One of the things I’m supposed to be doing whilst I’m in Berlin is to write my Edinburgh Fringe script. I meant to do this over Christmas, then I meant to do it in January, then I meant to do it in February and eventually I decided I would put it off until May, when I wouldn’t be working and I’d have loads of free time to write it.
But now that I’m here I still don’t want to write it and I’m using every excuse that I can think of to not do it.
I’ve kind of put myself in a bind as I’ve already registered for the fringe (which is a lot of money), got a venue etc. I certainly can still pull out and I can just go up there and review (which sounds delightful now that I say it out loud), but there’s this self-destructive part of me that still wants to go up there and perform.
I think there are a lot of things that are playing into my reluctance to write this show. I mean, there is always a certain amount of struggle at the start of a script and it can take me months (or years) to find the right entry-point into a particular piece of writing. That said, I’m not particularly dedicated at looking for those entry-points – I try a variety of things for a few days or a week or so and if it doesn’t work I give up. If I then happen to get interested in the subject again I may try again in a few months time. I think one of the main reasons I’m not a more successful artist is that I don’t work hard enough. But, anyway, that is not the point.
The problem with this particular script is that apart from struggling with all the usual, ‘but where is it set? What’s actually happening? At what point does the story start? What’s the tone? But this writing is shit’ etc. questions & criticisms is that I don’t think I actually care anymore.
It’s a feeling that’s been sneaking up on me over the past couple of months, maybe years, I’m not sure, but it’s certainly gained in strength since January this year. I don’t actually care about theatre anymore, about being involved in it professionally. I’m sick of trying so hard and getting so little back. I’m sick of the constant disappointments and the constant feeling that I’m not good enough. I’m sick of not having any money and supporting myself in dead-end jobs that I hate. This is the ‘industry’ that everyone warned me about when I wanted to go into acting but, at the time, I thought I loved it enough to get through anything. Turns out that’s not true. Or, at least, when it feels like I’m getting nowhere, that each project or achievement is separate, that I’m not actually building anything, no career or reputation or future; when it feels like I will never, ever get out of this scrambling around on the bottom-rung of the industry I think, ‘well, sod this for a game of soldiers.’ Or something with harsher language.
Don’t feel too sorry for me, I feel happier at the moment than I have in a long, long time. But in terms of my so-called ‘career’, I have never been less interested and more disillusioned. I hate all the fetishising of ‘creatives’ and ‘creativity’ that happens in our middle-class Western society, I hate people that tell me that if I just follow my dream or what I love everything will turn out fine and I’ll figure out what I want to do, as if by magic. I’ve become like the grumpy Dad in a B-grade ‘Follow Your Dreams’ type Hollywood film, admonishing his daughter, ‘But acting’s not a real job! You have to accept facts some time Dorothy. Part of being a grown-up is accepting that to have a good life there are certain things you will have to do that you may not like.’
And all of this is seeping into my attempts to write. On top of all the usual fears of will it be good enough, will it make sense, there’s in an overarching, bigger feeling which is just sighing and rolling it’s eyes and sneering, ‘Yeah, but you know, who even cares? You’re well past it by this point anyway. If your ‘career’ was going anywhere, it would have started going there by now.’ I sit in front of my computer thinking, ‘Ok, so what is this story about, why should people care about it?’ And my brain comes back with, ‘Dunno. I don’t even care about it.’
I am so sick of all of it. I don’t think I like writing. I don’t think I like acting. I don’t even think I like the theatre that much, either, having seen it from the inside. It’s become a compulsion for me, like the alcoholic who finds himself in the pub when he was meant to be buying milk or the gambler who is parking at the casino when she had been heading home. I went and signed myself up to the Edinburgh Fringe without genuinely thinking about whether or not I wanted to do all the things that come with it, like writing a play and then performing it. Turns out I don’t. I don’t want to do any of those things.