Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Part-Time Work, Television, and Diligence

When I started out on my own after my 10 years teaching at the university level, I was very concerned about making it.  I felt that if I couldn't make a career of my own happen, I would essentially be branded a hypocrite that simply taught stuff so I could hear my own voice.  Success was paramount.  There were no other options.

As a consequence, I have always been hesitant to accept work because I stubbornly thought it might "get in the way" of my vision for what I was creating.  I thought I might, somehow, be selling out and betraying my dream.  I've come to realize that's a common feeling amongst artists...  One I should have recognized all along since the students I was teaching were taught that temp work and part-time positions were bread and butter to their work as actors, designers, and technicians.  I wasn't listening to my own instructions.  In fact, it's considered professional to have the job that pays the bills as long as your working the rest of the time on advancing your chosen career.  There is a big difference between a job and a career.  Big difference.

And what--I'm so good I have people knocking on my door for my art?  Think again.  I'm not so full of myself that I don't realize I have a lot of growing to do...

But a decision like that is still hard to swallow when you're raised in a family that values education and employment the way my family does...  Stepping back from what is perceived as forward development in order to pay your bills is a bitter pill to swallow and hard to rationalize sometimes when, if your career was so stable and growing in the first place, you probably wouldn't need that part-time gig to pay the rent...

I don't think that way anymore.  I understand now how that's a self-defeatist, immature, and just plain unrealistic philosophy.  It's insulting to the hard working artists who have come before me, and completely egotistic.  I've had a couple part-time positions in the last couple of years since teaching, and I refuse to be "embarrassed" by them.  I think the trick is to understand that they are making my art possible to move forward, not detracting from the time I'd be in my studio.  The jobs I may take here and there are simply ensuring I can keep going in the long run.

There may come a time when I opt not to take part-time work, but for right now I have a position on the Laundry crew at La Jolla Playhouse.  It's for a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by Des McAnnuff, that started at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada and will continue it's tour after it has completed it's run at La Jolla. I have a position for the duration of the show through New Year's Eve, and that's a big relief right now.  Because of the nature of the work, I'll only be spending half days and partial weekends working there, allowing me studio time during the day, too.

Which is the key.  I have time to work there and do my art.  I'm looking at this as a growth opportunity:  how not to let a part-time job devolve into a full-time job.  This is going to test my mettle as I will need to continue working on my art as well as work at La Jolla.  If I let my position overwhelm my work week, or (conversely) rest on my butt too much when I'm not making my hourly wage, I'll fall behind on what I want to do for my art career.  This will not be easy for me, but my partner is also mulling over something that will help me avoid temptations:  getting rid of the television.

Yes, we think we are going to be one of those households that makes the leap from having a TV as the focal point of the living room to having a TV that is used when we want to watch movies.  Honestly, right now we spend way too much money per month for the amount of time we watch television, and as I really examine how I partition my day I have come to realize I've wasted so much time in front of that machine that I simply can't get back...  I may enjoy reruns of CSI and Dr. Who, but c'mon...  I mean, really...  People lived without TV for hundreds of years.  I. Can. Too.

Could this mean that I actually start reading again?  Could this mean I actually increase my work output?  Could this mean more attention to marketing and blog writing and educating myself through workshops?  I'm excited by the potential.

In essence, it's a step toward controlling what I do with my time.  A big one, but a good step forward.  And an investment in my career, I think.  It's about learning how to be diligent, how to shed some passivity and assume some responsibility.

So.  [Big Breath.]    : )

This is a step toward living in the moment, and not vicariously through TV.  This is a step toward career control and development and growth.  And I think I'll go through withdrawals (I can feel it now) but it'll be good for me in the long run, I know.

I can get to Living Life with Relish.  : )

Below is a preview vid from Stratford of the production at La Jolla...  Thought it might be fun to include it!  : )


  1. Big changes! But good ones. We gave up TV when we moved in June. It was a little weird at first but now we have to make more of a proactive decision to watch telly rather than being 'fed' telly by flipping channels. I dare say we might even talk to each other more. It's been a good change and I don't see a cable subscription in our future. I'd be interested to know how you go with this.

  2. I am really really hoping that it turns out similar to your experience!!! We often sit down to eat and flip through channels (we have hundreds of them) and land on things that are completely escapist (like Futurama or The Simpsons), just to avoid becoming involved in a program that will absorb us into staying on the couch... You know how hard it is to find good half hour programs that aren't mindless comedies? I'd rather watch Youtube tutorials, frankly, or Hulu...

    Anyway, we'll see! Wish me luck! LOL!


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