Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Smell of the Grease Paint...

This weekend's guest blogger is friend and fellow Canuck Janice MacDonald, who writes the Randy Craig Mysteries published by Ravenstone Books (an imprint of Turnstone Press). She lives in Edmonton, where she is working on the seventh in the series. Her detective is an academic manqué, who finds various niche jobs in and around the University of Alberta. Welcome, Janice!

My latest mystery novel, The Roar of the Crowd, is set against the backdrop of the Edmonton theatre scene, a rich and colourful tapestry indeed. Ours was the first Fringe Theatre Festival outside of Edinburgh, the Freewill Shakespeare Festival is twenty-six years old and going strong, and there are said to be more theatres per capita in Edmonton than any other city in North America. What's more, we are a people who support local talent. We line up to partake of our cultural activities. When you link some very small lobbies with some very cold temperatures during a majority of the year, you have to admit that Edmontonians love their theatre.

And so do I. In fact, at one point I wanted to act, which then morphed into wanting to write plays. I went so far as to get through half of the studies necessary for an MFA in playwriting. Then I left – to play in radio for a while, and then settle into solitary writing, a more staid MA, college lecturing, and now writing for the government. Most of my creative energies are exercised in the privacy of my comfiest chair at home, or in my quiet cubicle at work. In busy meetings, I tend to take notes, doodle or meander.

So, now I find myself back in the midst of the theatre folks, some of whom have been my very best friends for the longest of times. Part of the push to promote this book means participating in theatrical variety shows, tweeting from the Fringe, appearing on pre-show panels to discuss Shakespeare, and generally being on the side I like less of the spotlight. I will do it, of course, since one does what one must to promote one’s books – it’s the literary equivalent of buying your children orthodontia and piano lessons.

But it’s not something I am necessarily looking forward to. When tested in Myers-Briggs tests, I am that odd duck that Susan Cain writes about in her book, Quiet, the ambivert, right on the line between introvert and extrovert. I am not afraid of crowds, but I gain no juice from them. Eventually, and surprisingly to those who see me happily chatting/ joking/ storytelling/ tapdancing/ singing/ holding court, I get all “peopled out,” and crawl off to my sanctuary to regroup.

I love the theatre, and I enjoy the occasional tread of the boards. But mostly I would rather be experiencing it from Row G. After all, we writers prefer the worlds and stages in our own heads.

1 comment:

Jayne said...

Great post, Janice.

As a fellow ambivert (and one sharing a theatrical background), I think you've done well to explicate the fine line between introverted (by design) writer and extroverted (by necessity) promoter of one's output / brand.