Saturday, November 17, 2012

Triple Threat?

I was sitting at a red light and for some reason, I started thinking about people who can do more than one thing well.  Triple threats in the entertainment industry can act, sing, and dance.  Some actors learn a skill for a new role.  Wendell Pierce, an actor on Treme, learned to play the trombone, so he could portray a musician.  It's hard enough to be able to master one skill, but to be able to do two things well, or three things, wow!

I guess the reason I was thinking about this was because I just left a writers' group meeting at the library.  I went to the writers' group meeting because I'm writing a novel this month.  Yeah.  The reason I'm writing a novel this month is because I love to read and listen to books on tape, and I go to my library quite frequently.   I love my librarians, and every time I go in to return books, I tell them about what I've read.  Sometimes, they tease me and hide behind the counter when they see me coming, but they duck in full view of my line of sight, so they know that I know they're teasing me.  Any way, the librarians told me about NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place in the month of November.  I've started several novels but never finished them, and I always said that when I retired, I'd write.  Well, I've been retired for a year now, and here was the kickstart I needed.  I thought at first, "I'll do that next year," but then I thought, "What's stopping you now?" and that's how I started writing my novel.  The idea is that you write 1667 words every day during the month of November, and at the end of 30 days, you will have written 50,000 words, which is the size of the novel, The Great Gatsby.   I thought, "I can do that."  First I had to give up Castleville.  For those of you who don't know what that is, it's Facebook crack.  Better to never get started on it.  It's a social media game and a supreme time waster.  I spent hours every day playing that game.  When you go to other players' "kingdoms," you realize that there are hundreds of people with OCD out there just like you!  There are lots of similar games, such as Farmville, Chefville, The Ville, etc.  The idea is that you have a farm, or a kingdom, or a restaurant, or a house, and you have to build it by completing goals, but you have to network with other players to get objects from them.

I had resisted getting on Facebook for years, but it wasn't until last Christmas Eve when my sister-in-law and my cousin's son started talking about Farmville and giving each other gifts, that it peaked my curiosity, and I signed on to play Farmville.  I found out that my niece was playing Castleville, and she generously shared her "neighbor" list with me, so that now I had hundreds of other players to help me complete goals.  It's like gambling but without money as the payoff.  Every time you complete a goal, you can't rest on your laurels and be satisfied because you're given more quests to complete.  I don't know why I got into it so thoroughly.  Whenever my husband saw me sitting at the computer, he said, "Are you playing Castleville?"  I felt like I should hide my addiction to this game, but then I just told him I'm addicted to this game.  I knew I was wasting hours a day on the game, but I rationalized, saying to myself,"Now that I'm retired, I have time to waste."  OK - enough time wasted.  I did it for almost a whole year.  The thing that made me stop cold turkey was NaNoWriMo.  Now I'm addicted to writing every day.  But at least, it's a creative addiction.  

So back to triple threats.  I thought I was a good social worker, and that gave me satisfaction, that I could help people and I was good at it.  I did it for a long time.  There are moments of self-doubt when I thought maybe I'm not a good social worker.

Now I'm retired, and I'm trying out the things I always said I'd do when I retired - most of them in the creative vein.  I was academic for so long, lodged in the left side of the brain, and only occasionally venturing to tap into the creative right side of my brain with dancing or taking guitar lessons or gardening or writing children's books and trying to illustrate them.  I didn't ever feel that I had mastered any of those creative attempts, but I wanted to at least try to do them.

Now I've started NaNoWriMo, and I'm learning about a whole new culture, that of "the writer," so I went to the writers' group meeting.  One of the speakers at NaNoWriMo recommended going to SOLA, Southern Louisiana Writers' Group, so I went online and found where the meeting would be held, wrote it down on my calendar and made plans to go.  It was at 10 in the morning, and anyone who knows me, knows that could be a deal breaker.  I stay up late every night.  After 35 years of working and getting up at 5:45 every morning, my greatest luxury in retirement is being able to stay up late, and sleep until I wake up without being jarred awake by my alarm clock.  Lying in bed, slowly waking up, thinking about random things, is so much better than rushing to get out the door in the morning and driving to work in traffic, to get to my job on time.  That has to be my favorite thing about retirement.

So getting up early on a Saturday to go to a 10 a.m. meeting wasn't the first thing I wanted to do.  But the speaker for this meeting sounded good, and I wanted to hear what she had to say.  Therefore, I got myself up at 8 a.m., even though I had stayed up until 2 (writing my novel), and drove over to the Eastbank Regional Library for 10 o'clock.  Well, it was definitely worth it.  I'm glad I went.  She offered some valuable advice.

But all of that got me thinking at the red light about triple threats.  Here I am at age 59, and I finally think I know what I want to be when I grow up: a writer.  And I want to be a good writer.  Who aspires to be just mediocre at what they do?   And that made me think about whether or not I really was a good social worker.  I thought about how hard it is for me to learn to play guitar and piano and to dance and to draw and paint.  None of those things come naturally to me, but I still want to try.

God bless the triple threats!  Those are talented people, and I admire them.  I wish I could sight read music and play it as soon as I saw the notes.  I wish I could sing, but I was not standing in line when God was handing out that gift.  I was probably playing Castleville.

I am not a gifted athlete.  I remember a girl in high school who was the fastest runner I had ever seen.  In comparison, I plod along.  It took me a year to learn how to do a cartwheel, and I am not fearless when it comes to doing flips on the balance beam.  Falling on my crotch once wiped away any fearlessness I may have had.  Ask Wayne about my dancing ability.  I wish I could pick up a step that has just been demonstrated.  It took me months to learn how to do the West Coast Swing, and when we dance, Wayne constantly admonishes me to "stand up straight, wait for my lead, start with your right foot."  Oy vey...

I want to learn how to use a potter's wheel, and how to sculpt, and how to blow glass.  I guess I should console myself that artists have been perfecting their craft for years.  Did you see my picture on an earlier blog of my knitting attempt?

I will continue to try new things.  I just will. Whether or not I become a triple threat at any of them...

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