My Year of Living Dangerously

This week, I started the Independent Television Producer (ITP) program which is part of the Ontario Self-Employed Benefit (OSEB) program.  Basically, it’s a program to teach me how to run my own business.  Last year, I was outsourced and gladly became part of the unemployed.  I had hated my job for years.   Although it had afforded me the opportunity to support my family, I felt that I was wasting my life and squandering the time I had on this earth.  I was meant to write, not work in IT.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer.  Specifically, I’ve always wanted to be a playwright.  When I came to the conclusion that my writing probably wouldn’t develop much until I had more “skin” in the game, I found out that I was being outsourced.

My email signature has a quote:  “There are no coincidences.”  It’s from my play Laund-o-Mat at the End of the World.  Yes, it is a bit obnoxious to quote from your own work, but it is a belief of mine.  So, when I was being outsourced, I saw it as an opportunity, not a crisis.

Still, I did apply for jobs.  I sent out resumes and crafted cover letters.  I met weekly with a group of other friends brainstorming and cajoling each other in our job search.  But on August 10, my friend Lindsay posted a blurb about the ITP program on her Facebook page.  She had gone through the program and highly recommended it.

There was an information session on August 27 and I went to it.  That was the actual beginning of my year of “living dangerously”.  Why dangerously?  Because from that moment on, I’ve been seriously moving towards supporting myself and my family through my writing.   I had to work to get accepted into the program.  Ten weeks later, I’m in the program and I have 42 weeks to develop my business.  I get a tiny subsidy (about 20% of my previous salary!) for the duration and then I am totally on my own.

I don’t have an entrepreneurial drive.  Or at least I didn’t think so.  But a writer is an entrepreneur – the product being their writing or themselves.  So, learning how to run a business makes sense.  And being paid to learn makes it easier than having to pay to take the courses.

I have to put in a minimum of 35 hours a week to develop my business – although, I’ve been told the reality is that I will put in much more time than that on average.

I decided that I would chronicle my year of living dangerously.  It will help me keep track of what I’ve learned and see how far that I have come by the end of the year.

But what have I done in the first 10 weeks of my year of living dangerously?

To get into the ITP program, I had to propose a television show that I wanted to develop.  Originally, I proposed something based on a play of mine, but that may change.  I also have applied for two grants (a Theatre Creators’ Reserve grant and an Emerging Theatre Artist grant).  I completed a rewrite of my play Out to the Folks and had a professional reading at Theatre Aquarius.  Theatre Aquarius wants to have a workshop of the play in January to develop it further.  I have completed a first draft of another play Mommy’s Mask.  I’m about to get started on another rewrite of Out to the Folks.  I’ve been in discussions with a lady in Montreal who wants to put on my play Minced at the Montreal Fringe.  And I’ll be co-directing a play (with Elaine Hale) at Village Theatre in Waterdown.

It feels like a busy, crazy year ahead!  Bring it on!!

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