Today’s post is a guest blog from one of my favorite writers–in fact, my writing partner, Kevin Finn. Kevin co-authored FORWARD TO CAMELOT and its latest edition, FORWARD TO CAMELOT: 50th Anniversary Edition, with me. He is the author of more than a dozen screenplays and produces content for Princeton Community Television, including promotional trailers and independent film projects like the 2012 documentary SETTING THE STAGE: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE. He lives in East Windsor, New Jersey.
Everyone loves a good mystery, right?
Cool, we’re going to have fun together today. I’m going to solve a great mystery of our time.
The mystery of the Exalted Writer.
Ahh..the writer. He or she of the noble word, those that live locked in ivory towers as prisoner to their craft, benevolent caregiver to the imagination.
Salinger, the recluse, embodied this, and it worked for him. Created his myth, the aura of the raconteur, He Who Shall Not be Seen.
We’ve all seen the picture of Shakespeare, regal cock to the head, mischievous grin aside, collar tightly starched. The picture of of poise and eloquence.
By all accounts, Shakespeare was an attention whore, the Snooki of his time. Braggart, drunkard, possibly a fraud.
Shakespeare would’ve loved the 21st Century. He’d have made himself an instant celebrity and instead of waiting for time to tell his legend, he’d have created a name for himself instantly, Like Kathie Lee and Hoda. Nancy Grace. The Kardash…
You get the idea.
Writers no longer live in ivory towers, we live among the people. And that is the way it should be, for we are no more than common people touched with the gift of good vocabulary.
What once served as ‘mystique’ for Salinger and Shakespeare is now called ‘branding’ by the marketing and publicity hounds who help us hawk our wares.
Every writer has a brand, like Pepsi and Coca-Cola, and the brand is supposedly their ‘name‘. I prefer to think of it as a ‘theme’.
So what is my theme? Well, if I had to sum up the theme of my writing in a singular title, it would be ‘Guys, Dolls and Curveballs.’ No one is as evocative as Damon Runyon, and that’s what I write about; Guys, hard-nosed manly men on the outside, like Sinatra or Gene Kelly (yeah, Gene Kelly. A dancer, but a tough guy. You wanna make sumthin’ of it?). Soft on the inside. Dolls, beautiful and sensitive women who’s strength lies in their intelligence, always percolating just below the surface. Which makes them all the more alluring.
There’s the old adage ‘write what you know.’ I write what I like.
What I like is meeting people. People are characters, which is why writers need to abandon conventional notions, get out of the ivory tower and meet as many people as they can. Ask any author who their favorite character is and they will undoubtedly answer, ‘well, my favorite character is actually based on someone I knew.’ Today’s social media innovations give writers opportunities and advantages never dreamed of. We must embrace them, learn them, love them, if readers are to embrace our work and our passion. Everyone knows what George R.R. Martin, Tom Clancy and Nora Roberts look like. While Shakespeare trends, Salinger would’ve wallowed, a footnote in the caverns of paperless publishing.
Like the written word begun in calligraphy, writing has changed with the times. So, too, have writers. Writing is hard work, an eight-to-eighteen hour job before lunch, six days a week and any writer who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves as much as Rapunzel waiting for rescue. Or Salinger waiting for a photo op.
So what do you like in your writing? And your writers? If you could sum up your writing (or favorite writers) in one thematic title, what would it be? And why?
I’ve shared with you. Please share with me.