musings

Days 6, 7 & 8

So, er yeah. The regular updates fell by the way side, didn’t they?

That said, I have been keeping up the reading and watching of plays. In one week I read five plays and watched two. I experienced a whole range of emotions and saw how some theatre can be so simple and at other times it can be so very complicated.

Day 6: Before I’d even got to work I read The Vertical Hour by David Hare.

img_20170206_112027_185What struck me most about this was that essentially it was a play about a couple. About a man’s relationship with his father, about a woman’s desire to reconnect with her true passion. Yet at the same time it was about the Iraq war, politics and the role the West played in the Middle East. There were some insightful speeches about modern politics and humans’ apathy to the plight of others in situations of conflict.

We don’t spend that much time with these characters but instantly we understand them, and it all becomes clear why they are absolutely not suited to each other.

I thought it was a masterclass in brevity and character. A play can be about many things, as long as your characters are watchable. I was definitely inspired.

Day 7: Purple by John Fosse.

This was assigned to the Tamasha writers as something to read before our next session. We will then have a task to complete. I’ll confess, I’m not sure I liked it. I struggled with it and getting a sense of what was going on. That said, I was impressed with how much you can say with very little actual language, or punctuation, in fact.

Day 8: Dear Home Office

Much like Brainstorm this show reminded me of the power of young people just being themselves. It also tied in nicely with my verbatim project Home is Where… At a time where I’m considering new and exciting projects for the Space youth theatre and having just launched Sharing Stories, it’s important to me to see how simple storytelling can be elevated to make something theatrically engaging.

I’m posting this on Monday, which is day 13 and the plays that I’ve read but don’t have time to write about are:

Girls, Blue Heart, The Convert, Death and the Ploughman and Mincemeat. Today we started a week of R&D of my play Coconut at Diorama Arts Centre, so to be fair, it’s unlikely these updates will actually come. You’ll just have to take my word that there is some serious theatrical learning going on over here.

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Day 5

My towel is in the ring. I fling it in, admit defeat and breathe a sigh of relief. If I’m honest I didn’t want to do this, the sense of dread as the first prompt landed in my inbox said it all. But I’d already paid by then, and well, I like to think of as non-quitter. I am sticking to some sort of ritual though. February is a good month for rituals, it’s my Birthday month and with birthdays come the inevitable doom and gloom. In order to combat that I like to throw myself into something….

Anyway, tonight instead of writing a murder mystery, I read Brainstorm. I was inspired by how simple and honest storytelling wins every time. Kids talking about parents and their brains in terms of science and personal anecdotes makes for a very readable (and I imagine watchable) half an hour. As someone who works with young people, sometimes we try and overcomplicate things, but really all we need to do is capture their raw talent.

I’d definitely recommend it.

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About Me

So the following used to be on my “about me” page and recently it struck me as highly unprofessional. Not that I use this blog/site as much as I should. There is work to be done, I understand that. I’m currently a part time content and social media manager for a marketing agency. This led me to consider that really, it’s all well and good preaching to clients about how their websites aren’t representing their business accurately, when in truth I’ve never really made the most of this. So I’m filing my flirty “about me” as I don’t think it’s quite far to let it go entirely.

A couple of Colombians once described me as having “brutal energy”.

I ramble a lot. I’m erratic. I’m a  work-out fiend, a book fiend and a coffee snob. I enjoy eating, sometimes treats that I’ve baked myself. I’m always dropping things on my foot, or walking into doors- I put it down to poor spatial awareness. I could write a list of random things that I enjoy (or don’t) for hours on end and if they were printed out and lined up next to each other they would probably reach from here (London) to Rio de Janeiro (conveniently my favourite place in the world). I guess that makes me opinionated, or passionate…whichever is the more favourable adjective..

Not another New Years Post

Psych! It is…well sort of. Ok, fine. It is.

Looking back over this “blog” there’s not been much activity recently, apart from a lot of New Year type posts over the years and some in the early part of 2014 discussing my creative exploits.

6th January 2015 will mark my 4 year anniversary of landing back in London. I remember it was grey and not half as cold as the weather I had left behind in Virginia, USA. The M25, as usual, was chaos and my parents had to turn back from their journey to Heathrow, leaving me to take a cab all the way “home”. I recall battling with what that word meant after living somewhere else for so long. Not that 2.5 years is that long in the grand scheme of things, but long enough to meddle with my concept of ‘home is where the heart is’. My heart was back in New York, but also in London and Virginia, and Guildford, (somewhere I’d only been once or twice before). So, as I watched the M4 turn into the A4 turn into Westminster and then the East End and onto the A13, and as the familiar sights of Romford appeared I knew I had to embrace the decisions that had been made.

But that’s not what this post is about. I’ve made my peace with New York. It’s there. An ocean away, a simple £500, 7 hour-flight from home, and I’m cool with it. I’m finally established here, in London, in my new flat with my not-so-new husband and I’m just so…content.

That word has the connotations of mediocrity, of settling. One says they are content when they’re not ecstatic, unfulfilled, when they’re holding out for that little bit more. Often we take it to mean that content is not enough, that it is a stepping stone to happiness. I’ve come to realise that happiness isn’t a state, it’s a sea. Sometimes the tide is out. So far out it appears unreachable and the more you run towards it, the further it moves away. And sometimes it’s just there, the waves crashing around you, enveloping and overwhelming. You can’t rely on happiness, because you can’t control it. Contentedness you can build. You can structure your life, implement ambition and develop a path that attracts what you want. I’m deep in metaphors here but the way I see it, instead of running after waves, I’ve learnt that the best way to appreciate happiness is to build a beach hut on the shore. When the tide is in, I enjoy wave hopping and when it’s out I settle for the luxurious feeling of the sand between my toes.

I’ve never known what I wanted to do. Career wise I’ve gone through jobs ticking off what I don’t want to do. It’s an arduous process, but it’s worked, sort of. 2014 I took a different approach. As previous blog posts have mentioned, I took a pessimistic stance to New Year Resolutions…why write down things you’re not going to stick to? Why suffer that humiliation in mid-May when you look back and realise you’re still smoking/drinking/eating rubbish/not going to the gym/not seeing as many friends or family members as you want to…? I always focused on what I wasn’t going to be able to do and thought I needed to change it. So in early January I took a chance. I wrote down a list of things I wanted to achieve instead. Completely realistic goals (mostly creative) and then I forgot about it. Mid-December I flicked back through my notebook and found the list. Surprisingly, I’d achieved everything on it apart from one financial goal, which I could have ticked off, but instead I went to New York and that helped me exceed one of my goals, which led to a massive creative and professional achievement, so I’m going to let that one slide.

A friend told me that you have to manifest the things you want. I’ve found this difficult because I’m always looking at “the bigger picture” and as I didn’t know what that was, I wasn’t accomplishing very much. When I broke the “bigger picture” down into smaller, achievable stepping stones I managed to manifest them. I lost my faith and a lot of my spiritual self over the years, I’m not at one with nature, and when this friend talks about meditating in order to vibrate at the same frequency as the Earth, I take it with a pinch of salt. I’ve never read a self-help book (unless you count He’s Just Not That In To You) and since my back injury I’ve given up yoga. I have no Zen, I barely have any hobbies, I just have the swirling vortex of thoughts inside my brain.

However, 2014 has taught me that amidst the chaos I am surrounded by, I am able to create an ordered, structured path to a goal. By breaking things down into small, wholly achievable steps, I can get to where I want to be, even if I’m not entirely sure of what that is. Most importantly I’ve learned to say out loud and to write down the things I want. Sure, I’m scared that by naming them I’m setting myself up for failure but everyone fails. Not everyone succeeds.  I’m working on ensuring I do the latter.

This isn’t a “look at me, look what I’ve done” post. It’s not about amassing comments, it’s about putting it out there. Recognising that 2014 mattered. (Although, of course I’ll share the link and refresh the stats page for the next hour…but who doesn’t). This is for my journey. I made a promise at D&D this year that I would choose myself and make more stuff and this is me acknowledging it.

I encourage you to do the same.

Happy New Year, may it bring you health, wealth and contentedness.

I’m an activator

A positive weakness is taking something that you recognise as a weakness and turning it into a positive. I’ve been doing this for a while now. I know that I find it difficult to come up with an initial idea, I’m much better at taking someone else’s and running with it.  I can hear something and see its potential, which makes me an activator.

An activator works best collaboratively, where there are plenty of opportunities to listen, to pick up on little nuggets of thoughts and find ways in which those could come to fruition. I guess that makes me a do-er, which is interesting as I’m also one hell of a procrastinator, I suppose that’s because I’m always waiting for inspiration.

I was never a fan of growing older, but it’s the word growing that is forcing me to change my opinion. Growing (physically is something I haven’t done since I was 12) mentally, in capacity to understand, in self-awareness, I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. I’m able to analyse my strengths along with what frustrates me, and that means I’m able to get stuff done. Who doesn’t love that?

So if you’ve got an idea, but don’t know where to start find an activator, there’s plenty of us lurking around. Or even better, give me a shout!

I am a writer, and I write…?

 

Every so often you’re given a deadline. A deadline is an expectation and a compliment.

It tells me that someone believes that I’m capable of producing something (worthwhile) in a set period of time. A deadline gives me a wonderful sense of validation and an irrational fear of insignificance. It prompts a massive chain of procrastinating events, which in turn, lead to a downward spiral of self-loathing and soul-searching. However, today I did some physical searching, A LOT of rifling through papers, looking for one in particular amidst my many, many piles. Thankfully, I found what I was looking for, and so much more.

In the past 4 hours I’ve read almost everything I’ve ever written and I have come to a conclusion. I can write. I may not always know what I’m doing, or where I’m headed, but I know that I have a lot to say. Quite often I’ve written it down AND actually, some of it isn’t half bad. YES! I don’t know how it “sounds” to disclose having a semi-existential crisis online, but we all have them, especially us creative types. The point is that sometimes it takes a “wasted day” to discover your own talent and to believe in it. Sometimes sunshine isn’t enough and it takes tearing up your childhood bedroom to find one, single piece of paper to realise all the other stacks of paper were worth your time and energy. Sometimes your own self-belief is all you have and you have to physically search for it.

During one of my education classes at NYU I was introduced to A Manifesto by Terry Tempest Williams. Collectively my class wrote a manifesto to why we teach. I later reproduced my own manifesto to why I write. Rereading it almost five years later I smiled at my younger self and her ambition. I chuckled and patted myself on the back.

Now I’m posting it on here and then I’m off to do some warm up exercises and finish my play. Alright, I probably won’t finish it tonight, but I’m going to go and give it my all.

So believe in your procrastination, sometimes it leads you into the dark past, but there’s always new things to be discovered.

Why I write-

I write, not because it was the only thing I was told I was good at, but because it’s the one thing my soul believes I should be good at. I write because I have a vision of an old woman in a reclining chair taking a moment to reflect over her accomplishments. I write because I want that woman to be me, surrounded by leather-bound books and scraps of manuscripts from which drip words, sounds, smells and experiences that need to be shared. I write because sometimes I feel that reading will be the only way I can comprehend what it means to be human. I write to inform others about humanity, to translate all the injustices into a poetic construction of language that the world can begin to use as motivation towards change. I write to motivate myself to change. I write to educate. I write because one day I will expire. I write because I am such a terrible communicator that I fear some people will never come to know me in my simplest, most uninhibited form. I write in response to all the things that move me; from winter’s first snowfall to the unbounded joy brought by getting to know you. I write for you. And all the “yous” that came before, each one of them perfectly individual, even if not so everlasting in flesh. I write to say, “Look what I did sucker! You thought I would amount to nothing, but I did.” I write to recall every heartbreak, near miss, uncomfortable situation and chance encounter, to remember, to relive you. You complete my memories. I write because I know I will never be complete and that to be complete would mean I were dead, that my story had finally come to an end. I write to keep myself alive, if only in my own head. I write because I have an insatiable desire to create beauty, to devise images, metaphors, colloquialisms. I must, I must encase my senses in all that is illuminated and powerful, or else fear the darkness in our society. I write because it makes me smile to hear myself read back the words loud and strong in my empty apartment knowing that my secrets are safely sandwiched between these walls until I choose to release them. I write because language has rhythm and energy and as sentences cascade and undulate onto a page, I am forced to dance passionately. I write because amongst my chaos the tapping of fingers on a keyboard is constant and predictable. It is a way to soothe my own savage beast, the one that lurks, prowls and pounces in time with my vulnerability. I write because I know I have to earn the privilege of calling myself a writer. I write to receive rejection letters, holding my breath until one day; one will morph into something positive.

I write because it’s been too long since I last did.

 

Happy Friday.

January. It is what it is.

You see, it’s frustrating. Nigh on impossible to write the first post in a long time, the first post of 2013 without alluding to the fact that a new calendar year has begun. It’s a well-known fact that I despise moments like this- public celebrations of new beginnings. New Years and birthdays are designed (in my pessimistic mind) to ensure one re-evaluates the way in which they have been living over the past 365 days, and how there are a number of inadequacies that need remedying. Resolutions, I’m sure, are supposed to inspire, motivate and set plans into action. Yet I stoically reject any notion created to remind me of how I have failed to achieve any unreachable goal that I may have set myself a full revolution of the Earth around the Sun ago.

The thing is that 2012 really wasn’t that hateful, in fact, it surprised me with some intense experiences. I found acceptance on a scale I don’t think I could have ever dreamed. My morose preconceptions melted away by blazing love to reveal smiling faces of family ready to embrace my choices. My protective armour thinned and I was forced to expose a large piece of my true self to one and all. I always thought it would lead to a painful rejection but it didn’t. If anything, it raised my own natural esteem, lifted me to a stature I had no idea existed. I’m not purposefully being cryptic, merely expressing the way that my darkest fears and self-isolation have revealed themselves to be little more than my own shadow. And now I can stand just a little straighter, free to squeeze the hand next to me and actually be celebrated for it. I owe everything to the face next to mine in the mornings for the part that he has played upon this journey to a more peaceful existence.

2 years are such an enormous breadth of time, yet that is how long it takes for things to seemingly settle. Yesterday marked 2 years since my return to the UK and tomorrow is the beginning of a new term at 3 new schools doing something I’m damned good at. It’s everything I’ve worked for- and this is what symbolises new for me, not an arbitrary date amongst millions in our way of organising time.

So now it’s January and I’m faced with the aftermath of being a christmas temp in a retail environment. December was wasted in a perpetual state of dehydration and over zealous customer service poignantly marked by new musical discoveries; all which point to the fact that if I could just get through those 2 soul-destroying months, 2013 would arrive and it could just be the year. Uber contradictory, I know. You try being this complicated.

The problem with any fleeting element of positivity is that in order for it to continue long enough to become the year, you need to have previously outlined what will make it so momentous, and thus the cycle of resolutions, expectations and failures begins again.

Therefore I continue my confused sense of pessimistic rejection of optimistic resolutions and end this post, which marks the beginning of my new working adventures, by sharing one of my hollywood chick-flick-esque discoveries of 2012. Draw your eyelid shut, imagine it’s just before the credits roll, and see your face reflected in the protagonist’s. You know it’s all going to be ok, otherwise they wouldn’t have made a movie about it.

Happy 2013 x

“What i like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”

As October comes to a close, I feel as thought the excitement that has been mounting since March the 3rd should finally simmer away too.

On Saturday we meet our wedding photographer, who by the way, was incredible- Andy definitely deserves a plug! I feel as though once we have our album in front of us, there is very little that will remain of those months of tension, emotion and exasperation. Not to say that ‘married life’ sinks into nothing, quite the opposite.

For me it signifies an end of a moment, an extended moment. There’s a touch of sadness, but really it’s a relief because now I can focus.

2012 has certainly been demanding thus far, it will be nice to settle down and reap some of the rewards.

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18/365

I finally organised my photos on the 365Project webpage.

http://365project.org/gting/365

It’s not a very good representation of the last 18 days as I haven’t really been able to focus on creativity. I haven’t really been able to focus on anything except “wedding” planning, which means I’ve let submission deadlines go and not even thought about writing in quite a few days.

As someone mentioned last night, we’re only 18 days into March, so even though it feel like I’ve wasted so much time, out of 365 days, it’s not that many. So I’m taking solace in this project, relishing the opportunity to capture a significant moment.

There’s many more to come…

1/365

Around this time last year I attempted the 365 Project- taking a picture a day for one whole year. I failed somewhere around May.

If I take what I wrote in my last post seriously, this is the final year before 30…this is the year to be creative, to get stuff done. As I embark on this set of 365 days, I’d like to document more. Facebook reminds me how little pictures I take. Often I flick through and it’s almost as if I didn’t exist last year. 2011 was a void. This strange half-year of living in-between two worlds. Missing people an ocean away and neglecting those right by my side.

Day 1/365 reminds me that I’m in London and I’m here to stay (for a while at least) and I should embrace the sense of freedom that arrives with a UTR and freelancer status. I mean, otherwise it would be called a stucklancer and that just lacks any sense of eloquence.

So my Unique Tax Reference is finally here. Now to find opportunities to use it…