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How much is too much?

So. It seems we are all, consistently, every day, being spied upon. By posting this, I’m exposing my nefarious interest in writing, theatre, and all things artsy. By reading this, you are exposing your interest in said topics. But…we all knew this. NO social media platform is supplying us with tools to use the internet out of charity — every piece of information about you (“Tried honeybush tea today. Didn’t like it”) is valuable to someone out there (cue the web-ad for $12 rooibos instead!).

I’m on the communications committee of Alberta Playwrights Network. One of the goals is to get the word out more, better, and further, about what we do, and what our members — playwrights — do. I use every means I can to promote myself, and particularly my work. I’m on this very blogging site, and Twitter, FB, Pinterest, and I once had a MySpace (that one is now defunct — a bit sad). A co-worker found me on linkedin, and was a bit surprised to find my whole online profile was about performing arts; he had no idea. Now, he does.

There are so, so many advantages to using these internet means to get the word out about what I’m doing. It’s free. It’s easy. It’s instant. When you’re independently producing your own shows, and barely have a budget to put the show on, free publicity is vital. And it’s not just publicity — when a show catches fire, word of mouth genuinely works…and these days, it works not just by one person telling their friend they liked your play…they tweet about it to everyone they know. This can only be good…

Except when it’s not. Besides the fact that, deep down, we KNOW these services aren’t free (everyone wants something from you, and they will get it), social media can allow you to inflate your own ego. I had a couple of truly fascinating Twitter weeks — almost everything I said was being replied to, retweeted, “favourited”. (The highlight was me simply asking if Joss Whedon’s new version of Much Ado About Nothing was being released in Canada…and @Whedonesque instantly replied with a date. Gloriousness.) I didn’t realize how much…bigger, this was making me feel, until this past week I got yet another, real-life rejection letter, and crashed, hard. How many millions of people tweet? I am, really, in the larger world nobody. I was reminded: nobody.

My Twitter colleague and fellow playwright Gwydion Suilebhan blogged recently in part about how new technologies supplant previous ones: radio by movies, then TV, now very quickly, the digital. And overall the digital has been very good for us, I truly think so. What we need to keep remembering — what I forgot for a bit — is that it’s a TOOL. Always, we must control it, and use it to keep real life purring.

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There is never enough time.

I just sat down at my second-favourite Second Cup (my favourite closed), on this Thursday evening, to at long last do the rewrites to a script which I can’t yet talk about. I brought my Macbook with me to work, because I knew if I went home first, I wouldn’t leave: dishes, laundry, washing of bathtub, cat, even cooking my own food would keep me from writing. So I opened my bag…and discovered I was so busy this morning getting ready for work, I forgot the script with the handwritten rewrites I need to make on screen.

This is symptomatic.

I will shortly have a guest post here. It took me nearly a month to finish it. I typed part of this post into Notepad on my iPhone, on the bus, on my way to complete a full day of errands, back on SUNDAY. My every weekend is taken up with visiting my family — I want to, but I also NEED to — and chores, because no matter how often you do them, there are always more. Saturday nights and often Sunday afternoons I must see shows. Again, I want to, but it’s also part of my…”job”. Which doesn’t pay me. (More tomorrow. If I get the time.) I have a day job, and making myself food and going to the bank and paying bills and all the itty bitty things I think won’t take up much of an evening DO, and I’m left with barely enough energy to brush my teeth before I need to go to bed to make sure I’m human for my paying job. And then it’s the weekend again. And I find I have not written anything of my own in three weeks.

There is never enough TIME.

This Guardian article has been making the rounds. It’s wonderful and true. However, it’s not the writing that’s killing me. Believe it or not, even if what I’m working on is utterly sad, I’m happy. Truly. No…what kills me is the research for theatres looking for what I write- which will all reject what I write. It’s nights like last Saturday, which I’m only writing about NOW, when I was so burnt out that I went to meet a friend to see a show…and discovered we were seeing it next week, and I nearly fell asleep on the train ride home. I genuinely don’t know where the obviously brilliant and committed Mr Rhodes finds 360 minutes in a day to do what he needs to. My every minute is spoken for and I don’t even have a family — more later, should I ever find the time. And the time I do purposely book off, like now, is wasted because I’m so strung out for time I forget the bloody thing I needed this time to work on. This Onion article is meant to be a funny read. I cried.

I’ve realized I don’t have time to work, write, take Spanish and spend time with my family and friends. But nor can I give anything up. Because that would kill me too. I NEED to do all these things…and there is not enough time.