As I said in my last post, I had what turned out to be a wonderful, helpful, much-needed conversation with thesadpanda on Saturday. While talking about literature and travel and all sorts of things, I began to express my usual restlessness and uncertainty about where my life is/should be headed. However, in the course of the conversation, as I talked out my concerns/troubles/hopes/etc I came to a realization that seems like a simple one, but which was, for me, 28 years in the making.
I am a writer.
Now, for those of you that know me well, this epiphany might seem downright silly. Of course you are! I can hear some of you say. Haven't you always been a writer? Well, yes and no. You see, I haven't been only a writer since 7th grade. Since my first play in junior high, I was an actress/writer, both active in the drama club and frequenly contributing to our high school literary magazine and editing the high school newspaper. I double majored in Drama and English Literature at NYU, and a couple of years after college I discovered a new "love" in producing. So, for the past couple of years I've been trying to balance my three loves in an artistically polyamorous relationship. :) What I've finally admitted to myself is that not only was I not able to pursue any one outlet in the way they need to be pursued in order for them to turn into an actual career, but also that when I'm really honest with myself, I know that acting and producing stopped being fun for me a while ago. I continued doing them, because I had a certain level of skill at them, and I continued to be offered new projects that I didn't think I should turn down. Yet I didn't continue to enjoy them as much as I used to. Meanwhile, I allowed those two new loves to swallow up this other thing I love to do and continued to miss. In continuing to do all three, I wasn't doing any one of them any great service....and what's worse, I was grossly ignoring the one I cared about most.
From the time I was three, I was a writer. Then I was an actor/writer. Then I was an actor/writer/producer. And that's the thing. The writing never went away, and I realize now that the acting and the producing were just different manifestations of my writer self. I loved acting mostly because I love having an active part in telling a story. I loved producing, because I loved having more say in the kinds of stories that are told. So, they both stem from my love of storytelling, and what I thought to myself on Saturday was....Why am I not just focusing on telling stories? :) It seems so simple. But when you're as used to juggling as I've become, and when that juggling has become the thing that people expect of you, it's a difficult thing of which to let go. But as of Saturday, I made a decision.
I am a writer.
My focus now is to work on my prose - fiction and non-fiction. My focus is on completing short stories that are fit for possible publication, and sending them out into the world. My focus is on continuing to write for PinkRaygun, and hopefully branch out into some other non-fiction writing that pays. :) My focus is on learning more about the craft by taking a writing workshop and re-reading favorite stories with the intention of dissecting what makes them work, thereby honing skills that I've allowed to get rusty. My focus is on completing the novel I've been trying to write since 1996, the characters of which still live in my head as if they're real people. My focus is on completing the teleplay I started to see where my skill as a dramatic writer stands. My focus is on being a writer.
Now, I will never say never. All this is not to say that if an opportunity presented itself I would never act a role or produce a project again. I have too many friends whose talent I believe in who might ask me to do certain things in the future. I fully intend to stay with Stone Soup, for example, through its seventh season, and continue to act in the actor/producer capacity I've already committed myself to. This is our best season yet, and I love being a part of that. If Alex or Adam ever ask me to take a role in or produce something they write/direct, I will do so happily, as I know the caliber of their work and would be honored to be a part of anything they do. However, other than that, I won't be pursuing any other projects of that nature. They are no longer things I will seek out. Acting and producing require too much work/passion/soul for one to attempt them without the necessary love for them, and I just don't have that anymore.
It's funny - I've always referred to Writing as my "husband" and acting and producing as my "bits of stuff on the side." As it turns out, while that life was fun, I'm looking to settle down. :) Writing understands me better than anyone else, and allows me to express myself in the way that's most true to me. Writing has always been there for me at those times when nothing or no one else has been. It has given me so much, and I've strayed for far too long. I'm just grateful that it's willing to take me back.
So, there you have it. I am a writer. And I can see three-year-old Teresa standing before me tapping her foot and checking her watch saying What took you so long? :) I don't know, but I'm here now.