It is January 2006, and a brand new year is before us. Most likely, like a good portion of the rest of the world, you made your new years resolutions. Now it is time for new beginnings, a time to forgive yourself of past failures and to give yourself a fresh start. Thats right, wipe the slate clean. It is out with old and in with the new literally. Isnt life grand!?
I love this time of year. The holidays are behind us, and you can get on with your life again. All the sincere as well as obligatory notes of appreciation have been licked, sticked and mailed via the North Pole (or at least your local post office). And guess what folks, the post office has gone and done it again, a single postage stamp is now 39 cents. Do you realize only 50 years ago a stamp was a mere three cents? And gasoline, which has been in the rise again, was only 23 cents per gallon. Oh boy, dont give me a soapbox because I will surely use it.
That being said how does one, Start All Over Again? Whether it be a move to a new city, getting a divorce, restoring your home, or ending off on a job with no prospects in sight. What steps does a person take to make sure they land on their feet again? Both feet I might add. Many books have been written on the subject, people have made millions becoming experts on the subject, but I can only give you my own personal experience, for I have done all the above.
First and foremost, the most important thing you can do is called networking. It means getting yourself involved with people, not unlike yourself, who have similar goals in mind. If just for the fact that you have a subject matter that is relative to the both of you, by networking you can at least have one subject that you can both agree. That is where the relationship begins.
When I moved to Los Angeles from Dayton, Ohio, back in 1978, I only knew the man who had become my mentor. I had been writing letters to voice-over veteran Daws Butler (Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Elroy Jetson, etc.) but I had not actually met him until I had been here for nearly three days. Aside from Daws, I did not know a soul. I knew that the best thing I could do would be to stay in school and surround myself with other actors. I knew this would be safe. I was young and naÃ¯ve, but I had enough gut instinct to know that keeping myself busy at school doing theatrical productions was the best utilization of my time and a safe way to continue my education. In time, I made friends and persisted, with integrity, to making my dreams into a reality.
As for the divorce, hey, it happens to the best of us and the worst of us. I am not the kind of person who is happy being all by her lonesome. I love family and friends around me. Oh, okay, I confess that I love to curl up and read a good book in the privacy of my backyard, or take a bubble bath by candle-light in my new bathtub, with a piece of chocolate cake within reach of course. The truth is my urge to share my life with like-minded souls is pretty darn strong.
Being that I am single, blonde and a working mother, as well as the Honorary Mayor of the North Valley, I do not find dating to be a very encouraging sport. Did I say sport? Yes, I did! Think about it it has two teams, in this case a man, and a woman and a goal (usually involving a ring and perhaps children). More often than not it has a ticking clock which makes the game significant and a prize for a job well done, usually involving a white cake, friends (or in this case, fans cheering for touch-down, field goal, checkered flag or score of some sort).
At any rate, dating is kind of weird, that is until you meet the one, the right person for you, who also happens to agree with all of your viewpoints and your choice of movies! Well, maybe you have to compromise sometimes if you are going to get along. All kidding aside, your personal integrity, your goals and finding out what you need and want from your career is no different than finding out what you need or want in any kind of relationship.
But the reverse it true, if you are striving to succeed you must also find out what is needed and wanted from the industry in order to achieve your goals. Read or re-read the article that I wrote for AWN called Be True to You, as it goes into even more detail about this.
Finally, as for ending off a job with no new prospects in sight I will share a little story. My daughter Lucy is the light of my life and I consider myself privileged to be her mom. At sweet 16, she is not interested in voice overs at all. She has been dancing since she was four, and that was when I realized she was truly gifted. A couple years ago, some casting directors and a coupe of managers called me to express their interest in representing Lucy. They even expressed interest in her auditioning for a lead in a television pilot for Disney.
I presented this to Lucy and she looked at me, gave it a little thought and said, Mommy, will there be more auditions for me if I dont decide to do this now? I replied, Oh yes, Lucy, there will be plenty more especially for you, honey. She sighed with relief and said, Okay then, Im going to wait. I just want to keep dancing for now!
It was one of those, so-honest-it-almost-hurts, moments. She does not have any considerations that there is a shortage of opportunities. She does not have to overcome any barriers of self-doubt or of lack of ability. She is loaded with not only talent, but more importantly, she is loaded with the sense of knowing that she has the ability to create anytime she wants. It is lesson for us all to have, have faith in yourself, and your ability to create your career at any moment.
So, dear reader, I say, there is no real Starting over Again if you truly are doing what you love to do. You merely have to keep going. Keep doing the successful actions you did in the first place. Surround yourself with trustworthy people who support your choices and continue moving toward your own written out goals. Good luck and good night!
Nancy Cartwright is best known as the voice of spiky-headed Bart Simpson on The Simpsons. She has voiced dozens of cartoon characters in her career that has spanned more than 20 years. Currently she can be heard as the voice of Rufus the Naked Mole Rat on Disneys Kim Possible and Chuckie on Rugrats and All Grown Up. To learn more about Nancys career, listen to her audio book My Life as a 10-year-old Boy.