When Good Actors Go Bad…

…they write romance novels.

What is happening to performing artists nowadays?  Have their standards disintegrated?  What became of the starving artist, pure in intent, determined at all costs never to compromise, never to take a straight job…or even another creative job?  What of capital-A Acting Art, to be spoken of loftily at dinner parties: is it all become Commerce?

All of a hard sudden, actors are turning to shabby, dusty jobs to make money.  Take one Paulette, she of the delightful stand-up routines, she of the passionate defense of the beauty of art, she with the blue hair, she of the music-making and acting, she who lives in her car with her cats.  This funny, authentic, lovely actor has descended the crumbling stone staircase to the soggy marshes which are the dwelling place of the Victorian pulp novel writer.

You protest,

“But, Michelle, you idiot fool, Jane Effing Austen wrote Victorian romance novels which are treasured as literature!”

I respond,

“Jane Austen be damned.  Actors should never set ink to novel page.”

Yes, it’s sad.  Almost every creative person I know has, at one time or other, been pummeled with the delusional notion that they need to write romance novels or thrillers or some such trashy pulp.

  • Little Sherry at my screenwriters’ club wrote Edwardian novels in microscopic, formal cursive.  Every week that damned woman brought two more completed chapters, while the rest of us thrashed with our pitches and log-lines for months.


  • Kristen the ballerina cranked out two meandering “quivering pulsating” romance plots per year and sewed her own costumes, which she photographed on “creamy-cheeked” models to serve as cover illustrations for the “throbbing wetness” books.


  • The wild fire-eating circus performer Purple Dipper D’Voured wrote under the nom de plume Emily Lightlips and made beaucoup bucks doing so. 


  • Even the high-minded Michelle Shy has considered plunging into that unsavory endeavor of kiss-and-fuck-novel-writing; but, so far, my Muse has rescued me from that.

Now, Paulette succumbs.  She writes “Parlour Intrigues,” not only a romance novel, but a Victorian one, to boot.  High minded ladies, dead mothers, scandalous gossips and noble (wealthy) gentlemen, all clad in expensive raiment.

Is Paulette alone in her compulsion to write romance novels?  No.  I think not.  I am betting there are chapters of ActorsWhoWrite Anonymous in every city.

“Hello, my name is Michelle and I have been clean for 40 days; I have not taken quill to paper for 40 days.”

“Welcome, Michelle.”

“Hello, my name is Paulette and I have made thousands of dollars on “Parlour Intrigues.”

“Who’s your agent?  Who’s your publisher?  How long did it take you?”

“Shut up and sit down.  Say the serenity prayer. Back away from the quill.”

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