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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saying Yes

This is actually Nicole's post, but blogger is giving her attitude this week, so I'm posting it for her : )

One of the things I learned doing the Artist's Way program, and that is also a key component of The Secret, is the importance of saying Yes. This was illustrated to me in the past couple of days.

Remember my story (below) about the film audition? Well, to flesh it out a bit, I was up for the role of the wife of a composer/pianist who has lost his hearing. The role was pretty small. At the audition, the director told me she'd be doing some rewrites before the shoot and that the role could get even smaller. Would I still be interested, she asked.

Yes, I said. After all, I was there to get on-camera experience, no matter how big the part. And a small role is better than no role.

The night before the shoot, the director emailed me in a panic. She couldn't find anyone to play the lead, the composer/pianist. All the men she'd auditioned either weren't right or flaked out on her. If she changed the role to a female, would I be willing to do it?

Again, I said Yes.

I got to set on Saturday morning and I now had the lead role. I got to play the cool, challenging part of a composer/pianist who has lost her hearing. It was fantastic! I had a great time and the director was really pleased with my work. It turned out for the best, she said.

My saying Yes opened more doors for me on this project than I expected!

More success - while on break at the shoot, I was writing in my journal about how grateful I was, and my phone rang. It was the stage manager of another show I'd auditioned for, offering me the job. Now, I wasn't offered the role I wanted, but I said Yes anyway. Work begets work.

So far my reports have been about my acting work, but I have had successes in writing, too. Mainly that I'm getting words on the page and working through trouble
scenes. It's a quieter success than the acting, but it's still a success.

The week lies ahead of me and all I see are possibilities. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Secret of The Secret

Before I begin this post, I would like to suggest that anyone following our experiment buy the book or download the video of The Secret. No, I am not advertising, but as an author, I respect copyright. We will be mentioning things in this blog that are derived from someone else's work. That person should benefit from having provided the fodder. 'Nuff said.

I think the single most important principle of The Secret is what they are calling the 'law of attraction.' That is, if we are in a positive place and filled with positive energy, we will attract positive things to us.

The step that we as a group have discussed as being equally important is taking ACTION. Attract those positive possibilities to you with the positive energy your attitude will generate, and then take the steps necessary to make things happen.

How much can we control in our lives by adhering to these principles? That remains to be seen. I believe we will see good things come about in this month (and beyond.)

To be frank, we are all coming into this experiment coping with or rebounding from some astounding hurdles in our lives, including major surgery, marital disintegration, relocation (one coast to coast, one clandestine and another international), family illness, etc. When I say we are going to put The Secret to the test, I really mean To The Test!

In my mind, there is no sense waiting for 'the perfect time' to begin something like this. Life happens. There is always going to be something we can use to keep us from our goals. If we wait for those things to go away, we will never get there.

I'm a prime example. With four kids (five if you count my DH) a puppy and a writing career to manage, there is always something that goes awry. And with all those extra people in the mix (plus editor, agent, publicist, et al) how am I supposed to control my own destiny?

This is the challenge. According to the book, if I command the universe to make this happen, it will. Hey, universe, are you listening?

Stay tuned. This is going to get interesting.

The Secret: Taking Control

As Jen mentioned below, we've embarked on a month-long experiment of The Secret and how we can make it work for us. We started our experiment with The Burn on Wednesday night, and yesterday was our first full day of the experiment.

As you know, I'm an actress in addition to being a writer, and yesterday I had an audition for a short film. Nothing huge, nothing directed by Scorcese, but a chance to get more on-camera experience which I sorely need. I liked the script a lot and thought the role would be a good one for me. So right before the audition, I took a few minutes to write down what I was grateful for that day. Here's what my list consisted of:

I am happy & grateful for this beautiful day. [I live in Los Angeles and the weather has been amazing here!]
I am happy & grateful that I was able to write today. [I got in 1200 words yesterday!]
I am happy & grateful that Chris is feeling better. [My hubby got hit with a case of food poisoning two days ago, poor thing]
I am happy & grateful that there were so many Shakespeare auditions in Backstage West today.
I am happy & grateful that my dad & I had a great conversation last night.
I am happy & grateful that I have such great friends.

That was it. Nothing earth-shattering, but just taking the time to acknowledge all the wonderful things in my life right now.

Then I wrote that I wanted to get cast in the film. I went to the audition and did a good job. Two hours later, the director called me to offer me the part.

Here's the thing. As artists, we often feel like we don't have a lot of control over our careers. It's up to someone else to cast me in a show or to publish my book. Those things are out of my control. So it is important to utilize everything that is in my control and take back that power. It was in my control to be grateful. It was in my control to send positive energy out to the Universe. It was in my control to do a good job at the audition. All of those things gave me power. And that power landed me the role.

Even if I had not been cast, I could honestly say that I did everything within my control to get that part. And what could be more powerful than that?

I'll be checking in often with more comments on The Secret Experiment and with more successes, I'm sure!

The Burn

In keeping with the idea that the principles of The Secret utilize positive thinking, and because we begin our Secret Experiment on 3/15, we chose 3/14 for "a burn". So what is this burn? Well, it's a shorthand title for starters - and we've lost track of what the official name is, but the theory and practice doesn't change. A burn is done to banish / release / destroy negative thought. And it is very simply accomplished...

Take a few moments of quiet time - really quiet. Sit with a piece of paper and a pen, and for those few moments "listen" to the negative thoughts invading your conscience. When we burn, our focus is on our writing. So the negative thoughts that might intrude can range from "you can't spell for crap" to "you'll never bepublished". A lot of negative thoughts that could be applied to any daily obstacle - not just writing - may come up, too. These are often along the lines of "you don't deserve success" and "pursuing your dream is selfish". And remember, this is just you and a piece of paper. No matter how absurd the thought, no matter how much your logic brain might try to argue (it might say tostop being ridiculous, pursuing a dream isn't selfish!) that negative thought belongs on the paper. Write it down. No one is going to see this list but you. Go to town with it. Write down every negative thought the voice of self-doubt is shouting /saying / whispering / insinuating.

Once the list is complete take a deep breath, a box of matches, and a fireproof container : ) I use a metal ashtray for this part of the exercise - a hibachi or fireplace of course works even better - and I keep my fire extinguisher close to hand because I have, in the past, been known to set fire to Thanksgiving dinner and my clothing, so I err on the side of caution. Take the piece of paper in hand and reduce it (tear it or use scissors to cut it) to whatever size is needed to fit it into your fireproof container. For an ashtray, make little pieces. For a fireplace, one tear might do. Whichever the case, as you tear or cut the paper, be very conscious of the idea that you have taken the first step toward destroying negative thoughts, the first step toward exerting your power over them. And once you've taken that first step and dropped that list into the fire pit, light it up. Let the heat of the fire consume and destroy the negative concepts that are holding you back from your success. Watch the negativity be reduced to ash and smoke, watch the smoke rise and dissipate to nothingness, watch the self-doubt that was keeping you from success fade and vanish.

And as the fire sputters out and you're left with a pile of ash, you'll be amazed athow good you feel. You've let go of the negativity and made space in your consciousness to allow the positive thoughts to rule.

Try it for yourself. Just remember to keep the fire extinguisher handy...

Have you heard of The Secret?

It started like this....

Gerb sent us all an email asking if we'd heard of The Secret and the phenomena surrounding it. As is the way of things, I found the arrival of the mail to be pretty amusing, as just a few nights before, friends of mine had left the DVD at my house, encouraging me to watch it. But in the email, Gerb proposed what would very shortly come to be known as The Secret Experiment. She suggested we try applying the principles of The Secret to our writing lives...

(see comments for more...)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Are You Published?

It happened to me on Saturday.

I told someone I had never met I was a writer. "Oh, what have you published?" And the inevitable sneer and look down the nose when they find out I haven't yet.

It made me feel like I was an inch big. Because what right do I have to call myself a writer when I haven't published anything?

Well, the answer to that is - every right.

I sit down at the computer and my fingers move across the keyboard, my hand moves across the journal, palm cramped around the pen, I live through the lives of my characters, crying and laughing with them. All of these things comprise the act of writing, the physical and emotional act of writing. Every day I do this. Every time I commit words to the page I earn the right to call myself a writer.

The 500-page manuscript in my agent's office, filled with the blood, sweat and tears of six years of work, gives me the right to call myself a writer. The stacks of research books and pages of notes and 200 pages of rough and jumbled words for my new book give me the right to call myself a writer. But most of all, I give myself the right.

It is not for anyone else to bestow that title on me; not for an editor or an agent or the New York Times Book Review. Just me. I am the only person in the world who has the right to say I am a writer.

Remember that the next time someone asks you if you're published. It doesn't matter if you are or aren't. If you have put pen to paper, finger to keyboard, seen the world through your character's eyes - you are a writer.