"Let me in from the cold. Turn my lead into gold. Because there's a chill wind blowing through my soul, and I think I'm growing old." -Pink Floyd.
In addition to Project Do Something Creative Every Day for the Rest of the Year, I am in the middle of Project Exercise Every Day For The Rest of the Year You Lazy Fat Bastard. I mentioned this on RFB31: I'm using the Seinfeld "mark the calendar every day" method, and not breaking the chain is proving to be a great motivator for me.
Late yesterday morning, Anne came into my office and asked me if I wanted to take Seamus for a walk around our neighborhood.
"Yeah, that would be great," I said. "I'm stuck on this thing I'm writing, anyway, and I think the change of scenery will be helpful."
Seamus is part Great Dane, so he is really dopey when he's excited. He does this little walk where he keeps his back legs mostly straight, and sort of springs along on just the fronts of his back paws. I'm not describing it correctly (though Dane owners may know what I'm talking about), but it's just adorable. We call it his happy prance.
Seamus did the happy prance to the side kitchen door, and sat down in what we call his super good sit pose while Anne and I put on our walking shoes.
A few minutes later, we were walking down our street. It was a beautiful day, with just enough chill in the air to hang around in the shadows, but run away from the late morning sunshine everywhere else.
Anne held his leash while he trotted along the curb, sniffing at mail boxes and patches of grass that seemed to contain Mysterious Things That Only Dogs Know About And Are Very Interested In.
"I love that the leaves have changed early this year," Anne said, pointing to a maple tree that was covered with yellow and red leaves. "Last year they didn't change until almost Christmas."
She grew up in Oregon, and while she doesn't miss the weather, I know she misses being in a place that actually has seasons more varied than HOT and NOT QUITE AS HOT.
"Yeah, I noticed that yesterday. We're going to have serious leaf piles whenever it decides to get windy."
"Serious leaf piles are serious."
I chuckled, and appreciated the reference.
Two blocks away from our street, the gutters were filled with leaves, about ankle deep. I delighted in walking though them, kicking them around, crunching them beneath my feet.
Anne and I were talking about the things you talk about when you're out walking your dog. She said, "hey, would you tone it down on the leaves? I can't hear myself think."
"Sorry," I said. "Serious leaf stomping is serious."
We stayed out of the gutters until we got to the corner of our street, and walked down the middle of it back to our house.
"How's your story coming?" Anne asked.
"I'm about halfway done, I think, and I hope to finish it today. This one's definitely going to need a re-write, though."
I feel pretty good about doing a draft, leaving it for a day or so, and coming back to it to give it a polish before releasing it. It may not seem like a very big deal, but just doing that and not being so paralyzed by The Fear of Failure has been a real challenge for me. But, like I said the other day, the point of Project Do Something Creative Every Day for the Rest of the Year isn't to be perfect; it's to be creative ... and to just keep going.
"That's good," she said.
"Yep. I'm probably going to just lock myself in the office and go to Mysterious Writer Island for the rest of the afternoon."
We got back to our house, and my phone rang. It was my manager. "Hey, do you think you can go to [PLACE] for [AWESOME VOICE OVER AUDITION] at 3:30 today?"
"I would love to do [AWESOME CHARACTER I LOVE], but I think my voice is too old. Would you make sure they know I can't play too young?"
"I'll do that, but I think you'll be fine because [THING YOU CAN'T TELL ANYONE]."
We have very interesting conversations, guys. This is actually how we talk, and I am totally not just saying that because [CLEVER THING].
"Ohhh. Neat. Okay. I'll go at 3:30."
I looked at Anne. "Dude! [AWESOME STUFF ABOUT THIS PROJECT THAT I HAVE TO KEEP SECRET]!"
"Yeah, so I'm going to go do that in ... holy crap, two hours."
I went to my office, printed out the audition sides, and prepared. I briefly looked at the blinking cursor in my text editor, and the blank space in front of it, and down the page.
"I'll get back to you later," I said, quietly. "I'm going to go do something else creative today."
I drove to the audition, where I saw my friends Chris Hardwick and Phil Morris.
"You know, it's weird," I said to Chris, "I didn't get any of the messages you sent me about how you were going to interview Matt Smith on your podcast, so I should totally come over and hang out."
He laughed. "That's so weird, because ... I .... uh ... totally did that."
He told me that Matt Smith was as awesome as we all hoped he would be, and that if he gets anyone else from Doctor Who in the future, I would totally get to come hang out. Then he grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me around, pretending to sob while saying, "You have to come on my podcast! The podcast can't go on without you!"
Again, I'm not describing it well, but it was really funny.
Before we could agree on a time to do it, he was called in to do his audition. Sorry, Nerdist listeners, but we'll figure it out soon.
After Chris went inside, I talked about comics with Phil. I don't know how many people know this, but Phil is a huge comic reader. His collection is just breathtaking, and his love of the artform and all the stories from the last forty years is infectious.
I said goodbye to Chris, and looked over my scenes. The character is right in my wheelhouse, and everything I need to know about him and his relationships was right on the page, so I was mostly making sure I was just familiar with the scenes, instead of doing real work on them. NOTE TO ACTORS: If you get the material ahead of time, and you're still working on it when you're waiting to go in, you're doing it wrong. You have to be prepared before you even get in your car to go to the audition.
Phil came out and I went in. I talked through the glass to the director when I got into the booth.
"Do you have any questions?"
"Nope. It's all on the page, so I'll give you my take on it, and make whatever adjustments you want."
"Great. Let's do it."
I did the audition, and ... I had a lot of fun! I felt confident, prepared, and able to understand and apply the direction they gave me. I think this is entirely because of my recent work on Ben 10: Alien Force and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, where I've been fortunate enough to work with incredibly talented actors and one of the best voice directors in the business.
I didn't feel like I was stretching or reaching or struggling to create a voice and a character for this guy; I felt like I was working with the director to do the best I could do. I'm sure there are actors who feel like this on every audition, but I'm not one of them, and I was grateful for the experience. Everyone on the other side of the glass seemed happy with what I did, and I felt really good about it. There are a ton of reasons I may not book this job, but not doing the best I could do won't be one of them.
I drove home, somehow falling between pockets of rush hour traffic, in just under 25 minutes. When I walked in the house, the dogs met me at the door.
"Hi dogs," I said. They thumped their tails against the wall, happily.
"How did it go?" Anne asked me.
"I had a great time, and I feel really good about it," I said. "Even if I don't book the job, I can be proud of what I did today."
"Yeah, I'm really happy."
I walked into my office, and sat down at my desk. I looked at the blinking cursor, the blank space around and beneath it unchanged. As soon as I put my fingers on the keys, though, I knew that nothing was going to come out of my brain.
"That's okay," I said to myself, "I've done something creative today." I made a mark on my calendar. "And I exercised, too!" I made another mark.
I looked at the chain: only eight days long, but unbroken. I'm not going to lie to you, Marge: it felt good.