Writing Is Not a Solo Sport

photo credit: Arne Parrott

Striking a hero’s pose here is Drew Mierzejewski. I briefly met him two years ago through Alyson Grauer. Now if Aly’s name sounds familiar, it’s because you can find her lending her voice to one of my podcasts here, hear her rock the steampunk here, do it again here, and then giving good panel at DemiCon 25. Aly’s got game. So does Drew. That might be one of many reason these two got married.

Check it out, Chicago. This is an up-and-coming power couple to watch. I’m just sayin’.

Thing about Drew—I wish I knew him better. Something just tells me we’d be talking to the wee small hours in the morning about…stuff. Deep stuff. I especially got that impression when I saw a random Facebook post from him yesterday about the road creatives walk. The entire thread is here, and you really should check it out or even chime in if you like, but this was the part that made me stop and think…

Therefore, I would like to place a hypothetical to each of you. Why do we do walk this road alone? There are many of us! Why do we not band together in a great bonfire of creativity and make art? Is it impractical? It is idealistic? Is it too terrifying? What is stopping us from creating a massive company that makes art year round, in which we pool resources and talent to make the best of what we have to offer? Now, I want to reiterate that I ask this in hypothetical but I do want to hear your thoughts on this. So please take a moment and tell me in the comments what you think. Tell me why.


A Christmas Carol (playing Bob Crachit opposite Glenn Evans as Scrooge)
A Christmas Carol, c.2001

It got me thinking about when I was an actor. (Yes, yes, I know, once an actor…the stage never leaves you…yada-yada-yada…) I never felt alone when I was doing shows. Whether I was a supporting role or a lead, it was never about me. It was always a collection of talented people coming together to make magic. It was the set designers, the costumers, the writers (in the case of original scripts), and the directors who all inspired me to be better.

My fellow actors? Some were wrapped up in themselves, sure, and that happens with actors on occasion. When I look back, though, I now see that the self-indulgent ones were few and far between. Glenn Evans, pictured here as Ebenezer Scrooge, I have enjoyed sharing the stage across several productions, but in this production of A Christmas Carol he was just as key in creating the best Bob Crochet I could for Vpstart Crow. The majority of actors I’ve worked with—including cast members of Homicide: Life on the Street—were all there to lift one another up. It was never about my performance. It was about the production. It was always about everything coming together, creating an experience the audience would never forget.

(Quick side note…I’ve been in three different productions of Comedy of Errors, and directed it twice. This is one of my favorite plays of Shakespeare’s. That’s Field Blauvelt as Antipholus of Syracuse.)

So yeah, as an actor, it’s all about bringing all the pieces together. Then I made that jump to writer.

I am told often that the jump was kind of weird for someone like me because being a writer is kind of solitary in comparison to that life on the stage. But with Drew’s post, I really got to thinking about it, about the books I’ve written, especially the current project, The Curse of the Silver Pharaoh. This writing thing? Not that different from being an actor.


Whether I am writing solo or writing with her, my wife of infinite awesome, Pip Ballantine, is never lacking in honest, constructive criticism. She pushes me to go further in my storytelling, and pulls me back when I’m in danger of falling over the edge.

I’m extremely fortunate to have wickedly creative people in my network that, if I ever need an objective brainstorming, I can reach out. A lot of these people hail from the Smoky Writers Mafia. Alex White, Lauren Harris, Piper J Drake, and Matthew J Drake have been there to help me out of an occasional corner, be it in writing or in the writing career.

I have editors-of-infinite-awesome, Jennifer Meltzer and Katie Bryski, making sure my i’s are crossed and t’s are dotted. Editors take good stories and make them great. So if you think what I do is awesome, make sure to thank my editors because they ask the tough questions and get me making tougher decisions.

supergirl-icecreamAnd how about our cosplayers? I’m always stunned when I think about that—we got cosplayers! These two ladies, Christina Payton and Verena Vorsatz, go way beyond bringing Eliza to life. Both are also on hand to read what we have and tell us “This is awesome!” or “Dafuq, guys?!” Having beta readers who believe in you, and demand only the best out of you, make a difference. And yeah, they are beta reader we trust.

Then there are the writers of Tales from the Archives, our award-winning podcast. Where to begin with these people? Aly Grauer. Phil Rossi. P.C. Haring. These folks have graciously brought their imagination into our steampunk sandbox. They inspire me.

Then, to make the best first impression, designer (and all around creative dynamo) Starla Huchton creates covers that make me hold my breath and, eventually, go “Wow!” (LIGHT THROUGH THE FINGERS!!!)

tee_stageAnd through it all are my mom and dad. They never really “understood” what I write, but that doesn’t mean they have stopped asking “So how’s the book doing?” They have always supported me, catching all the shows I did (even the Children’s Theatre ones) and picking up copies of what I’ve written. Unending, unwavering support.

We are never alone as artists. We are only as good as the people we share the stage with, regardless if that stage is a set of risers or pages bound together in a single volume.

I am most fortunate to share the stage with some incredibly talented individuals.

Damn. Now I’m feeling that itch again to get on stage. Where’s my Arden Complete Shakespeare?

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