Over weekend I was talking with Alice about “my writing career.” Dr Pasavento, my therapist, insists that writing is just a hobby and I should just do it “for fun” rather than weighting the activity down with tedious add-ons like goals and aspirations. “Don’t be so serious about everything,” he says.
Now that I’ve written a stack of novels, I feel like I should face the next challenge, that of finding someone willing to read what I’ve written. Not all of it, of course, but at least some of it. “I’m living at the wrong time in history,” I said to Alice, alluding to the trope that people aren’t reading as much as people did in the 50s and 60s. Alice, ever connected to reality, countered with, “Nonsense. You’re living at the best possible time to be a writer. Publishing used to be difficult and expensive. Now you can publish with a click of the button.”
While the problem of publication might have been solved with the Internet and the World Wide Web, the even thornier problem of cultivating an audience is now something that an artist (content creator?) has to deal with. It’s not sufficient to post your novel on your web site and then tweet about it.
After I finished writing my first novel, Goodbye Green Day, I briefly flirted with adapting it myself into a film. The concept was simple. Since the action of Goodbye Green Day is set in New York City, I’d spent a day in New York recording video on the streets. Then I’d take that video, edit it, add a voice-over soundtrack of the narrator telling his story and voila! I’d have a homemade movie of my novel. My guess is that I could get more people to watch my film, than I would find people willing to read the book.
I was reminded of this seemingly elegant plan when I read recently an article in the Guardian. The article is about filmmaker Mark Duplass who said (basically): if you want to make a film, just do it.
“The first step is the $3 short film,” he said. “We’re in a place now where technology is so cheap that there’s no excuse for you not to be making films on the weekends with your friends, shot on your iPhone – we had a feature film at Sundance this year that was shot entirely on iPhones and it did really well.”
So this morning I got my old digital camera out of the basement, dusted it off, and then located a tripod that had been thrust in the back corner of the closet in my studio. I set up the camera on the tripod and I did three takes of a possible introduction to a short documentary, a “making of...” style documentary which will tell the story of how I came to write one of my novels.