I have experimented these past two Mondays.
Monday a week I helped Dan out with some voice acting work for a project of his. He’s converted an upstairs garret in his Somerville house into an impromptu sound studio. We knocked two pages out in three quick takes, with minimal adjustments for clipping out. Dan made me feel like a pro.
On the walk home, I revisited a thought that people have put in my head several times over the last decade – that I’ve got a good voice for radio. I know voice acting requires more than just a deep, pleasing voice: you need to pull off a range. You need a portfolio of voices – a leather folder hiding in your diaphragm. But I could always start somewhere.
Half of my friends work with Maura Tighe Casting or know someone who does. So I considered it for a bit.
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Yesterday (also a Monday), I took my first class at Grub Street, a nonprofit writing center right next to Emerson. I braved the eye-freezing cold and a shuddering elevator to crowd into a small conference room with fourteen other students. I was one of three males in the room.
Grub Street marketed the class as “Building a Writing Career,” but the focus wandered a bit – from finding subjects to write about, to making time to write, to getting in touch with agents and editors (which I wanted to know more about). The instructor had a wide breadth of experience – writing poetry, writing freelance articles, putting together a book proposal – which made for an interesting but not deep discussion. I left feeling a little teased.
Still, I’ll definitely go back, and I’ll probably even become a member. Chuck Palahniuk gave some writing advice about a year ago, one point of which was: use writing as an excuse to throw a party. A strong community can’t write a book for you, but it can definitely help. I need to network and workshop. I need to learn how others do this thing I do. I need to start introducing myself as a writer.
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Near the end of the seminar, inspired by a comment from the instructor, I wrote “WHAT IS THE SACRIFICE?” in my notebook. You have to give things up in order to write seriously. Nobody gets a perfect draft the first time around, and even if you do it still takes a while to get to 100,000 words, and even if you write four thousand words a day you still need your own space to write them in. And if none of the above is true – if you can sit in a coffeeshop all day, writing five thousand words of polished prose in six hours, and independent wealth provides for your livelihood – then I don’t know what you’re writing about, anyway.
The world conspires to fill your days – a nine-to-five job, going out with your friends, raising a family, managing your finances, distracting yourself with media or games. The world doesn’t require you to write. Nothing says you have to write. Thousands of talented, creative, passionate people have lived and died without a novel to their name.
I do not have enough hours in the day to do everything creative I want. I want to act. I want to design games. I want to learn to sing better and start a rock band. I want to do voice-over gigs. I want to write.
Some point soon I’m going to have to pick.