THE MUSEUM OF ABSURD FEARS
EXHIBIT #05 – Missing the Mark

 

FEAR OF THE WEEK: Giving up the second I miss the mark once.

 

So, I missed my usual Saturday deadline this last week. Which was…honestly, probably for the best, on a personal level, for multiple reasons:

  • First off, I missed it because I had a writing deadline for a project that I have been struggling to be excited about, but I made a point of using some unexpected free time in the last week to ensure I hit it.*
  • Second, while this was not a reason that I missed it, it was probably good for me to realize at 10:30pm on Saturday night that I was not going to get anything written, or posted, and that that was okay.

Part of the reason I started this project, silly as it is,** was simply for the discipline of making myself write something, basically anything, every week, and put it somewhere publicly visible in order to hold myself accountable. And honestly? I’m pretty proud of myself for managing to hit my arbitrarily chosen deadline for the entire month of January, which makes it a bit easier to forgive myself for being late on this 5th entry.

My mom made a point to me once, that as a kid, and specifically a hyper-perfectionistic one, I had developed the habits of either waiting until the last minute to do thing so that I could forgive myself if they weren’t perfect (see: 95% of papers I wrote during my 10+ years of college) or giving up as soon as things got difficult (see: piano, gymnastics, soccer***, modeling ****, etc.) On a certain level, I suppose it was good that this was brought to my attention so that I could be aware of this tendency in myself and try to take measures against it. On the other side, I sort of wish I had never realized this, or come to the realization on my own, because now I over analyse everything I do, or consider doing, against this metric.

So this is the point where normally this project would die. Where I would decide it’s too hard, it’s unforgiving, it’s unsustainable, I missed one and will obviously miss more so why bother, etc. But the whole point here was to try to get outside my comfort zone and commit to something long-term. And let’s  be real: I know that for all the folks who “like” my Facebook post with the links to these things, maaaybe 20% of those folks click-through and read the whole thing.***** But, the whole point was for me to make a personal commitment to this messy, vulnerable, soul-baring idea of writing a weekly post about some stupid thing that preoccupies my brain, without getting too obsessed with the perfectionistic need to have it read or acknowledged by anyone other than myself.

And so, here it is. Late, boring, and maybe less absurd than I’d like it to be, but necessary. I’m gonna keep writing these, and talking about them, whether anyone pays attention or not. And sometimes they’re gonna be late, and I’m giving myself permission for that to be okay. Because honestly, if I keep giving up even when something is as inconsequential as this dumb blog, how will I get anything else done?

 

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* I actually didn’t hit it. My draft was due by 1 Feb, however you interpret that, and I sent it at like 3pm on 2 Feb because I have a lot of internal and external struggle with deadlines right now. Thankfully, none of the folks expecting it were mad about it…at least, not to my email-face.

** And oh lordy, I know it is very silly.

*** I mean, I guess technically breaking my wrist also played a large part in this, but that might just be me trying to make myself feel like less of a loser.

**** Yes I took a single class and I’m still traumatized shut up.

***** And I’m not hating on that; I’ve analysed a lot of social media engagement metrics in my years of managing pages and I totally understand.

THE MUSEUM OF ABSURD FEARS
EXHIBIT #01 – Committing Out Loud

 

FEAR OF THE WEEK: Picking a topic to blog about that will last a whole year.

 

One of my goals in 2017 that never quite came to fruition was to get in the practice of consistently blogging. While I will say that I did a much better job of at least making quick updates about various theatrical projects I was involved with, I was never particularly consistent, nor did I ever really achieve the actual intent of my goal which was to generate more writing and share it, both for professional reasons (hi yes look I can words please hire me) and personal ones (committing to writing on a schedule and holding myself accountable by making at least some of it public).

So, in early December, I started spitballing ideas with myself about how to accomplish that goal for 2018. I quickly come to a few decisions that I knew would make things easier:

  • I needed to commit to at least one post a week.
  • I needed to post on a consistently scheduled day.
  • I needed to pick a theme for the weekly blog.

Now, I’m sure this all seems extremely obvious to anyone who has ever accidentally clicked a pretty graphic on Pinterest promising you 10 Hot Tips to Make Your Food/Fashion/Mommy Blog Successful, but I’m usually writing scripts in the darkness of my lady-cave, and the rules are different because A) not one sees them until they’re done and B) they’re fictional stories. So, I knew it was important for me to give myself parameters, just like writing a script on spec, so that I could stay on track. I also knew that, lest the dreaded “writer’s block” set in, I needed a theme so that I always has some baseline idea from which my content could come.

So now, with these incredibly obvious but reassuring guidelines laid out for myself, I spent the rest of December preparing for this endeavour the way I imagine most people would: I panicked.

If the list above was the incredible successful brainstorm I had about the preview of the project, then below is more or less the way every other brainstorm I had for the entire rest of the month went:

  • What do I wanna write about?
  • No not that.
  • Or that.
  • I can’t come up with blog posts about that for an entire year.
  • Actually, I totally could.
  • But nobody wants to read my thoughts about that.
  • Ooh, I love this thing!
  • But there are so many people who are more expert at that than me-

Lather, rinse, repeat 2-3 times a week for the rest of the month. New Year’s Day 2018 dawned, and I had no grand idea to publicly shout from the top of Mount Facebook in order to hold myself accountable.

After a brief interlude on the 2nd to the whole day involuntarily emitting a quiet high-pitched scream as I tried to crank out as many additional pages of a draft due that day as possible, I found myself cycling back around to this idea of a weekly blog. I spun my mental wheels for a few more days, and continued to veto every idea that came up.

  • Too niche
  • Unsustainable
  • Boring
  • Requires more research time than I can guarantee right now
  • There are better experts at on this topic than me-

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Then one night, I was looking up a Wikipedia article about a topic from one of many true crime podcasts I listen to. “Wow,” I thought, “that’s got to be one of my worst fears-”

And I stopped myself, because it dawned on me that the part of this case that I found the worst would probably sound completely absurd to anyone else, at least in comparison to everything else.*

So then when Friday rolled around and I realized I was about to miss the first week of the year and I needed to just pick something to blog about for the love of anything, I couldn’t get the idea of absurd fears out of my head. Not irrational fears or phobias, things that are psychologically rooted in a fear response even though there’s no inherent trigger or trauma behind them, but the kinds of bizarre or outlandish or unlikely things that pop up in my daily life and somehow end up becoming a horrifying fixation for no real reason. Like, trying to commit to a topic for a blog that, at best, three people will probably read.**

So, with that horribly long-winded introduction out of the way, welcome to The Museum of Absurd Fears, my new blog project where I explore the stupid, weird, and inexplicably-panic-inducing fears in my life. It’s gonna be gross, and personal, and probably really boring some weeks, but it’s an experiment that I’m committing myself to publicly for a full year, and I invite you to come along with me. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to the root of some of these absurd fears and make them, well…less scary.

 

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*Yes, I am being purposefully vague because I’m going to write about that fear in-depth for a later post – stay tuned?

** I am definitely watching comments all over to see if I am correct about which three, so please tell me if you do read, I just wanna see if I guessed correctly

Whelp, it’s August, and that means it’s time for 31 Plays in 31 Days, which I like to think of as the playwright’s NaNoWriMo, in a sense. The idea is exactly what it says on the tin: write 1st drafts of 31 plays within the month of August. Founded by two playwrights I know and love, Rachel Bublitz and Tracy Held Potter, the point is not to produce the next great masterpiece, or even something ready for a reading, just something in a semi-complete draft state that you can use as a foundation to edit or write forward from, and to help build that habit of daily writing.

I suck at daily writing. I always have. I think about it, but actually disciplining myself to sit down and get the words onto the page, whether for a play, a fiction piece, or even a quick blog entry like this, is hard for me. That’s why I like challenges like the 31/31 or NaNo. The sense of universal solidarity with some infinite number of other writers who might be participating helps me fell like like I’m not suffering through shitty first drafts alone, and gives me some motivation to try to, if not achieve the official goal, at least do slightly better than Past Me did.

This year, my personal goal for 31 Plays in 31 Days is to write the equivalent of one complete short-play draft (less than 5 pages, even)  every day, as well as 2-3 pages of one of my longer scripts, with the hope that by 31 August I will have drafts of 30 short plays and 1 full length in total. So far it’s day 2 and I’m already “behind” but hey, any words on the page are better than none. I’m tweeting 1-sentence summaries of each day’s draft to try to keep myself accountable (follow me here @LadyBedivere if you wanna see them), and every 5 days or so I’m planning to post a round-up here with those summaries and maybe my favorite line from each draft. No promises. But if you actually follow along either at this blog or on my Twitter and want to see more, let me know. Write On!