This writing lark is relatively new to me. For the past fifteen years, for better or worse, between pregnancies and breast-feeding, I have been trying to form a career as a theatre director. Scrabbling around, looking for scraps of work. Work that would fit in with my childcare, work that would develop my skills, work I loved and work I took because it seemed like the right thing to do.
This was my passion. These were my people. This was the path I trod. I stuck doggedly to it.
Then a couple of years back, after a season of great emotional turbulence, I wanted to write a few things down about what I had been through. I wanted to document the journey and see if I could describe it in a way that might be interesting, and maybe even helpful, to read.
I started this blog.
Having spent the previous fifteen years working with accomplished playwrights, having always needed a skilled writer to choose the words, having regularly told people when they asked, oh no, I’m not a writer,
Here I was, having a go.
I don’t know what made me start. It was one of those moments of action. Where a pinch of adrenaline and a dose of bloody mindedness propels you into something new.
But there was one lie that nearly stopped me before I began.
This was it (beware because it sounds a lot like common sense):
I thought you had to do one thing, to get any good at it.
And I had already chosen.
I had used up my quota, and put all my eggs in the theatre basket.
This idea was formed and honed and emphasised in many tiny ways.
I had seen media representation of fame and celebrity, the idolisation of a certain person because of their ability to sing, or play tennis, or survive in the wild. The recognition of the way they pursued their one goal until they achieved success and public recognition.
I had noted the skepticism when someone who had achieved in one area tried something new. The generally acknowledged agreement that they couldn’t possibly be good at more than one thing.
I knew the oft-quoted phrase, “the harder I work, the luckier I seem to get”. I had read Outliers (well, I hadn’t read it, but someone had paraphrased it for me) and knew how Malcolm Gladwell had researched and discovered that Tiger Woods, or Mozart or the Beatles had risen to the top of the field in their chosen profession because they had put in the pre-requisite 10,000 hours of practice.
If I was going to succeed I thought I had to be doggedly determined, to pursue one great passion at the expense of everything else.
Throughout my youth I had also picked up on a narrative in the church environment I was a part of. The talk of discovering your calling and working out what your destiny was. The idea of dreaming one dream and running after it, with single-minded determination and assurance.
I hadn’t heard much talk about evolving, about trying things out and having a go.
Not on the television, or in education, or in the church.
I heard a lot of talk about success and achievement.
Not a lot of talk about the freedom to play.
I had forgotten, or maybe I never knew, that you were allowed to change, to grow, to develop, to explore new ideas, to find new ways of communicating and expressing yourself.
I still LOVE theatre. I will definitely be doing more of it.
But I am also allowed to try other things. I have given myself permission.
And as I have started writing, new possibilities have opened up, not just for my blog and my writing, but if I can discover a new passion that I love totally unexpectedly at 34, what might I discover at 38, or 40, or 50? What new adventures might there be up ahead?
I have opened my eyes to the beauty being forged all around me, there for me to participate in if I choose. Beauty forged by all sorts of artists, in all walks of life. Because we are all artists, we are all craftsmen, creating and curating a life out of the moments of our days, expressing it in ways as unique as we are.
And we can collaborate. With others – blending our skills and passions- and (this might sound a little unorthodox) with ourselves.
Just as you would cross-pollinate to create a new species of flower, so I am learning to cross-pollinate my interests, mixing them up and experimenting with them in different environments, seeing what happens when my growing knowledge of gardening finds its way into my writing, realising that my eye for a good image has been improved by my time directing, and this in turn has impacted the composition of my photographs.
One idea, sparks another idea, which sparks another thought and a chain reaction I had not anticipated takes place.
Now. There is a lot to be said for focus. For giving energy and commitment to learning one thing, or prioritising one discipline. I’m all for that. Right now, for me, my main focus is writing. I am reading books and blogs on writing. I am talking about writing.
But this doesn’t need to stop me trying something new. Who knows where this new fertilisation of ideas could take me?
By risking the unknown and following my curiosity, I am opening myself up to a greater freedom, a greater abundance.
I am re-learning to play. Giving myself permission to explore and investigate. To mess around, to try.
It is a lot of fun.
And what about you? Don’t just read this and think it isn’t for you too.
Are you stuck in a certain way of doing things?
Is there something new you would like to try?
I promise you, it isn’t as scary as it seems.
You might be surprised where you end up.