It is friday and Hell is calling you for episode 6 of The Dante Experience. Take the call, this is one of my favorite episodes in the series. Here is the link:
You can find links to the previous episodes (as well as read about the writing of the series) via the links on the Dante 3 page (top of the page, right up there^). And remember, you can find the series on amazon (here) or by contacting the production company that made it, Mind’s Ear Audio Productions.
Here is the next chapter in the writing of the series:
Moving Right Along
Frankly, I moved on.
While others may have left the Midwest Radio Theater Workshop that year inspired to make their own radio dramas, I left feeling like I had just finished a funeral and everyone else didn’t know the host was a corpse. The fact that a few years later the MRTW disbanded because of internal conflict didn’t surprise me. There was definitely a power struggle among their different heads, and each seemed to have their own vision of what radio drama can be used for.
On one hand you would have those that wanted to use radio dramas to first entertain (in other words, lets just get the listeners back first, which I agree with) and on the other, those who wanted to do something important…. Well, important in their eyes (or should I say ears?). Here is an example of that I love to share-
On the first day, each of the heads of the workshop shared samples of their work. One of the more serious members shared a radio drama where she recreated the death of her husband. I kid you not, she wrote the scene of her husband’s death and had people act it out… And we all had to listen (I will never forget the scene of the doctor telling her that her husband is dead just for the sheer uncomfort of it)… and while we listened she was snuggling with her new boyfriend.
I feel creeped out just writing that paragraph, and I have told that story hundreds of times!
The great truth to surviving in the writing world is the ability to bounce back. As long as you can bounce to your next work and not let disappointment weigh you down, you can possibly keep growing. When you stop bouncing, you are in trouble (and I have had moments when I have stopped bouncing, but that story isn’t for here).
So I dropped out of the Master’s program at Michigan State, got an apartment in Grand Rapids and a lousy job at a mortgage company, wrote my first novel (3 Days in Rome, which you can find here), won a small fellowship to finish the book, and began working on screenplays. I then focused all of my attention on moving to Los Angeles, attending the University of Southern California (because George Lucas went there), and seeing about getting some of my movies made, or possibly writing for TV.
It was right before I left for LA that I got another call from Joel Pierson. It had been three years since MRTW so it was a blast from the past. His radio company, Minds’ Ear Audio Productions, wanted to make The Dante Experience and was I okay with that?
I said sure.
So while I was preparing for my move to LA, I would now and then get rewrite questions, and hear snippets of sounds from the series. Over the course of my drive to LA, I listened to Minds’ Ear’s most recent production, French Quarter (here is the book version of the story).
During my spring break from USC, I flew into Michigan and then drove down to Indiana to hear some of the recording of The Dante Experience. It was a very unique experience hearing the first episode of my series done. Those were my characters, my words, alive. People use the word surreal a lot, but it was in many ways for me an out-of-body experience. Remember, I had written this years earlier, moved on from it, and now on its own, it was alive.
I met the cast, and they all complimented the work, sharing with me which parts made them laugh the most; I am sure I was blushing the entire day. I even got to take part in the recording of a part of an episode. And afterwards, the cast and producers took me to dinner, which is still one of my favorite dinner memories. It could have been in a movie.
That night on my drive back to Michigan, I was stuck in the middle of a massive snow storm. It was so bad that they closed off parts of the roads and I was directed to pull off the highway. All of the hotels were full, but one allowed me to sleep on the couch in their lobby… as long as I paid the price of a single room.
So in one day, I went from playing the role of a minor celebrity and person of importance to sleeping on a couch in a full hotel; and THAT is a perfect description of what life is like as a struggling writer.