Monday, November 9, 2009

Day 90

Three months. Most people probably already finished their first drafts by the 90th day. Some writers are doing NaNoWriMo and they're already at 25,000 words by day 8. What can I say? I really am a slow writer.

However, I'm not competing with them. I don't need to stress about what other people are doing. I'm only competing with myself and my goal is simple, and I'm still on track: finish The Terrapin's Trail by August. At 125000 words, I'm probably about 3/5 done with it. And then the real work -- editing/rewrite -- starts.

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The other day I was talking about loving what you do, even when you may not be doing what you love. Some of us are lucky enough to do what we love and we still whine about it ("oh, it's so hard" or "my muse is not talking to me..." etc. etc.) I think we need perspectives. Some people are shoveling cow dung and pigs' feed as we speak. My dad drove a semi for more than 30 years and all he got was a watch to commemorate it. My mom was a nurse for 30+ years and she had to deal with every yucky things with patients (dead or alive) you can imagine. And I'm sitting in front of a computer complaining how hard it is? I'm spoiled.

Suck it up.

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Behind every success (even the ones that seem so "easy" and "lucky") there is always a story. Most people simply don't "fall into" something and strike gold by luck alone. Sometimes they do -- like winning the lottery; but still, they have to play, and some people played for a LONG time before they hit the jackpot -- but more often than not, there's a lot of hard work and perseverance behind these successes. We tend to only see the good stuff and forget about the bad stuff.

As an actor, I'm extremely unmotivated and lazy, and I have only myself to blame for not getting mileage out of my acting "career" as other actors. These other actors have spent years perfecting their craft, doing spec work, slaving away in local and regional theaters, going to every audition they can get in, taking classes, working 16 hours a day on the set, doing work as extras, living out of suitcases, waiting tables while looking for their breaks. That's the problem, many actor "wannabes" only see the successes and not the heartaches, pain and disappointments associated with every rejection, every small "insignificant" roles, simply silently persevering because that's what they're passionate about, and they do it because they love it, with the hope that one day they will make it (and only a few would).

And the unfair thing is, I've had better success than some of these hardworking actors. I've in features, TV shows, and a national commercial! But I can tell you I'm one of the laziest actors in the world -- I would blow off an audition because I don't feel like it, while most actors would clamor for that opportunity. There's nothing I could complain about (on the other hand, I did my job and was very professional; so it wasn't like I cruised through everything either -- I simply do not want to make it sound like I had it "rough").

Did I pay my dues? Yes, I think so, but compared to some of these other struggling actors out there, I am lazy and maybe I don't deserve the "successes" I've enjoyed so far. I don't know.

As a writer, I'm much more proactive. I write every day. Every. Day. I continuously learn and improve my craft. I read. I study. I try new things. I listen to advice. I work. Am I working as hard as I should, to the bones? No, and I probably should (however, my philosophy is that there's more life than just work, work, and work -- maybe that's my biggest downfall!) But I work, every day. When I'm not actively writing, I'm always thinking and plotting and developing my characters in my mind (what my writer friends would call "mind-writing").

If I had done as much work in acting as I have with writing, I might have better success. But sometimes we need to know where our heart really is. My heart, right now, is in writing.

It's not to say it won't change. But so far, the motivation behind my acting career seems to be money and fame, and not the craft itself. And I think that's what separates the men (serious actors) from the boys (me). Deep down I know that money and fame are not a given -- I have to work hard for them, and there's no guarantee anyway. Deep down, I know I don't want to work hard to get there, because I really don't care [about the craft]. And that's the REAL reason.

With writing, I think my mindset is different and that's exciting. I do, in fact, care about the craft. I'm not only writing for money and fame, but to be a good writer (maybe even a great one, eventually). I care about what I write and what it means to my readers. I care about the way I write. Am I working as hard as I should? Certainly not, but I feel that at least I'm on the right path with it, and am not distracted by the other stuff such as money and fame.

And that's the epiphany I had over the weekend -- I was thinking, "Why am I getting mediocre results from my trading practice?" I managed to make some profits, but not good enough to brag about it. And my epiphany is this: I'm going at it from the wrong angle. Like acting, I'm not trading for the "craft" of trading, but for the money (there's really no fame in that "business"). I'm not doing it to be a great trader, but my focus is on "oh, how much money can I make?" It's the wrong approach, and it hinders me to become a truly good trader (and the result of being a good trader is, of course, making lots of money).

Once I realized the problem with my mindset, awareness is the key to change. I can't say I totally grasp the idea of "doing it for the sake of it" instead of the outcome, but I'm getting there. I have to remind myself: "Why am I doing this?" It's easier for me with regard to writing -- I truly, honestly am not doing it for money or fame -- and that has served me quite well so far. If I could apply that mindset to everything I do, there's no limit what I can accomplish because I'm more focused on the journey itself, and not the destination. As cliched as that is, it's true. And the destination will come, sooner or later, because it is inevitable when one takes care of the journey itself.



500 words, 32200 words total
275 days and 153300 words to go

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