I know this sounds like a criticism but it really isn’t. Seriously!
Most artists that I’ve met are one-trick ponies. That is, they’re folks with only one special talent, gift or area of expertise.
Wikipedia explains the origin of ‘a one-trick pony’ The idiom one-trick pony is derived from the circus. A circus featuring a pony that has only been trained to perform one trick is not very entertaining. An old joke claims that a certain circus was so bad; the trick that the one-trick pony performed was to play dead.
Most of the writers I know just focus on one aspect of their craft. Novelists write novels. Playwrights write plays. Screenwriters focus on films. The lists can go on and on. Most of them have found their special niche; whether it’s a certain genre, subject matter, or area of interest. That is the norm. That is the average. That is what most of them do. But not me. And it isn’t by design.
Without qualifying, clarifying or apologizing, try as I might, I’m just not able to focus on any one genre, format or area of interest for any extended period of time. Guess you might call it an adult version of attention deficient syndrome.
One of the first pieces of advice I received when entering this new world of writing was to focus on just one genre and stick to it. If I wanted to write westerns, then I was advised to become the best western writer after Louie L'Amour or Zane Gray. Similar advice came from a mystery writer who had found great success in his chosen genre.
Even back then, easily twelve or thirteen years ago, I knew I could never do just that.
When I was first getting started as a writer, in one four year period, I pounded out four novels, four plays and four screenplays. After that, I branched out into blogs, templates for new works, novellas, outlines for future projects, a children’s book and finally a comic strip.
Even though I had written several plays beforehand, I fell in love with the whole creative process of playwriting when I penned ‘Riot at Sage Corner.’ RAAC (the Rosemount Area Arts Council) was kind enough to accept it for their newly formed theatrical troupe called ‘Second Act Players.’ It was a wonderful play that filled the house for all four of its performances. Two more plays, ‘Club Two Ten’ and ‘The Last Sentinel’ followed that initial success. A fourth play ‘Polly’s Amorous Adventure’ debuted in California in 2018. Now another new play will premiere this fall in California.
I have created three versions of ‘Waleed, the Skinny Hippo,’ my first attempt at writing a children’s book. It has been translated from English into Swahili, Hmong and Spanish. Now the challenge will be to get it into the hands of children of all ethnic backgrounds.
Having gone through the gestation stage of creating cartoon characters of my five grandchildren, I have commissioned a sample comic strip of four panels to see how my illustrator (really a comic strip artist) can translate my dialogue and storyline into a visual presentation. If that next step is successful then creating a catalogue of fifty or more storylines awaits me before the next comic strip can proceed.
My first attempt at writing a novella for the new Vella platform on Amazon has been a success. ‘Agnes, Memories of First Love’ has generated a lot of interest. A new novella entitled: ‘Traces Left Behind’ still being hammered out.
The last mountain I want to climb in this writing marathon is a steep one for which I am totally ill-equipped. Nevertheless, songwriting is looming as the next challenge on the horizon. I’ve written the lyrics (terrible at this point) for eight songs I want to incorporate into one of my latest plays ‘PTV.’ But without talented songwriters to help me along this journey I’m still stuck in the starting gate.
Some folks would look at my body of work and see it spread out across multiple genres to which I would answer: ‘Sure it is because it has to be.’ They might say it’s unfocused and I would reply ‘yes, it is, at times.’ We would probably agree that my writing and subject matter is a bit hectic at times and scattered, yet still very prolific.
But with a new play (my fifth so far) to be produced in California this fall (TBA) and ‘Sweetpea’ moving ahead with a sample comic strip, I can’t afford to slow down. In the end, it’s all about choice and I must confess I don’t feel I have any.
This is something I have to do.