Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More
Here at Eclectic Voices, we are just as interested in the behind-the-scenes madness of creative minds as we are in the final product. So, we decided to offer you some juicy interviews with movers and shakers in the creative worlds of literature, theatre and film. This issue features our one and only Eclectic Voices Writer Ken Patton. Enjoy!
Eclectic Voices: So, how’d you get involved in Eclectic Voices?
Ken Patton: I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to join two years ago, and I haven’t looked back since!
EV: What are you working on right now?
KP: A number of things – I always find that variety keeps the spark going for me; I strive to write at least 6 pages of SOMETHING each and every day. Sometimes those 6 pages might all be part of the same project, but most of the time it’s a couple of pages of this particular project, and a few pages of that one. As for what I’m currently working on, my list is as follows:
Dirty Martini – book and lyrics for a musical that I’m working on with my partner;
Mine – a play for our Writer’s Group;
The Yard – book and lyrics for a children’s theater musical that I’m working on with my partner;
A Family Affair – a novel, inspired by a short story that I wrote recently for our writer’s blog.
And various monologues – one for one of our December issues of Eclectic Voices, and one for our fundraiser at the Eclectic Theater in January.
EV: What was your inspiration for your current project?
KP: As far as Dirty Martini is concerned, that arose out of a discussion over dinner and drinks with some close friends. We were all brainstorming about what would make a great musical – what we would like to see done as a musical that hadn’t been done before. At one point we realized that a James Bond musical had never been done before, and an idea was born.
EV: What is the most exciting thing about writing and/or theater?
KP: For me, it’s the power of being able to create a unique world, and then bring that world to life onstage. Though film provides you with a lot of options or opportunities thanks to editing, special effects, etc., bringing something to life on the stage, without the use of all of the fancy tools and props that one would avail themselves of in a film project, is truly magical. Theater tests and stretches the creative mettle of an artist in a way that no other medium can, and I find that fabulously exciting.
EV: What is the most terrifying thing about writing and/or theater?
KP: I’d have to say exposing myself – putting something out there that gives a person a glimpse into the person I was, or the person I am. No matter what I’m writing about, I always try to infuse what I’m writing with something real, something true – something from my own personal experiences. Prime example: at our Writer’s meeting last night, during the Q&A that came about after my pages were read, a question that was posed lead me to expose a habit that I had as a teenager, an incident from my past that I incorporated into the story. Though I’m a gregarious person, I am in fact a pretty private person, and I don’t really like talking about myself, or sharing things about myself, and my past. But I’ve known many of the people in our Writer’s group for quite a while now, and I consider many of them close friends. It is a safe space, so I find that I’m relaxing more when it comes to sharing glimpses of my past, and in turn I feel that the caliber of my writing is improving markedly. I just need to relax, and go with it, but for me it is a difficult, and terrifying thing to accomplish. Even answering these questions for this blog spotlight is a challenge, but I’m facing it head on.
EV: Who are some of your writer heroes?
KP: In the world of musicals, William Finn – he peels away the many, many layers of his life, and lays them bare in a way that I can only hope I’ll aspire to someday… somehow he manages to make his librettos and his lyrics be warm, raw, and complexly gorgeous all at the same time. I would love to be one of those writers that can communicate a lifetime of experiences in just one phrase – just once. He manages to do that time and time again. August Wilson, for the poignantly beautiful way he managed to chronicle the African American experience in his series of plays. Clive Barker, for the lush and complex worlds he manages to create in his novels, and Ursula K. LeGuin, for her uncanny ability to be able to consistently create worlds that I want to live in, and characters that I want live with.
EV: What or who inspires you to write?
KP: I find inspiration all around me – in conversations that I have with friends, or with people that I might interact with as I go about my daily routine. I use a notepad app on my phone to keep track of things that spark me – and I check that list daily, taking things off of it, or putting things on it as the mood strikes. As for WHO inspires me to write, well lately that would be the members of the Eclectic Voices; they are an immensely talented group of individuals who made me strive to bring my ‘A’ game when writing pieces to bring to the group. Their work is consistently sharp, engaging, thought provoking, and inspiring, and I consider myself lucky to be able to be part of this group of Writers.
EV: What advice do you have for other writers just starting out?
KP: Don’t be afraid to try – taking the first step towards sitting down in front of your computer, typewriter, notepad, or recording device can be terrifying and daunting, but dive in… the water’s nice!
Also, research, research, research! Even if you consider yourself an authority on a particular subject, take the time to ensure that your facts are correct… something that might have been true 6 years ago may not be true today – technology is growing at an ever alarming rate, and our world is changing faster than we might realize.
Write what you know… nothing rings truer than a piece rooted in fact, and personal experience. Putting a piece of yourself into your work brings a human element to it, and increases the chances that a person might be able to relate with what you’re trying to say. Putting a piece of yourself in your work gives you an opportunity… a chance to touch someone else – to truly connect.
Know your limits – we can’t all write about everything… we all have gifts, and we all have strengths. Write about those things that you’re passionate about – and comfortable with. Don’t try to write about something that you’ve never tried, or that you have no experience doing.Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find another friend or two who also have an interest in writing, and take the time to read each others work… offer constructive criticism and feedback – and help each other to reach your goals.
EV: If you could change one thing about theater or the writing world, what would it be?
I would love to see more opportunities for Writers, new Writers in particular, to be able to develop their works in nurturing, creative spaces whose sole focus is to develop the work of aspiring Writers. Theaters and workshops that focus on this aspect of developing works or Writers are a dying breed, and that saddens me.
More info about Ken:
Born in Dayton, Ohio and raised in New York and California, Ken Patton has been passionate about words, theatre and music from an early age. Upon graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles with a BFA in Theatre, Ken continued his career in the Entertainment by spending the next 3 years at Columbia Pictures Television participating in their now defunct on-site talent training program, learning the various aspects of Television production. Ken has been known to serve as a Producer and Story Consultant for various independent features. Ken also works freelance as a Production Manager, Event Manager, and Consultant. Currently, Ken is working on the book and lyrics for an original, contemporary musical Dirty Martini. Workshop performances for Dirty Martini are slated for later this year.