This week I have returned from an amazing trip to Russia leading a Musical Theatre writing laboratory with Eamonn O’Dywer in Perm funded by the British Council. I have arrived in a shitstorm of virus news, found that a planned paid project in August at the Festival will not now happen, and realised that something I had been building up to for 3 years will again probably not happen. I began the week tired and excited ready to return to the UK and make stuff happen. I end the week with a virtually blank diary, a cancelled holiday to Spain, and a feeling of relative sadness.
And then I had a coaching session with someone using me as test-hours for her course. Her magic of listening and questioning has given me a list of things to do, and a sense that my glass is half-full again (just).
50 minutes is all it took, and as a coach myself I should be one of the most difficult people to coach, because I know the questions and can see them coming. But I don’t know the answers until I really drop into myself and ask myself what am I going to do next? and what is it like to do nothing?
So I’m not going to share predictions on coronavirus or the state of the freelance, hourly paid, gig economy, or the many festivals and things we love. I am going to start from a point of three questions to myself:
- How long can I survive based on the money in my bank? I am very lucky I can survive for 2 months using every saving.
- So how do I best use those two months to make sure I am going to remain useful ? And here again I am lucky. I am a life coach and offer training and support for creatives in different fields, much of which I can do by skype.
- And how do I use the time I suddenly have on my hands to look at one or two longer dreams of what I could/should be doing with my life ? And here I am thinking the next 4 years before I get some sort of pension, whilst (gods willing) I have the energy and health to be useful and earn a living.
Those weren’t the questions my coach asked me. They are the questions I am now taking forward as I plan my unexpectedly blank and potentially lonely next few weeks. I am well at the moment, but the theatres are shutting around me, there is a sense of concern about gathering with mates, and the conferences and events I am meant to be at in the next few weeks will also probably be cancelled. So I could sit in my room with Facebook and Netflix and rot. I have enough soup and loo rolls – but that’s not particularly positive.
And so, let’s get coaching and offering online surgeries and services. I am going to make offers on all the usual platforms for a Pay What You Can or maybe Pay When You Can service, and for some people that will be free sessions because they are in far greater fear/hardship than I am. By skyping with people and reading people’s scripts and giving online sessions on producing or musical theatre writing/development, I will keep my energy level up and be useful.
So here’s my first draft advert:
Coaching/Surgery for the “worried well”, the “cash poor” and the “poorly/isolated”
I’m available by skype/zoom over the next few weeks, rather than face to face surgeries, for any creatives who need to check in on small steps they can take, to ensure survival (if not to thriving) in the next few months. Coaching is said to be for the “worried well”. In this case I add “cash poor” and “poorly/isolated” too. Our life/work balance and our short/mid term plans are being disrupted, and we have to find our own way through. Sessions will be Pay What You Can, or pay when/if you can. www.chrisgrady.org for more info, chris [at] chrisgrady [dot] org to book an hour.
Let me know if I can help. Let’s find innovative ways to keep ourselves going through the potentially dark times ahead, and be ready when the one thing everyone needs is Entertainment – a chance to get in a big room together and sing, dance, enjoy music, or watch a damn fine play. Until then – shout if I can help from my virtual world in Blackness with my view of the Firth of Forth and the idyllic Lobster Pot pub just over the road. Don’t let me spend too long with a glass half empty – as a metaphore or propping up the bar.