Hello again, Boston Court and Friends! Thank you for having me back.
A really fun development from last week’s session with Stephanie Alison Walker: a terrific actor that I’ve worked with, David Bickford, emailed me with some interesting details about Magicians’ Assistants. I forwarded the email on to Steph. It was full of information she wasn’t ware of, and from it, she even found a great title for her play! So cool. Please keep the feedback coming.
If you’re at all an L.A. theater aficionado, you’ve probably crossed paths with Cindy Marie Jenkins. Until May, she served as Artistic Associate for The Antaeus Company, and continues along with plenty of other theatrical endeavors—including her work as a playwright.
I met Cindy when I participated in Directors Lab West this past fall; Cindy was an Associate Producer of the weeklong seminar. I was immediately struck by her style—calmly informed, but also always engaged and enthusiastic.
Now let’s peep:
Me: The question I’m asking everyone first: On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you clean up your work spaces before taking photos for me?
Me: When you emailed me your photos, you included this commentary, in regard to your multiple spaces/work surfaces: “Wow, interesting approach. Eek!” Explain your reaction.
Cindy: I actually work with people on how their workspace affects their career goals and workflow, so I was already analyzing. I’m also in a very specific work mode this week, a writing-centric work mode, and it really changes how my desk looks. The indoor space is when I need a lot of focus, or need to reference any other materials. The outdoor space is when I need to break away from anything—the Internet, to-do lists, or I just need a change of pace. I’ve only recently started using this space as a temporary workspace and it’s been a great change.
Me: With your indoor workspace—the one that lets you reference other materials—I see lots of bulletin boards, white boards, wall-posted index cards. . . You strike me as a visual person.
Cindy: Yeah. . . I need to see it in order for it to be real, especially if it’s on a deadline. More so, though, I need to visualize it, you’re right. Especially writing projects. I’m not really working on it unless it’s an art project. Also, since my actual workspace is small, it lets me switch projects very easily without having to change everything around or breaking any rhythm I already have. To a certain extent, I also associate the kind of board it is with how long it might take me. White board notes are great for short stories, blog entries, ideas that won’t take more than a day or two. It’s a very flexible workspace because these stories shouldn’t take me too long. Long-term projects make it to the corkboard. Even the way they’ve been arranged on the corkboard changes every month or so, depending on where I am in the process. I didn’t even have my planner, it’s on the second shelf of the outdoor table.
Me: Oh, yes! I see it there.
Cindy: I recently returned to a concrete, paper planner as well as using Google calendars. I have a lot of clients and different projects, and I have to write out my schedule or how I spend my time on paper before moving it to a spreadsheet. So yes, I’m a lot visual and a little OCD. Or the other way around.
Me: I see “Valdrada” scrawled over an image posted on one of your bulletin boards. What does that refer to? Is that a current project of yours?
Cindy: Yes, it’s a very interesting project right now because I’m writing a narrative that will be turned into a screenplay, and it’s based on a section of a story I love by Italo Calvino. My husband and I are creating the story now for his MFA midpoint project, so it’s an elaborate exercise in tons of topics I know next to nothing about. I’m just focusing on the story now, but it’s a long-term project, so I’m trying to make a dent in it once a week. It’s also fun because it borders on fantasy and science fiction, in a way.
Me: My sense is that you’ve always juggled a lot professionally, including your own writing projects, even when you were at Antaeus full-time. But what has it been like to shift to working full-time out of your home office?
Cindy: The transition was not hard in some ways, mostly because there was flexibility to work from home when I was at Antaeus. It’s amazing, though, when all of a sudden your time is your own, and even more amazing is when you realize how you choose to spend your time. It means you must say “No” to yourself a lot and you push yourself a lot. I walk the line between being very productive and realizing there are twenty-four hours in the day. As much as I want to succeed, I also need to carve out leisure time.
Me: Well said.
Cindy: For me, freelancing is just trying new systems of organization and replacing them when they start to bore me. Once they bore me, it’s not effective. Try something else. That way works for a few weeks, then something else—and the system is affected by my main priority that week, or hour. On New Year’s Day I had so many assorted little projects—we’re talking short plays to sewing buttons to re-organizing my bookshelves to everything in between—that I literally had all the projects in progress around me and went from one to the other until they all slowly got done. It was kind of my heaven, but it only works on those kind of days.
Cindy: Well, like we’ve said, I’m a visual person. And around October, I had developed so many side interests that I had to give myself very clear instructions on how to spend my work time, no matter how long or short a time it is: Connect. Coach. Write. They each have a corresponding folder holder on the left, to show you how anal/visual I am.
Me: I love it.
Cindy: “Connect” is for the outreach I do, as well as new ideas to explore soon or later, and it includes directing. “Coach” refers to my coaching business, which I love, and “Write” is for all of my writing projects. These are the things I want to do. This is how I want to spend my work—and sometimes leisure—time. Ever since I made those cards, my workflow and success in each area increased. It just really helps to focus me.
Me: And below them, who is the adorable baseball player photographed in the trading card?
Cindy: Oh, awesome. I’m in so much trouble now. A few years ago, for my husband-then-boyfriend’s birthday, I asked people to send me pictures of him. This was one that his mom sent me, and honestly I just think it’s the cutest thing.
Me: It is!
Cindy: That birthday was also the night he proposed.
Cindy: Yes. Sadie is my amazing dog who I try really hard not to blog about. Sometimes I can’t help it, but I really restrain myself. Since I work mostly from home, Sadie is my co-worker. She’s like an H.R. Department that isn’t evil. She actually cares about getting outside and taking frequent breaks and making sure there’s a good amount of playtime every day. Seriously. That’s why I try not to blog about her. Next step is Hallmark cards and calendars.
Me: Add it to a bulletin board!