The Self Production Series with Anna Nicholas: #2 Be a Lion…

#2. How I Decided to be a Lion.

by Guest Blogger Anna Nicholas

“Be a Lion, Be a Fucking Wolf, Take No Shit, Set Goals, Smash Them. Eat People’s Faces Off. Be a Better Person. Stay the Mother Fucking Course. Show People Who the Fuck You Are. Never Apologize for Being Awesome.” All right, one shouldn’t eat peoples’ faces off nor use the F word so freely. But if I hadn’t yet decided to produce my own play, reading this quote would have nailed it for me.

See for too long I thought there was a formula for success and once I found it, I’d become the successful artist-person I wanted to be. So in my search I read Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson and Eckhart Tolle. I absorbed the “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” and found no success. I bought into “Start With the End in Mind,” yet, mindful of that hoped-for end, nothing happened. I absorbed The Forum and watched The Secret. I even entertained the idea of Scientology until the negative aspects of that cult made it impossible to consider seriously.

I embraced the idea that there was actually something I could do or avoid doing that would ensure I would become a successful writer. I made a poster in power colors on which I pasted pictures of beautiful ranches and vacation spots I wanted to travel to and award daises where one day I’d accept a prestigious prize; all with the goal, promoted by the self-help gurus, that if I envisioned my—future, success, goal—what I dreamed of would happen. So I envisioned. I worked on my craft, kept writing and envisioned some more and believed and trusted and went out in the world and tried and tried and tried. And nothing.

All that envisioning started back in the early 80s and I’m over 50 now. You do the math. That’s a lot of years hoping for something to happen and not much of what was on my power poster has appeared. Some might say I didn’t envision hard enough or I was envisioning incorrectly but I figured out that for me–all that hoping was in fact handing off the responsibility for my success to somebody or some thing other than myself. It also ultimately made me feel “less than,” which is the opposite of what the positive thinking bandwagon makes a good deal of money promoting.

I really thought there was something I could do, someone I could become, some sort of mantle I could don that could make the people in control of who gets picked artistically pick me. This was true whether I was auditioning for a part I really wanted or, once I began writing, submitting a play that would capture the hearts and minds of the pickers who were in control of choosing what plays got put on. I just needed to figure out what that was and my name would be at the top of their list. Obviously all of this, over time, has proved to be completely fallacious reasoning. That’s not to say keeping hope alive isn’t important; I just wish I’d figured out earlier that I needed to be the lion because I wouldn’t have wasted so much time hoping somebody would step up and roar for me. Well fuck waiting for something to happen; time to make some noise.

Coming up next: Selecting the play.

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