Thursday, February 26, 2015

You're A Part of the Scene

by R.S. Mellette

I've been binge-watching the Foo Fighter's series, Sonic Highways, on HBO. It chronicles Dave Grohl's journey with the rest of the band to record a song, inspired by and recorded in a different city around the country. While in that city, they delve into the evolution of the music scene that is unique to that part of the world.  Jazz in New Orleans. Blues in Chicago. Go-Go & Funk in D.C. etc. Not only is the history fascinating, I found the series inspirational for artists of all kinds, including myself as a writer.

But nostalgia is useless if it doesn't teach us something about today, or guide us toward a better tomorrow.

I got to thinking about those music scenes. For a brief moment, I wished I had been involved in something as cool as grunge in Seattle, or Willie Nelson in Austin. Then I said to myself, "You idiot! You are. Right now. Right here at From The Write Angle."

Sure, our Moveable Feast may not be in Paris, but this isn't the 1920s. None of us may be as famous as Hemingway, Fitzgerald or Joyce, but neither were they at the time. If they were, or if we were, then it wouldn't be a scene would it? All great "you should have been there back when" scenes start before the artists become household names. For those involved, it's not necessary for their peers to make it big. They are mythic not for what they will do as famous artists, but what they did last Tuesday when they couldn't afford breakfast.

So whether this little band of writers is destined for greatness or not, I thought I would provide my portion of the yet-to-be-made (or never-to-be-made) documentary on our little scene. Those who are a part of it, as participants or audience, feel free to chime in with your own angle of the story in the comments.

For most of us, From The Write Angle started with AgentQuery Connect, which is a scene unto itself. The head of that little movement is the mysterious AQCrew. No one knows who AQCrew really is, but his or her guiding hand has been a big influence to writers, published or not. The mystery of AQCrew's real identity adds to the mythic aspect of AQC's tale.

For me, From The Write Angle started when Robert K. Lewis, aka Thrownbones, got an agent. This was around 2008 or '09 on the first incarnation of Agent Query Connect. Not only was I completely jealous, which is my highest compliment, but he wasn't around the boards as much and I missed his posts. Shortly after that, I got an agent and I missed his posts even more.

There are a whole new set of problems a writer encounters once they make it to the next level, but to complain about them to writers on the level below is kind of rude. I had never been the type to think I needed a support group, but Agent Query Connect had become that as sure as if it were held in the rec room of a local community center. Once I'd found an agent I felt like I'd lost my support, so I asked AQCrew if I could form a password protected group for writers who have agents.

When ACQ moved to the new site, this group became The Class of 2009. Most of us moderated (or still moderate) forums on that site. At some point, AQCrew mentioned that writers were forming blog groups and that we should consider doing something like that. From The Write Angle was born.

My biggest contribution after that was writing the statement of purpose:

We learn best, not from our bigger than life heroes, but our big brothers and sisters. We run fastest to catch the person just in front of us, not who has already finished the race. We seek The Write Angle to help you, not because we have reached the summit, but because we are in arm's length, and when you are arm's length ahead of us, we hope you'll remember how you got there.

In 2012, Matt Sinclair started publishing short stories via his Elephant's Bookshelf Press. As I say in the acknowledgements of Billy Bobble Makes A Magic Wand, he is our Sun Records. Thronebones went on to have his Mark Mallen noir series published. Mindy, R.C., Sophie, Cat, etc. have all done well and still blog here along with the rest of the team. Others, have moved on to emeritus status, but like any members of a scene, they are with us in our thoughts.

What scenes are you all currently a part of?  What are you doing now that will be a fond memory in a decade or so?

R.S. Mellette's new book is Billy Bobble Makes A Magic Wand. He is an experienced screenwriter, actor, director, and novelist. You can find him at the Dances With Films festival blog, and on Twitter, or read him in the anthologies Spring Fevers, The Fall: Tales of the Apocalypse, and Summer's Edge.


Matt Sinclair said...

I'm proud to be part of the scene.

Tracy Novinger said...

Fiction is important. It allows one to understand how someone else feels and thinks. And because civilization begins when we imagine what it is like to be the “other,” to write fiction is a moral act. -R. Thomson