23 March, 2011

Ask Al: Take Charge of Your Life

an Al combo: Photography & Writing
Dear Al,

What do you get from photography, writing, and blogging that you don't get from acting?



1. Acting is a creative skill and art, without question. But I often feel limited by two aspects of it. The first is that it is inherently a social art form. For better or for worse, very rarely can you act without others, and while there are times when it can be exhilarating, there are also times when it can frustrate, and at its very worst, really dishearten you. Secondly, it is at its essence an interpretive art-you are more often than not interpreting other people's words, music, stories, and as creative as it is there are limitations there.

2. Photography is also interpretive but a solo show--you are commenting upon the things you, your eye, your mind and heart sees in a single instant. I absolutely love visual language with all of its subtle possibilities, and love going on little photo walks just discovering what I can "see" in new ways. I always learn something.

3. Writing is the greatest creative joy for me. It is different because one can create from the ground up, and is in responsible for every aspect of its essence. You are the boss, you hold the standards, no one lets you down but your own self. I love that. You have to rise to the challenges as well as creating them. It is interpretive as well as a solo show as well as purely creative. Heaven. Heaven for me.

The satisfaction is also largely due to the fact that when I began writing in earnest it was purely for my own personal satisfaction. There was no other motive other than enjoyment and feeling excited about creation again.

I started London Still when I was in the middle of working on a very long run of Fiddler on the Roof in London and realized that I was less a performer (which I identify as a person who gains their major source of energy and satisfaction from performing in front of others) than a creative being (to whom the creative process, performance based or not, is the most rewarding) a huge light switch went off inside of me.

There I was--24 and had everything I had ever worked my entire life to achieved and I was there. Living it and dissatisfied. I realized then that I could either mope and feel disappointed, or I could take my creative life into my own hands. I am a crazy reader and have always enjoyed writing and decided to go to blogspot (mostly seduced by the thought of free online storage!) and start writing about why raspberry jam is superior to all other forms of jam and comparing and contrasting Murder She Wrote to Diagnosis Murder. Before long, it was the main source of satisfaction in my creative life and lead to a wonderful literary agent finding, nurturing, and encouraging me to write my first novel which is swiftly on its way...

I think the moral of the story is this: take charge of your life, reader. Do not wait around for satisfaction to be provided for you, for opportunities to come your way, for others to validate and lift you up. Do it yourself.

Ask yourself "what is missing?" and then go about filling those gaps on your own. Be specific. It isn't simply to do with activities. It has to do with serious and deeply important "Swiss cheese" holes in your spirit. From my example you can see that I lacked creative energy, so instead of moping about a lack of creativity in my current job, I went after a creative pursuit of my own accord. It is the same with any other form of self satisfaction. Instead of waiting for other people to validate your worth, your personal appearance, your job performance, your value as a friend, do things that help facilitate you providing that knowledge and satisfaction for yourself.

No one is perfect and life is about pursuit-- but we can always improve, and everyone feels better when they feel more independent and that is what taking charge of our life is all about.


  1. This is such an inspiring post! I really love your message of "taking charge" and finding enjoyment and satisfaction through other creative avenues.

    Speaking of photography, can you recommend any good "beginner" cameras?

  2. I am so glad Lauren-- thank you!

    And of course.

    I *love* Canon but Nikon is very very good too. I just think Canon is a bit more "idiot proof" and Nikon is more for people who have taken proper courses in photography. That's just me. A course will ALWAYS open up your mind, eye, and technical knowledge should never be snuffed at!

    That said, A Canon 350D is a great place to start and I would invest in a really nice lens that can do both wide angle and telephoto.

  3. Thank you so much! This is helpful! And I hope your show is going well, I won't be able to see it but I've been reading up on it! It looks great and congratulations.



Related Posts with Thumbnails