Letting Go and Moving On

man holding cup of coffeeThe basement of the church office was bright and open. The aroma of fresh coffee was wafting in the air as Agnes -a woman in her late sixties- brought in a plate of homemade snickerdoodles. In one of the adjacent rooms, a radio was playing Songs of Praise.

“Oh Lord, deliver us from evil,” seemed to be the hymn of the day. It couldn’t have been more appropriate.

“Ah Agnes, it’s so good to see you,” said Father Andrew, who’d just come back from his early morning jog. “You never come empty-handed, and you know how we all love your baking!”

“Well, let’s hope we have some people to enjoy these cookies,” Agnes said. “Do you think anyone will show up?”

“You’ve got to believe, Agnes. You’ve got to believe. That’s what this place is all about,” said Father Andrew. “This will be the very first meeting of its kind, so you never know, but I have high hopes. Over the past few weeks I have heard from so many people, and they seem ready to take the plunge.”

Andrew, or Andy as he liked to be called, began to arrange some chairs in a circle. He had no idea how many he would need, so he stopped at twelve. How biblical!

Ten minutes before the meeting was supposed to start, the first participant showed up. It was a middle-aged, nervous-looking guy wearing a Yankees sweatshirt, a baseball cap, and dark sunglasses.

“Well, someone’s got to be the first,” he said, as he walked in. “This coffee smells so good. May I?”

“Help yourself,” said Agnes.

“I love my morning coffee,” said the man. “And you know what they say: The best part of wakin’ up … is Folgers in your cup.

And as he spoke, both Father Andrew and Sister Agnes looked at each other.

“I’m the pastor here,” said Andrew, extending his hand. “I’m glad you could come. Your voice sounds familiar. Have we met?”

“Oh, I get that all the time,” said the man. “I’m John, by the way. We’ve never met, but I’m pretty sure you have heard me before. Let’s see… Have you seen that commercial for the new female Viagra? It came out last week.”

“Not really,” answered Andrew.

“I have,” said Agnes with unusual enthusiasm. “I’ve seen it a few times. Is that where I know your voice from?”

“You, bet. That’s me,” said John. “One day it’s all about having fun in the bedroom. The next I’m selling a cream that can cure athlete’s foot. Welcome to my world!”

A young woman entered the room. “John!” she cried. “I didn’t know you’d be here. I thought you weren’t doing that thing anymore. Aren’t your agents keeping you busy?”

As the two were catching up, Father Andrew whispered in Agnes’ ear:

“Is it just me, or does that young lady sound like she just walked out of a cartoon?”

“You’re right,” said Agnes. “She does sound like a character from a show I watch with my granddaughter. It’s about tiny, obnoxious superheroes. I’m telling you: this is going to be one interesting morning.”

The next person to come in was an unassuming, short fellow with a babyface. He did his very best not to be noticed, but Agnes spotted him immediately.

“May I offer you some coffee, young man?” she asked.

He looked at her for a moment, and said with a booming voice:

“In a land before time…

one woman embarked on a journey

that would change her life…

forever.

From the people who brought you “Heavenly Creatures”

comes a story of love, longing… and caffeine.

Rated PG 13.

Coming to a theater near you.”

“I take that as a yes,” said Agnes.

Within minutes, more people arrived, and for some reason, the atmosphere seemed grim.

“Please grab a seat,” summoned Father Andrew. “I know you’re all eager to get started.”

He looked around the circle, making eye contact with everyone in the room.

“Welcome to our first meeting. So glad you could make it. I wanted to start with a reading from Exodus, but I chose a short prayer instead.”

All of a sudden it became very quiet.

“Oh Lord, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
The courage to change the things we can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Amen”

“Amen,” answered a few.

“Now,” said Father Andrew, “you’re all here today because you feel powerless, and a part of your life has become unmanageable.”

A few participants nodded.

“Many of you believe that you can’t live without that which has had such a grip on your life for so long. Yet, you feel that the time has come to let go of what no longer serves you.”

“Hear, hear” mumbled one of the participants.

“I know all of you have paid the price for years and years, and have wasted many hours, desperately seeking, and desperately hoping for something that rarely came. Am I right?”

“Oh yes,” said the girl with the cartoon voice. “I was such an idiot.”

Father Andrew stood up and said:

“Don’t feel bad. You are not alone. By being here, all of you have shown that you’re ready to become a member of a new group. A liberated group. And here’s the good news, people: You don’t need a credit card to join. I’m not going to ask you to set up an online profile either.

The only requirement for membership is that you have to have a desire to stop using what you’ve been using. Is that clear?”

Everybody seemed to be in agreement.

“I noticed that some of you know each other, and others don’t. Before we start sharing our experiences, let’s introduce ourselves, knowing that you cannot change what you don’t acknowledge. So, as you state your name, please tell the group why you are here.”

Father Andy looked at John, and said:

“Since you came in first, perhaps you’d like to start.”

John took off his sunglasses, revealing deep, dark eyes that hadn’t had much sleep. He sighed a deep sigh, filled with sorrow and regret, and said:

“Hello, my name is John, and I pay to play.”

And the group answered in unison:

“Hi John.”

That morning, Voice Actors Anonymous was born.

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

PS Next time I’ll blog about how voices.com has added insult to injury by the way it has responded to the criticism of the past few weeks. Click here to read that story.

photo credit: No Flash via photopin (license)

About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs." goo.gl/ihVpMc

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Career, Pay-to-Play

23 Responses to Letting Go and Moving On

  1. Steve Blizin

    I really ticked-off a certain sales girl off recently when she called me for the 5th time (that day) to tell me about all the work I was “missing” by not signing up for the P2P service. I kindly informed her I wasn’t “missing” anything at all. She was flabbergasted. So I said, “this is the part where you say thank you and hang up.” Haven’t heard from her since…

    [Reply]

  2. Helen Lloyd

    Brilliant … here’s hoping VAA comes to the UK soon! Just a few questions: Does it have several tiers of membership? What are the rates? Can I pay by PayPal? Can anyone join or do you need to be a professional? Teeee heeee.

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  3. Kent Ingram

    Loved it, Paul! I am a P2P junkie no more! LOL!!

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  4. Sally Blake ( Voice On Fire )

    In the spirit of humor this week… a dubious person repeatedly prayed to God that they would believe if they won the lottery. After multiple prayers the person said ok, just forget it. I am not going to believe in you. They all of a sudden heard, ” Buy a ticket ” Moral to story ? Doors are opened but you have to walk through them 🙂

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    Kent Ingram Reply:

    Sally, I know I’ve heard this story before, but I love reading it again! Other than Paul’s blog, are there truer words?

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  5. Lee Gordon

    I’m joining Blog Readers Anonymous. 😉

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    If you manage to kick the habit, I hope you’ll still return to my blog, Lee!

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  6. j s gilbert

    While I usually enjoy your posts and once again I must commend you for a very well written post, I feel like I was just hijacked or kidnapped.

    There are far many more aspects of the often highly co-dependent and downward spiraling life of a voice actor to draw parallels to than the same beating up of online casting services.

    It’s getting very old, Paul, especially when done in a cheap shot fashion like this.

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    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Pay-to-Plays are counting of the fact that this story gets old, JS. They hope that this will all go away because people are getting bored of the topic. We live in an age of “exciting and new,” and this is nothing new. Unfortunately, nothing will change if we allow this to slip away once again.

    This week I wanted something more lighthearted, and I’m sorry my story didn’t meet your expectations. It’s hard for a chef to cook a meal that will please all customers all the time.

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    J S Gilbert Reply:

    Stories go away because they aren’t really stories. There’s a ton of “blaming” going on in a business where the “teachers” make 50 times on average what the participants make. Sell the dreams and bash those you disagree with.

    Providing insights into what might be coinsidered immoral acts by a single “pay-to-play” site, is journalism, but taking shots at all of the online casting services simply because they either don’t fit your paradigm or you couldn’t make them work, is a bad use of your sphere of influence.

    It is in its own way as mean spirited and evil as the unions taking aim at non-union participants or any of the other exclusionary, “blaming” practices that go on.

    Using the “n” word doesn’t become more palatable if you do it “lightheartedly”. While I applaud your previous article, I condemn this as being valueless and simply appealing to the “pitchfork and torch” mentality that seems to be prevalent of an online society that seems to thin that their way is the “best” way and to hell with any and everything else.

    –js

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    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I think most of us got your point the first time you made it, JS. Those who really know me, will tell you that I’m anything but mean-spirited. I may be spirited, but that has a different meaning. Comparing my church story to using the “n-word” offends me, and I hope you want to rethink that loaded comparison. We know you have strong opinions, and you’re not afraid to stick your neck out. I admire and appreciate that. This comment however, is way off base. I’m going to leave it there, and get ready to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

  7. Rick Lance

    Ha,ha.. hee, hee… Paul! A cute little (effective) story.
    I’d like to think I may have given you a tiny little spark to write this one!

    Rick

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    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    You certainly did, Rick!

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  8. Deidre Ann Johnson

    I didn’t know where you were going with this…brilliant. Still laughing out loud!!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Glad you had a laugh, Deirdre. That’s what I had hoped for.

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  9. Shaun Toole

    With that title, and the furor over online casting sites, I thought this was an article for us P2P-dependent voice actors!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I’ve written two of those articles in the past two weeks. I was in desperate need of something more lighthearted, Shaun.

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  10. Marie Hoffman

    Dear Paul:

    Brilliant!

    Best,
    Marie

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I thought your comment was brilliant. Marie. Thank you!

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  11. Rob Marley

    Recognizing you have a problem is the first step.

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    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    And boy, do we have a problem!

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  12. Ted Mcaleer

    I harken back to the first days of a conference a while back… there were 5 of us. The first guy ordered “that a chili cheeseburger and fries be delivered immediately…” as Akira. He did it twice to the stunned waitress. The next guy, and I’ll never forget, ordered the dag gone thing in Klingon… And not to be out done, I chimed in “…in a world where, one Japanese superhero and an intergalactic alien – order lunch. Coming soon to theaters near you.
    It was a laugh riot!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    That’s a mouthwatering story, Ted. Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

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