Jack G. Hyman on Where Writing Children's Books, Novels & Music Intersect

Jack G. Hyman on Where Writing Children's Books, Novels & Music Intersect

Ashley Rindsberg

Jack G. Hyman is a playwright, director, actor, and teacher who has written for stage, television, and magazines. He wrote for the Cable- TV series, THE ISLANDERS and is a produced playwright on the NY stage. His children’s book (BREAKFAST WITH THE BIRDS) has recently been made into a musical for kids. Additionally, Jack has been a writer/performer for the long-running PBS kids show, BLOOPY’S BUDDIES and a freelance associate producer at ESPN. He is currently writing the sequel to his children’s book along with the book and lyrics of a grand new musical based on the life of a 19th century French artist. Jack graduated from Emerson College in Boston and did his grad work at NYU. He is a native Texan, now living in NYC and Florida.

For all of Jack's work: jackghyman.com

His first book Breakfast with the Birds

Listen to the episode on your favorite podcast site:

Apple Podcast: https://apple.co/3zQm46H

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3zK7gXn

Amazon Music: https://amzn.to/3s79IoZ


Ashley Rindsberg: Jack Hyman, Jack G Hyman to be specific. Thank you for joining me on the burning castle podcast. I. I have given you a little bit of an introduction previous to this but I do want people to get a little more nuance and texture about who you are and what you do and, and how you got there. So just give us like the, the bit of background on your, your creative journey. And whatever else might be, what might inform that?

Jack G. Hyman: Thanks, Ashley. First of all, thank you for having me on this is so exciting and fun and I'm happy happy, happy to be here. Thank you. How, how it started? Weirdly enough, I have always said that I have a short attention span. I don't have a short attention span, but I mean that in reference to I've always been interested in a lot of things. I just, if it came up, I wanted to try it. You know, if you said you know, string beans will clear out your ears, I would have tried it. So that's sort of how I've lived most of my life, not realizing that until much later that everything I did was going to feed me someday as a writer.

And that's really, if I had known it earlier, I'll never know the answer, but I think would I have been better off if I had discovered early or would I have been worse off because I wouldn't have had the experiences and the travel and the things I pursued, but that's how it started. I started off as an actor and I moved to New York a long, long time ago. And worked as an actor in New York for quite a few years until I complained that when I was on a little youthful arrogance you know, it was cable television series. And I complained about the writing and I tried to get fired to be honest. And finally the director said to me, you know, if you think you can do any better, why don't you just shut up and write thinking what? And I did, and sold a couple episodes to the show and that was sort of when I took it seriously before my serious journey had been once I had focused on acting was to stay with that. And then I went into writing and did some grad work at NYU and through that started doing some creative writing courses and ended up writing a very, very short, like a, like a children's picture book. And I was told by a publisher at one of the houses that I wasn't writing a picture book, I was writing a chapter book that I was being held back. And I didn't agree with that assessment, but I said, I'm going to go into mourning for about a week of the loss of what I've just what you've just told me. And then I'm going to get back to work. And within another week, I was writing her saying, oh my God, how did you know me better than I knew me. And that was really, I think the beginning of, and hence I wrote my first children's book, which was called"Breakfast with the Birds" and, you know, it was, it's why we all, you know, it's such the universe, the village of the world, you know, because I don't think I would have gotten there in the least bit on my own. I think it was the help of, of teachers, the help of a publisher who just happened to say, or an editor and executive editor who said no, you should be doing this. So I'm very much into mentoring and helping because it really helped me a lot.

That's it, once I get into it, I realized that's where my journey was. But as an actor, I also wanted to write plays. So I continue to write plays. When my book was published a few months later, I was contacted by a writing team in New York June Rachel and Frank Sanchez who were writing musicals. She as the lyricist, he is the composer and she had read the book and ask if they could make a musical out of it. And of course I'm goin wow, duh! So we did. I wrote the book of the book, the script of the book. She wrote the lyrics, he wrote it, and that opened up a few more doors from that. I got another musical, which I'm working on right now.

A lot of doors opened after not just the book was published, but the whole idea of keeping it theatrical and making a musical. So along with a lot of regular straight plays that's been my focus most recently "Breakfast with the Birds" is finished. And now we're in fact having our first workshop later in December which is very exciting.

And I, I say that they did a magnificent job their assistant, the composer, and I couldn't be more excited. And, and it opened that world to me. So now I'm writing a really big new musical based on the life of the 19th century, French artists that I believe in New York times, headline for whatever it's worth said, "The Greatest Female Artists You've Never Heard Of". And they would be correct. And in France she's famous, but hasn't been anywhere else. What's her name? Her name is Suzanne Valadon and she a miraculous life an incredible life. I always say, if you read two paragraphs about, you're kind of convinced that her life is, is, has been, is, is meant to be told their stories. And it's actually meant to be a musical. It's such a musical sort of life. Not that she's a singer or anything like that, but she is just an amazing and coincidentally, the Barnes museum in Philadelphia just is doing what I believe I could be wrong about this, but I believe it's maybe the first showing of her work in this country.

If it's not the first, then it's probably the second, but I know it's right there. And so I raced up there to see it. It's astonishing. Obviously I have such a close connection to her, so it was even more astonishing to me because I you know, sat there and stood there, staring and became I just felt her presence and knowing so much about her as I do.

It was a, it was a magical time and it fed me a lot for things I would do, but I might change in the script or add or whatever. So that's sort of the journey, you know, I grew up in San Antonio and you know, did a lot of work there. I went to school in Boston and there we are was just a jock when I was in school who basically just said yes to everything that crossed my paths, including the things I shouldn't have said yes to. But I'm looking back happily with that.

Ashley Rindsberg: So I, you know, I know there's a few things there and there's one big theme that I'll come back to in a bit. But I think just to start with the children's books, because, you know, there's this truism that everyone's got an, a novel in them and, and, or a book in them they say you know, most people should keep inside them. Is there a joinder, but actually I don't agree with that. I do think people should go and try to write the books that they want to write, but children's books, that's even more the case where you feel like you hear people talk about children's books as if like, they're just like, oh yeah, yeah.

You know, I've got this great idea for a children's book and I want to write it someday. And it partly, they say that because children's books are shorter and maybe they've had kids and they've read stories to them and they sort of feel like they know the genre and you realize even just statistically that they don't have a successful children's book in them that statistically, the chances are of an individual of any type writing and publishing a children's book that becomes successful in any way is, are very, very, very low. So the question I have for you is kind of. What, what do you think like, where does that line lie?

And what do you think is the threshold for creating a book that resonates with kids and with the parents who are buying the book for those kids and with the publishing business that is supporting the book you know, getting through these like series of complicated passage points to get to that point where you do have a good book out in the world, considering that everyone feels that they can just kind of like, like people talk about standup comedy, that way.

I could just, I could have been, I'm a funny guy I could have been a stand-up comic, not realizing just how incredibly difficult it is. So what do you think it was that enabled you to get through the, the sequence of doors that you need to go through, including that, of, of producing something that is just creatively resonant?

Jack G. Hyman: I can only answer it through my experience of course. My the biggest thing I had with. Complete dumb luck as they say. So I think it was more of, you know, I always, I keep looking at it right now. I keep on my desk a quote that says it's by Georgia O'Keeffe and it says "I've been absolutely terrified every moment in my life. And I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do". And when I read that many, many years ago, I went, wow. You know, she wrote that for me because that's sort of what it is. I'm a little concerned about always tackling new things, but that sort of fear in my case has made me a little bit fearless, or dumb, whatever applies more. And so I would do it. My point being my luck came from just. Going for it, but also going forward with people who not knowing that they could help me could help me meaning teachers in courses. As I said, I really literally just was taking a a course at NYU. in Creative Writing but it fed it. Wasn't just about it about children's books at all. It fed so much of my knowledge. How to tap into my own creativity and how to not be afraid of letting go and going to those places. And when I say that for children's book, I would say that if I had a good asset it's that I've never grown up. So in my case, it seems to have helped write the book.

The acting background helped because I could approach these characters. I mean, I literally began I'm writing the protagonist is an eight year old girl. You know, her little brother is six years old. I am both of those characters, all the, certainly the, the what do you call it? The comic relief of the little brother is definitely me. So my point is go take classes. It doesn't have to be at a college university there every single day it's so easy. It's online. And I really do believe that those are the places at least to get started and learn what works and what doesn't. Then I would say again, the same thing. I, again, the dumb luck was I sent it to a publisher. She didn't publish it. This woman that I told you said to me, I'm not writing a children's picture book, but she did contact me and just said, you're not writing this. You need to write more. You need to do this. And she still never published it. It wasn't published there. But people seem to be, if someone shows a little bit of initiative or I think just ability to, to reach out. I think people will respond. That doesn't mean you're going to get the book published. I can't tell you the magic in that. I can tell you though, that almost all the time, I have reached out to someone with a question they may have never been able to help me as far as getting a book published, but they were absolutely willing to give advice and critique. And then the second part of that is you have to know how to glean through that advice. Not all advice is good and it's like in life sometimes that resonates. So it's really easy to say being able to glean through that and say, yeah, that works. Or, yeah, that doesn't but that's where my luck came in.

It was just that I seem to have taken the fear. And turned it into what's the worst that could happen. And I, I leave it with one other thing and that is the worst that can happen is to never have. It's not the failure for me, never having tried, I would not have been able to live with myself in years to come, whereas failure, you know, I failed at many things and I I'm okay with that.

You know, maybe I could have done it better or a different way and succeeded with it. But the never trying was not an option. And I think if someone does that reaches out and just keeps going, and I know that's such a cliche, but for the most part, it's not just keep going, it's keep going and getting help and asking people and taking the classes and doing that. And that for a writer. Which is what we're talking about specifically was monumental to me. And I think I knew it at the time, even though nothing had come of it, I just knew I was really happy in these classes and listening to these experienced writers and teachers, and, and they're even more available now than they were when I first was looking for them. And I had no trouble finding them, but it was, and I lived in New York. It's a lot easier to find that, that outlet. I don't know if that's very helpful

Ashley Rindsberg: Ya it is, I, you know, you talk about it, you touched on a few points that I think are really important. I think for writers specifically the question of failure or even more specifically rejection is the, the black dog for a writer that is just always nipping at your heels or clamping down on your thigh sometimes. Yeah. I think the question writers face possibly more than other types of creative people, because if you are a sculptor or a painter or a musician, you can create the work and then people can just look at it and then it has been seen. It has fulfilled a bit of its purpose, even if it's not, you know, what someone had the artist had hoped for, but for a writer it seems to be a much more binary failure, failure, or success, or rejection acceptance situation. Because if someone doesn't accept the book for publication, then nobody reads it.

Then the work is as if it had never existed. It's not like a painting. That's not like five, 10, 20,000 people could see it, or, you know, it's a degree, it's a spectrum. So I think the question that I have for you. For writers, how do you continue through the rejection? I think that that's the big thing for, to carry on and as you pointed out, it is one thing to say carry on. And it is another thing to actually carry on. How do you do that? How is it a question of letting go of previous projects? It is a question of as you kind of had mentioned leaning into the courses or the teaching or, you know, even on a deeper level, how do you muster the courage, the spiritual energy, whatever it takes to. Yes. I still believe in this thing. And I think there's still, this thing still believes in me. How do you get to that point? Stay in that point?

Jack G. Hyman: Well, a couple of things, first of all, what you just said resonates a lot with me because I think that that's one of the, you just gave really the answer. Yes. You believe in it, but does it believe in you? And I think that was beautifully said, because I think that's what you have to know. Not just that you're believing in. I I've tried lots of ideas that I was writing about and went, you got to be kidding. I have no business doing this. And it was because it did not believe in me and I wasn't the right person to tell that story or to tell it well.

And so trying that the acting. Acting as all regional, I mean, let's face it. So I sort of have, I don't want to say lake up on it, but I certainly learned long before I started riding that what rejection was like. So having been there as an actor in New York you, you know, you can get a hundred rejections before you get one w before you're hired for one job, it just is the thing and again, Village other actors, other teachers, and so forth to go to a no, I got, I haven't gotten anything. I've been auditioning for months now. Yeah, me too. And you know, you have, you've got to have a support system and you've got to have, again, that village, it can be family, it can be friends, but it can also be what I said before the classes and the online people.

So I think that was it. As far as beliefs, I think once I put me, particularly once I started on the journey, it felt right. That doesn't mean what I wrote good. It just means that it felt right. And I, as again, as silly as it sounds, if it feels right you know, if it felt right for me to be an accountant and I went, you know, I really liked this. So I guess it is the, the old adage fall in love with what you do and the rest will come. And it doesn't mean it always does, or it comes where you want it, but I don't know what else I would do. Right. And I thought that about acting well. So I mean, things change in life for lots of people, many actors. Then I worked with who are no longer acting.

It didn't work and they've gone on to other jobs and they're fine. And they're happy, but not everything happens, but if it feels right, if it just feels like I, the best way I can say is I have bad days, but I said, just go write a chapter. What if it's terrible? And often it was, you had to go back and go, but the point was at the end of the day, when I wrote something, I felt better.

Yeah. I didn't know if it was good or bad because I never re-read, after I wrote it, I'd write a chapter say whether I was doing "Breakfast with the Birds", I'd write a chapter stop. And then I in fact had to go back a paragraph just because it wasn't clear. Fine. I would never read it until the next morning when I started again and everything was, my head was clear.

And then I knew, wow, this is really good. Or, oh my God, who wrote this? This sucks. This is terrible. But the point is, I felt so good at the end of the day. That's why I didn't want to go back yet. So every day that I wrote, I felt good. So maybe that a little bit of a help, if it feels good when you're doing it just do it.

Get help. I'm talking about I'm still I'm going back. And maybe it's only because that was my journey, Ashley, but people seem to want to help it doesn't guarantee anything, but it guarantees your knowledge, your learning, your experience and your ability to make it better.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, I think it also it helps you externalize the. Rather than internalize the problem, which is the natural tendency is to say, I am a terrible writer and therefore I'm a terrible person or not a good enough person. And where you externalize the problem, you say, okay, rather than that, you, you turn to saying, I have a problem. Structuring scenes or I have a problem, whatever it out, whatever else might be, but to return to the question of, of the intersection of acting and writing, which is really an interesting one. I remember to your point about teachers, I went through this really great sort of self-guided program for first structuring stories by. Are created by a man named Shawn Coyne, who was a very highly regarded and influential book editor in New York for decades. And he kind of split off on his own in recent years and created this method called 'Story Grid'. And in that he recommends a book called a practical handbook for the actor as one of the most valuable books to learn to write. Which you would not think that would be a book to learn, to write from a book called a practical handbook for the actor, but it really is because it talks about seeing structures and talks about how you're building tension in a scene and releasing it and all that kind of stuff.

But for you. Because as you kind of alluded to you went back to the stages. So you wrote, you wrote these books and then you ended up going back to the stage, not as an actor or maybe you did as well as an actor, but, as a stage writer for the stage as a playwright what brought you back to the stage or back to the world of people on stages or in front of audiences? And what, what was that like for you coming back to that world? What did it feel like you were doing something again that was unknown and scary and dark and liquidy, or did it feel something that was kind of warm and dry and soft and kind of like coming back to a place that you were, you were meant to be in?

Jack G. Hyman: Definitely a place I was meant to be for me. I never left and I, what I mean by that is I left acting. I wrote full time, but when I was writing for the stage, I was on stage it only in my head and in my home and my office. But I was always on stage because now I'm playing every character I didn't, and I didn't have to memorize the lines so I could play any character.

So if I wrote about a dark hair, I went to the dark side. If I wrote about an eight year old little girl, you know, I was that exactly what I said. So for me, I don't know if I had never left the stage or the stage never left me, but that really was a wonderful fulfillment for me because I literally got to play every character, including ones that I would never play. I'm not going to be able to play a six year old boy. So or an eight year old girl. I did though. I played them. I know their roles, I know their life and their history, not just because I created it, but because you go into that. And I guess a lot of times when, when friends asked me about character, I tell them if you can act out the character just for five minutes, you know, in your head, it it definitely helps to find the character.

Now I already had that experience. Excuse me. So for me, it was a lot easier to go to those places because of my acting background. I can't speak to that's all I know. I can't speak to how it would be for someone just saying, I have a good idea for a children's story and they start writing it, but if it's their story and their close to it, then they have to become the character. That's probably the advice easy to say. But then the acting reference you gave the book you know, would probably be of help to find a character, even just for writing. I don't know that that's just necessarily for actors. I think that would help a writer because you are writing characters. So that was where it helped me the most having that background, and I was able to draw on that.

Ashley Rindsberg: One of your plays perspective has to do with 9/11, September 11th tragedy. And, you know, I, that, that caught my eye among your repertoire of work or your body of work. Not just because it's such an important event in all of, all of our lives and history. But because 9/11 was a time of upheaval, it was a time of chaos where it was very hard to orient oneself to what was happening and probably even much more so, I mean, I was in upstate New York at the time in college, and I was actually supposed to be in New York city on the day that it took place. And by chance was not there, but even being in upstate New York and in a college where, because of the proximity to New York City, a lot of people had lost loved ones and you just didn't know what to think or how to think it. And the reason that that I bring that up is because it feels like we're in a similar, or at least a parallel place in history today in a culture where it's hard to know what's up and down. It's hard to know who's right and wrong. It's hard to know what's true. And what's false. And you know, you had written a play about one of those moments and in some insane way, 9/11 almost feels kind of more narrow, not smaller, but narrower, a form of chaos than what we're experiencing today, because at least then the response was somewhat unified. There was a kind of, there's a notion of being together in America and in parts of the world today, do you feel. You know for, well, the first question being, you know, a play titled "Perspective" was part of writing that play, helping you to achieve perspective on those events, through what your character was experiencing there to the protagonist.

And, and if, if that's the case, do you feel that the stage and theater, which of course has always helped people do that, but do you think that there is, there is still room for that today in a world, in which perspective, current perspectives are so at odds with one another, they're so inflamed that it's hard to see how we can share a perspective, even, you know, 100 or 200 or 300 people sitting in the same theater together. Is there still space for that kind of the use of the stage to guide the perspective or unite us in a perspective even for two or three hours?

Jack G. Hyman: That's a great question. As someone who is sort of a, I don't know, pessimistic, optimist I, the simple answer is, oh yes, absolutely. I mean, the theater will always be that as you described, it always is, is done that way.

I think my fear today is not about having great theater, not about having great stories that help us, that make us grow and think and live on. I think my fear is. And you of all people because of your wonderful book know, the, the people tend to walk away from truth. People tend to maybe enjoy a good, I mean, I've known people, who've seen a good piece of whether it's theater or a movie or book and say, oh, that was such a great story. And immediately go back to exactly. Did it, and it had no influence. It had, even though that was a terrible story, that tragedy that really happened, whether it's about the the Holocaust or the war or, or COVID and tend to go back to their own complacency. And that is more my fear. So yes, there will always be those stories and yes, there'll always be a place because I think theater people creative people altogether know this, I believe, whatever creative field area. And I really do believe they know that this is what's necessary. A story, a book, a play, a movie some way of appending it down. I just, my fear today is that it bounces off. It doesn't get absorbed. I'm not saying I'm right, but I am saying I'm fearful about that because I seem to see a little bit more.

Leaning today toward, I love the story. Yeah. Okay. What does that, that has nothing to do with me. I'm not part of it and not in what I don't need to do anything because that that's. So if I have a fear that speaking about fears, that certainly is one of them, but do I think that they'll always be a place for that? Yes. As long as we're in a free society, that allows expression and that's always a fear too, but certainly, absolutely. If anything, it stimulates writers 9/11 is a great example. You probably know. I mean, millions of things were written about 9/11. I don't mean just the documentation of it. I mean I was moved. I had to write perspective. I don't, I have that in my head. I had no idea that I would do even right after even watching, sitting there, literally living there, watching the buildings fall, standing in New York, watching that. I did not know at that moment, the effect it would have on me and running around town and seeing the flowers in the parks and the signs saying, have you seen this person? I mean, the unbelievable newness of all of that you couldn't wrap around? Never would I have thought this, but weeks later I went, I have to do something. That's the point. If you feel that do it, it doesn't have to. In a writer, a creative way. It can be just, I have to do something to participate in my world and that's my fear is that people lose that desire to participate. We're all very tribal. We know that we all have our lives and we have things we have to do and responsibilities and bills to pay. Got it. But there are things you can do without costing a penny or losing time. And if I haven't gone off on a tangent, that's sort of why I think a creative people. And, and creative expression will always be there. Now, the question is, will it resonate? Will it land, or will it resonate and land on the right people? You know, that it does for some of us who pay attention. So that would be so, yes, it's going to be there.Always and more so because of what I just said, that it stimulates artists and painters and writers and musicians and dancers, you know, to go off on to face these realities.

I think those are the people who will probably save the world. If the world is worth saving.

Ashley Rindsberg: When you say participate you know, that's a, that's an, especially when you say, and juxtapose it with tribalism, you know, the tribalism is in sort of in and out. We're either we're in and you're out. And I think part of what tribalism does is make as sort of what you're alluding to, it makes participation more difficult. One because as the tribalism increases in a society the risk factor goes up of trying to participate because the risk of rejection, the stakes go higher. What might happen to me if I'm not accepted in this other group? Or what happens if I tried to move to this other group, what happens to the current group?

Will they reject me? And what will that mean? And I think that's what we're seeing a lot with, you know, these conversations about cancel culture. What happens if I try to speak in a lexicon that belongs to another group, supposedly am I going to be booted out of this group? So what in your mind does participation mean where it's we're no longer living in what we might call an organized culture. Our culture feels like it's in complete disarray. It's like a, that's just, it's a battleground. How do you participate, in an environment like that? One? What are the steps that you can take? Whether you're a creative person and I think, you know, we can all agree. We are human beings and we are all creative people. But whether you're a creative person strictly or narrowly defined or broadly defined, how do you do that today?

Jack G. Hyman: How do I do it? Or how do we do it?

Ashley Rindsberg: I would say both.

Jack G. Hyman: You know, mine is what I touched on before is, you know, Yeah, you just keep going, you get the help, you do all this stuff and you apply through the rejection and all of the things. But, you know, what's the difference between the rejection of an actor, the rejection of a writer, the rejection of an artist the rejection of seminar auditioning for something or interviewing for something and the rejection of your pod, your tribe or the people you're going to be in. It would seem to me, I know all the answers aren't in my background of acting in rejection, but it would seem to me that if you can take, if you're rejected by your pod and listen, this could be, or by your group, by your tribe. You can be rejected by, I could be rejected by my tribe, who would be probably a fairly liberal drive but I could be a super conservative and be rejected that way too. So, I mean, it stands for, for everybody and that would be. What did you get from it? That's so easy for me to say and that people aren't going to sit there and think that that's what you do as an actor and a writer.

It's basically the, what is it? The Zen theory of why is this happening for me? Not why is this happening to me? So I guess that would be a really oversimplified answer. What is it that I'm being rejected for? And am I, am I being rejected for something I still feel strongly about, or isn't an honest rejection. And if it's about a club that I want to be in, there are people I want to hang out with and I'm not the other side is what about them? Is this a group I'd want to be with or these people. And we all, you know, everybody grows up. I think almost every parent I assume on the planet always wants their kid to hang out with other, with good kids, so to speak, you know, it's about the people you hang out with.

And there's certainly some truth to that as I've gotten older. And I think especially if you're old enough to think critically. And I do think that's, that suffers a lot today, but if you're old enough to think critically, then just sit down and think about it, you know? And like, are these the people? And if the answer is, yes, these are the people I should be with, these are the kinds of organizations then go for it. Even if it's not something I would approve of. I just think that that's where the knowledge comes from. And again, I hear myself saying something that's so easy to say and so difficult to do.

What about young people who just want to identify with the group and maybe they pick the wrong group? I mean, come on. You know, what would I have done if I had gotten connected with a group like that, but I was getting a lot of strokes and positive reinforcement from it. I can't answer, I don't know how to Ashley. I don't know how to tap into. How to rationally think about what you're doing. And I think all of us as kids, especially, we, can't always rationally think about the ramifications of something we've done, but I guess if I were giving any advice for better, for worse, that's what it would be to. Okay. Okay. You liked that. You didn't like that. Sit back and just think about it just a minute. Don't spend the time, but just say, is this right for me? And I don't know if that will work. I just, I don't know that I have a good answer. I know what worked for me, but I'm also older. I also have been there and I've also lived the experiences that I go, yeah that was bad. I made all the mistakes. I'll make a few today, you know, and just a few minutes probably. Not sure that that's much of a help on that answer.

Ashley Rindsberg: I think some of what you're saying is about what you'd said at the beginning of the conversation, which is try and I think part of trying sometimes is just a try without an intended effect or to be more specific about it in an intended audience. So even if you are creating, you know, someone creating a mood board for their career vision or whatever they're doing, it doesn't matter. And I think the point is to say, I'm going to do this thing now and to just do it without saying, oh, this is going to be someone, something that.

S this person loves, or that person despises, or these person are these, this, you know, 10 million people are gonna love it or my teachers, but just to do the thing in and of itself. And that's back to the Zen approach to the creative act, which is do it in and of itself. Do it as an act of mindfulness. And I think that might be a part of it to act, not just to think mindfully, but to act mindfully.

Jack G. Hyman: I think one of the hardest things, and this was, this is a total actor thing is not that all actors are told don't be connected to the. Right. Simple expression, but it does make sense. Meaning you just did the audition go home or go do, go have lunch. Do that's not, it's it's very difficult to do. If you had a great audition, you're going to be thinking I was great. I'll get the bar. And if you had a terrible audition, then you're going to mope about it all day. Got it. That's really, I think one of the classic rule, try not try not to be connected to the outcome. It's over. It's done. Let it go. You never fully do, because your mind that the mind

Ashley Rindsberg: does.

Does thatapply on the on the level of of action. Within a scene as an actor, if you are saying, you know, you hear a lot about the intention of actor, I'm trying not to produce an intended outcome in the movement, in the motion, in the dialogue, even an outcome with your own body, but try to just move from, the intention of whatever that moment might be.

Jack G. Hyman: I think that people tend to either sensor. Or self criticize themselves more than they need to, especially if no one else is seeing it. I mean, we do that in life. You know, we, we register how people look at us. Think about us, talk to us, or don't talk to us. But I think in the creative process, it's exactly similar to what you just said. It's just to do it. It really is. Don't be connected to the outcome because what's the worst that could happen. You might have to change it. It's okay. And I think once I got over to that part of my writing then, which is why I didn't read chapters at the end of the day, I never did because I didn't want to, until I could fix it the next day, if I re-read it, I would never have gone home and gone to sleep because then you get fixated on.

I have to fix that or no, it's that good. And then I wouldn't be able to sleep. So I think that it's not being connected to an outcome. We all look, do I want to write a good book? Yeah. I want to write a good book. I'm connected to hoping that it's really good, but I can't be connected to the, the little parts. There's a wonderful book called I think it's called bird by bird. And it's about writing. And and it just talks about it's. This is what you accomplished today. And then this is what you accomplished tomorrow. This is what you're competent. Then you can go back and you can fix it. And it's not about the whole picture.

You may have the whole picture. I have a whole story in my mind, maybe tomorrow. I can't write the whole story. I can write, the tiny pieces and I can't be connected to the end ing, I may not even know the ending. I often don't. I mostly don't, but I am very much connected to what's in my mind at that moment.

And it could be something outrageously unrelated or ridiculous, or just a flash that came into my mind. I have learned that I have to put it down. It may never see the light of day. It may even not, it may not even be appropriate, but it's that trying part is what feeds the successful parts whether it's a failure or, or good or a successful piece, it's the action of doing that feeds the action of succeeding. And not doing and the doing is it's irrelevant to good or bad, whatever that means. And that's really what I have found. The more I do, the more I do, the more mistakes I make, but the more mistakes I make, the more I learn, what is the way to not to fix that mistake. And that's probably what I say is my approach.

I don't want to be someone professing on it. But that, that seems to be the answer I hope to what you were saying to, to just, just feed the little feed, the little beast. If you think about the big beast, big for the big eat you up

Ashley Rindsberg: that would be a great title of a book on writing, Feed The Beast.

So what's what's next? You've got the musical that, where is the musical in the process?

Jack G. Hyman: At the moment? It's in the composer's hands right now. I have a brand new composer. He's very young. He's hasn't done a lot, but I just all this faith in him. And so we're in that process now for the Valadon musical and amazing.

Where is it? You know, everybody, including my mom and my family, and everybody says, so when's it going to be finished? Which is the worst question you could ask the writer don't ask. But you know, I go now I come up with answers even though. Next summer we finished that summer, which is yes. Do I have a goal for it to all be done by next summer so we can start workshopping it? Yes we'll see what happens, but that's where it is now. It's, very exciting. And then you know, I still work on plays and I have some plays that I'm working on some rewrites now that are kind of exciting and fun. But, but Valadon has sort of taken, I don't want to say taken over my life. That's not accurate, but it has taken over a lot of my focus right now, happily very happily and having seen that exhibit even more so, because I suddenly, like I said, I just even if I've always felt her, her presence with me, because I am, I'm so knowledgeable about her life. I've read everything is to read. I know everything about her, but to see her originals in front of me, I can't explain the feeling. So that gave me even more motivation and it just gave me some good feelings to continue with this. And, you know, this is an example of just, I don't know what's gonna happen. You know, I'm hoping it will be good.

I am very pleased. Like I say, the first act, I'm still polishing up the second, but I feel good about it. You know, it's way too long. I can tell you there I'm an overrider from the day I was born. And so, I mean, I guarantee that it's going to be edited and cut down, but that's where the professionals, the dramaturgs and people who can give good advice, but I have to spill it, pour it all out there. I don't know if that's part of your process or not as well, but it's certainly part of mine. Yeah.

Ashley Rindsberg: Sounds fascinating. I really can't wait to see it because it's, I love that period. It's so fascinating. It's such a, it's such an immense period of cultural change. I mean, when we think about this turn of the century of the, from the 19th to the 20th century mirroring.

The, the place that we're in with so much technological and economic and cultural and social change. And seeing someone like her synthesize that into an aesthetic that is new and exciting and inspiring. That's quite amazing.

Jack G. Hyman: The fun part too, about her. To say she was ahead of her time implies that she knew that and she did not, but she was a very, she had a great sense of herself, even from a little girl, she was poor fatherless, all of that kind of thing. And grew up when women had no power as in zero, less than zero. She just didn't know that. So I think that's what made her, made her trajectory great, because she didn't know she had no power, even as a tiny little kid and she was a rebel and gotten lots of trouble, but she never, it never computed with her. It never resonated that she had no power. Therefore, you know what she's like that, that quote, she was fearless. She really, but it wasn't about being fearless. It was. Oh, I see I'm not supposed to be fearless and that's what made her life and all of the nuances and all the different things she did leading to her amazing success, success as an artist, which was never even on her radar.

That wasn't what she wanted to be. So I think that's what sort of feeds me as you know, trying to, I don't know, maybe I'm trying to be like Suzanne in saying that, no, I'm not going to focus on or when I do, you know, it's like they say in meditation you know, yes, of course you're going to, oh man I left the dishes in the sink. I forgot to tell you. I forgot to put them in the dishwasher. You know, it's don't fight it. Just go, okay, fine. Get through it. Just say, yeah. Yeah. I left the dishes. I got to do them when I get home. Okay. You through now get back to what you're doing. And I think that's sort of become a little bit part of my philosophy, just okay. Got it. I heard you inside my head and now we'll move. And I think that would be what Suzanne did. She just never paid attention. And I I think I want to be like her

Ashley Rindsberg: yeah. Amazing. Sounds like the right person to want to be like last question. What are you.

Jack G. Hyman: Oh, I just finished Trevor Noah was book. I literally just finished it like yesterday. I called , "Born A Crime". And just, I'm always reading something and that one that just finished. I'm getting ready to travel tomorrow. So I'll find something else. But I, I have to say that, oh, I love detective stories I am a Harry Potter freak forever.. And I meet many people who are, and many people that go you're crazy. And that's so, but she, you know, JK Rowling, maybe one day I'll write a musical about her, but she's also a big influence in my life. Just what she's done, how she's done. Anyway, not to get, but she's, she's quite, she's been an influence as well. You know, I'm the only boy in the family of girls. So I, so that may be why a lot of my influences are very strong women. And I love that I've learned more about life from a lot of the strong women in my life. And, and I'm very grateful.

Ashley Rindsberg: A great way to end it off. So thank you, Jack G Hyman has been very, very interesting. I think people will really be able to take a lot from us to take heart. I think that's, that's the key take heart. So thank you for joining me,

Jack G. Hyman: Ashley, thank you. What fun- great to meet you. Hope our paths cross again sometime, and I just really appreciate your time. And by the way, I have ordered "The Gray Lady Winked". So unless it comes today it will be the next book.

Ashley Rindsberg: Well, thank you, I appreciate it.

Jack G. Hyman: Thank you very much.

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