When I was 17 years old, I made a vow that I would never work a Monday-Friday 9-to-5 job.
It made sense at the time. I’d just finished ten weeks doing just that in Manhattan, the summer before college, to earn tuition money. It had seemed like a great opportunity, assisting in the publicity department of a book publisher. Unfortunately, the job mostly entailed typing while facing a blank wall. Well – that, and watching the clock for lunchtime and quitting time. Yuck. Plus, my typing sucks (and btw still does). So I figured the “normal” life was just not for me. And I’ve pretty much kept that vow ever since.
That, my friends, like all vows, can be a curse as well as a blessing. Limiting, sure – but any improv actor can confirm that limitations can unleash lots of creativity. And sometimes we really need it.
Being a full-time voice talent means that no day is exactly the same as the day before. I love that! And yet – sometimes I am tempted by the lure of normal. Are you?
The Temptations of an Everyday Gig
This past month, I’ve spent more time on the air at our local NPR radio affiliate, as they are in the process of hiring a new full-time talent and I’m filling the
gaps until then. Sure, I thought about applying for the job myself. Ah, the lure of benefits! a 401k! something stable in my schedule! steady salary!
But ultimately, I didn’t even apply. I’m happier being the understudy here, free to say no if I have big voiceover project to finish, or a business trip planned. So I stay, for now, with the eclectic, uncertain life I lead as a voice talent (plus extra, related, gigs). A small voice is asking why I made that choice…but I know why. And, if you are an addicted voice talent too, I’ll bet you understand the choice – and also the temptation.
We live a life where each day is different – but very few colleagues know us on a day-to-day basis. Each voiceover project is exciting, some more than others, but with a new cast of characters, a different use of skills, and a set of challenges all its own.
It’s like being a guest star on a sitcom. Exciting, but do you ever really belong anywhere?
Where is our Water Cooler?
I’ll be honest – I don’t make a whole lot of money as a fill-in radio talent – though it is consistent. The full-time radio salaries also aren’t much to write home about anymore, most of the time. But there are other perks….like the water cooler, or break room. Seeing the same people every day, sharing in daily goals and lives of the team..I admit, that is nice. “How is your cold today?” “Did you enjoy the show last night?” “Boy, that was so funny yesterday when that caller…”. Yes. The everyday relationships. The feeling of family. The lure of normal.
So, yes, I was tempted to apply. Frankly, double the offered salary would have really tempted me. Or – if it had been a job that had allowed me to be funny on the air, as had been part of the charm when I did morning-drive radio. There are always cost/benefits to consider. But once again, my VO business won out over the water cooler. The flexibility, the opportunity, the possibility, the freedom to make the choices that mesh with the rest of my business and personal life – these all beat out “normal”, once again. For now.
So what do we do, those of us crazy people who are living a life that sometimes seems to have no center, no structure to hang our hats on?
Meetups and Facebook and Blogs, Oh My
So many of us have found a way to connect on a daily basis with the (let’s face it) plethora of blogs, articles, and postings on facebook and other social media. Sure, it’s all mostly helpful, and our intentions are honorable. But ultimately, I think it’s also our way of reaching out to our own virtual water cooler. I felt compelled to write this post, even though you won’t find a “helpful tip” anywhere in it. (You will find tips in other posts, though. Hence the subtitle, Tips and Thoughts on Voice Acting.)
Voice talents write blogs and articles for lots of reasons, including reaching potential clients. I don’t think my blog gains me any new
customers, really. I haven’t focused it that way. But the motivation for this one was to share the inner thoughts that you, too, might be experiencing as a voice talent. We are not alone, much as it seems like it when we stare at the computer screen editing a big project. Even the dreaded “Facebook brag”…yeah. that…you know what? I’m gonna rethink that judgment. Maybe it isn‘t a brag, after all. Maybe it’s just the our only available way to share good news with our friends around our virtual office water cooler. It’s perfectly normal. It’s the best we can do. We need that everyday human connection.
Unless, someday, we give in to that lure of normal and take that “real job.” And that’s okay too. I just haven’t yet found the temptation to be big enough to trade in for being a part of this “Life on the Voiceover List.”
So – whatever your day brings today – voicing, marketing, family time, or doing that related gig , have a great one! We have chosen the eclectic.
I get a semblance of a water cooler from the workshops I regularly attend, although while some faces stay the same, most don’t. Picking up a hobby worked for me, though; I play ice hockey with the same group of guys twice a week. Something I started about a year ago. Kind of fills that water cooler void of being in freelance VO. It’s nice to leave the padded cell from time to time, you know?
Randye Kaye says
Thanks! And yes I agree….for me the water cooler is found at faffcon, world VO, my virtual mastermind and stand-up groups for VO, and of course friends and family…including the occasional role in theatre. Thanks for sharing!