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Thursday, March 11, 2010

After the End

I've taken down the Next in the Series website and am packing in the whole notion of trying to pursue audio theater podcasting. I participated in a thread on an agent's blog a couple of years ago in which he asked the question, "How long do you go on before you give up?" Apparently, in my case, it takes a while.

I first became interested in audio theater when I was 15 or so. I had seen Jack Benny on "The Dinah Shore Show" reminiscing about Fred Allen and had then stumbled across a copy of Fred's first book, Treadmill to Oblivion, in the library in downtown Pawtucket, Rhode Island. As a result of reading the excerpts from the scripts of his various radio shows, I took a flyer at writing an audio sketch. It wasn't any good, but it was a start.

My friend Arthur got me hooked on The Firesign Theatre a few years later, and he and I ended up putting together a script about a guy who ran a fleabag in Maine. We gave him, as a pet, a lobster who had one peg leg. You can do those kinds of things with audio. I think I still have the script somewhere, but truly, nothing ever became of it.

A few years later, a friend and an acquaintance started playing around with recording some things on a four-track recorder the acquaintance had come into possession of. I was asked to join in, and we came to form an audio comedy team. We went for a two-or-so-year-long bumpy ride that had a couple of triumphs, an assortment of good times, various frustrations and disagreements, and a couple of disasters. After the group broke up, I, quite innocently and quite wrongly, tried to get everyone to make peace and reform. I saw potential in that grouping and that material. They did not. And, in retrospect, when one member of a trio consistently tries to undercut an enterprise, that enterprise has no future. In my initial enthusiasm, I think that I pushed someone to join in when he didn't want to, so he acted out in all sorts of, essentially, childish ways. I was wrong to push him and to assume that his idea of success was similar to mine.

Eight or so years ago, feeling the way a cartoon character looks after having tried to smoke a stick of dynamite, I decided to proceed on my own. Having gotten permission from my former writing partner (not the guy I had pushed when we were a trio) to use some of our old material, I plunged forward with adapting some things, rewriting others, and creating new scripts from scratch. Meanwhile, I tried to pitch the show to public radio and to satellite radio with no success. Eventually, I saw that it might work best, in the long run, as a podcast.

In the end, I found that I would be unable to put together a program of the quality that I wanted without money. I was wearing too many hats, trying to do too much myself, and not doing anything as well as I ought to have. I was also, at the same time, discovering my abilities as a novelist and short story writer and felt that I would be better served, overall, if I invested 100% of myself in those endeavors than to slow myself down with continued attention to something that it was unlikely I would ever pull off.

But that's life.

At the end of the day, I can be satisfied that I gave it a decent shot and that it just wasn't in the cards. Maybe someday I will be in a position to do some radio show or podcast, but until that day materializes, I will just hang up my spurs.

How long do you go on before you give up? Until you've run dry.