Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Hundred Ways To Write

I have just spent rather a lot of time traveling to see my new niece, so you'll excuse the lack of posting on this blog. I have also been reading a good deal. True Men & Traitors: From the OSS to the CIA, my Life in the Shadows by David Doyle is fascinating and whether because of that book or watching The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the Cold War and spies have very much been on the brain. Schindler's List is nearly finished, and I've been burrowing among food magazines and reading up on this very different but so intricate form of creativity and the people who have done astonishingly well with it.

I've been thinking a lot about the different forms of "being a writer." When I first got into this gig, I thought being a writer meant being a novelist. Well, it can mean that and for a lot of us it does mean that. But there are many other methods of being a writer. Methods that are fun and helpful to explore even if you think novelizing is your main talent. For instance, you could freelance some non-fiction articles, enter an essay contest, submit poetry to a magazine, take on a job as a content-editor, start a blog series on your favorite restaurants, or write a cookbook. You could write an editorial for the newspaper on a social issue close to your heart, or freelance the entertainment column for a local newspaper. I think of one of my favorite Facebook accounts, Humans of New York, and how its proprietor, Brandon Stanton, has so smoothly meshed photography and writing in telling the stories of people he meets in word and image. That's such a cool and inventive method of being a writer. You know what I really want to do? I want to be in charge of writing descriptions of perfumes and naming a line of nail polishes or lipsticks. Isn't that weird? But I bet I could get paid for it and it sounds like so much fun. I've also always wanted to name a neighborhood full of streets under a certain theme. I think I might have a problem with naming things.

My heart has also been tied up in finishing seasons 4, 5, and 6 of White Collar and continuing to watching The West Wing. Also the odd episode or three of Parks & Rec watched while holding a sleeping infant and trying not to wake her with my laughter.

Got me thinking about screenwriting, and what a blast it would be to write a show so successfully that you had fans begging for more, that your words got quoted in daily conversation, that people aspired to dress like your character, or be your character some day.

Jeff Eastin, I blame you for my goal to become Elizabeth Burke. I also blame you for creating Neal Caffrey, making me want to marry a Bureau agent, and making NYC look swankier than it ever has. But that's a whole nother conversation. Then the devastating trailer for the final season of Downton Abbey came out and cemented the thing: screenwriting is, perhaps, just as rewarding profession as becoming a best-selling novelist. So I suppose my thought for your Wednesday is this: never limit the range of your writing experience to novels only. Write your novels and write them well. Noveling is probably the most straightforward way in which you can be a writer. But if you want to create an addicting screenplay on the side? Well, I'm not going to stop you.


Skye Hoffert said...

Maybe it is time to broaden my horizons with my writing. Thanks for the thought.

Rachel Heffington said...

You're welcome! Novelizing is great - don't get me wrong - but sometimes it is fun to look outside the covers of a book for more ways to write.