While I try to avoid generalized statements, I believe there is a strong case for this one. Who else would put themselves through the agony of word counts, shitty first drafts, killing your darlings, receiving criticism with a smile and a thank you and stacks upon stacks of formal rejections. Passion is intrinsic to the craft.
And, while writers are certainly passionate about writing (you know who you are, you Grammar Nazis!), I’ve found that the writing is a secondary passion.
I have a virtual sticky note on the monitor in my office. It’s a quote from Stephen King: Talent is a wonderful thing, but it won’t carry a quitter. More than anything lately, it’s what keeps me writing.
I recently sent off my latest screenplay for a professional review. While waiting for the praise, I was sure to get back for it, I worked on my academy awards acceptance speech. I’m sure you’ll all be glad to know that NCW was on the top of my list of those to thank. I worried about whether it would make sense to consider a part-time move to Hollywood because the offers were sure to start rolling in.
Summer is the time to explore new places, correct?
If you are like me, children’s sports schedules usually dictate where our family goes on vacation. Though there was the one time that I had a piece accepted by an anthology based in Ireland, and I simply had to go to County Cork. Twist my arm. Twist it again.
Back in the 70s, I played guitar in a couple metal bands. I had fun, but I wasn’t any good. These days, I’m trying to teach myself to play blues guitar again (a goal that aligns with my latest writing project). The 45-year layoff taught me two things. First, old fingers suck. Second, there’s a lot to learn about writing from playing guitar.
The best guitarist I ever saw was an unlikely-looking kid (he resembled Bob Denver from the television show, Gilligan’s Island). I won’t mention his name because he still plays bars in northern Colorado. We got together a few times, decades ago, to jam.
What if you had almost a month of undistracted writing time? With a private studio. Physically isolated from family and friends. Limited internet access—nearly off the grid except for stimulating conversations over dinner with artists from all over the country, or even the world.
Room, board, and studio provided free of charge. No obligations. Heaven or hell? Could you do it? If so, what would you accomplish? If this sounds like heaven, then perhaps a residency is in your future.
We humans like to categorize things: friend or foe, sweet or sour, paper or plastic. When it comes to literature, a book has got to fit into a niche. Not only does it help the library or bookstore know where to shelve the piece, but it also helps the reader, who wants to know just what exactly he or she is getting themselves into.