I’m listening to an interview of author Janice Day who wrote about her breast cancer experience. I like her style and her struggle to find a story format to suit her story. You can listen to the podcast at Creative Breakthrough Podcast 1 with Jurgen Wolff.
Janice talks about studying screen writing and being interested in Aristotle’s analysis of the three act play into pity, fear and catharsis.
It’s is a great description of this year’s book writing course and explains my different bouts of writer’s block.
How to Write a Book – A Play
Act I: Pity.
Scene: A desk, a computer, an empty chair.
A woman walks into the room, looks at the computer and wails “oh woe is me, I can’t write a book. I’m doomed.”
Act II: Fear.
Scene: The woman sits on the chair and starts typing, then stops and screeches “oh no, I can write a book… oooh, but it won’t be good enough and people will snigger behind my back. I’m doomed if I do and doomed if I dont.”
Act III: Catharsis.
Scene: The woman sits in the chair, typing on the keyboard. The screen comes into focus and we see the words “the end”. She leans back takes a deep breath, exhales audibly, smiles and says: “wow, so that’s how you write a book. I’ll be damned.”
A 2014 article by Dennis Nishi in the Wall Street Journal, tells an anecdote about a school teacher, Eric Adler, who becomes a consultant, but doesn’t like consulting and then sets up the SEED Foundation to provide boarding schools for ‘at risk’ youth in urban areas in America. The message of the article is on making the time to define success for ouselves, rather than accepting society’s definitions of success, as illustrated by Mr Adler’s discovery that he didn’t like being a consultant.
What also interests me about this story is that even though Adler didn’t like being a consultant, the MBA and the year’s experience he gained at a consultancy firm were probably extremely valuable to him in setting up the SEED Foundation successfully and in giving him the credibility to raise funding.
This story could also be told in a very different way as a planned career path for Mr Adler – from teacher, to recognising a social issue, to getting the requisite qualifications and experience that enabled him to successfully do something about that social issue.
As with many life and career paths, they are obvious in retrospect yet we can feel like we are blindly following urges that we don’t necessarily understand at the time.
What urges are you facing that are persistent but don’t make sense today?
I’m reading Stephen Denning’s new book the Secret Language of Leadership and imagining how to recreate my upcoming presentations to fit the suggested pattern.
This is what he says is the secret. Why don’t you try it out for yourself?