One of the things I love best about doing these interviews each week is the difference in experience, knowledge, and perspective of each of these writers. Sharon Yablon’s words here remind me that each of us operates in a unique way in this writing world. Enjoy.
1. Tell me about your latest project.
I co-edited a book on underground theater in Los Angeles
, with an emphasis on site specific plays. Three of my plays are in this book as well. Aside from the site specific aspect, the plays tend to be more language driven and non-linear rather than plot-oriented. The book will be available for purchase in January 2015. It’s a great resource for actors looking for scenes and monologues.
2. What role, if any, did books, writing, and reading play in your childhood?
I was always an active reader, which began in childhood. I didn’t start to think about or pursue creative writing until college, but only dabbled and did not major in it. I discovered play writing at age 30, when I moved back to Los Angeles and met the group of writers I am currently associated with (in the book above), by chance, really (lucky Kismet!). I still read constantly. Books, writing (and directing my plays), theater, and talking about writing with my peers is really what my adult life has been about.
3. What is your writing practice, your writing routine?
I don’t really have a routine; I am lucky to only work part-time, and I write on my days off.
4. Who are you reading now?
I am listening to the audio book of Mark Owen’s No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy SEAL in the car and reading Horror Films of the 1970s. I don’t do Kindle; I prefer actual books and independent bookstores.
5. What are three of your all-time favorite books? Why do you love those?
I am not at home to look through my book case to remind me of others (I have menopause brain fog, ugh!), so I will pick three of my favorite books that come to mind this moment: Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, and Damage by Josephine Hart. Anna Karenina is simply one of the most brilliant novels. Tolstoy weaves such a beautiful tapestry of these people and their inner lives and how the environment and period shapes them. It’s stunning and tragic. By the end of it, you get such a huge scope of these people, as in the film Boyhood. Ray Bradbury has one of the best imaginations I have ever encountered. Each story has a humanistic aspect to it while being steeped in science fiction. He’s a true wonder. Damage is a wonderfully brittle book written in excellent prose about relationships, infidelity, guilt, obsession, and identity. It’s dark and fascinating.
6. How do you balance “building a writing platform” and the actual writing to set on that platform?
I’m not sure what you mean by this question, sorry!
7. What is a typical day like for you?
I work part time but am off two days a week, and those are lovely writing days. At the moment, I am balancing my writing time between finishing my new play for a reading in April and continuing to work on a short story collection of stories set in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The first story from that series is being published in March. I am also just about to begin directing a short play I wrote for a Valentine’s festival in February.
8. Describe your dream writing space.
Perhaps a private room in the back of a house, with a view of the outdoors. A tin ceiling would be nice, to hear the rain.
9. What is the hardest writing critique you ever received? How did you respond?
I can’t remember anything specific like that. My writing seems to divide people though, they either love it or hate it.
10. What is the best wisdom you have to share with other writers?
Playwright Sharon Yablon
Hmmm, wisdom…I would advise not to let ambition and the pressures of success (how society views success) pollute what you want to write. The truth is, most artists don’t make money at their craft and have to do other things. That’s okay or rather, it is what it is. Ideally our country would support the arts more, but it doesn’t. Success often doesn’t equal talent, meaning I know many talented artists who are not making money from their art but for various reasons (luck, not getting the right break, etc.) they have not had commercial success. The real gift (and challenge) is to enjoy your craft. On your death bed, this will have more meaning than how many books you sold. Don’t “sell out,” just to please others or make money. Follow your heart and your vision. I always have done that.
Sharon Yablon has been writing, directing and sound designing plays in Los Angeles for over 20 years. She is the founder of Sharon’s Farm, which produces plays in alternative sites such as old hotels, pools, and parks. She is currently working on a short story collection set in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and her first story will be published in TAYO in March. Her work can next be seen onstage in the Lost Valentine’s Festival in February, and the One Axe Festival in June (Los Angeles).