Friday, July 1, 2011 at 06:43PM
This week in rehearsal, we expanded the geographic footprint of ENDURE threefold. Means I suddenly have to run three times as far and the show was no joke to begin with. ENDURE has now become a sprawling behemoth that takes audiences on the adventure of their lives. (You should come.)
We re-built one of our most troublesome sections this week, transforming it from a chilled-out charm school exercise into a full-on four-minute anaerobic dance number that travels UPHILL. By the end of Wednesday, I was so exhausted, I didn't even have the energy to shower.
Somehow, I did my production work for the day then, at 7pm, got up and walked to Sunset Park to record some more more audio. Walking (nay: limping) along beside Greenwood Cemetery on my way to the studio, the thought of waking up to yet another rehearsal brought tears to my eyes and my only thought was, 'I can't do it.'
I am SO tired.
With four or five rehearsals, four or five runs and two Klein classes every week (not to mention all the stretching and recovery stuff I do), I am working at the volume of the peak of my Ironman training. That's about 20-25 hours of physical activity per week. Then there's marketing work, production work, management work. Planning, budgeting, motivating, begging, forgiving, ordering, deciding, doing interviews, writing, waiting, photo shooting, coordinating, mediating. Even my runs have turned into Melanie's Mobile Marketing Machine as I foist show postcards on people out for their morning miles.
It literally never ends. And I'm not exactly on salary here.
I'm not writing this as some kind of Poor Me story or even as a Look How Amazing I Am device. (Ok, maybe I am. A little. Lonely business, this self-producing.) But really, looking at the sheer quantity of energy that is required right now reminded me of three things.
One was this post about my O-1 visa process. Go straight to #4 on that list. Aw hell, I'm just going to paste it right in here:
So that's the first thing. And that moment of 'I can't do it' walking by the Cemetery brought me to the second thing.
Christine Owman once told me a story about a terrible gig she played once in England. The sound system was horrible and kept cutting out on her, something like four people came to the show and she got paid nothing. As she dragged her giant case of equipment behind her down the street, it started to pour with rain.
It was the quintessential dark night of the artist's soul. And she realized during that moment that 1,000 artists would have quit right there. Somehow that was the thought that got her through: 'A thousand people would have quit after that.'
So, there's that.
And there's also the third thing. Which is that a whole lot (a freaking TON, actually) of books, magazine articles and blog posts will tell you over and over how you just have to do a little bit each day. A little effort every day adds up. And yes, that is absolutely true.
But it's also misleading.
Because there are times. Make or break times. Crunch times. Turning points like Christine's bad gig. Times when opening night is 8 days away. And about a zillion other days when doing 'a little bit' doesn't actually cut it.
I don't want to scare people off here and YES it's about process and habits and doing those small actions, but it's also about committing to excellence which means working your freaking TAIL off a whole lot of the time.
And that is, in fact, what the people who inspire you are doing right now. Trust me. They are doing a little bit at a time...for 12-14 hours straight. And then they're getting up and doing it again and again.
They are putting themselves out there. They are doing it over and over and over until they get it right. They are working their shift and working overtime and then getting up early to get the rest done. They have accepted the fact that it will NEVER be done. And they keep at it in spite of that. Some days, they come home, flop on the couch and cry. Not because they hate it or something went wrong but because they are just so damn tired that's all they can do.
I think the gentle Zen-like 'little bit at a time' approach to creative work and life is nice. Really nice. And I aspire to it every day of my life. But there is something to be said (and something to celebrate) about putting your head down and working your fucking ass off.
(This has to be THE WEIRDEST send-off for a long weekend of all time, but hey...that's my style. Now, go kick some ass!)