From Kristine Kathryn Ru sch:
I’m doing a lot of things here in Las Vegas that I only dreamed of doing when I lived in Oregon, especially small town Oregon. Sometimes I think I rolled myself into a little ball and cut out everything else. Some of that was health-related, some of it was the demanding job, but some of it was opportunity.
Not that I took advantage of a lot of opportunities when I had them.
Bear with me on this, particularly those of you who have read the blog for a long time.
The word “audition” used to scare the ever-living hell out of me. I won a lot of awards for singing, music, and performance when I was a child and as a teenager. I also modeled. I fell into it as a child because the photographer of the local newspaper wanted to date my older sister. She was one of those popular girls who treated her boyfriends like crap.
My mother used to assign her to babysit me, probably thinking it would keep her out of trouble. Instead, my sister used to pass me off on the wanna-be boyfriends, particularly the photographer. I was in the paper a lot.
Then she married, my parents and I moved to Wisconsin, and my mother still found a way for me to get photographed for the paper. I did a ton of artsy fartsy things, except actual drawing, which I sucked at. I competed a lot, but I never had to audition, until high school.
I don’t remember most of my auditions, but the last one—the very last one—sticks in my mind. I auditioned for Fiddler on the Roof. I was scared to death, and the music stuck in my throat. When it became clear to me that I couldn’t sing in tune at that moment, I apologized to the co-director.
“I go out of tune when I’m nervous,” I said.
She looked at me over the top of the piano. “Well, you’ll be nervous on opening night, won’t you?”
It was like an arrow to the heart. And that was it. I saw everything through that prism from that moment forward. If I was nervous, I would screw up.
What I didn’t see was this: I had blown the audition badly and I still got a singing part. (One of the two youngest daughters, Shprintze.) What I considered bad wasn’t awful. It just wasn’t good enough for a lead role.
I had no one to tell me these things. I had a perfectionist mother who believed one missed word, one missed note, ruined everything. So I decided to avoid anything that required auditioning…although I found ways around it.
I was in radio. I got my first job as a writer of copy, and eventually, I learned engineering and because we were short-handed, I went on the air a lot.
I had married another theater geek, and I had dreams of heading to New York. He would perform and I would write. That got tanked when he quit drama school after he had been chosen to work at a start-up theater (which later won a Tony). He “didn’t like the pay.”
. . . .
[Kris took a voice-over class.]
Seventy-five percent of the class was performance, sprinkled with a lot of learning about all the kinds of existing voiceover work. There’s an engineering course that I will take later in the year, if I can sign up (it fills fast), and there’s a lot more to learn.
Because I didn’t care about whether or not I was the best or even “good enough,” I tried all kinds of things. I had fun and I was eager to get in the booth and try something hard.
It knocked the rust off my radio skills, and reminded me how much I loved voice work. I had tried to revive some voice work back in Oregon, but I hadn’t felt comfortable, considering how much had changed.
And a lot had changed, but the fundamentals remained the same. One voice, one microphone, some engineering work, and ¡voila! a product. I had forgotten that.
So, while I was enmeshed with trying to work out which classes to take next, the VO studio sent an email about moving forward, and in it, had this quote:
Comparison is the thief of joy.
They sent it because students who finish that first class usually become a group who take other classes together. As in all of the arts, a group that starts from the same place does not stay in the same place. Some have early success. Some quit. Some work forever to make small gains. And some eventually become the solid folks in their field.
I’m not planning to become a major voice-over artist. I have a job. But I want to do a few things, and I want the skills (and the contacts) to hire the right people for the jobs I have.
Still, I stared at that comparison quote for a long time, and it got me thinking.
The writers I’ve been around, particularly those with some success, often compare themselves to others like this:
I’m more talented than XYZ Bestselling writer. How come he has all the luck?
And then they try to explain it to themselves, often with a result like this:
Oh, he’s successful because he dumbs his work down for the masses.
Or, he’s successful because he’s writing something trendy.
Or, he’s successful because he does more advertising than I do.
Or, he’s successful because he sucks up to everyone in power (in traditional publishing).
He’s never successful because of his abilities—not to that person. Not that it matters, either. In the arts, comparing two artists isn’t fair. They’re different. They’re on different paths.
Which was the point of the quote the VO studio sent.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like the thoughts Kris shares, you can show your appreciation by checking out her books.