I went to see the Broadway show, “Seminar.” http://seminaronbroadway.com/
In the play, four aspiring young novelists sign up for private writing classes ($5000 for 10 weeks) with Leonard (Alan Rickman), an international literary figure.
As someone who’s taken my share of writing classes, I enjoyed it. Like the groups I’ve been in, the fictional one is a mix of clichés and revelations. The students were all too familiar: There is Douglas, the well-connected one who already has an agent as well as a story under consideration at The New Yorker; Kate, the Bennington grad who has been rewriting the same story for the past six years, to avoid trying to write another, which she doesn't think she has in her; Martin, prolific and talented, but afraid to show anyone his work; and Izzy, who people (re: men) want to help along in her career because she not only writes about sex, but is sexy.
Leonard is sarcastic, intimidating and abusive under the guise of “honest,” yet helpful in his own manipulative way.
It’s easy to only really focus on the students because they have the lion’s share of stage time due to their laments about the “writing life.” I spent most the play thinking that these people better toughen up if they’re going to actually pursue writing as a career. But the real inspiration was the teacher. (Figures doesn’t it?)
His monologues showed me that even experienced, successful writers can get beaten up (and down) by the business of writing. He talks about how his skin isn’t as thick as it used to be. It seems he’d rather instruct and inspire, as well as insult others, than go back out there with new offerings of his own.
The show also reminded me that if you’re serious about writing, you just have to write. But that’s not enough. You next have to send it out to be read (re: judged) by others. Then move on to the next piece. In other words, just keep going. Because the surest way to NOT get published is to not write and/or not let anyone see it.
One of the things that I liked best about the show was that there was no intermission. Just like the writing life.
Causes Lorraine Merkl Supports
The Legal Aid Society
The Inner-City Scholarship Fund