My mantra for a long time now has been ‘busy is better than bored’, because, frankly, it’s true. For the last couple of years I’ve been working through a fairly consistent stream of projects, and it’s been great; a wonderful change from those horrible times when I’ve had nothing to focus on or look forward to. But of course, busyness does come with certain difficulties, the primary one being that it’s very hard to strike a balance.
The last few days have been extremely tiring for me. We had a two day intensive workshop on my new play, The Commune, we had a one off performance of Heroes at Voltaire, in the middle of the play’s ongoing successful One Act Play Circuit run, we had a staged reading of my friend Sean Carney’s excellent screenplay Slowly, Slowly for charity and through it all I’ve had to review the new season of BoJack Horseman, which, by the way, I’m in no way complaining about. I just wish I’d had more time to enjoy my advance screeners.
Meanwhile other projects have ticked along in the background. I’m still working on the new version of Windmills, which seems to be going well, but keeping myself in the world of that story has meant that I haven’t been able to give as much time to my other commitments, namely Boone Shepard, which has been undergoing some exciting developments that I’m not totally at liberty to discuss yet. And none of this is mentioning Movie Maintenance, which has another live show next week that I am not remotely prepared for. Not to mention a show in Sydney in November. Oh yeah, and I’m going to Scotland next month at the same time as the Movie Maintenance crew publishes our horror novella anthology Seasons of Fear and rehearsals start for Moonlite, my first foray into musical theatre.
It’s brilliant, of course, that so much is happening. Having exciting and fulfilling stuff going on makes me feel alive in a way that little else does, and it’s hard to believe that as recently as last year I somehow managed to maintain a day job on top of the things I was doing. At this point in time that just wouldn’t be feasible anymore, which I guess means that I’ve officially crossed the threshold into being a full time writer. And to think I once thought it would be so easy.
But in all of this I have to remember to breathe. Creative success hardly means very much if you’ve got no-one to share it with, and I’ve been lucky enough this year to be surrounded by brilliant friends and a wonderful girlfriend. I used to always say that my writing was the priority and that everything else came second, but if there’s one major lesson I’ve learned it’s that you have to make time for both. In his autobiography Born to Run Bruce Springsteen warns the reader that no matter how hell bent you might be on whatever your creative pursuit of choice is, ‘life trumps art; always.’ When I was younger I had this idea that to be a great writer meant sacrificing everything for the dream. But without those personal connections around you, the dream starts to look awfully hollow and for the first time I think I’ve started to understand that I can be the writer I want to be and also make time for the people I love. I guess I’d never realised before that I believed otherwise, because I’d never really thought about it. But when you finally feel like you have a reason to live in real life more than in your art, it becomes pretty hard to think differently.
So yeah. Learn to balance. Make room for both. Because you can do it and you’ll be happier for it.
Writing words about writing words.