Would it surprise you to know that this time last year I was training to be a teacher?
Life offers many possible paths and it’s up to us to choose the one which is right for us. I’ve always wanted to write; that need has been in my life for so long it’s a part of who I am. When you are responsible for another life however, practicality can sometimes take precedence over dreams.
I have a love of knowledge and learning and gain great enjoyment from teaching my young daughter new things about the world and life, so when it came to settling on a career path, teaching seemed an obvious way to go. I went back to college with the aim of qualifying as a primary teacher, but at that same time, I had also begun writing for The Public Reviews. Journalistic writing was a new experience for me as I’ve always been a creative writer, but being able to combine my love of writing with my love of theatre gave me such joy – as it still does. As the teaching course intensified and my writing work picked up, I started to find myself struggling to devote enough time to both areas and it was affecting them both. I found myself facing a choice: do the sensible thing and continue with the teaching plan which would yield a guaranteed form of income at the end, or take a leap of faith to pursue the dream? I think it’s pretty clear which way I went.
One year on and I’m writing regularly for three different theatre sites, as well as my involvement in The Make A Difference Trust, and am able to make a living from it. When I first began, I was writing articles, etc. and submitting them for publishing; now I am inundated with requests. Choosing this path has worked out well for me and I know without a doubt that I followed the right one.
Not everyone will always understand why a particular path is right for you. Those involved in theatre will no doubt have encountered this at some point. Writing and performing may seem to be two very different things, but they are both a creative process and your desire to work in them has to stem from a passion for them. People have told me how lucky I am to do what I do and mix in such glamorous circles – theatre is not glamorous.
The reason it is so important to have a passion for this type of path is that it would be very unrewarding if you didn’t. I spend most of my day – and night – glued to a laptop tap-tap-tapping away and it’s nigh on impossible to take a break from it all as my job entails being up to date with everything of importance that is going on in the word of theatre. Still, in comparison to those who chose to pursue a life on the stage, I have it easy. Theatre involves long hours and unsociable hours. It takes a level of emotion and physicality that many people would struggle with and it places many demands upon them. They are judged daily and pressurised to always be better, not to mention having to constant compete just to gain their place in a world that is full of disappointment and unfair expectation. If you were to ever ask them why they do it though, they would answer, “because I couldn’t not do it.”
Some people are born to follow certain paths in life. I was born to write, it’s something I just know. Those people you see on the stage – they were born to be there. Everyone acts in life. Have you ever laughed when actually you wanted to cry? Have you ever tried to be the person that you think someone wants? Have you ever told someone you’re fine when you’re not? Have you pretended not to be jealous when you’re secretly riddled with it? Of course you have because acting is an instinctual defence mechanism that is built into every person. We all act, but only some people have that deeper connection to it that makes them want to build their life around it.
Theatre is a breeding ground for creativity. Some embrace it through the stage, some through a blank page – and some are simply inspired by it. It isn’t as glamorous as most people think though; it is a rough, pot-holed path that is littered with obstacles, but the thing is, if that was the path you were always meant to take, then the journey will be worth it, every time.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 16th February 2012