Being an artist of any stripe, musician; actor; painter; writer, means that you are trying to engage an emotional response in an audience. You want a reaction. You want the audience to feel something. As actors we typically have the benefit of collaboration in that there is typically a script from a writer, there is a director in charge of the overall project, the actor is allowed to be very specific in the scope of their work. That’s a nice place to be. You are in charge of you and get to mold something with other people. I really like that kind of creation, which is why I’ve continued working in this industry for so long.
However, in the modern world, where monetizing art is possible due to more opportunities yet harder due to the amount of stuff being put out into the world on the available channels, being a collaborator is just a part of what you must do to keep yourself afloat. Now, and for the foreseeable future, just about everyone (at least anyone with a smart phone and a social network account) is a content creator.
“Content creation” is the current marketing buzz word/phrase. It includes things like social media posts (especially Instagram), video creation (and live streaming), and written blog posts/articles (yes, those are still important). Entire jobs exist for this now, mostly as curators but sometimes as actual creators as well. When you are trying to promote yourself, like I’m trying to do at the moment, the same tactics apply. I need to produce content that represents me in the work that I want to do so people can see that I am good at it and want to hire me to be included in the content that they are creating (ideally “they” is a big ol’ studio that wants to shove me into a minimum 6 of 13 deal on some kind of serialized television show).
This has been the thought that has been distracting me from writing and doing video updates for the last week.
And it distracted me so hard that I actually didn’t finish writing this yesterday. It is now May 10, 2018, Day 39, and I’m not in a much better position than I was.
Scratch that, May 11th.
Nope, May 12th.
I’m keeping track of the date changes and the amount I actually get done on each of these days because I think that the “warts and all” experience is really important when I do things like Operation:2.0. It’s easy to create a personal challenge like this, set some attainable goals, and then just cover the highlights. It makes the subject easy to root for. People love a winner and they like to see people do well (at least until they don’t, but that a different bridge to burn when we get to it). I feel like that is disingenuous. If it were really that easy then everyone would do it. As it is, it is really hard to create an entertainment career and still just about everyone thinks they can do it. It’s when they see how much work goes into creating any kind of sustainable acting career that their priorities tend to shift.
But this is not what I had intended to talk about four days ago when I got started on this post. So as I was saying, I’ve been pretty distracted by my need and seeming inability to create content based on me. Part of this is just straight up exhaustion. I’m working 12 hour days right now and my energy is going into those jobs. When I’m done so is my brain and there’s just nothing coming out of me after that. But another big part is that I don’t feel like I have anything to say.
May 13th – Happy Mother’s Day
I remember back in the late 80’s when Madonna was in the height of her popularity, right after “Vogue” and Truth or Dare came out, and she was being interviewed for MTV. Although I don’t remember the core of the interview there was something she said that has stuck with me ever since and cast a bit of a shadow over every creative thing I’ve ever done since. She said, and I’m paraphrasing, I may not have been the best singer, but I had something to say and it needed to be said.
I don’t know that I have ever felt that.
I believe that there are things that must be said, I’m a massive consumer of things that I feel have “meaning,” but I don’t know that I, myself personally, have ever had “something to say”. I used to have this problem when I bought journals in my early twenties. I was really into journalling as a teenager. I have volume upon volume of hormonally fueled rants that a 16-and-angry Curtis felt very justified in putting down on paper. Some of them have story attempts, however, that are missing that kernel of a central point or theme beyond my-friends-and-I-having-amazing-adventures. When I entered my twenties I found songs by other people tended to focus my angst more than writing it down, but I still really liked blank journals. I found myself not sure what to do with them. I was just collecting books and then feeling obligated to use them, which led to me having a bunch of really cool half-filled journals that I have much better use for now.
The specter of Madonna’s words are popping up again now as I struggle to figure out what content I want to produce. I don’t need it to be revolutionary or profound. I don’t need it to be a viral hit (although that would be nice) but it does need to be more than me doing updates in front of my desk. And of course the biggest trick to this is making the time to create these things.
This post took five days to write. I’d like to do better next week. While I figure out what else to create here are the existing playlists for Operation: 2.0:
Here’s the playlist for May:
Here’s the playlist from April: