Photo by Debra Lopez
I learned to write by teaming up with an established writer to write my first play, Liberty City. We then spent four years going to writers's retreats, developmental labs at New York Stage & Film, The Culture Project, New York Theatre Workshop and many others learning not only how to generate documentary theatre material, but how to spin that into the solo play form while still retaining the values of a well-made play.
I majored in English in college, but that was literary theory. Writing, is real life and a far more elusive skill set to master. In short, I learned how to write, by doing it, but also by doing it with the help of writing mentors (along with voraciously reading the work of great writers). Great playwrights, novelists, developmental producers who turn screenplays into films have been my mentors. All of these steps have led me to producing, writing, developing and producing screenplays and plays in my position as SimonSays Entertainment's Director of Development.
I had great mentors: Jessica Blank, Lynn Nottage, Marcus Gardley, Darci Picoult, George Eliot, Jhumpa Lahiri, Zadie Smith, Mary Karr, Naguib Mafouz, Jacqueline Carey, Robin Hobb. People whose work I studied meticulously and asked them questions (the ones I knew personally, the others I stalked their work reading page after page, again and again... and listened to their words of wisdom and guidance. So I'd like to give back because that journey has been the grandest of my life. Learning to write has taught me how to live, love and laugh. Ask me your two most burning questions about writing in the comments below. I'll answer.
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April Yvette Thompson