December 31, 2014 by Sian Rowland
I’m a planner. I like to have a list of tasks to tick off, preferably in a neat grid. This always works well for a few weeks and then life has a way of taking over and the plans go awry. This is not necessarily a negative thing as the new direction is often more exciting and challenging than the original one. I certainly sailed unchartered waters this year while sticking nominally to a sketchy plan. So here are my 2014 highlights.
January to March
The plan was still in place and I ticked off regular swimming for health and taking part in a charity swimathon and learning some Spanish for a February holiday in Lanzarote. Turned out everyone in Lanzarote is English so I didn’t need to explain that my sponge is red but my broom is blue to anyone (thank you Duolingo) but a kindly old bartender allowed me to rabbit away to him on a disturbing mix of Spanish and Italian and gave me free caramel vodka so all wasn’t lost. I did some new work with three new jobs- one gained from twitter, one from a networking event and one from being sent an email meant for someone else. I also managed to do a couple of guest blogs for writing websites.
What I learnt
As a freelancer, work can come from anywhere. Many people are dismissive of Twitter as being a waste of time. I’ve got work via Twitter, found interesting workshops, people and opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have had. I’m also superbly up to date with my subject area and world news. Writing guest blogs is a great way to extend my writing self and maybe reach a new audience
April to June
This year I’ve been a bit more gung ho in seeking out opportunities. I’m a worrier and spend far too much time being anxious about what will happen if I press send on an email. In this quarter I threw caution away and pressed send a lot. One of the craziest things I did was to respond to an opportunity from comedy stalwarts Funny Women to audition for their comedy improvisation group the Funny Women Players. I’ve never done stand up. Or improvisation. Or performed in a sketch since school. The devil in me said give it a go. It was an adrenalin-fuelled and hilarious evening and I ended up getting a call-back held at a RADA studio. Mother, I’m on stage at RADA! Well not quite but who cares. I didn’t make the squad but had a fabulous time, learnt loads and ended up with two new fabulously funny friends. We’ve been meeting ever since to plan our attack on the world of comedy. Once we’ve finished the Prosecco. In this quarter I also worked on the song, heard that my short play Alice Springs had been accepted by Blackshaw Theatre for a new writing night and that it had been accepted by Open Page Theatre for an autumn run at the Etcetera Theatre. I also recorded at Abbey Road again with my choir and sang on Peter Andre’s 60 Minute makeover. My creative life is developing right alongside my business life.
What I learnt
What’s the worst that can happen if you give something a go? People might laugh at you, reject you (I had plenty of no’s too) or even worse, ignore you but sometimes they say yes. Or perhaps.
July to September
Rejuvenated up by a last minute bargain holiday, I met some new actors and directors at Blackshaw new writing night and the Open Page team started meeting to plan our autumn run of Bookends. I also had a lot of rejections of my work in this quarter and while it’s tough, the successes helped counter it a bit. We finished the song and it went public. We auditioned and cast for Bookends, lost a director and found one and I started on Twitter and blogging for Bookends to get a buzz going. In between, I ran several PSHE courses, gained and then lost a role as a professional tutor at a SCITT (Schools Centred Initial Teacher Training) centre thanks to a low level of trainees applying to become teachers. I blame Mr Gove entirely but that excuse won’t work when it’s time to pay my bills. This was really frustrating as I thought I was set up for the year workwise.
Things I learnt
I’m getting slightly better at handling rejection. It’s still painful but it’s a necessary evil I guess. I also learnt that running a play on a shoestring is really hard work but such fun too, especially when there’s a group of you to take on the tasks.
October to December
I had some nice work related bits this quarter. I ran a great session at Wandsworth SCITT, wrote the John Lewis Christmas education activities again and served on the John Lewis Story competition panel. Bookends ran at the Etcetera Theatre and I was overwhelmed by the support from friends and family. We made a good team and I learnt loads more about theatre and behind the scenes (literally) of a play. We had reviews and this was a lesson in itself. I ended up being interviewed for a radio show on the other side of the world and for a radio show closer to home. The year finished with some more exciting opportunities and I’m excited for 2015 to start.
What I learnt
If I didn’t know this before, I’ve learnt that people in theatre are dedicated, incredibly hard-working and slightly bonkers. I am full of admiration for actors, directors, technicians and front of house staff. I learnt that some risks taken might not pay immediately but opportunities arise just from saying yes more and pressing the send button so I’ll keep doing that in the new year and see what it sends back.
So here’s to a successful, creative and healthy new year for all.