Friday, January 7, 2011

On Work, Performing and Writing

One of the problems I have with office jobs is that I usually end up loosing all motivation to do anything. “What’s the point?” I wonder. I don’t see the direct benefit of what I’m doing. Sure, at my last job we were making toys for all the little children of the world, but I never got to see kids playing with the toys. We didn’t have a large playroom where all the children of the world got to squeeze their Lilly dolls and giggle with glee for an hour before I knocked off for the day. My favorite part of my current job is training people who seem genuinely excited to use the software I manage, or when I magically pull some piece of information out of the database that used to take someone days to track down. In short, it’s the human interactions that give it a point.

I think that’s what continually pulls me back to performing. Sure it’s also a hugely valuable creative outlet, but the onstage interaction with fellow improvisors and with the audience is so immediate and rewarding. Hearing an audience laugh or feeling a tense stillness fill the theater during a dramatic moment or seeing another improvisor playfully surprised by one of my actions is such a rewarding moment. I’ve experience that with scripted acting, directing, or playwriting as well, but improvisational theatre allows those moments to be continually new and fresh. Feeling creative energy bounce from performer to performer to audience and back and build through the end of a fun show until you go out to shake the audience’s hands as they leave congratulating and thanking each other for the experience is like nothing I’ve found anywhere else.

If I could find a measure of that in a paying job, I’d be ecstatic, but I’m not sure it really exists.

That same need for a human interaction drives me to get my plays produced or push my writing out into the world. If people never see it or read it, then what’s the point? I don’t want to get published so I can make money; I want to get published so that more people will read my work and be affected by it. I wonder, though, if my novel were suddenly published, how would the experience feel? It’s not like I’ll be sitting at home with everybody as they read my book watching their expressions and reactions. I wonder if it would be satisfying or somehow lacking, or if the satisfaction would come not from the human interaction but from having created something with more permanence.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.