Saturday, January 8, 2011

Open Auditions

posted by Rebecca J. Carlson

I signed up to audition for a musical.

It was a crazy thing to do. I haven't been in a show since high school. Still, I've always wanted to be in community theater and this is the first time the opportunity came up. Besides, if I signed up, I knew I would get a few short seconds to read lines, sing, and dance on a stage. In front of lots of college students. Including some of my algebra students.Yeah, we'll see if they ever let me live it down.

I enjoyed my audition, even if no one else did. But what I enjoyed most was listening to all the other auditions. So much talent! So many of those kids were good enough for lead roles. And each one had their own unique take on the characters. I'm glad I wasn't the one who had to pick.

But still, among all those that were good enough, I saw a very few that made the characters come alive in a way I couldn't explain, or whose singing filled the auditorium with golden sound, or whose dancing was an absolute joy to watch. It wasn't hard to tell who had put in the time to train themselves for excellence in music dance theater.

That would not be me. I did not make call-backs. My preparation, which consisted mostly of sitting in the audience of a lot of musicals and wishing I was on the stage, did not cut it. If I really wanted to, I could find a vocal coach, sign up for ballet lessons, and take an acting class. If I put in the time and money, someday I might have a better chance. But it would still only be a chance.

There's not a whole lot of room on the stage.

Four years ago, I submitted my first manuscript to nine literary agents. My one request for a partial quickly turned into a rejection. No surprise that I didn't make call-backs. Up until that point, my preparation had consisted of reading a lot of books and wishing I could write one. Wishing isn't the right word. It was more an all-consuming, burning, ravenous desire. So I couldn't say, "oh well, that was fun. I'll go find another hobby," and still live with myself. Instead, I decided I needed to train for excellence.

I joined a critique group. I read books on writing. I went to a writer's workshop and came home feeling like I'd been re-born. And all the while I wrote, practicing my craft for hours nearly every day. Now, three workshops and a couple of manuscripts later, I think I finally have a chance. But it's still only a chance.

There's not a whole lot of room on the shelf.

I know that. But now I'm consistently making call-backs. That's progress. And someday, one of my books might "light up the stage" for a literary agent, an editor, and then a whole lot of happy readers.

And that's why I'm still in the game. That's why I'm going to keep coming to "author auditions."

Break a leg, everyone!


  1. Wow! Great minds think alike.(: I just wrote a similar post about self-improvement. Anywho, hats off for all your effort. I hope it pays off soon. Best of luck on your novel.

  2. Awesome! I love the way you tie things together, finding analogies in the loveliest of places. I am sorry about the call-backs, though. I wanted to see you play Aunt Eller!

  3. Because you'd have to come to Hawaii to do it, right Sue?

    And Andrea, thanks for directing me to your post! I enjoyed reading it. Just what I've been thinking.

  4. @Rebecca It would have been worth the sacrifice! :)

  5. You are one brave and adventurous woman! Way to go, and kudos for pressing on!

  6. Wow! That is how-it-goes. I'm taking the same journey from burning desire to wish-fulfilment :) With skills and tools, planning and preparation the desired outcome is a lot more likely.

  7. Hey, Rebecca! I'm so happy for you! I auditioned for the church's New Testament Project this past Wednesday.

    I had SO much fun and felt an overwhelming sense of peace at its end that I had to flee to the bathroom to bawl.

    Yes, break a leg indeed! <3

  8. WOW! Elizabeth, that is so exciting. Best wishes!

    Elaine, I like to tell my kids that a goal is a wish that comes true.

    Thanks, Jonene. Never give up, never surrender! Arrgh!


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