I had a breakthrough tonight. I know it’s afternoon for most of you, but I’m writing this at a little after midnight.
My friend John sent a gchat this evening with a very simple question, “What’s up?”
And, I felt the honest raw answer come pouring out of me. The samples we’ve had made are total crap. I hate them. My mentor asked, what is different about the brand I’m creating? What makes it unique? Why will someone buy from us instead of everyone else on the market? And, I froze. Totally and completely froze. An iron curtain descended on my mind and I withdrew into myself. I couldn’t answer and felt supremely foolish.
All week I’ve been spinning those questions around in my head. I have answers that are great for NGO brochures – sustainable employment – but will have no impact on a consumer. I’ve got lifeless statements devoid of zing. And that’s not going to rally anyone to our cause, our company, our mission.
Then, a lightening bolt hit me. I remembered acutely that I go through this each and every time I direct a play. Somewhere in the middle of the process (probably a week before tech), I realize that I hate everything. I feel like I’ve lost my way, lost the intention of the play, let everything go amiss.
In the beginning phase of rehearsal, we try everything. Whether or not it makes sense, we try it. Oh, you want to do that monologue while standing on your head? Sure, let’s give it a go. I know she’s talking about the most joyous night of her life, but why don’t you try to infuse some sadness?
Because through the exploration, the attempt at every possibility, we find some hidden gems. Some surprises that work extremely well. Some terrible disasters that should never be repeated but illuminated a moment or sliver of text.
What happens after that gestational period of anything-goes possibility? We put a lid on it. We set up some boundaries. We start to pick and choose. I have to be clear when something isn’t working, which usually means that it doesn’t feel right. For me, so much of directing is about feeling. Intuition.
I’m realizing that launching a brand is every bit as creative as directing a play. The paths are parallel. So, recognizing that I’m in that part of the creative process where I hate everything and feel utterly lost allows me to breathe a huge sigh of relief. This isn’t crazy or debilitating. No, this fear and feeling overwhelmed are part of the journey. They are necessary in order to know the next steps – precision, presence and clarity.
Since the inception of this project, I’ve been holding the map. But, I feel like I’ve just discovered the legend. I finally know how to read the map of where we’re going.