Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Listen To Your Mother, because I clearly don't know what the hell I'm talking about.

When I started writing, it was fun. It challenged me. It kept me sane. It allowed me to complete a sentence! Then my children stopped napping and finding time to write became increasingly more difficult. Then I started to do this thing called learning (wherein I began to recognize my previous writing mistakes) and writing become a bit more laborious. Did that deter me? Hell to the no! I'm a farm girl! I dug in my heels and improved my skillz. Eventually, I got some paid writing gigs, which was awesome! Yay! They came with topics and deadlines and responsibility and all of a sudden writing was A JOB. Wait... what? I was just playing around on the Internet...

In February, I completed some writing assignments that felt particularly laborious. My previous zest for the craft had waned a bit, and I realized that I had been writing for three and a half years with no break. I was tired, I looked like hell and my creativity felt depleted. I decided to take a sabbatical from my laptop. I was giving myself permission to rest.

I'm a person who likes to state my mission, so I held my chin high and declared my husband, "As soon as I complete this article, I'm taking a break!"

"Good!" he said.

I called my sister, "I'm taking two entire weeks off in February! I'm just going rest my brain a bit! I need it!"

"Great idea!" she said.

I informed my friends, "I'll be taking some time off from writing this month. I'm really looking forward to it!"

"You should take a break, Johi. You've EARNED it," they said.

"Drink more wine," they said.

"Watch more TV," they instructed.

"Yes," I mused, "a break will fix me right up."

I hit 'send' on my finished article and breathed a sigh of relief. Vacation had started! Let the refreshed energy fill me to the brim!

I stretched my arms and looked around the house. The kitchen was full of dirty dishes, there was barnyard crap all over the floor, my kids had hauled 23 stuffed animals into the living room and made a fort from all my pillows and blankets, four loads of laundry beckoned me and dinner needed to be made. Just thinking about it all made me tired again.

I thought to myself, "Crap. This wasn't really the break I had in mind."

So I did what all internet writers do when they take a break; I flipped on my computer and surfed the web. I bought some face cream from Living Social. I took 18 quizzes on Buzzfeed. I was sucked into the vortex of Pinterest. Eventually, I came across Listen To Your Mother and remembered that I had seen a Denver show. Ooo! A show! On Motherhood! In Denver! I should sign up!

When I was younger, I used to do stage shows all the time. It's told around my small town that I was quite the talent (thanks grandma). For instance, I had the lead solo in the school music program when I was in second grade, which I rocked with my angelic rendition of the lines "Roll over. Roll over." I would show you the video but my parents didn't love me enough to buy a reel to reel handheld camera.

Years passed and my high soprano voice changed to alto. I sang harmony in the junior high and high school choirs. We were such prodigies that we were officially uninvited to perform at Disney World. I would show you the video, but my parents didn't love me enough to buy a camcorder.

Then I gave a speech in 1995- an original piece of Cowboy Poetry- for a competition. I thought I did fairly well; I practiced a ton, overcame my nerves and delivered it with confidence! I honestly felt pretty decent about it! That is, until I was told by a judge that I seemed SUPER NERVOUS and talked WAY TOO FAST and I basically sucked at life. Then he proceeded to score me with zeros throughout the entire competition, which lead me to assume that he hated all good things and kept children in his basement. I would show you my performance, but my parents didn't love me enough to ask my uncle to record it with his video recorder.

Ever since then, I break into a flop sweat when I have to speak to more than 10 people. Unless I've had three martinis, then I'm AWESOME at public speaking.

I thought to myself,"I should try out for Listen to Your Mother and overcome that stupid fear of public speaking that I have developed."

Because nothing says "REST" and "SABBATICAL" like immediately signing up to do something that you find absolutely terrifying!

Apparently I am redefining 'sabbatical.' Or I'm simply a moron.

Without giving myself time to over-think it, I signed up to audition two weeks later, thus committing myself to writing compelling new material in 14 days for the show. I wrote my tail off, produced crap, beat myself up for mediocrity and trashed the first story. I started over and recreated a new story, which I rewrote and edited 14 times. I practiced delivering it to anyone who would listen. When the audition day arrived, I had my husband drive me to Denver because the crazy traffic makes me jittery and I was attempting to be cool. Even with me giving him directions, he missed his turn, which made me start to sweat and fear that I would be late. We arrived at the location and I started shaking. I calmed myself, dried my palms, walked into the room and read my piece to a charming woman who immediately made me feel comfortable.

Later, I received an email from that charming woman. I was asked to submit a new piece, which I rewrote and edited 169 times. It was approved and I was invited to participate in the 2014 Denver LTYM!

I called my friends and announced with excitement, "Oh mah gah! I made the cast!" Then the reality kicked in and I said, "Oh mah gah. I made the cast?"

I'm going to be onstage, sweating through my bra and reading an original story about motherhood on Wednesday, May 7th at 7 pm at the Elaine Wolfe Theater. My parents will not be present to record me, mostly because they live 800 miles away and still use a rotary phone. Or maybe they don't love me enough. You decide.

I don't know if you heard me, I'm going to be onstage, for the first time in 19 years!

Pray for me that I deliver my piece with tons confidence... and preferably no hives. If you promise not to score me with a zero and tell me I sounded nervous and fast, I promise I won't sing lead or harmony. Nor will I dance. But I will probably contort my face into a series of weird expressions, because that's how my face works. Deal?

If you are interested in hearing me and 11 other amazing women read their original essays on motherhood, you should buy your tickets today!

Look for me! I'll be the blond in the pitted-out shirt.

Now.... about that sabbatical....

1 comment:

  1. Great article on writing! I'm a lot like you and after I finished my book I decided to take a break. Unlike you I did not begin an acting carreer. When I stop I just sort of shut down and I'm learning that I can't stop or I lose whatever "it" I seemed to have, I've started blogging again a month ago and it's only now starting to creep back.

    Anyway congrats and break something that doesn't hurt more than wine can heal!