer, director, or writer, it’s all temporary stuff.
It’s project work.
As an artist, you don’t have control over whether or not you will get paying work, so your life cannot be your career. Your life is what is happening around, in spite of and because of your artistic choice to compete out there professionally with the best of the best.
Because projects are transitory, it is easy for artists to perpetuate a “student mentality” long after graduation, and a sense of “waiting for life to begin”. Years ago, when I was working for a season at The Shakespeare Theatre Company, my sister Karen came to visit me in Washington, D.C. She laughed to find I that had saved all my empty yogurt cartons and was using them as bowls. Apparently I had a whole system down. Empty jars were my drinking glasses. Different sets of empty containers–take-out boxes, cottage cheese containers–each had their specific uses which I explained, to her vast entertainment. It had not occurred to me to go out to an actual store and buy dishes.
I was thirty-three.
Don’t live this way. Instead, remember that it is enriching to find a way to add a little gracious living without overspending. It’s vital to build friendships and good family relationships into your life. Enjoy whatever kind of work you are doing to pay the bills. It’s also great to “cross-pollinate.” Paint, write or take photographs. Play music. Take an acting class. Write songs. These are creative outlets over which you have control. We should relish the projects but we can’t live for them.
My sister’s laughter prompted me to walk into Pier 1 and buy four sets of the prettiest blue and white flowered English China in the store.