The strange and wonderful link between acting and writing
For the longest time, I thought I wanted to be an actress when I grew up. When I discovered the stage in middle school, it awakened something extraordinary in me—the chance to slip on someone else’s skin for awhile and walk around in her shoes. I didn’t have to be me anymore, filled with all my insecurities and hangups and baggage and fears. I could be whoever I wanted to be. I could be strong. I could be brave. I could even be mean.
I had big dreams of going to New York University or the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. And when I wasn’t acting, I was reading. For me it was one and the same. Reading allowed me to slip into someone else’s skin, too. Acting was just the chance to do that in front of other people.
But somehow along the way, writing captured my heart and unveiled itself as my real gift and passion, and so I forgot about the stage and dove into becoming the best writer and editor I could possibly be.
Recently, I was talking with a friend who was surprised when I revealed how painfully shy I had been as a child. I described myself as an utter bookworm, told her it was only because of the stage and having to move around a lot as a kid that somehow helped me get over myself and become outgoing.
“So what was it like to act?” she asked me, and suddenly I couldn’t stop talking about it! The love of the stage and the set and the costumes and the camaraderie with the other actors! And then, the best part of it all, the chance to stand out there under the spotlight and truly become someone else, to let go of my whole self and let the character just take over!
It hit me then. That’s exactly what I love best about being a writer.
Whether I’m writing fiction or journalism, I have the chance to lose myself and let the creation just take over. With fiction, my character writes the story. He or she takes control, and I just need to keep up and use my skills to somehow artfully bring that to light. With journalism, I take a backseat and try to lose myself in order to be as objective as possible and let the source or the issue do its thing.
I’m a conduit when I write, in the very best sense of the word.
It is also, perhaps not too surprisingly, what I am trying to do was a Christian, as well. I’m trying to be Christ’s instrument in the world, His ambassador. Funny how it all ties together, no?
Isn’t it amazing what magical, beautiful things can happen when we lose ourselves, relinquish control and let something bigger than ourselves take over?