Magic. It's Hard Work
I’m an okay magician.
No, to put it bluntly I’m an exceptional magician. When you perform alongside some of the best close-up guys that the Magic Circle have to offer but members of the audience tell you ‘you were my favourite’ you’re definitely doing something right. But I’m really not good at the organisational aspects of this job. I’m not talking about remembering decks of cards or turning up to a gig on time, but the things that everyone who is a self-employed entertainer has to deal with. My biggest issue is promotion myself and my work. I understand social media, and I really do get the need for photos and show reels, but I hate doing them. Despite my slight bravado at the beginning of this paragraph, I am far more comfortable with self-deprecation than self-promotion. No matter what I do, it feels unsightly to me to pose for the camera or push for reviews from clients.
I’ve no real idea why this is. No one would mind, and in today’s marketplace I am definitely not doing myself any favours when it comes to getting bookings. But all this becomes ten times worse when coupled with the fact that I dislike - and am awful at - buckling down to the nitty-gritty work necessary to really making your voice heard. I don’t focus on google listings, I don’t advertise in papers and, as I said, I don’t even have a show reel. By and large I don’t mind too much. I get to feel all lofty and pure, unprepared to sully my hands with the tawdry affairs lesser magicians get involved in. Of course, those magicians are able to eat, but how can you be a starving artist if you’ve got a luxury like food?
Working on Illusions of Depression, my show for the Edinburgh Fringe, has revealed to me some interesting truths. I will happily spend hours messing about with little balls of coloured sponge, but I’m awful at knuckling down to scripting. This is despite the fact that I know pretty much everything I’ll be saying. Nor am I much good at creating promotional materials. I know what I’m supposed to do, I even know how, I’m just rotten at getting down and doing it.
The hardest thing about working for yourself is the discipline necessary to do the jobs you don’t want to. Though artistic licence may give me some leeway the fundamentals are something I have got to get better at. If I were a clichéd character form an American movie I’d be talking about my hustle. But still, I’m taking steps. I’ve started putting out a newsletter every month, designed to let me keep in touch with people, and let them know what I’m up to. I will be Tweeting and Instagramming more regularly and, after Edinburgh, I’ve started putting together a bit of a plan to try and up my number of residencies, regular gigs at places like clubs, pubs, and restaurants, I even remember to give out business cards now and then!
I love creating and performing magic, and I know that if I want to keep doing the exciting stuff, I’m going to need to get better at the stuff I hate.
Paul's Edinburgh Fringe show “Illusions of Depression” will be showing at Tollbooth Market, Gladstone’s Court, EH8 8BN from the 15th August to the 25th August.