"We've all had our ups and downs
It's been mostly down around here
Now this whole damn mess is becoming quite clear"
-Uncle Tupelo, Life Worth Living
Thank you for all your feedback on the podcast and the blog. Many more people responded than I expected, and virtually all of you wondered if I actually read what you wrote. I don't have time to respond to each e-mail directly, which feels shitty and disrespectful to me (you took the time, so why can't I?) but I think I can put here, for everyone, what I'd put into lots of different e-mails. I took it all to heart, and I am deeply grateful to everyone who saw my signal flare, and sent back one of their own.
So. Two things I suspected were confirmed. The first: I can't please everyone, so I'm just going to please myself. That sounds dirty. Let me try a different way: For every person who said they didn't like the "sacchrine stories about my family" someone said they loved the "heartwarming stories about family life." For every person who said "I wish you'd write more about politics" someone said, "I'm glad you don't write about politics very much." Everyone liked the narrative-style poker stories, and nobody likes the dry, technical poker posts. I agree. That's why I moved most of my poker content to CardSquad. I haven't had many stories to tell, but when I have a story that's more like Odessa than a dry retelling of the flop, turn and river, I'll publish it again.
Lots of you came here for different reasons: Star Trek, movies, gaming, technology, politics, family stories. I noticed that most writers wanted to hear more of whatever brought them here in the first place and less of everything else. I've said before that attempting to please everybody results in pleasing nobody, so I'll just have to write about all of those things when they strike me, and hopefully when I'm interested I'll be interesting and worth both of our time.
Thing the second: the general theme, from people who I know in real life to people who have read me for years, to people who have just been reading for a few months: my blog, once interesting, has become average and lacks passion.
My blog, which is a reflection of my life, has become average because I've allowed it to happen. I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but at least I'm aware of it, and I can begin the long and painful process of ripping myself out of my average rut, and moving to where I want to be.
I've been reading a lot of Seth Godin's blog, and his book The Purple Cow. In Purple Cow, Seth says that the first few cows you see are really interesting, but they eventually blur together and you forget about them. Then you see a purple cow, and it's extraordinary, and you take notice, and you can't believe you were ever impressed by a regular old cow. He uses it as a metaphor for marketers, but it applies to anyone who produces some sort of media or entertainment; it certainly applies to me.
Years ago, my Purple Cow was obvious: I was one of the first well-known actors to openly write about the experience. And there was that whole Wesley Crusher thing. Nobody else was doing what I did, so it was extraordinary. Over the years, I've fallen onto the other side of the bell curve, and now I find myself squarely in "average" land.
What do I do to paint my cow again? I'm not sure. Obviously, getting work as an actor again would be nice, and fire up my passions; working on some real fiction would also do that.
The excerpt I published yesterday is part of a very short story (it's only about 2000 words) but it's a start. I'm doing some work on it (changing from first to third person, for one) and I'm looking forward to publishing it next week. Maybe that will kick off something new for me that makes it worth your while to drop by my blog.
In many ways, I feel like I've run really hard, and really fast, and ended up right back where I started.
I know I'm a good actor, and I know that I can connect with an audience and do extraordinary work. That's not enough to close the gap between me sitting in an audition, and me getting hired. So I'm right back where I was five years ago.
Anne's ex isn't supporting his kids, putting the burden on me and Anne, and getting away with it. I'm right back where I was five years ago.
I'm struggling, creatively unfulfilled, filled with self-doubt and more than a little bit of self lothing. I'm right back where I was five years ago.
And you know what? I'm really sad that I've failed as an actor. I'm really sad that, even though I tried so hard my whole life to develop this skill, and even though I know I'm extremely good at it, I have failed to have any lasting success with it. It's not my fault, I don't think, -- well, other than the reasons I detail in Just A Geek (which makes a lovely gift) -- that the entertainment industry lost interest in me and what I bring to the party, but when I'm not acting in some capacity, I feel like a big part of my soul is dead. Writing helps, a little bit, but it's like methadone to acting's heroin. I'd love to find a play to do around town, or do another sketch comedy show, or do some improv, but the unavoidable, brutal truth is that I can't afford to. I don't have the time to devote to it, but I have to somehow find it, and walk a dangerous, delicate, precarious and fine line between providing for my family, spending time with (and enjoying) my family, and hitting the acting needle as frequently and as hard as I can without becoming a gutter burnout.
It's tough to write anything from the inside of my heart lately, because I feel like I'm just a big stupid crybaby. In my brains, I know that things could be a lot, lot worse (I know that, really I do, and because I know that I'm reluctant to even publish any of these thoughts) but in my heart and soul, I feel defeated.
Just completely defeated. And I don't have enough time. And. And. And.
I know that I have the tools and the power to turn this feeling of defeat into something better, and I know that I'm indulging a whole lot of self-pity . . . but at least I'll admit it, and own that feeling.
This is part of the journey, I guess. Maybe being where I was five years ago isn't so bad. Five years ago, I had a lot of really great stuff to write about, and a very Purple Cow to share.