Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ready for my close up ...

By Kelli

"If you couldn't write, what would your creative outlet be?"

Even when I was little, I liked to pretend to be other people. When I was six, it was Samantha on Bewitched -- minus the irritating, whiny husband, of course. Or Anne Marie, on That Girl. And sometimes Batman (never Robin).

I liked strong, independent characters, despite being inundated with images of grumpy boyfriends and husbands [did you ever notice how many 60s sitcoms featured yelling spouses and bfs? There's a thesis in there about the rise of feminism, but I'm not going to write it. ;). The most loving husband and wife relationship was on the Addams Family--which I adored, though I never particularly wanted to be Morticia ... but I digress. ;)]

Anyway, I never outgrew this habit--I just channeled it into acting when I was a little older, and eventually got a chance to trod the boards as a Drama major at my first university. A little Shakespeare, a little Euripides. It might not exactly surprise you to learn that one of my most enjoyable comedic roles was as a courtesan in The Comedy of Errors.

I fell away from acting--despite good notices and all that--because the life style was just too emotionally hard on me. But in my heart of hearts, I'm still an actress -- one reason I actually LIKE reading at signings is it gives me a chance to act. :)

So ... in a perfect world, if I couldn't write I'd still be doing that. On stage, as opposed to film. I love Sunset Boulevard--one of my favorite movies--but it's too truthful about how temporal the film industry is ... and how merciless. So, like Rebecca, I'd also like to be a film director, and actually toyed with film as a major after Drama.

In fact, one of my youthful goals was to film Ayn Rand's book We, the Living--her first book and probably her most readable--it's a real page-turner. I knew the shots I wanted to use, I could see the opening credits unfold ... and I still think it would make a great movie. [It was filmed in Italy under Mussolini, with Alida Valli as the protagonist Kira--though it was interpreted as hostile to the regime and therefore banned.]

Eventually I began to write screenplays (a useful exercise for any writer, I think) ... hoping they'd sell and someone would offer me the chance to direct, of course. :)

Of course, the cool thing is that as a writer, I get to both act AND direct ... because I write "in character" while a part of my brain watches the performance. OK, so I'm a Gemini, I can legitimately operate more than one personality at a time. But really--writing is the best of both worlds. Acting, directing and a carefully researched and composed experience that you hope you'll be lucky enough to share with readers. Writing CITY OF DRAGONS was remarkably like filming a movie, in a lot of ways.

And I've still got my fingers crossed for that directing chance. ;)

I also just wanted to take the opportunity to say Happy Holidays and a big, big thank you to my fellow CMS and all the readers who have made our blog such a joy to hang out in. :) Thank you for reading us, following us, and for your always fascinating comments and observations!! We've got a lot in store for 2010 ... and we hope you'll be on the journey with us. :) The warmest of holiday wishes to you!!


Bobby Mangahas said...

I'm gonna have to go with you on the acting thing, Kelli. Other than my writing, on stage is where I feel truly comfortable, plus it's a great escape.

And often when I write, I do kind of see myself as the director, my characters the actors. And just like actors (and people in general) some are easy to work with, others not so much. Some require hand holding while others just do and I simply take notes.

Anyway, hope you have a good holiday and hopefully see you some time next year.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

I'm far too shy to act, but I can totally see you excelling at it, Kelli!

I agree that writing lets you act and direct (and do set design, be dolly grip, fetch coffee for the grumpy stars, and sweep up after).

Mele Kalikimaka!

PK the Bookeemonster said...

My undergrad degree is in theatre -- as a stage manager. I liked the magic of being in control during a performance from behind the scenes. Didn't make a career of it though.
Merry Christmas and Happy 2010 to all of the Criminal Minds. This is a great place to visit always!

Sophie Littlefield said...

you would be an awesome director. And who knows....I am just waiting for the deal announcement(s) where we learn that your stories are going Hollywood. Maybe you'll have your name on the director's chair yet!

Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks, RJ! And I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season, and are planning to both trod the boards and finish that book in 2010!!

Hope to see you in the summer when I'm in Boston!! :)



Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks, Beckster! I preferred tragedy to comedy (no surprises there). :) I've experienced stage fright at several points--but the inner ham in me was able to win out. :)

I love being a mogul, though, which is what we get to be as writers ... if only our actual budgets were closer to Hollywood's! ;)


Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks, PK! And very cool that your undergrad was in theater. I tried to stage manage once, and it's a damn tough job--I really admired the people who did it well, because they made all the actors, the set and the whole production look good. :)

Happy Holidays, and thanks for being a wonderful part of Criminal Minds!! :)


Kelli Stanley said...

Aw, thanks, Soph!! :) I'd love to see all of us sell film rights ... I can totally see Stella on the big screen!!! :)

My fingers are crossed for Miranda and CoD to translate to film, and promise not to grab the megaphone if I get to visit the set! ;)


Jen Forbus said...

Like Rebecca, I wouldn't ever be able to act. I don't like the spotlight...but I have imagined being other people. That's one of the reasons I like reading so much; you're able to escape into other people's lives. Maybe it's because they're glamourous and you'd like to experience what they do, or maybe it's because they're going through something you couldn't possibly fathom and at the end you feel so blessed you don't have to! ;)

So, so glad you guys provide us readers this luxury.

Happy Holidays back atcha, Kel! I've so enjoyed your blog this year and am looking forward to more in 2010. Happy New Year!