I adapted a short story I wrote long ago for three characters. We have two little theater companies in our mountain village in Central California. I went to a first reading a couple of years ago intending to volunteer as stage manager and found myself in a lead role in a play that had appeared on Broadway. But I liked the character and since our theater (an Internet coffee shop) only holds 30 seats, I figured what could go wrong?
When was the last time you tried to memorize anything longer than a grocery list? I just couldn’t keep the lines in my head and my counterpart was an actual SAG actor. (We live close enough to Los Angeles that a number of real actors live here.)
The more impatient he became with me, the more I unraveled. Some actors get their cues from an exact word or line that another character says. Somehow I stumbled through the performances with my fake English accent and most of the lines intact. The roles called for it, but neither of us could manage the kiss at the final curtain. Still, thunderous applause. (It’s a small town.)
The second thing I’m foolin’ around with is editing a diet book, real paid writing work. It will probably pay more than I made selling novels and how to write a mystery Ebooks last year. Every year my tax guy looks at me funny and asks, “Is this a business or a hobby?” I’m comfortable with editing, though. I know what I’m doing, and it’s fun taking 90 pages of stream-of-consciousness rambling, finding an outline, and making a book of it.
There may be those crime novelists who can sit themselves at a desk, churning out one good novel after another, but I can’t do it. I gotta do something different every once in a while. You know, fool around?