But there's only so much you can do on your own, especially when it comes to creative projects. As a playwright in particular, there's a point where you're probably going to need a director and you're definitely going to need some actors - the world only needs so many one-woman shows.
At a certain point, you've got to start collaborating with other people to fill skill gaps, make bigger projects, and to challenge and expand your own abilities. The original problem remains, though. What happens if you get sick? Or in the case of chronic illness, run out of spoons?
This year, I've been lucky enough to have been offered the opportunity to work on several cool projects - a theatre show called The Memory Plays, a short story anthology called Blood From a Stone: A twisted Villains Anthology, and a shared launch for my and another author's new children's books. My health has been reasonably good lately, though still pretty up and down. Through trial, error and sheer stubbornness, I've managed to make it work with balancing several projects and managing my health, but it hasn't always been easy. Along the way I learnt a few things, which I thought might be useful for others also wanting to work collaboratively.
1) One project at a timeNow, I didn't set out to work on several projects at once, it just kind of worked out that way. The thing is, projects have a way of growing and sometimes end up being a lot more work than you originally thought they would. Don't commit to a second (or third or fourth) project until you're certain of the scope of the one you're working on.
2) Share all informationBefore starting working on The Memory Plays project, I wasn't very familiar with Google Docs. In fact, one of the other writers had to walk me through it with child-friendly level instructions. It has been a godsend for my anxiety levels though. One of the things I worried about going into the project was: what would happen if I got really unwell and ended up in hospital? Knowing the rest of the crew had access to the same information, documents and emails I did helped a lot, as even if I was too unwell to do any kind of hand over, they would know where to look to pick up the pieces of what I'd been working on.
3) No matter how busy, take time out if you're unwellI've had some problems with my blood pressure lately, which, when it's bad, means my head feels like it's going to explode if I lift it and I pass out frequently. When I had bad episodes, at first I tried to drag my laptop into bed with me, to be able to keep working, but the work I did in this state was of pretty poor quality, and I ended up redoing it later. Going to sleep for a few hours or taking a day or two off meant I worked quicker and produced better quality work when I did get to it.
4) If people don't hear your needs, say them louderI knew some of the people I've been working with at the start of these projects, but not terribly well. They knew I had an illness, but not really how it affected me. Because I look well, it sometimes made it difficult to get them to understand that there are some things I just can't do. For example, it took a while for them to realise that I couldn't meet in places that are poorly accessible, because on any given day I may not be able to walk up stairs. It feels awkward to keep saying "no" to meeting places, and I did start to worry they thought I was being difficult, but it's just not worth using up all your spoons on getting to places. If you keep saying no, eventually they'll get it and start to factor accessibility in automatically. It may feel uncomfortable, but the next disabled person they meet will thank you for it.
Overall, I'm really glad I've had the chance to work on these projects. I kind of wish they hadn't all fallen at the same time, as it's been pretty rough on the spoons, but even that has been a real confidence boost. No matter what my health is doing, I know now I can still contribute and be reliable in shared work. I'm also really proud of how the projects have turned out.
If you'd like to know more about the Blood From a Stone Anthology, and The Memory Plays, scroll down for more details, otherwise I'll catch you next time.
Thanks for Reading,
Little Miss Autoimmune
The Memory Plays
30th Oct - 3rd Nov at BATS Theatre (Wellington, New Zealand).
One woman relives an argument with an old friend. Another spirals into questions about her strangely vivid dreams. A third can’t get over an ex, much to the chagrin of everyone who knows her.
All three are stuck in the past, and all three need to let go or risk damaging their present lives in the process.
Three plays spanning three decades jam-packed with drama, intrigue and comedy, The Memory Plays is an original anthology show featuring new work from three writers with vividly contrasting styles.
Book online or call 04 802 4175
Blood From A Stone A Twisted Villains Anthology
Villains are never born—they’re made—and their stories are twisted by those that call themselves heroes until there is nothing left but darkness and lies.
This collection of eight twisted villain tales will leave you second-guessing everything you thought you knew about the evil characters we all love to hate.
Nothing is as it appears. Whose side will you take?
Launches 30th October.