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Guest Blog by Carol Wolf – A Peripatetic Writer's Life

“When I was in college my ceramic arts instructor, who was renowned for his teapots, told me that most of the artists of his acquaintance have a wide variety of artistic skills, but that they focus on the one for which they are first rewarded. Hence, his specialty in teapots.

So, now, all you artists reading this, how many different art forms have you pursued over the course of your life, and for which were you first rewarded?

I made up stories and acted them out before I knew how to write. I suppose the first reward I received for writing was when I embarked on an epic (15 page!) story in 3rd grade, and my teacher rewarded my efforts by allowing me, for an entire week, to do nothing but write. While everyone else had to do class work, I sat at a table in the back of the room and wrote all day, and no one was allowed to bother me. What a life! I did have to go out for recess. This was a bitter disappointment, especially since, of all the things we did all day in 3rd grade, recess seemed to me the most unimportant. Later, when I spent years as a substitute teacher, I understood that it wasn’t I who needed the recess, but my teacher. I read the finished story to the class, and then was asked by the class to read it again. A triumph!

In 6th grade I wrote my first play, and all but two classmates took part in the production. The Five Murders of Cherryville Lane was presented to the school, and there was a second, special assembly for us to present it a second time. Another triumph! So, I was well-rewarded at an impressionable age for writing stories and plays, and kept on ever after.

When I was seventeen, my third play, a 20-minute one-act called Duel, won a playwriting contest and was published in At Rise Magazine the following year. Even more fantastic was the news that a theater in Waterloo, Iowa, planned to produce the play the year after. Thus it was that, on my junior year abroad at the University of Lancaster, in England, I had to fly back to the states for my play opening in the middle of the spring term. The Waterloo Playhouse produced three one-acts; the other two were written by old guys, one in his thirties and one in his forties. We were interviewed on radio and television to promote the production, and I remember giving a talk at a Rotary Club luncheon. Since the theater had paid my plane fare to come, put me up and paid for my meals, I was well and truly rewarded.

So, I was set by that time on being a writer, and thought I’d be a lawyer and write on the side, or a biologist, and write on the side, or a teacher, and write on the side, as I have a broad range of interests. I was accepted to a graduate school to get an MA in education and a teaching credential, but then I got my acceptance, and a Levin Scholarship, to the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, to study playwriting. Playwrights took acting classes with the actors, directing classes with the directors, design classes with the techies, but none of them took playwriting classes with us. I was told by my department head that if I flunked all my other classes, but did well in playwriting, I’d still be in the program. I wrote seventeen plays in three years, and sixty-six drafts of nine of them. I also wrote my fourth novel, but like the other three, written in college, it was very bad.” Read the full post at The Qwillery.