The proof is in the pitching...

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Happy Wednesday everyone! How the devil are you?

Do you remember how at school, we were taught how to make arguments in essays, as Point, Evidence, Explanation? Well I feel like this post is the missing evidence, to the points and explanations I've been making in my last couple of posts.

When I made my goals for the next 12 months back in August, most of them focused around my theatre work. I don't mean my theatre job which I am lucky enough to have as a 9-5 I mean the work I do separately to that. Writing, rehearsing and performing my own shows.

When I first took my current job 15 months ago, I had told myself I would carry on working on my theatre company, and my shows just as I was before, but learning a brand new job, and setting up a brand new project were much more exhausting than I had imagined. I tried to carry on performing, but I never felt I was doing myself or the work justice and so I decided that for a while it was enough just to be concentrating on my dream day job. And I would say for the first year, until around this June, it was enough. I was learning lots of new things, and enjoying having only one thing to focus on, but over summer I got itchy, and then I realised that I'd stopped believing that I could perform or write any more.

I told myself that I was out of the game, and that I wasn't sure if I'd ever really been good enough to be in the game in the first place. I told myself this, and pretended that I was fine with it. That this was a good decision to make. But I was lying. My friends could see it n my eyes, and I could feel it when they looked at me.

So I started taking on just a little bit of freelance work over the summer. Running children's storytelling sessions and craft workshops (something I knew I could do, because I had been doing it as part of my day job) and then I took on some work with a youth group delivering confidence building and drama workshops to 3 different teams of teenagers.  This wasn't something I had done before, but the organisation knew me and believed I could do it, so I rolled up my sleeves and got on with it.

Working with teenagers can be brutal. You can stand in front of them and feel like one of them. Equally as self conscious as they are. Those summer workshops were by no means a breeze. But I got on with it, and helped them devise 3 short presentations, and with one group especially, I was super proud of what they came up with.

After having taken this on, I realised that I missed being in charge of my own creativity, of setting my own goals and creating my own work, and not just using my creativity for my job. So in Edinburgh last month I bit the bullet and said that before next years Fringe Festival I would.

1. Write something new that isn't a blog post (ie. a show)
2. Get back on stage in some capacity
3. Be earning money from freelance work every month
4. Have started a savings account and paid off my credit card
5. Learn to drive

Just a week or so after , a friend invited me to pitch a crowd funding event that was happening on the 12th September - the Saturday just gone. The idea of the night, was that everybody paid £10 for a 3 course meal, and half of this money would be put in a prize pot. Throughout the meal 9 different makers from all walks of life and creativity would pitch you their idea for a business, or a project or something they wanted to make and at the end everybody could vote for their favourite idea, and the winner would win the pot of money to make that idea happen.

I was a little unsure. I had just made my goals, but I also had 12 months to complete them. However, I decided to bite the bullet, and pitch an idea for a new show that I'd been toying with on and off for the past year but had never got round to sitting down and thinking it through.

I knew I wouldn't win. I didn't have that many friends to come along and support me, so the votes would be against me, but that didn't matter, I was going simply to get back on the horse, and to force myself to seriously think about writing something new.

Then once my proposal form had gone in, I was asked if I would perform a short piece of one of my old plays on the night. I wasn't sure. I hadn't been on stage in over a year. I was rusty. But I said yes anyway. There wouldn't be that many people there, it was a safe audience, and it would be a gentle way of easing myself back into it. So I picked up my old script and began to dust off some of the many ines that had been sitting in my memory waiting for another moment in the spotlight.

Saturday came around, and I was nervous. I thought I was grumpy but I realise now that I was nervous. The young man was coming along, and he'd never seen me do something like this, plus I'd spent more time looking at my lines rather than my pitch, and even though it wasn't a real audience, and I wouldn't win the money, I still wanted to do a good job.

(I should point out here, that the Young Man, when he arrived was incredibly supportive and actually spurred me on rather than making me more nervous).

So I turned up at the venue, not sure how much I was meant to perform, not sure exactly when or where they expected me to perform, and I knew even less about my pitch. Then they called me up.

I took a deep breath and the lines, came out, in the order that they were supposed to and it was like I'd never been off stage. It felt so good to be performing again, to have an audience, and to feel like I was in my element. And then all too quickly it was over. I was disappointed because I had more prepared but it wasn't to be.

Then we listened to the other 8 pitchers and their ideas, and I was amazed at the sheer variety that was being presented. Hydroponic gardens, bespoke lamp designs, saving pubs, mile long congas, and photography dark rooms. I began to relax. I let go of my disappointment, and told myself if nothing else I've done it, I got back on stage. Plus I'd had a large glass of wine by this point.

Then I got up to pitch my new idea, and left my notes on my seat. I knew what my idea was, and what I would use the money for, and I also knew that I could speak confidently about it, because a) I still had the adrenaline from performing lurking in my system b) Words are kind of my thing and c)This was just to get my idea out there, I had no real consequences, I wasn't really pitching to be part of the competition for the money anyway.

The pitch went really well, I was so pleased, I had proven to myself that I was capable of getting up there and giving my ideas the air time they deserve. I'd done what I had set out to do. I'd got back on stage, and I had started the ball rolling on writing something new. I could leave without hearing the results, happy.

And then...

I won.

Even now that hasn't really sunk in. 

That I'd not only proven to myself I could do those things, but I'd also convinced a room full of people too.

I now have £200 funding towards making a new show. It's not a huge amount, but it is more than I have ever been given to make work from scratch with before. I can't quite believe it. Not only that but my performance impressed a couple of different people there, and I also have some exciting opportunities for more freelance work in the pipeline.

And this is where I neatly tie up my points, evidence and explanation. 

I decided that I wanted to make some changes, I outlined what my goals were, and I made the room in my life to say yes to opportunities when they came along. When I made those goals, I didn't have a strict plan of how I was going to achieve them, I just knew what I wanted in the end that I would have to start putting time aside for them, to open myself up to possibilities and to try things when they came my way.

Now, not even a month on since making those goals, there isn't a single one of them I haven't made a start on.

1. Write something new that isn't a blog post (ie. a show) - beginning WITH FUNDING
2. Get back on stage in some capacity - Done if only for 5 minutes
3. Be earning money from freelance work every month - Projects in the pipeline
4. Have started a savings account and paid off my credit card - Sticking to a strict budget is working
5. Learn to drive - my third lesson is tomorrow

I hope this doesn't come across as bragging. It really isn't meant to. All I am trying to say is that change and reaching your goals is possible, it requires a little work, but more than anything it requires a little belief. And if you don't have that belief in yourself right now, know that I have it for you!

Live Life & prove yourself right x

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