Inside Michael Smallwood's mind 

Writer's Shock

Recent college graduate living with parents struggles to write his masterpiece: This is The Mind's I in a nutshell. But this particular story brings more clarity, more reflection, and less ridiculousness to the creative struggle of the artist than we've seen recently.

Josh Kramer, the graduate, is living at home and trying to finish an epic fantasy trilogy. His family urges him to get up off the couch and do something "real," but then comes his big break: A literary agent calls who is interested in his writing. Josh seizes the moment, and decides to finish his not-entirely-mapped-out trilogy.

The rest of the play revolves around this gargantuan task. Josh, played by George Carruth, is joined by characters from his stories who sword fight and dance, and by Jake, played by Will Haden, the manifestation of Josh's creativity and his "friend." Will Josh finish his story in time? Will it be any good?

Michael Smallwood, a senior at College of Charleston, is the brains behind The Mind's I. He wrote the play two years ago, and in 2008 it won a Kennedy Center award. Smallwood says the play refers to a moment in life that most everyone can relate to.

"You're sitting on your parents' couch and wondering whether you're going to be great, and how you're going to be great," he says.

If you're an artist, there's an additional element to the journey. One has to figure out where his or her creativity lies, and how to capture it — moreover, whether one can capture it, or whether it has a life entirely its own.

Josh Kramer and Michael Smallwood share the often crippling loneliness that burdens a writer. If you're Josh, you're lucky enough that your characters come to life around you, and your creativity shows up as a person you can talk to. For Smallwood and the rest of us, things aren't always so easy.


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