Thursday, April 16, 2015

Will Climate Change Effect Your Writing?

If there were any question in your mind about the fact of being immersed in a rich and fecund era of filmed drama, the question was shut down today.  

You luxuriated in the awareness that you could, if you were to wish to do so, stream episodes of five or six major television hallmarks, representing intelligent pursuit of story, eclectic subject matter, and intense, evocative acting.  The final nail to set the argument in place was the availability of segment two of Wolf Hall, the adaptation of Hilary Mantel's glorious historical novel.

In earlier years, while you were in the process of assembling an inner stairway to your present plateau of vision and enjoyment, your most favored TV feature, your weekly must-see, was the series Inside the Actor's Studio.  

In truth, you'd begun to watch Inside the Actor's Studio because you'd made the connection:  James Lipton, the host of the program and, himself a principal at The Actor's Studio in New York, was the son of one of your more valued authors, the critic, poet, and essayist, Lawrence Lipton.  Father had little to say of son, his occasional remarks suggesting a serious rift.

Lipton had been dead some years--since 1975--before Inside the Actor's Studio came to life as a visible entity.  Your first visions of the son were so removed from the demeanor and warmth of the father that you took an immediate dislike to the son.  

Watching subsequent episodes of the TV presentation became a convoluted way of reliving your admiration for the father and the effect of his literary journey on you, his editor, at once aware of enormous differences between the two of you and admiring the stamina, professionalism, and wit.  Mixed into the equation, Lawrence Lipton's own reminiscences of his earlier marriage to the mystery writer, Craig Rice.

Rice, an energetic writer from the hardboiled detective genre, led a troubled life, involving alcoholism, glaucoma, loss of hearing, and bi-polar moods, leading to her need to rely on Lipton in much the same way Lillian Hellman relied upon Dashiel Hammett.

With no awareness he was doing so, James Lipton, simply because he was his father's son, drew you into the TV show he produced, wrote, and largely directed for the Bravo network.  Soon, you were listening to the actor guests, speaking of their craft and careers, absorbing facts you would not begin consciously to put to work for years to come.  

Among such facts was the growing awareness on your part from watching and rewatching interviews, the fact of many actors preference for roles at some measure away from their own personality and their accompanying distaste for roles in which they considered the character to be portrayed quite close to their own individuality.

Easier to go to the remote for creativity, most of the interviewed actors said.  Always the nagging suspicion, when the character to be portrayed was closer to home, that the actor was merely being him-or-herself and, thus, less likely to be an original creation as it was a copying from the self.

Only today, you receive in your email, catching your email spam guard off duty, an invitation to subscribe to one or more of a series of actor's workshops, where one of the focuses  on:  "Two characters are then derived from your personal acting habit patterns, Character # 1, who conforms to those acting habit patterns, and Character # 2, whose patterns directly oppose your habitual and customary acting choices, revealing rarely experienced physical, vocal, and emotional possibilities."

You are left to investigate and wonder about possible parallels and similarities in which you substitute Character # 1 and Character #2 with such possibilities as Writer #1 and Writer #2, both of whom are, of course, you.

In addition, more than one of these notes to yourself, begun in 2007, contain references and investigations of the number of squatter selves there are, residing within the house that is you.

You acknowledge at least two writerly presences, one favoring long, Faulknerian sentences which in effect span differing time time or emotion zones, the other more conversational, short, chipper, not always complete sentences.

To be considered and continued:  If you are going to be writing as other characters, you need to write away from your personal writing habit patterns and toward the personal writing habit patterns of the individuals of whom you write.  The better able you are to do this, the better able you will be to remove yourself from the story, allowing them to come forth from under your shadow and into the sunlight or gloom of their own individual climate.

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