Category Archives: Writing

Little (Mobile) Theater on the Prarie

The events of last Wednesday are still dwelling on my mind, so it was nice to catch this article by Lia Kvatum in the Washington Post Magazine about an itinerant creative who’s connecting communities to their history through theater. It provides some much needed light and joy… and the notion that we can communicate with one another.

Theatrical portraits of Hanson in Granite Falls, Minn. (Caroline Yang via the Washington Post)

Reading about how Ashley Hanson has been traveling to different communities and talking with the people reminds me of both how the Federal Theatre Project had a whole “think national, act local” approach to productions as well as the more recent Playback Theatre‘s attempts to translate personal experiences into short plays.

When it comes to theater, I am biased, what with it being a “non-trivial” portion of my working life, to say nothing of participating in some of the “walking theater” mentioned in the article (although my part got to be on stage). I believe live theater has a way of connecting and impacting people in a way that will make it just as relevant 100 years from now as it was 1,000 and more years ago. So I wish Hanson and others great success in hundreds more towns across America, because it means connecting and deep listening.

Public Domain Day, 2021

Since I’ve written about it before, I suppose I should make a habit of celebrating the fact that New Year’s Day is also Public Domain Day, which in the U.S. means that, as of today, any copyrights from works released or otherwise published in 1925 have expired and said works are now in the public domain.

Montage via the Center for the Study of the Public Domain

I should mention that I’m not an entirely disinterested party in these matters. As the head of Jabberwocky Audio Theater, I have a keen interest in stories that might make good adaptations for audio fiction. I mean, we can and will continue to find works from the 19th century and earlier to use (adapting “Prince Prigio” last year was a lot of fun). But “new” old stuff would be fun to do as well.

We’re not likely to do an adaptation of The Great Gatsby, but as Ian Carlos Campbell argues over on The Verge, the Muppets should totally do a version of that quintessential novel of the Jazz Age.

Jennifer Jenkins, Director of Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain, not surprisingly has a nice rundown of many noteworthy works available sans copyright — and also explains why it’s great to have many non-noteworthy works available as well.

I should also note that Public Domain in the U.S. is a bit different than worldwide rights, which vary widely. But it’s certainly worth exploring. What books or films do you want to see new adaptations of?

Aaron Sorkin Gives Screenwriting Support

Purveyor of hyperreal –and immensely satisfying– dialogue, playwright/screenwriter Aaron Sorkin jumped online last week to give a few really choice answers to some Twitter questions. Enjoy.

Banned Book Week, 2020

Librarians, archivists, and bibliophiles are well represented in my family, so I’ve always enjoyed Banned Book Week.

Since many library systems are closed due to the pandemic, many of you probably can’t saunter over to your local library and see their cool “Banned Book” displays. The site does have plenty of resources to read and download — as well as the always interesting top 100 books challenged or banned.

That list also provides me with one of my annual activities: reading one of the books on the list that I haven’t read before. This year, it’s Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, one of those well-regarded books I’ve missed.

If you are looking for something insidious to do this week that will possibly expose you to some new perspectives and definitely piss off The Man, I highly recommend it.

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2020 Emmys: In Memoriam

TCM usually gets my nod, but the graphics in this one were very well done… (and these are grim times, so I suppose it’s where my head is):

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Wait, Tolkien was Working on a LOTR Sequel?!?

Many of you already knew this and (spoiler alert), there’s good reasons why he abandoned the ideas as the video goes into, but I was not aware — and it does touch on some of his writing process and his motivation to write in any case.

John August on Professionalism

Back in 2006, writer John August wrote (and presented) a really great talk called “Professionalism and the Rise of the Amateur.” It drew on his own experience as a writer, but it could be applied to other jobs — basically, anywhere where you’re trying to be “professional” — and what that word means, really.

Well, lots of things have happened since then, as he recounts as he revisits and expands (and corrects) some of those thoughts in “Professionalism in the Age of the Influencer.

Both are worth a read, but feel free to skip to the second one if you’re pressed for time, as he recounts some of the larger points.

A Writer Writes… to What End?

For whatever reason, I’ve been seeing a bunch of memes about writers writing, writers writing ’til they’ve finished (whether or not it’s good, they can always rewrite, etc.) and so on.

So what if you’re wondering about the point of all this? Well, for a motivation Monday, Monica Leonelle has a bunch of questions and exercises to ask yourself.

Now I’m going to get back to writing.

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Writing Advice from George R. R. Martin

Since I did a Monday motivational post last week about writing, I figured I’d delve into that well again, especially since motivational YouTuber Evan Carmichael went ahead and did a compilation video of another well known speculative fiction author.

Truth be told, I actually haven’t read much of George R. R. Martin’s work. I commented to friends that I’d try his landmark series, A Song of Ice and Fire, after the TV show Game of Thrones was over — and I’m

But I’ve found him to be an engaging and insightful speaker whenever I’ve heard interviews with him and that proves to be the case here. I especially like his tip to read widely, not just comic books and sci-fi and such. He’s a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy and comics, of course, but he loves history and mystery and all sorts of other things… and goodness knows I think reading more across all genres helps one’s writing.

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Writing Advice from Neil Gaiman

I’ve been talking with several people offline about writing, so my web wanderings led me to this compilation by motivational YouTuber Evan Carmichael.

I’ve seen many of these clips before, but it was nice to see them in one place. I especially like the notion of walking toward the mountain (which I’ve heard other people speak of in other terms) as well as the notions of where ideas come from (which may be worth a future post in and of itself).