This month, Robin wants to know what other genres I write besides novels and why. When Robin first posed this subject, I wondered what other genres there were besides nonfiction and, of course, memoirs, which are, technically, nonfiction, as well, depending on how who’s writing them. (Grin) But, as I started to delve into the different genres, I realized I’ve dabbled in quite a few other genres, including: screenplays, documentaries, lyrics, musicals, one person shows, poetry, and swim workouts. (I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones that come mind.)
I could get all philosophical as to the why, but it really comes down to inspiration. I have never written a play, but I have at least one unfinished rom com screenplay (with a few others rattling around in my head—not rom coms.) The rom com was very Sex in the City in tone, but I wasn’t even aware of that show when I was writing screenplay. I still think it would be fun to produce, but it seems the rom coms we see on the big screen aren’t the rom coms I remember, or would even want to see. The only completed screenplay I have is one I wrote for a film class in grad school. Although it’s somewhere on film, it is probably best left buried in some box in the garage never to be seen again. LOL
In my twenties, I wrote, and performed, four Chautauqua shows on historical women. The first show came about as a result of a Rotarian friend of my dads. The local Rotary Club was putting on The Pageant of the Sierras. Ralph (I don’t remember his last name) asked me if I’d be willing to create a 5 to 10 minute performance of a famous person from the Gold Rush. Being a performer, I said sure. That began my career as a Chautauqua performer. Even after I stopped performing, I would get calls to come and portray Clara Barton for a local Civil War reenactment at the Kearney Mansion in Fresno. (At one point, it was the largest on the West Coast. I’m unsure what has happened to it in recent years. I imagine COVID has shut it down. Hopefully, it will return.) The four shows I wrote, produced, and performed, were: Lola Montes, A March of Women (four suffragists), Annie Oakley, and a Harvey Girl. I was working on Libby Custer, although that one was never finished. I sang, danced, and told stories. I also created educational workshops. All of the shows were based in historical fact. I didn’t add anything that I couldn’t verify with research.
At one point, I was working on a documentary about women composers. I wanted to do a series on them, but getting funding turned out to be nigh impossible because I wasn’t a non-profit organization. I still think it would be an interesting series. Maybe someday I’ll get around to it. I have a fabulous interview with Peggy Seeger, daughter of Ruth Crawford Seeger. As part of it, I wanted to also interview her brothers, Pete and Mike. Those interviews never happened, sadly. My inspiration for this came from my graduate recital emphasis on music by women composers. I still have all of my research and music on these women.
My field of study was music, specifically opera. Music majors are required to take composition. Since I’m a singer, this led me to writing vocal pieces. My first vocal piece used a poem I’d written in high school. It was eerie, had a tonal base, but certainly not something you’d hear on the radio—at least not a pop or rock station. Over the years, I’ve written lyrics and songs. Usually, I write songs when I have strong emotions that can only be expressed through music.
I’ve even dabbled in musicals. I joined a musical theater workshop as a composer and teamed up with a few people over the course of the workshop to write songs. I also wrote some of my own, and, at the end, we split up into teams and wrote 15 minute musicals. It was fun and hard work. In that workshop, I met Sue Warford. We collaborated on a musical together called The Tin Cup. The original idea of the story was mine, but she wrote the libretto and lyrics while I wrote the music. Honestly, I wish she’d have been more open to my suggestions on the story line, but it was a learning experience. Do I still have some ideas for musicals running around in my head? Yes, but, as is typical for me, none of them are ever easy, require a vast amount of research, and, well, I started to do the research with another friend for one of the them. We quickly fell down the rabbit hole. LOL
So, why do I do it? Beyond the inspiration? Goodness, I think it’s all part of being a creative being. I can shut off the “what if” questions, but I don’t want to. Those questions often lead to fascinating discoveries. Or, sometimes, it’s a fascinating discovery that sets off the “what if” questions. And they’re always fun to ponder. The other day, someone posted picture of a guy who had tattooed the faces of women on his skull and then attached little pieces of hair around those faces. Why? I don’t know, but my brain automatically went to: what if he was a serial killer and this was his way of commemorating his kills? (Hahaha!) Yes, gruesome, but, then, of course, I thought that would be way too obvious. Instead, he’d have some type of code where perhaps he tattooed . . . And the brain is off.
I shared that particular idea with a friend who writes crime novels as it’s not really my genre. Apparently, she might be working it into one of her novels in the near future. (Grin)
Finally, swim workouts. I don’t really know if that’s truly a genre, but it’s something I started doing again since the lockdowns and I’ve been swimming mainly on my own. There’s no coach to tell me what to do, and swimming straight for an hour is no fun. At least, not to me. There are a lot of people who like to do that. If you look around my blog, you’ll see I have well over 100 of them now. They do require a certain amount of creativity to keep coming up with new ones. Occasionally, I’ll pull out a set I’ve particularly enjoyed. Most of the time, they’re new and I come up with them at the pool. It keeps me on my toes.
Beyond poetry, which I wrote mainly in high school, and hardly ever now, that pretty much covers my explorations into other genres beyond fiction and nonfiction. Will I ever explore play writing or a memoir? Eh, I don’t know. I think I’ve got enough on my plate as it is. (Smile)