Your work is not You

I'm so excited to let you know that tickets are now on sale for The Inheritance, the workshop production, that I'll be performing at the Fertile Ground Festival of New Work in January.

It's very strange inviting you to attend a performance that I'm still rehearsing but that's part of the strange world that artists inhabit when they have to promote their art event before the work is complete. It's like when you have to invite people to your gallery opening when all the canvases aren't complete. It's the same strangeness when you have to write a grant application for a project before you've made it.

I would prefer to know the work is not only done and but is "great" before I invite anyone. But if I waited for "great" work, whatever that means, I might never invite anyone to anything! 

So, here's what I'm doing and I recommend you do when you have to send invitations for something that you're still finishing:

  1. Remember that the invitation is to see the "work," not the inside of your underwear drawer. Keep your focus on the work as a project that is separate from you as a person. You're just inviting people to experience this "thing" that is NOT you.
  2. Pretend that you're just the marketing person and this is your job. Focus on the physical tasks at hand: addressing envelopes, writing personal notes on the invitations, checking for correct mailing addresses, emailing invitations, buying stamps and affixing them to envelopes, tossing invites into the mailbox and so on.
  3. Practice warmth in all your invitations. When you smile on the phone while you're talking, you'll have a "smile in your voice" which people can hear. Warmth is a people magnet and most people don't experience this warmth nearly enough. Exude it and your audience may flock to your event. 
  4. Accept the fact that you will feel split in two: one of you can stay the moody, nervous artist who's still rehearsing and the other you can be the extroverted, relaxed promoter. Let them take turns.
  5. Just like an athlete can't guarantee she'll win the game, an artist can't guarantee what will happen at a live performance. So much of what occurs between performer and audience is spontaneous. You can only do the best you can do, moment to moment. Accept this and carry on. 

Guess who wrote this blog post? Not the me who’s going to rehearsal tomorrow. I let the warm, self-promoter tap this out. Later, my performing artist will get to drive. 

I’d love to hear how you experience this need to let go and carry on at the same time. Comment below. 

Photo by Samuel Castro on Unsplash