I can't believe it's been nearly a month since my last blog post. I could use any number of excuses to explain it all away, from lack of time, being super busy, being mopey, hitting a downturn, frustration. Excuses are garbage, and I don't think anyone reading this deserves an excuse. The simple reason for my absence from this blog is not giving it the time it deserves. That's probably not a great move for a young guy trying to build his brand. The truth of the matter is, I don't really know what my brand is. Part of me feels like I jumped the shark, trying to build a brand before the product was figured out. Sure, I'm the product for the "Whiskey and Stardust" brand, but what kind of product am I? What value do I bring?
As an actor, I'm only a bit better than average and haven't really been in anything I feel truly proud of. As a writer, I've yet to get a single piece of fiction published. I've done plenty of copywriting, and some of it is out there on the internet for all to see, but the things I care about, the stories, haven't gotten out there. Ironically, I think I've achieved the most success in my wrestling career, such as it is. I achieved my first victory a couple of weeks ago, albeit in a sneaky way (I'm a villain after all). I told myself that it was more important to shut up and do rather than bore people with my musings on the path there. I'm not sure if I really believed that, or if I simply used it to excuse my laziness. Because that's what truly kept me from giving the blog the attention it deserved. I'm a perpetually lazy guy, and it's a continuous struggle to get over that to do what needs to be done. In truth, I think that documenting what happens at this stage is beyond important. Everyone's eager to grab a megaphone when they're already successful, mostly so they can tell everyone how they did it (for a fee). No one's so eager when they're in their mom's basement, writing in a basement with stars in their eyes.
So, let me catch you up on what's happened lately.
I got my second paying acting gig of this year
It feels like a far cry from how I expected my year to turn out. In March, I got nominated for best actor in a student film festival, and I thought it was all up from there. I'd start doing commercials, get noticed, then move on to bigger and better things. Maybe I'd have a sweet condo in Los Angeles. Hell, I managed to get a gig filming a corporate video for Monsanto, so obviously I was going to do great, right? In actuality, it took a solid seven months before I got another gig I actually profited from. I got cast in a mattress commercial in Montreal and spent a full 12 hour day talking about how great Polysleep mattresses were (in English and French). It's not at all the rhythm I expected. I thought I'd be going down the rapids, turns out I was in the middle of the ocean without a heading. With that said, the gig was great. It was incredibly challenging. I learned an English and French script in a day and did a complete voice-over in both languages. There was a particular line I had to repeat 45 times before it actually sounded decent. There were no other actors. It was just me on a sound stage with ten people watching and waiting for me to get it right. It's a nerve-wracking experience, and I definitely felt like an amateur on a stage much too large for who he was. Still, I pulled through, and I did the job. I did the best I could, and that's all you can really do.
I started working part-time
This is definitely not something I expected. Long story short, a strong social network got me an easy job at a game store in my hometown with flexible (ish) hours. I used to think that having to take a regular job again would mean I failed. I was so proud, thinking I was out of the rat race and finally able to live my life on my terms. I was writing for money after all, so things were great, right? Turns out that putting all of your income on the back of your creativity doesn't really work when you're still figuring it all out. I'd decided to stop doing so much copywriting and just sell fiction. Didn't occur to me that only having one complete short story under my belt didn't make me the best writer around. Honestly, now that I have some steady income, I've been able to work on finding my voice and hammering out stories that I need to get done. Having to work part time to do that hasn't been all that bad (and the job's pretty cool too).
I wrote 2000 words a day for (most of) a month
November is national novel writing month. For the first time, I'm taking part in it. That means writing 50,000 words (a short novel) in one month. It's a challenge I've been eyeing for a few months now, a logical next step to my dedication to writing everyday. How's it been going?
I think I've missed three or four days since November 1st, otherwise, I've been writing at least 2000 words a day. At this pace, I'm on track to writing 50,000 words this month (though the full novel will end up being much longer than that I feel). It's been a lot of downs, a lot of days when it felt like hammering the keyboard with my head would lead to better writing. Still, I've been making consistent progress on the first draft of a novel. I never thought I'd be this far by this point. The idea for the book came to me several months ago, and it was always this thing I'd eventually write. To actually be putting it to paper (digital, but leave my analogy alone) is a...harrowing experience? You feel not quite as good as you thought you were, but also strangely satisfied at the end of each day, when that word count ticks up by a decent amount.
All in all, it's been a busy month. If anything's been drilled into my head, it's how succeeding at what you want is a process. There's no "big break", no matter how huge the next step feels. You can be proud and satisfied when something great happens that pushes your career along, but you need to stop expecting it to propel you into unbound success. That's not how it works. It's a gradual push, always getting ahead by a tiny bit more. Learn to love that process and you'll get there.
Although I'm still figuring that one out.