Each week I hope to share a guest post with you from an author. This will not be a Q & A, so the writer will have carte blanche.
I’d like to thank Ken La Salle for stopping by today. Ken, as each author, will have a standing page on my blog. This designated page will offer links to his sales pages, podcasts, upcoming signings and any other related matters. Check back often for updates and I anticipate my readers may find some wonderful work to add to their collections. So without further adieu…
So, I thought I would introduce myself today by talking about what brought me to writing in the first place. You see, before I committed to being a writer I was, I had been, I had craved to become an actor.
And when I use the word “crave,” I ain’t kidding. I took every crappy part I could get at first and when some of that crappy part got cut I would fight for everything I could convince the director to leave in. Like every young actor, I counted my lines. I dreamed of the day when I would run a show, by which I mean when I would be on the stage at all times.
Now, here’s a secret. Ready? I can share this secret with you now because I’m no longer an actor. I couldn’t remain an actor because, and here’s the secret, I wasn’t that good. I say it’s a secret because I know plenty of actors who thought I was fairly good. A few people thought I had real talent and wondered why I left the stage. Not a lot. But a few.
You see the key to acting, what few people really acknowledge, is that real acting isn’t. The best acting is never acted. It’s real. And the best actors can make their moments on stage real or they can experience them as real, somehow. I wasn’t ever too good at that, really. Oh sure, I had my moments. For the most part, though, I never really surrendered to the moment.
I remained aloof to the moment, floating just above the moment, observing it, gauging it – and I would try to make all of my expectations about a scene fit just the way I wanted. The problem with this approach, of course, is that I never had control over the other actors on stage. Sure, I could persuade them now and again but, mostly, I would finish my shows feeling a twinge of disappointment. And sometimes that twinge was enough to snap my neck.
But that’s the wonderful thing about writing, isn’t it? Writers can take each moment apart and dissect it like an unfortunate frog. They can put things together in any order they wish until their frog is a transforming-meka-frog… or something.
Mind you, there’s a problem with that as well. And I bring this up because I’m beginning to understand that I am leaving that point in my career, the point where striving for control is revealed to be just as inauthentic as my mistakes on the stage.
True, writers can take apart every moment, dissect it, clean it, expunge it, chop, seal, and press it… but should they? It’s a question that has been haunting me of late.
Mind you, I don’t consider myself to be a slouch. Not at all. I have some work I know I can take a great deal of pride in. My trilogy of memoirs, for instance: A Grand Canyon, Climbing Maya, and The Day We Said Goodbye. My novels, from Daughter of a One-Armed Man to Vampire Society to those books I am actively marketing today and even up into the books I am just finishing. I know I’ve represented myself well.
In addition to those books, there are also my books on following your dreams, collecting my essays from Recovering the Self. There’s my podcast,So Dream Something. My YouTube series: My Side, Radio de’Olde, and 5 Brief Minutes. I’ve seen my work released in ebook, audiobook, and paperback. I’ve seen my plays on stages around the country. And I see no end in sight.
And yet, I begin to feel as though I’ve been stopping myself from surrendering to the moment, from relishing in it, burying myself in it waist high. Because there are some similarities between acting and writing and one truth persists: There’s a magic in the moment. Dissecting is great but there is a magic in the moment.
And so, as I move forward, my goal has become to find outlets that put me in the moment, so that I might experience that magic with my readers. I have a few experiments lined up in the coming future that I hope will throw me into the moment and help me grow as an artist.
There are things I can do as a writer that I could never do as an actor. That’s why I walked away from acting and into writing, where I’ve committed myself. Some of these things are probably obvious to anyone who has heard a writer speak, things like making that connection with the reader, finding meaning, etc. etc. etc. But I’m talking about something very different.
One of the things I can do as a writer is to experience that moment, to reach out from this side of the page and maybe touch that side of the page, maybe touch the air above the page. That, you see, is the goal of being a writer. (This is aside from having a best-seller and making a million dollars, of course. Everyone knows that is the real goal of being a writer: Not starving and having a roof over our heads!) Our goal is not to fill a page, it is to leap from it.
And that, I suppose, is my introduction. I hope you take some time to look into my work and, if you do, I will consider myself a very lucky guy. You know, writers come about an actor a dozen – and if you do the conversion:
Actors = $.10/dozen
Writers = Actors/dozen
The numbers ain’t good. This is why I feel so very fortunate to have the chance to share my stories, my moments, with you.
All the best,
Ken La Salle
Visit Ken’s page on my blog for works, signings, updates and media.