Matthew Arkin, Random Specifics
Today’s message comes from Lead Story Editor Matthew Arkin, whose latest blog post tells it like it is. Here are a few snippets — follow the link at the bottom to read the article in full.
I teach and mentor people in two arts at which many think they can be wildly successful with little or no training.
…time and again I work with writers on their first work (and full-length novels, at that) who want immediately to find a publisher (or to self-publish, as is, with only proofreading as a last step). I teach would-be actors who want to get an agent when they have never performed in a school or community theater play or a student film, never been to an audition. They want success, that elusive, wily prey, and they want it now.
I believe this springs from a desire for success as an end in itself, and not as the byproduct of a calling. There is a desire to have written a book, but not to write one; to be a movie or television star, but not to learn lines, research a role, rehearse.
The difference between these desires, the one for the result, the other for the work, springs from two opposed impulses, one of them directed towards the self, the other directed towards the other. One impulse says “Look at me! Look at me and I will have value, just because you are looking at me!” The other impulse says “I have something of value, and I want to share it with you.”
Of course the writer or the actor must tell the stories he wants to tell. But what use is that story if it is told in a way that the audience does not want to hear? Even if self-expression is the goal of the artist, he fails to meet it if he cannot get the audience to give his story enough attention to carry it through to the end.
…It is at this point that the teacher of craft steps in. The role of the teacher of craft is to guide you towards the techniques and modes of expression that connect you to your audience, to bring the benefit of experience in what works and doesn’t work to your first wobbling steps. Your inward journey towards your truth, that is your own. But as you discover what you have to share, the teacher can give you the language and technique that will turn your individual experience into a universal story, finding the threads of commonality that will transmit a deeper meaning.