How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Blog

Cody Nickell HeadshotCody Nickell is Gulfshore Playhouse’s Artistic Associate. 

So blogging was never a thing I really did. Well, I guess blogging was never really a thing until recently anyway, so let me be a little clearer.  Keeping a diary or actually writing in general was never much of a passion or strong suit of mine. If I am being honest, writing always scared me. Something about the permanent feeling of words that could be read at a later time, and by anyone always freaked me out a bit. I would watch friends or colleagues diligently keeping their journals, or being published, or what I mostly saw, writing plays, and while I always admired their skill and bravery (bravery is important here), I continued to feel both stifled and a little ashamed.

Writing, especially in this kind of format, always seemed a little indulgent to me. To clarify, I don’t mean that I think people who write blogs or diaries or journals are indulgent. I am sure there are indulgent writers and bloggers out there, but I am not saying that the act of journaling or blogging is in and of itself indulgent. I thought that it would be indulgent for me. What on earth would I have to say of relevance, and moreover, if I could find something worthwhile to say, that old fear of the permanence of words would rear its ugly head and keep me from putting pencil to paper, or fingers to keys.

This interesting self-evaluation about not being sure that I had anything of intrinsic value to add to the conversation, whatever the conversation was, also played out in my acting career. For years, most of my professional life was spent as a hired gun, a freelance actor more than content to say other peoples’ words. Stick me in a play, any play, and I would light up. But the electricity that was lighting the element within me was someone else’s electricity.  Shakespeare or Miller or Itamar Moses or Sarah Ruhl or Bruce Norris provided the charge for me. And actually, I still love this kind of work. Disappearing into another person’s world is such a wonderfully satisfying journey. But…

So, for a few years before I got to Gulfshore Playhouse, I had become more and more interested in the non-profit regional theatre movement in this country, its history, its current state, the thoughts about best practices, etc. By the time Kristen Coury offered me the job here, I had so much to say, both from my experiences as an actor in the regional theatre, but also from all the reading and listening and watching I had been doing. So I knew that I wanted to be involved in some of the grant writing and ancillary programming, though I knew that this would involve writing. So I decided to try and put that ugly monster away and get in touch with the writer inside me.

GP Blog - Icon OnlyNow, here we get to the part where blogging comes in. One of the side projects that would be happening during my first season here would be that some of us would blog sometimes.  I figured if there was any subject that I would feel comfortable writing about, it would be the making of professional theatre. After all, that is my life’s work…so, I was like, “Bring on the blog!” But I have to say that even then I was a little sheepish about it, because really, who cares what I have to say?!?!

But let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, regardless of whether or not there are actually any ladies or gentlemen reading these words right now, this exercise of blogging has increased my writing skills so much. Or at least it has made me comfortable looking at a screen or pad or notebook with my words on them. It has also made me clarify my thoughts and experiences in such a way that I can pass them onto an audience that is not used to hearing about theatrical goings on, about the ins and outs of making plays, which makes me distill my ideas down to their most important pieces, which in turn makes it easier for me to talk to anyone about those ideas, even theatricals like myself. And while I may still have an initial knee jerk reaction about the quality or import of my writing, I no longer feel indulgent in laying out what I may think about a certain subject. I may even think that I have something unique and worthwhile to say, and maybe even have a little bit of self-love for the way in which I am saying it.  And here we are over two years later and I am cranking out a blog every week.

And while there is a part of me that still firmly believes that it is better to listen than to speak, and that there are really too many voices out there in the cacophonous bloggo-world-wide-interweb-o-sphere that just like to hear themselves talk…at least for now, I will participate in the proliferation of voices, thinking that my voice, my blog, is one that might be worthwile…

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