Since I started this blog over a year ago, I’ve written a lot of different stuff. But no matter what I write, I have almost always sat down, started writing, and then finished and posted it, in that same sitting.
It’s just really hard for me to work on something, and then not get any sort of feedback on it. It feels like a failure, even though I haven’t even let anyone judge it yet.
I think that stems from having done stand-up for 10 years now. I was never good with long-term projects in school, or anything that required an ongoing commitment.
But when I got started with stand-up, I found an art-form that was tailor-made for me and my ADD-riddled mind. When I did something, I got feedback RIGHT. NOW. Immediately! In real-time!
It was the difference between a camel and a horse. A horse can run faster, but it needs to drink water every day. A camel doesn’t move as fast, but it can go weeks without a drink, thanks to the water it stores in its humps (please don’t fact-check this. Just presume that what I thought in 5th grade is 100 percent accurate).
Most stand-up comics are horses. We couldn’t work on something for weeks, without getting at least a taste of validation. We need something, to be able to keep going.
Somehow, writers don’t. They’re camels. They just keep going. They work on a script for a year, without adoring crowds; usually without even a chuckle. They’re just able to keep going, and I’ve always been amazed by that. Really, any art form that didn’t provide a short-term win....it just always felt crazy to me, that people could do that.
I recorded my album this past Friday and Saturday. But once the nights were over, and we’d gone to a bar to celebrate and hang out, and the confetti had finished falling from the rafters -- it hit me: I hadn’t done a show this weekend. I’ve been doing that show for the past 18 months. I’ve been going to open-mics - sometimes 3, 4, 5 in a night - just trying to figure out who I am, and what I, Bryson Turner, would say to the world, if it was going to listen for an hour.
I had approached my album with the same strategy as the author and all the writers I so admired -- it’s just that I had done so accidentally. I busted my ass for a year, not knowing if it was ever going to come together, or if anyone would “get it.” But I just kept working on it, because it felt right. Nobody complimented the album I was working on for the past 18 months - not once. They complimented jokes, or sets I did, individually. But I had no idea if the hour I was putting together would be any good, or if it would be cohesive at all. I didn’t even know if I’d finish it. In fact, I might not have, if my friend Andrew hadn’t practically yelled at me one day, telling me I was much more ready than I thought.
(He then rented out the space, hired the entire crew, invited half the crowd that came, and paid for everything out of his own pocket. I mean what I said - it might not have happened without him)
And now, after this past weekend, everything seems a little different. I have a perspective on my art that I’ve never had before. I understand that just because something doesn’t get done in one sitting, that doesn’t mean I didn’t make progress.
And that’s really the goal now, for me. Progress. I just want to keep getting better. I want to keep evolving, keep pushing.
I do want to stop, every once in a while, to see how far I’ve come. That’s what this past weekend was, really - me stopping, putting a figurative tie on, and posing for a picture. Recording my album was like picture day at school, except for my stand-up, instead of me. My stand-up put on all the clothes that people have said “that looks great on you!” in the past year, and it posed for a picture. So that way, in 20 years, people can say “Wow, so that’s what you looked like back then!”
I don’t know if that makes sense. But that’s why there’s no blog today. Because I started writing one this morning, about what it means to be part of a comedy “scene.” And how to define what a “scene” is in the first place.
But then I got writing. And I kept writing. And I had a story that related to it. And then another one. And then there were six things, and then eight, and they all made sense, and they all made it feel more interesting, and more fun, in my mind.
|This picture is in my future blog about comedy scenes. But why!?! Oh, the suspense!!!|
And then something happened that I’m not sure had happened before: I realized I was fine with that.
So that’s where we are now. I worked for a couple hours on a blog, but it’s not going to get done in one day. I’m going to work on it tomorrow, and maybe I’ll finish it then. Or maybe I won’t. But I’ll keep working on it. And when it’s ready, and it feels right, then I’ll post it.
I’ve always dreamt of writing a book. For some reason, that’s always seemed like the most amazing thing to me: the idea of being able to call yourself an “author.” You’re someone who added to the world’s knowledge. How insane is that?
But I never felt like I could do it. I remember living in Austin, and desperately wanting to write a book. I had an idea or two, and they were solid topics. And I could write. But the idea of writing a book was just too daunting to me. It seemed ridiculous. Preposterous. I just wasn’t able to imagine the steps that would lead from me at that time, to a time when I had written a book. If you’d have asked me three years ago, “would you write a book if you had 500 years to do it?” I would have said no. I didn’t see how it was possible.
I see it now. I’ve been starting to see it for a few months now, probably. But after this weekend’s shows, I get it. Authors aren’t heroes, either. They’re pieces of shit, just like you and me. They doubt themselves, and think they’re phonies, and think they’re going to fail - publicly and miserably - every time they take a leap of faith.
But they do it. They finish it. They complete things. Just because they don’t get any applause after Day 1, it doesn’t mean they should stop. I get that now.
I’m going to write books. I’m a writer - I just haven’t had anything published. Yet.
I understand that now. Like I said: everything is a little different, after this weekend.
I got a phenomenal compliment from someone, about the blog that I posted yesterday, about feeling like I can die in peace now. They said it was the type of thing they would love to be able to listen to on a record. I think that’s the ultimate goal of how I write: I want it to feel like I’m talking to you. I want my writing to be almost audible.
I had a point about that, but I lost it. But I’m leaving that compliment in. Ha. Even camels get to drink sometimes.