This past weekend, I did something I never thought I would do. In a million years. I auditioned for a live show. As in, I wrote an original piece and actually read it, OUT LOUD, in front of a producer and director.
Yes, you may gasp now. I did.
Because auditioning for something like this—to potentially be cast for a show where strangers and friends will sit in the audience—is nowhere, and I mean NOWHERE, in my narrow comfort zone.
Which is what I thought this piece was going to be about. Moving past my comfy place to push myself. Gathering my inner strength to believe that I could be enough.
But the truth is that auditioning for the DC Listen To Your Mother with producer Kate Coveny Hood and Director Stephanie Dulli was actually quite lovely. It was not frightening or intimidating. These two women could have made an Ice Queen melt in their comfortable presence.
And if I am being honest, I was quick to come up with my topic, inspired by the journal of letters that I started writing to my daughter just two days after I found out I was pregnant. It was a piece I was passionate about, a topic I could go on and on and on about for hours, so I was pretty pleased with myself when I belted out the first draft.
I read it, over and over, timing myself to make sure it fit within the three- to five-minute range we had for the audition, and I was feeling pretty darn proud of myself for having taken this step to push my comfort zone by auditioning.
The Real Comfort Zone Pushing Came from Something Else
On Friday (as in two days before the audition) I let my husband read the piece. And then I solicited feedback from a few other ladies whose opinion I truly value. It was not so much that I needed validation as that I needed to make sure the piece actually resonated with someone other than me. The good news is that their feedback, universally, was very supportive of the piece. Other than some grammatical typos and changes, few suggestions were recommended.
You would think that would mean I would leave the piece well enough alone. Well, no. Of course not. For some reason, despite the feedback the more I read it, the more I started adding, tweaking, and adding some more. I added details and facts because somehow I felt like the dots needed to be connected. I did not feel like it painted a vivid picture or left a listener with any sensory details.
And then (as in only a few hours before I was scheduled to leave for the audition) I asked my husband to read it again. And he did not love it. He preferred the first piece. He felt like the revised piece was too factual. It was not bad he said, but he liked the vagueness of the first draft. Which of course put me into a tailspin.
Here’s the thing. I really did admire and respect the feedback from my friends (and husband) on the piece. I was not trying to intentionally disrespect the time they took out of their family time to read my piece.
But have you ever had one of those times when you know better, but you start fiddling with something anyway? It is as if you can’t help yourself from “making it better” up until the very last minute, until you end up with a mess. Or maybe not. Depending on who you ask.
That was me. I walked into my audition with a neat and tidy red folder filled with my audition paperwork and THREE drafts of the same piece. In my head I knew which one I thought I should read…the one with more details. But my heart tugged. Had I overshadowed my feelings with superfluous facts? Was I telling the same story everyone already knows?
My discomfort ended up being about what instinct to trust, and knowing when was enough.
What I was left with, after the audition, was a realization. We each have a story. Whether you fill it with facts and details, or you skim the surface, it is our own story. That is what the Listen to Your Mother show is all about. There is no wrong way to tell your story, because it is YOUR story.
Yes, there are of course the quantifiable decisions of who is cast and who is not cast. And while I would be so incredibly honored to be part of the DC cast, I walked away from the audition yesterday feeling content. Knowing that I had been inspired by journal letters to “my darling baby” oh-so-many years ago when she was but a grain of rice. Knowing that I had created a new letter to my daughter – one that, one day, I will read to her (although I think she might have been eavesdropping as I rehearsed). Knowing that I gave it my all (plus some) and that I was able to turn to some fabulous women whose opinions I respect and admire as writers and as storytellers.
Because who can ask for anything more than having given something your all?
And if that story of moving past my comfort zone was not enough for you today, we have a very special giveaway—inspired by my audition piece inspiration. My inspiration came from a journal, one that I cherished and wrote in prolifically during my pregnancy and beyond. So today one lucky Just.Be.Enough. reader will have the opportunity to own a very special journal of her own. PaperBlanks has been making high quality, beautiful journals for 20 years. Beautiful designs and intricate patterns make writing in these journals a thing of beauty…and one lucky reader will get to choose one of the new designs of midi journals for her very own.
Fill out this form by 2/27/2012 at 5 p.m. (EST). Giveaway only open to US residents.
Paperblanks provided a sample journal to me for review. No compensation was received for the post. All opinions are my own.