When soccer, voice-acting, and poetry collide
Well, maybe not “collide” – but perhaps “rub elbows”…
Practicing things like ball control, passing, and, in my case, goal-keeping, helps one to not only become better at those particular skills, but to more easily focus on other things important to the game. If you don’t have to think about how to move the ball from one place to the next, you have more time to survey the field to determine your next move. If you’re not worrying about touching the ball with your hands, as many new players do, you’ll have more confidence when the ball comes your way.
Likewise, prepping for the other things you do in life can be helpful, as well. As a voice actor, preparation takes many forms for me. I prep scripts by reading them over first, correcting for spelling, punctuation, or syntax, and noting where to pause, where to add emphasis, and where to change inflection. I prep my voice by drinking lots of water all the time and making sure not to drink caffeinated beverages or eat salty foods or dairy if I know I’m going to be recording in a little while.
And of course, I constantly prep my abilities by auditioning, auditioning, auditioning.
Every gig I don’t get was practice for the gig I will get
Some folks complain about auditioning for gigs and not getting them. The way I look at it, auditioning is the main part of my job (marketing is a close second) and actually recording the gigs – doing the “fun stuff,” so to speak – is a much smaller piece of my career pie. Yes, it’s the part that makes me money, but I still spend more time auditioning and marketing.
Do I like being passed over for gigs? Of course not.
However, I do try to find the good in everything. And believe me…for some high-profile, well-paying auditions I lose out on, it’s really hard to find the good. But if I don’t, where does that leave me? Grumpy and disagreeable is no way to live your life.
We all know what practicing means and we all understand that “practice makes perfect” - but how often are we practicing something and not even realizing it?
Poetic practice, practice, practice…
As you probably know, I do a lot of writing. For the past several years, I’ve been trying to become a published children’s writer, and it hasn’t been easy. Getting a book published these days through conventional means (agents, editors, contracts, etc.) is hard to do. Getting a children’s book published is even harder.
And getting a children’s book of poetry, which Is what I primarily write, is about the hardest thing there is.
Publishers and agents claim the market isn’t very big, even though every kid in school from kindergarten to 12th grade can recite nursery rhymes, favourite songs, and hip-hop lyrics. My 3-year-old already knows many of the poems in David Elliott’s book, In the Wild, fer cryin’ out loud. But “poetry doesn’t sell” is the mantra we’re repeatedly given.
That’s a whole other blog post, my friend.
My point in mentioning this is, I write and write and write…with no guarantees of success. Some of my poems are pretty good (I think) and some not so good. The ones I like I either post here or submit to independent anthologies and the ones I don’t like never see the light of day. At least, that is, until I get them to the point where I do like them – through revising and rewriting.
Here again, every poem is practice for the next. If I want to learn to write a poem in a particular form, I’ll work at it and work at it until I get to the point where the form feels comfortable. At that point, I can focus on other elements of the poem like internal rhyme and such. If I’m not focused on the rules of the form because they come more naturally to me, my mind is free to create. (Remember what I was saying about soccer practice?)
If only we could practice life
How cool would that be? You get to go through puberty once, you figure it all out and learn what to do and what not to do and what to say and not to say…then once you’re ready, you get a do-over! That time when you talked back to your dad a little too much? You’d now know when to shut up. That girl you wanted to ask out in high school, but didn’t know if you could? You’d get to actually ask her out.
Alas, we only get one life. That doesn’t mean we still can’t keep practicing to improve ourselves - or at least recognize our failures as practice for success. Personally speaking, I used to be the biggest introvert on the planet. But I wanted to be more gregarious, so I began acting as if I was. Seriously! I pretended to be outgoing, and although it was extremely difficult at first, over the years it became much easier.
I didn’t realize I was practicing gregariousness (is that a word?) – but that’s exactly what I was doing. And I’m a much happier, more sociable fellow these days than I was 25 years ago. Which probably explains my mindset when it comes to failure. As former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis said, “Nothing succeeds like failure.”
Each gig I don’t win or manuscript that is rejected gets me that much closer to a gig I will get or a book I will sell. Maybe it’s determination. Maybe it’s delusion.
I’m good at both, you know.
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