Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Solitary Art

Writing is a solitary art. Most arts are solitary, except theatre, ensemble music, and pep squad. But writers are notoriously solitary artists, perhaps by inclination but also due to the demands of the form. I have to be alone to write, in a cafe maybe, but alone with my thoughts. Oddly, I've also discovered that I write well in the company of other writers, all of us alone--together. There's something potent about group concentration. Write Club serves that express purpose, of bringing together writers of any genre, skill-level, publication experience (or none) simply to shut up and write.
The annoying thing about writers is that we *talk* so much about writing. Or worse, we talk about publishing, which is tantamount to the purest form of bullshit. It's as though writers have a pathological need to convince each other and ourselves that we're "real writers" by dropping names, bragging, and talking shit. Write Club is just about writing. Not critique, not "industry-news/bullshit" and definitely no name dropping. It's been a useful tool in my toolkit. I maintain my personal writing discipline by also meeting with other writers, 2 or 3 times a week, to shut up and write for an hour and a half.
Lately, Write Club's been letting me down. Or perhaps, my expectations are too high. But I think I'm bumping up against the motivation wall in New Orleans, where artistic motivation (motivation of any kind in fact) wanes when the weather turns warmer. Mardi Gras is past, I'm back on the stick, but the clubbers are not following through with me. For a few weeks there, the writers stood me up. I'd ride my bicyle to Esplanade Avenue to meet 2 or 3 folks at CC's Coffee and not a one would show. I still write. That's why I'm there. But it disappoints me. Nowadays, nobody's even bothering to set up the appointments in the first place. So I find myself writing on my own, which is the way it usually goes for writers.
Ok, here are the practical solutions. 1) Create a Yahoo group for Write Club, so that people who really want to write can subscribe and unsubscribe at will, and so that writers can post their own times, rather than depend on my schedule matching theirs. 2) promote the list on Pat Jolly's community list, to the Radical Faeries, Craigslist, etc.
I like practical.
Shouldn't be too harsh on the Write Club though. Two writers have really emerged as compatriots: Caitlin Corrigan and Brian Piski. Caitlin is very much a kindred spirit, dedicated to both her writing and performance. Brian gave me some poems which I critiqued. He also loaned me the Mario Vargas Llosa novel that I'm enjoying right now.
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter has me very stimulated to write. It's a novel about writers, a novice coming of age and his mentor slowly losing grip. It's also a raucous soap opera, which is perfect because the mentor is a soap opera writer, radio serials. It's time to get my own radio play moving, as in, produced. Want to apply for a grant, approach WRBH and WWNO, and move forward with auditions. Mandi Turner asked me when I'd direct something. Origin is the project I want to direct.
Last night I attended the readthru of a new play by Lew Routh, the friend of Marigny Theatre who wrote the gushing review of our Tennessee Williams one-acts. It's an engaging script, not profound, but solid. It was interesting to notice the difference between the way actors hear a script and writers. I was there listening and commenting as a writer. My concerns are structure, missed opportunities, and waste. The actors commented more on logical inconsistencies and interpretation. They also asked for further character development. With the exception of one character, Ted, I thought the character development was fine, in fact, overdone in the case of his wife, Darby. More is fine, sure, but I'd prefer more *story*. The two are integrally connected, character and story, but in the case of this particular script, I'd put the emphasis on story.

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