Note to my WordPress friends (my faves): This is my latest article on Medium. It comes to you after a long day of shopping for the Great Hunkering Down that is about to hit L.A..
I, like many of you, fluctuate between fear and faith. But mostly, for whatever reason, I’m calm. I went to the beach with my daughter today (keeping a good gajillion feet away from everybody else.)
I had a lovely dinner in front of our fire.
I played music and I shopped for neighbors and I called friends.
This is a time in history, more than ever, that we need art and music. We need less fear and more love.
And we need each other.
Thank you for being there for me always.
Most people aren’t exactly breaking out in song over their forced unemployment and quarantine or writing their Great American Corona Novel. But I’m not one of them.
Part of this because I have a pretty strong spiritual practice where I just refuse to fall into self pity. Either God’s got this or he doesn’t. Part of it is because, as a sober alcoholic, I can’t afford to be play the victim. “One day at a time” is how the saying goes. But the biggest reason I’m not freaking out is because I can finally write my musical.
I’ve had the idea in my brain for three years. I even have one whole song and a few others started. Now that I’m not going into class every day to sub, I don’t have any excuses to not take at least one hour/day and knock this sucker out.
I’ve Never Written a Musical. I Don’t Give a Poop.
I’m not trying to sound delusional here when I say, “I’m writing a musical with no experience.” I’m simply stating that I’m doing it. For those who want to question my logic, I have a very simple answer: “When I think about not following through with it I feel like throwing up.”
I Refuse to Hit the Snooze Alarm on My Dream
Time is ticking by. I just turned 50. I have spent my life raising my kids and writing for a gajillon outlets for pay. And while I’m proud of my ability to context switch from blogs and magazines to everything in between, there’s something in my soul that wants to write something that comes just from me.
My passion project is not about my ego. It’s about about my purpose.
I didn’t get sober to live someone else’s life. I got sober to live mine. In doing so, I was able to untangle all the lies of who I thought I was supposed to be and lean into the person God wanted me to be all along. That person is an artist. (Surprise!)
But I Have to Make Money (And All Those Lies We Tell Ourselves)
I’m not that different from many of you who read and write here on Medium. I have a day job, too. In addition to my freelance writing, I substitute teach. I have kids and a husband. I have friends. I’m not exactly loaded with Benjamins.
But if I’m being totally honest with myself, there is always an hour a day I can spend on my musical if I choose to do it. (I can use my lunch break, get up early, take an hour after school, etc.) And now that I have 3–6 months of unemployment, I can do it in the mornings while the kids are sleeping.
What Are Your Gifts? Whatever They Are, Do That
If someone asked me what I loved more than anything in the world, I could very easily tell them. I love music. I love books. I love writing. And I love to laugh. If that isn’t the perfect formula for a musical I don’t know what is. Now I only need to do it.
Here’s 7 ways I’m planning on getting started to make my dream happen. Perhaps you can use some of these tips for your dream, too!
- Follow Your Destiny
“Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are ultimately to be at peace with themselves. What humans can be, they must be.” ―Abraham Maslow
As I already alluded to, I can’t not write this musical. The idea came to me over three years ago when I was going through a particularly rough period of my life. It was as if all the pieces of this transformational story were drop shipped into my brain one night in the bathtub. I literally heard the tune to my flagship song, along with lyrics, singing in my brain. Either I’m psychotic or finally listening to the signs in my life. I’m going with Door #2.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of Your Own Power
I was bullied a lot in school. Subconsciously I bought into a belief structure that I simply wasn’t as good as everybody else. And though I knew in my head that wasn’t in true, in my heart it was as if my soul had frozen.
This frozen belief structure became a problem because, also within my soul, was where my true power lived- my voice- and it was throwing a pretty major tantrum to be let out.
Instead of seeing this power for what it was, “Oh, hello, powerful Andrea. Let’s get you moving toward your destiny!” I got scared. It felt like an enemy attack, and I shut down. I drank to keep it quiet and acting dignified.
But that power, like a true love, remained. It was a gentleman. It didn’t force me into submission. Instead it waited, like a lover, for the time I would put away my fears and dance with it. Now is that time.
3. Get a Theme Song
My theme song is “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. I speak about this song a lot in my book, Happily Ticked Off. In it the Wicked Witch (from the Wizard of Oz) decides she is tired of listening to everyone else. She is ready to fly. She is ready to defy gravity. To her I say, “Amen, sister!” (Plus it doesn’t matter how many times I hear Idina Menzel sing that last note. I cry. Every. Time.)
“Something has changed within me. Something is not the same. I’m through with playing by the rules of someone’s else’s game.” — Elphaba (Lyrics by Steven Schwartz)
4. Don’t Judge Your Past.
“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.” ―Barbara Hall
If I had a dime for all the jobs I’ve held over the past 30 years I’d be living in Beverly Hills. I’ve been an usher at the movies, a tour Guide for NBC Studios, a TV writers’ assistant, a TV writer, a production secretary, a receptionist, an Ebayer, a special education assistant, a substitute teacher and even a barista at Starbucks.
Sometimes, okay a lot of times, I’m ashamed of my checkered job past. Why couldn’t I just be a middle school teacher? Or a doctor? Something stable? But when I put the emotional whip down, I see a different picture— that I have tons of material to write my musical with. Besides, my kids, family and friends love me just as am, not for what I do. Maybe it’s time I start agreeing with them about how fabulous I am.
5. Stop Second Guessing Yourself
“Too late for second guessing. Too late to go back to sleep. It’s time to trust my instincts… to close my eyes, and leap…” — Elphaba, Wicked
I’m gonna have to give #5 to my girl, Elphaba, again. She didn’t really know what she was doing when she picked up that broom and ascended into the heavens. Like her, I don’t know 100% what I’m doing with this musical. But she flew anyway, mistakes be damn. What if I follow in her footsteps? Even Lin Manuel Miranda got laughed at for wanting to write a hip hop musical about the treasury department.
And no, I’m not Lin Manuel Miranda, but Lin Manuel Miranda wasn’t Lin Manuel Miranda until he did the same things I’m doing now to become Lin Manuel Miranda.
(That makes perfect sense to me. I hope it does to you, also.)
6. Stop Talking and Start Doing
Everyone in my immediate circle knows about my musical. The kids at school know me as the sub who is writing a funny show about camels. I’m honestly tired of talking about it. It’s time to sit down and do it. I am committed to one hour/day, five days/week. It’ll be done in a year.
Here’s what Sebastian, the blind mole rat from my musical, has to say to a very princess-y camel, Rose, about her long trek through the desert:
Sebastian: “If you want to go to the Great Mirage, first you have to get out of the garage.”
Rose: “But what I really want is a massage…”
Sebastian: “It doesn’t work that way.”
If my characters have to do the hard work to find their destiny, so do I. And that leads me to #7:
7. Have Faith
I don’t know exactly how all this will pan out. I don’t have a producer in mind. I don’t know any producers. I don’t write music notes. But I have seen enough of my Higher Power to work in my own life that if I just take the action the results will follow. Translation: I will meet the right people to come alongside me when the time is right. But first I must get started.
“God provides the wind, but man must raise the sails.” ―St. Augustine
Are You Willing to Get Started?
I know some of you are so scared about our current times. So am I. But friends, we need art now more than ever. We need you. Come on back and support me as I continue my journey. You know I’ll support you!
Need a Writing Coach? I Got Ya Covered!
Want someone to coach you toward your dream? I’ve already got two clients I’m working with to make their books a reality. I can help you, too! Reach out at Andrea.Paventi@Gmail.com.
Until next time,