I was joking about this sort of with my writing buddy Vivian recently in the context of beefing up our critique group, but you know how brains can be. Once you think or say something it’s out there, and once it’s out there it starts to take a life of its own.
What I said was “Let’s start a band!” Because that’s sort of what pulling together a crit group together is like, right? A bunch of people with different backgrounds and approaches to playing their particular writing instruments coming together for a common goal. More or less. We’re looking for a couple new members to help us rock our manuscripts into the best publishable books.
But metaphors aside, I started thinking about how in history there were these times when people would band together and create something so much larger than the sum of their parts. How do talented people find one another? It can’t simply be a question of right-place-right-time and it can’t only be that talented people will always be drawn to one another. And you can’t just want it, or somehow want it more than anyone else, because how many have tried and failed from trying too hard? Is it fate?
Those who know me, or have at least read the tab explaining the name of this blog, will understand my love of Vonnegut. Though it was not a new idea in this or any culture, his explanation of a karass as a group of people coming together for a common goal best explained this underlying sense I had that there was a band out there for me. I’ve had this sense, this feeling, since the 7th grade and you might have thought that the feeling would have faded in the last 35 years, but no.
Though it’s often expressed in terms of musicians and bands, what I’ve more been drawn to were communities that were a little more theatrical. The Monty Python troupe, the initial creators of The National Lampoon, the Comedia delle Arte. Humor, yes, but it wasn’t the theatrics. There was some mysterious glue that not only would bring these people together but pushed them toward creating something… not just something that wasn’t there before but something different.
That keeps me up some nights, that different. Everyone wants to create something different, something unique in their art or craft. Beyond voice, beyond style, something that people can point to as a clear demarcation between before and after.
What in the world of storytelling can truly be created that’s both different and yet popular, different and familiar? What new school of style or format? I can’t help but think that I’m carrying around a piece of something larger. There’s a point where the kid playing bass all by himself in the basement thinks maybe there are some kids in the neighborhood who don’t just want a band but want to change the world, even if they don’t really know that’s what they want or how it’s going to happen.
As much as I want that, the reality is that writing is so far from a band or a company or a troupe. It is a solitary endeavor, where even if you could pull together a band of authors all the real work would be taking place in the head or while staring at a computer screen. I suppose a closer analogy would be an art movement with a bunch of like-minded folks creating with similar influences, or from an organized manifesto…
No, I want a band. A band of writers. I want to rock and I want to change the world. I’ve got my instrument and I’m pretty sure its in tune. Who’s in, and where do we practice?