By any measure, 2015 was a challenging year for me, you and pretty much everyone we know, but here we all are – still standing and looking forward to the new challenges and excitements of the new year. Before I completely plunge into ’16 though, I’ll take a quick and final look backwards at just a few particular measurements from the last 365 days, because I’ve been keeping track (sometimes my minor OCD-ish tendencies come in handy.)
I wrote a lot of words this year. The writing, both paid and un-paid, took many forms: short stories, screenplay drafts, monologues, ghost-writing, re-writing, long-form novel-writing, my weekly cartoon, some attempts at poetry (stop laughing) and other multi-media art/word projects. Some entire days were spent hammering away at the keyboard while other days I managed to make only my minimum self-imposed word count. In the end I averaged 525 words per day… which might not sound like a lot, but it comes to 191,625 words for the year (for reference, that is about one-quarter of The Bible.) If it still doesn’t sound like a lot of writing, all I can say is: Try it. …oh, and that total doesn’t include my 100’s of personal journal entries which, believe me, are even more long-winded than my blog posts. It also doesn’t include the extensive ‘notes’ I wrote for 23 friends who asked me to read & evaluate their scripts, monologues and short stories.
I performed in 18 shows this year. These were nearly all storytelling/monologue shows at various venues all over Los Angeles, but there were also a few attempts at straight “stand-up.” Some shows went great, a few times I tanked. That is to be expected. ALL shows were enjoyable on some level, and I was always happy to meet other writers & friends and hear their stories too. I am working on new stories for the new year.
I did a little of everything improv-related this year: I was hired to do some private coaching for a few very funny groups. I took a class at UCB to see what their system is all about and I did a few informal improv jams with old friends. All of it was fun, but it wasn’t nearly enough. I’m determined to do a lot more of all three things in the coming year because, for me, it always comes back to improv. I’ve actually been missing it terribly.
I had a good year. I did a lot of hiking, I ate more plants, a little less meat and a lot less sugar. I lost 15 pounds. In spite of a jacked-up knee, I managed to run a 5k in 35:45. I also meditated semi-regularly – just enough to make me realize I need to do it more regularly. I tried some new things this year too, such as banjo lessons, which were harder than I expected, in spite of my years of guitar playing. I even learned a little more html & CSS coding with the help of Codecademy. Career-wise, well, some years are slower than others, but I’m entering the new year with a lot of new, polished material and some interesting ideas.
…and hey. I hope YOU have a great year too. GOOD LUCK!
I received the yearly email from the good people at WordPress containing my “year in blogging” review and the numbers weren’t good. I don’t mean the “traffic” or the clicks or the incoming comments. I mean my own performance. I only put up two new posts in 2014. Two. It was that kind of year.
While I did do a lot of things and accomplished some important personal/creative goals, it was still a bit of a down year. I’ve described it to friends as a feeling of “being on hold” for reasons I still can’t quite put my finger on.
I wrote less this year – in terms of completed projects and in terms of pure, raw word count – than I have in any of the past 15 years… and yes, I do track these things with an almost OCD-like compulsion. I won’t cop out and blame “writer’s block” or anything like that, because I have never really believed such a thing exists. Maybe I was suffering from some burn-out, sure, and was just a little tired in an existential sort of way.
But even through the writing was lacking this year, I did much more than the usual amount of performing. I climbed up on every stage that would have me and did many “spoken word” “storytelling” and “essay” shows, some as a returning guest and some as a newcomer. I also acted (if I dare to call it that) in three comedy shorts that will surely find their way online whenever they finally make it out of post-production. All the performance work was fun and exciting. It also helped fill some of the void I have felt since my improv theater/home of 13+ years closed down (going on 2 years ago.) It is a loss I am still coping with.. with varying degrees of success.
I also helped a lot of friends with a lot of their own projects. I formatted and did the artwork for a friend’s ebook novel. I must have read & given notes etc for at least two dozen friends’ scripts. I helped with some post-production editing, I even taught a little guitar. So, even though my word and page counts were hovering near-zero, I wasn’t completely shut down creatively.
Now I have to look ahead to the new year and figure out what I’m going to differently, what I’m going to do better and what I’m going to do more of.
I’m not sure I want to revisit old ground – like my Ask A Punk blog which, although I loved it dearly, I still feel like I was answering the same questions over and over again. I do hope to re-launch the Another LA Cartoon photo-blog soon, but there are still some technical difficulties that I haven’t figured out how to handle yet.
I will get back to my straight-up screenwriting. I have two comedy features that I set aside in 2014… not because I didn’t think they were good ideas, but because I just couldn’t commit to the writing itself (as I said, this was a new, and difficult sensation to sort out.) I am also planning on launching a podcast later this year, which I know is a pretty ambitious and time-consuming undertaking, but I think I’ve come up with an idea small enough to be do-able, and big enough to be interesting to me, and (hopefully) other people.
…and of course, I plan on being more dedicated to the Planet OConnor blog.
It is a new year people. I know some folks say the whole “New Year, Fresh Start” mentality is dumb because our calendar is really just an arbitrary thing (on a cosmic scale.) But I say ANYthing that helps us consciously note the passage of time and the incredible opportunities that still remain to move forward, grow and improve ourselves, to look outward and create, and help… well, that has to be a good thing.
Stay Strong !
As cliche’ as it might seem, 2011 already feels like a whole different thing, doesn’t it? Will hopefully have some good, or at least interesting, news soon.
Meanwhile this is a pretty funny clip even though, obviously, he isn’t talking about me.