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When Inspiration Fails…

There is nothing in the world I love more than acting and writing. Not chocolate, not a day at the beach, not even wine (and I like wine a lot). It wasn’t a decision I made one day, it just happened to me – like when someone falls in love. Even so I still have the occasional day when I just don’t feel like doing it.

When one of “those days” strikes, as they sometimes do, I wish the casting directors could understand – or the editor of that magazine who’s waiting for my new article. I wish that I could just roll over onto my side, stare at the sheet of paper or script lying beside me as if they were a faithful old partner and simply say, “Sorry honey, I’m just not in the mood right now.” Then perhaps the script could make a consoling gesture, something profound like patting me softly on the shoulder as if to say, “That’s ok, dear.” That’s never happened though; which isn’t to say I’ve lost hope or anything, just that perhaps my expectations are a bit unrealistic.

Yup, sometimes I just don’t want to. For example, I have an audition this weekend. In about forty-eight hours to be exact. My lines are sitting on my desk staring at me, bold little black sentences with the intermittent word in italics for emphasis, but I just can’t bring myself to learn them. Maybe it was when I found out that a bloodthirsty insect won’t be eating me in my first horror film, maybe (as the Greeks would say) it’s the weather the last couple of days; it doesn’t really matter. I’m down and out. If only I knew how to play the saxophone – it’s always seemed like an instrument that understands being down in the dumps. The only problem is that today I’m so lethargic I don’t know if I could find the strength to pick it up and press all those keys. Plus there’s all that blowing involved and that’s got to take an awful lot of stamina.

I wonder if people in other occupations ever feel this way? Surely they must. I’m certain that somewhere out there is a heart surgeon who’s rolling his eyes as he performs a transplant. Or a baker who would rather still be at that great party drinking a margarita instead of kneading out seven pounds of bread dough in an apron. I wonder who would win if we had a sighing competition? I’ve been doing it all day. Looking at this or that and just letting out a huge exhale. Pwwweeeeeeeh… Still nothing.

Normally, when days like these roll around I just give myself permission to sink into the couch with a bag of Cheesies and Pretty in Pink and try to recover my Mojo. After all, I am an artist and we always seem to be suffering from one condition or the other: melancholy, stomach cramps, alcohol poisoning. But around the time that Molly Ringwald tells Andrew McCarthy that she doesn’t want him to take her home after their first date Madonna pops into my head and I realize Madge has probably accomplished more in the last three minutes than I have all day. Suddenly I feel even worse.

I try visualization. Nothing. Positive thoughts. Nope. Going to get my favorite coffee at Starbucks – the one with all that delicious caffeine and chocolate – but it just gives me the shakes. A few more hours go by, I doodle in my notebook and walk around in circles on the carpet and then I see it. It’s a trailer for a movie – a movie I had auditioned for. I see the actress and I turn green. Once the trailer’s over it’s as if a magic spell has been reversed – my competitive streak is in full swing. I run upstairs to the office and pick up the pages thinking there’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned dose of jealously to set things straight.

Ten minutes later my life has changed dramatically. My laundry is whirling in the washing machine, soon to be pressed and hung up like a prom dress waiting for the big day. I’ve highlighted my lines with my favorite yellow highlighter (the one I use only for my special auditions) and they’re actually sticking in my head. I even flopped onto the floor and did a few sit-ups for good measure. I feel like a new person, or at least a little bit of a better version of the same one.

Forty-two hours to go. Inspiration: affirmative.

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