Saturday, October 31, 2009

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Saturday, October 31, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and mild
Samhain

Greetings and blessings, everyone, on the Celtic New Year and the final harvest. May the coming seasons bring health, joy, and abundance in all good things.

Unless, of course, you’re my landlord. In which case I hope you (insert expletive of choice) and (insert expletive of choice). Scumbag landlords are at it again. The day before Halloween, with NO ADVANCE NOTICE (which is required, in the State of NY), they ripped down everyone’s decorations to paint the doors. Doors which don’t need painting, and, make this place look every more like a sleazy-rent-by-the-hour motel. Now, we were home. No one even attempted to knock on the door and politely ask us to move the decorations for the painting. It’s nothing short of yet another act of harassment against tenants.

I polished and submitted the online portion of both NYFA grants yesterday. I printed out all the work samples (with the printer giving me agita) and prepared them. I hope my confirmation numbers aren’t an indication of how many people have applied, because if it is, there are over 40,000 applicants in each category. But I needed to try. If you don’t try, you REALLY don’t have a shot.

But by the time everything was all put together, I was ready for a breakdown. It’s not even one of the more complicated grant applications, but one does have to be meticulous about making sure all the directions are followed EXACTLY. When I worked for a foundation, I was at some sort of networking luncheon or something and the subject of guidelines came up. Quite a few attendees said approximately 78% of the applications never even make it to the judging committee because they haven’t fulfilled the basic requirements set out in the guidelines. It’s similar to submitting to a publication — you have to READ the guidelines, UNDERSTAND the guidelines, and then go ahead and FULFILL the guidelines. Or you don’t get past the gate. Nor should you. It’s disrespectful and egotistical to send it however YOU wish without an eye towards the guidelines. Trust me, most of us aren’t so brilliant that we can wow the panel in spite of disregarding the guidelines.

Had to drive to Purchase (a couple of towns over) to mail everything, since our post office’s hours are so wacky. Also, since I was out — bought the Halloween candy.

Got the weirdest email from an editor yesterday. I’d submitted a short story to an international lit mag a few months ago. Got a nice acknowledgement, great, worked on other things. A couple of weeks back, I receive an email stating that they liked the story, but had decided they no longer would accept material from international authors, so they were rejecting it. Okay, fine, it’s their mag, they get to do whatever they want. Yesterday, I get an email from the same editor saying she’s updating her address book and “should I know you?” WTF is that supposed to mean? As in, does she know me and can’t remember? In which case, obviously, she doesn’t know me. Or does she mean, am I worth knowing? Which is a completely subjective question. In any event, HER address book is not MY job.

Delete.

So much noise around the place all afternoon I was ready to rip my hair out. I finally gave up, made dinner, watched the news (I’m seriously considering a self-imposed news blackout after Tuesday’s elections for about a week), and hit the desk again around 8 PM. I finished “The Misappropriation of Talent” at 10:30. I’ll give it a polish today, do a bit of cutting. It’s 20 words over the limit. I hope to cut more, especially from the front section, and then beef up the end a bit — it feels a bit rushed. And then, off it goes.

Right now, I’m headed off to finish “Lake Justice” so I can give that a polish and get it out the door, too. So it’s back to the page for me. As it is, today’s so booked I’ll be up until three or four in the morning.

The GDRS may be up later today, or they might go up tomorrow.

A friend’s little boy is in the hospital, very ill with H1N1. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. In the bigger scheme, that’s really the priority right now.

Devon

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009
Dark Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

The storm didn’t hit us too badly yesterday; today’s is supposed to be worse, so I’ll keep an eye on the brook. I didn’t even have to move the car yesterday because the brook was several feet LOWER than usual, not higher.

We had heat, although I wound up being locked out of the building, and walked right through the construction, scaring the heck of the workers when they tried to stop me and I went off. Heaven forbid the locks work properly — oh, and there’s NO lock on the front door now for nearly a week. AND, when I went to the parking lot to run my errands, the workmen are pissing in the parking lot between the cars. In addition to being inappropriate, isn’t the employer required to provide adequate sanitary facilities for the workmen?

Yesterday was all about the conference. I spent most of my time commenting on exercises and answering questions. I put up a really hard exercise for them today — hardest I’ve ever thrown at a group of students. I warned them I’d be sending material back to them for multiple rewrites, and this was the one exercise on which I could read multiple rewrites (with 81 people signed up, I had to set a boundary of reading ONE rewrite per person per exercise, or I’d never catch up).

I’m not taking many workshops in this go-round. For one thing, I don’t want to be pulled into the tangent of new material. I’ve got stuff on deadline, I’ve got outlines stacked up. I tried to participate in some of the more business-oriented and practical workshops, but a lot of the information was stuff I already figured out, or stuff I’d tried and knew doesn’t work for me. Because I usually take workshops that involve more actual writing than I have this year, I feel less engagement from the instructors in the workshops I’m taking than usual, and it could be simply because it’s not as necessary as in this kind of workshop. Also, because I’m at a different place in my work this year, my needs are a little different, and it’s harder to find a workshop that meets them.

I’m sort of in that weird limbo of earning my living doing this, without being a recognizable bookstore name. My needs are different from someone starting out and trying to get published, and also different from someone with a multi-book contract. For over 20 years, I was in the Tribe of Theatre Professionals (and, thanks to the plays, I still am, in spite of the withdrawal from the wardrobe union). I was in the Tribe of Writers Starting Out. I don’t really fit into the Tribe of Secure Lit Fiction Writers (but then, is that ever really secure?). I’m a Working Writer, but it’s hard to find others doing what I do in physical proximity — they’re either only doing business writing or only working on their Great Novel while working a day job. That’s not a judgment, but it’s a different set of challenges and issues. I’ve got great writing friends as all levels of their careers via the internet, but I’d also like more in-person contact. A Nano group’s not going to give it to me; there’s no Meet-up Group around here that can — and I’m not sure I have the energy and commitment to start one.

I’m pretty sure I need to just sit tight until I relocate — in the areas I’m looking, they are more oriented to freelancing and flexible time management than they are around here. I’m in a typical suburb — it’s very rigid. In addition to missing the cultural diversity I had living in the city, I miss the emotional and artistic diversity. I feel more of that multi-levelled diversity when I go farther into New England.

One of the issues we face in the upcoming local elections is whether we keep in the current administration (of which I’m very supportive) that is working on the practicalities of infrastructure issues while meeting the needs of a growing, changing population. The opponents are running on a platform of union-busting (they’re saying our police, firefighters, and teachers aren’t worth the money, when, in reality, we get a return on our investment several hundred times over) and keeping the city affordable for those they deem worthy of living here, while cutting out others — a rise in economic snobbery and segregation that’s been on the rise in the community for the past few years. There’s a segment of the population that wants to run the whole town kind of like a co-op apartment complex, where you have to get permission that you’re “the right sort” to live here, which breaks all kinds of laws.

Honestly, I’d rather live next door to a small organic farmer than a slimy hedge fund manager any day.

Since “Be the Monster” is too big to be an anthology story, I’m plugging along on that while starting the story that’s due, “Lake Justice” — which is going to be both scary and funny.

Working on the grant applications, defining and redefining the work I’d do if I got the grant.

I want to go back to New Mexico to write for awhile, so I looked into residencies. One I found charges a grand to attend. AND expects the visiting artist to lecture. Uh, no. If I’m going to pay, I’ll just rent an apartment for about a third of what this particular organization charges (I found a really sweet one I bookmarked for the future) and be completely on my own schedule. And if I’m going to do work FOR the organization instead of just working ON the grounds — the organization will pay ME, not the other way around. I could have sworn there were a couple of others out there, but haven’t yet tracked them down.

Back to work. Elsa was on medication again for most of the week, but she seems much better. The twins are running around, playing. They just turned nine, but they still act like kittens.

Devon

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009
Day before dark moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Slow start this morning, because I did a longer morning yoga practice, meditation practice, and then baked apple muffins. The muffins are based on a recipe in Marion Cunningham’s THE BREAKFAST BOOK. However, her recipe only calls for cinnamon; I put in cinnamon,nutmeg, cloves, mace, and allspice. It gives the batter a beautiful harvest brown color and deepens the taste a bit.

Yesterday was all about the conference and storm prep. We didn’t flood yesterday, but there’s snow a little farther upcounty and certainly upstate. We had heat all day — guess the Health Department had a little chat with the landlords. We’ll see if they actually toe the line, or if it was just a one-day pretension of following the law.

I’ve got some errands to do today and then I’ll put the car up on the hill this evening, just in case — tides are about three feet higher than normal. We’ll see what the weekend brings.

The conference will wind up this weekend. I had a good time, but I’m ready to put more focus back on my own work again. I had one of those “Duh!” moments yesterday when I realized that I could make the artist statement for one of the residency applications do double duty on the grant application.

I’m re-reading the May Sarton biography by Margot Peters. Peters, along with Claire Tomalin and Hermione Lee, ranks as one of my favorite biographers. I use Sarton’s journals as fuel when I get tired, and I appreciate her poetry, but she always struck me as someone who was a bit of an energetic vampire with a martyr complex. She’s someone whose work I can enjoy and appreciate from a distance, but I made sure not to know her when she was alive. I had contacted her once, during some research for a project on Susan Glaspell, but her response didn’t make sense and I chose not to follow up.

Better get going, although today is the type of cold, rainy day where all I want to do is curl up in the big chair with the cats, a good book, and a cup of cocoa.

By the way, it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that Violet had her own Twitter and Facebook accounts and a blog. She’s that kind of cat. She does, after all, chew on Shakespeare. Literally.

Devon

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