The Core Of What It Means To Be A Writer – Adam Skelter

Adam Skelter, Author/Story Artist/Screenwriter:
It’s interesting, the other day I went to this bookstore…this cool experience I had
yesterday. Film Courage: There’s one left? Adam: I know right? This little used independent
bookstore over in Atwater Village [near Hollywood/Glendale, CA]. And I walked in and saw these beautiful
typewriters of these Remington’s that were reconstructed and painted (beautiful) and
I was drawn into it. There was this woman, she was writing on it.
And I wanted to buy one but I was checking it out and she says “These are my typewriters.” And I say “Oh? Are they are on exhibit?” She says “Yeah, they are on exhibit and
I’m actually a poet. I’m doing kind of an exhibit.” I say “What kind of poet are you?” And she goes “Well I do this thing where
I’ll look into your eyes. You can tell me a word or a theme or something and tell me
something that is relevant to you and then I’ll write a poem for you and you can just
pay me whatever you think it’s work.” I was like “That’s amazing! I have to
do this!” It was very cool. So there was this phrase that was going through
my head earlier in the day of outrunning ghosts. It’s just an interesting idea and so I mentioned
that. She looked at me for a little bit and I could
see the wheels turning and there’s this kind of unique connection and then she turns
around, it’s a small slip of paper into the Remington and she starts typing and she
starts out with the first “Outrunning ghosts of love” she wrote. And then she started writing this poem. It
just flowed out of her and she almost ran out of space and she says that rarely happens
because something connected and I just worked and she pulled it out and said “Can I read
it to you?” I was like “Yes, of course. It’s even better.” So she read it to me
and I was surprised that genuinely moved me. I love poetry. Most poetry is awful. So I’m
a little skeptical when it comes to poetry but I wanted to hear it and she came from
such an emotionally open place when she wrote about it. So she started writing this thing
that genuinely moved me. My eyes teared up and she realized that she got emotional from
it as well. What was amazing was that she was actually
tapping into something that was deeply relevant to me personally and I think that right there
is the core of great writing which is that she opened herself up emotionally and she
delved into her own subconscious in a way that she was able to extract this metaphors
that resonated with me in a very, very deep way. We don’t know each other at all. Her name
is Jacqueline Suskin [Author, Performance Poet, Speaker] and I just remember because
she signed it and put her name on the bottom of the poem. It was this beautiful experience
where just but engaging the metaphors that were relevant to her she spoke to something
that I needed to learn and experience and that to me is at the core of what it means
to be a writer, it’s at the core of what it means to be an artist. It’s at the core
of what it means to engage those metaphors and so what we’re trying to do as writers
(screenwriters, novelists, storytellers, short stories, whatever) we’re trying to delve
into that meaningful place, that vulnerable place and in some way diagnose or identify
or even just express some conflict through the metaphors we are engaging and that’s
where we find the meaning…The Anatomy of Chaos. Film Courage: Do you think she’s empathic
(poet)? Adam: Definitely. She was showing pure empathy.
I’m skeptical when it comes to supernatural things and things like that but whatever metaphor
she was dealing with or that she was drawing on spoke directly to me in a really beautiful
way and I think great writers can do that. When I say great writers I mean…I think
everybody should be writing. It makes us all better. It’s like [Kurt] Vonnegut says “Go
write a poem. It will make you a better person.” But great writers are able to tap into that
subconscious in such a way that they’ll speak to a human experience that connects
to all of us. Film Courage: It’s interesting because you
said “Ghosts” and I just finished Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David
Foster Wallace [Author D. T. Max]. It was all about his life.
Adam: That breaks my heart. Film Courage: I couldn’t read the ending.
It was too sad. I started to get very angry. He was so talented. It was such a waste and
I was very upset and couldn’t read the ending. But I read the beginning and the middle [parts
of the book]. It’s an interesting concept of ghosts as well. Because in some sense is
that all we’re seeking is just this like…just how she [Jacqueline Suskin] wrote this poem,
this empathic experience through what we watch or what we read? What we are looking for,
what we’re watching to basically tell us about ourselves? You brought up the word ghosts
so, it had me wondering. Adam: Yeah, that’s beautiful. David Foster
Wallace [raises his glass to toast]. Film Courage: Okay…sorry.

14 thoughts on “The Core Of What It Means To Be A Writer – Adam Skelter

  1. Cliffs: Being a writer means going to Starbucks with a surface pro and writing a paragraph with other people watching you just so they know you are a writer and all those delicious iced venti vanilla (RIP) machiattos.

  2. Love to hear him read what she wrote. It’s a genuine skill to write from that core, to bring voice to a story, script etc.

  3. I think everyone has moments… maybe it's a visual art, painting, comics, illustration… or story, theater, cinema, or even poetry or some crafted thing from the invented uselessness of a smoke-grinder or "whimmey-diddle" to the subtlest useful items like salt&pepper sets made from old brass casings or a tabletop candle holder with a flashlight or hidden compartment for the cigarette lighter…
    We all have moments where something just speaks to us, haunts us, or depicts that thing we've felt and known without ever being able to put it into words or work ourselves… Sometimes it's just that this particular thing expresses it somehow we hadn't thought of before that moment when we saw it.

    Some people will hide the experience, but they know just as well as the rest of us what I'm talking about. AND each of us has his or her own particular fancies and biases, the things we look for. We haunt ourselves, manifesting the ghosts and demons and angels and so fort with our own minds, as we subconsciously seek out those expressions… and on finding them, we're evoked with that deeply visceral and powerful sensation of emotional response. Each of us IS an individual, and the individual has his own experiences, his own deeper beliefs, the substance of what he looks for in the world… the familiar sounds and smells and sensations of things he appreciates for center, or reference, or anchor to what's "normal" while he explores not only the world around him (a very big place…btw) but himself as well.

    To work in art is to seek that visceral emotional response, to dig into those vulnerabilities and connect with those emotional sensations… actively. An artist, on some level, imparts a little piece of his soul into his work, opening himself to vulnerability as he expresses his thoughts and emotions upon whatever piece he crafts… from the simple and silly to the deeply wounding and sincere, he reaches for those connections, and once in a while, finds someone with whom to share and reciprocate directly. ;o)

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