I reconnected with an old friend recently. She is an incredibly talented singer, gorgeous, captivating.
I am also reading several biographies as of late, including (though not limited to) Her Again (about the life of Meryl Streep) and Home Game, a memoir of sorts by New York Times best-selling author, Michael Lewis.
All of this, among other things (in particular my recent accelerated path to self-discovery), has led to the conclusion that I could never be a famous singer or famous actress. And for a number of reasons.
Those reasons include (but are not limited to) the following:
1. Because visibility. I prefer not to be seen. If I had to choose between leading lady and screenwriter, I would choose screenwriter, hands down, every time. I want my words heard but only because I believe in the value and power of words.
2. Because people. Performers have to spend a great deal of time talking to people. Whether fellow actors on set or stage, devoted fans or the directors and producers who help make them who they are, it seems performers must talk to people every day. I love my people and I talk to them every day. But that is because they live with me. I have also been dreaming of my deserted island for going on twenty years now…
3. Because appearance. Goodwill wardrobes and twenty dollar haircuts seem far more fitting for the quirky, nerdy, writer cat lady than for aspiring actors and professional singers. (I don’t actually have any cats but I would consider having them if I didn’t have four children for which I were already caring…) Maybe I could get away with hand-me-downs and ponytails if I were a famous actress. But most likely not.
4. Because talent…
5. Because smiling. All the people on TV are always smiling (ok maybe not always but mostly always). If we’re being totally honest here, and I really hope we are, I get tired of smiling. I’ve spent years wishing I were a more cheerful person but in this new phase of being myself, you get me as I am. And smiling a lot makes me tired. There, I said it.
6. Because yoga pants.
7. Because hair and makeup. I’m pretty sure shampooed hair and shaved legs are a far more important part of an actor’s life than a writer’s. And taking the time to put on makeup every day when there are books to read and stories to write and future adventures to dream up is as hard for me to imagine as calling people every day just to chat.
8. Because Annie Dillard.
9. Because time. There is only so much time. When I was a child I spent my free time writing stories. As a teenager and young adult I blogged and journaled compulsively. Now that I am in my thirties and finally getting to know myself, I see that a writer’s life, with all of its ups and downs and challenges and privileges is what I desire more than just about any other thing in this world.
So while my beautiful friend is gracing audiences with her incredible voice, gorgeous hair and captivating smile, and while Meryl goes on speaking life and story and humanity over her fans from the screen, I will be at home or at the library or hiding in a bookshop, typing away at my laptop and scribbling in the pages of my notebooks until all of the stories, all of the thoughts and ideas and emotions and memories and adventures and revelations run dry.
Thank you to every one of you artists out there who expose your heart and make your offering. You are my inspiration to keep creating.
Even if it is most often with a pen and notebook and flashlight while my spouse sleeps beside me and my children dream in their beds down the hall…