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Putting Myself Out There

{ Me, last night }

I met up with a mentor of mine this weekend to talk career and she had some tough love for me. I think that, for the most part, she was right (even if it stung a little bit). She told me it’s time to stop writing in a vacuum and try to get some representation again. She said it’s time to stop hanging my hat on Tony. She said it’s time to write some more scripts and perform more, and find a way to get people to read them and see me. She said it’s time to get a thicker skin and create a “business” character that I pretend to be when I have to talk about my work, if I’m too sensitive to just be myself.

I don’t think I hang my hat on Tony; I think we love to work together, and work well together. We were writing together in the Groundlings Sunday Company before we were dating. We’ve written and performed so many projects and shows together over the years. A few years ago when I was represented by CAA and we’d go in to pitch things together, producers would ask who my boyfriend was and what he’d written and done. Now, I don’t have agents and my boyfriend is now my husband starring on a TV show, and people wonder who his wife is and what she’s written and done. I guess that’s the nature of the beast/business, how it ebbs and flows. My friend Barbara always tells me that one day Tony is going to be auditioning for a movie I wrote, because she is really nice and encouraging and maybe a little delusional.

But for now, I’m in the +1 position – I’m so proud of him, but it is my worst fear* that people will see me as someone trying to hang my hat on him and ride his coattails. I don’t see it that way; I see us as equally talented and driven people whose skillsets complement the other’s. But maybe it looks different from the outside. I’ve done a few shows lately and I killed it in them (I criticize myself all the time, and am my own worst critic, and berate myself over most things I do. But you guys, I know I did a really good job. I was “in the zone,” and could hear and feel the laughter.) Maybe it’s because I’ve been focusing more on this blog than performing and writing scripts lately, and people think I’ve gone soft and fluffy and housewifey, because after those recent shows, I’ve been hearing the surprise in people’s voices when they tell me how funny I was and say “I didn’t know you could do that!”

can do that. I don’t know what happened. I guess I got scared when I had so many close calls and then suddenly I didn’t have agents anymore. I was really jaded from spending all my time writing pitches for other people’s ideas instead of writing scripts about my own. I started telling myself I had to lose 15 pounds before someone would want to send me on auditions, that I couldn’t try to get an agent again until I’d written my next masterpiece because everyone had already “passed” on the masterpieces I’d written before and they’re old news now. I got depressed. I got through that cloud of hopelessness, but I’m still scared to fully throw myself back into the Hollywood grind because I’m worried no one will want me.

I worry that I had my shot, and missed it. I worry that I got knocked down so many times, I ended up making myself a character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, working on a simple and safe puzzle every day – only my “puzzle” is designing my house and trying to find funny ways to write about the outfits I wear, the food I cook, the wedding I had (even though I love writing about that stuff, too). I worry that I’m too old to be a “developmental” client. Tony says I’m not developmental, but it feels that way; going from having the fanciest agents in town to none was a really humbling experience, as was getting sososoclose to my dreams and then watching them fall through. All of the Famous/Successful Person quotes seem to have the same message, that it’s your failures that shape you and lead you to the thing, and that as long as you don’t give up and keep failing, you’ll get there. But I’m a perfectionist (not the good kind, the unhealthy kind), and my tendency is to crawl into a hole and wait to come out until I’m ready to expose my genius to the world. This blog has been a good exercise in putting that intensity aside, as I gave myself the challenge to put something up every day, which doesn’t give me time to be precious about every single word.

But I do think my mentor was right about the other stuff: It’s time to stop writing in a vacuum and try to get some representation again. It’s time to write some more scripts and perform more, and find a way to get people to read them and see me. And I think it’s time to work more with Tony on our creative projects and less on what tiles to put in the bathroom; we started a script a while ago that we want to perform live with our friends to try to sell it, instead of just schlepping the script around town. I’m going to work on that again.

So, to get all Oprah and The Secret and Tony Robbins about my dreams and put myself out there clearly: I want to be a regular on a TV show. I want to write for a living, not just for a little paycheck here and there. I think I will get there eventually, because what is the point in trying if you don’t believe in yourself? I’ve found it’s hard enough to get people to believe in you, it’s not going to work if you can’t even stand behind yourself.

Several kind friends (some of whom I haven’t spoken to in a while), have been reaching out to me randomly to tell me how much they like the blog. I don’t think that’s entirely coincidental, and it means the world to me. I really really really appreciate all of your support and encouragement. I want to keep writing it because it is a safe place for me to publish myself, instead of hoping someone else will. I think it reflects my voice, because I am funny but also like girly, lifestyle-y things. I don’t think it takes away from my comedy work. I think I can do both. I’ve also seen a lot of bloggers and “internet writers” like Kelly Oxford and Jenny Mollen transition that work into books and screenplays. The blog is valid, too.

This post probably screams what my mom would call “fishing for compliments,” but I don’t mean it to be that. I’m also fully aware how truly #blessed I am; I’ve got my husband, my family, my friends, my dogs, my health and a gorgeous home I’m lucky enough to live in. I take none of that for granted. This isn’t meant to be a diatribe against Hollywood because I haven’t gotten the golden ticket yet. I just think maybe a lot of people (especially people pursuing this same career in Hollywood) can relate, and maybe we can commiserate and be in it together. Adulting is hard, and so is trying to navigate what the right and wrong moves are, career-wise. What’s your advice (or experience)? How do you know when and how to keep pushing, or when to pivot? Thanks for listening, you guys.

*Footnote: My true #1 worst fear is that someone will come into my house at night and murder me. My #2 worst fear is that people will see me as someone trying to hang my hat on Tony and ride his coattails. It just felt more melodramatic and on-theme to write the latter as my #1. OK BYE!