January 31, 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and snowy

I can’t believe January is over. I need another two weeks, please. Not quite ready for February.

“Blue” by Brenda Braene is up on Circadian.

A new essay on supporting living writers is up on the Dog Blog.

The train was late, big surprise, but frustrating because I had three errands that HAD to be run on the way to the theatre. First two, knocked right off. Third was all the way across on the West Side, almost to the river, and, of course, took longer than I wanted, but I still made it to the theatre just a hair late. Amazing how quickly you can walk if you have to.

Work was fine. Not too many sewing repairs, but I had to re-glue some bits of the tin man that were peeling away from the frame.

I heard some of the music from the new musical version of Legally Blonde, which is coming to Broadway sometime soon. It’s REALLY good. I was pleasantly surprised. The kind of music that sticks with you and that you can walk out of the theatre still humming.

I’m writing an article on Barbaro that needs to go out the end of this week, and I need to clear off my desk some more. I don’t know why I’m so sore – I’m going to try to work out some kinks later today with an extra yoga session.

So many of the performers have dashed to Target to get those humidifiers meant for kids in the shape of animals. They’re all over the place. They’re so damn cute, I might have to get one for my apartment.

My first check arrived for the anthology – woo-hoo! It’s always nice when someone pays on time.

The computer decided to upload the newest version of IE (don’t I get a say in these things?) and I had a bit of a fit when everything was rearranged. I found where it hid most of the stuff and put it back where I want it, but I’m not sure.

And this new Microsoft Vista? For which some people paid over $600? That only runs on computers less than two years old, only they don’t bother to tell you BEFORE you plunk down the money?

Typical effing Microsoft.

Chaz’s package returned from the UK, with all sorts of paperwork. Nothing seems too major – maybe I’ll rewrap the toys with bells so they won’t ring and upset postal workers – and then I’m going to try sending it again. At least it wasn’t stolen.

People need to back off from the jawing about Daniel Radcliffe doing Equus. Especially since most of these idiotic gossipy bastards haven’t bothered to learn about the play.

Equus is a modern classic, written by the astounding good playwright, Peter Shaffer. It’s extremely disturbing. However, the young man is not the main character —the psychiatrist treating him is. I saw the play on Broadway years ago, when it first became a phenomenon. It’s dark. It’s disturbing. You leave the theatre viewing the world differently than you viewed it when you entered it, which is what a good play is supposed to do. Although the kid was shirtless for a good portion of it, I only remember one full frontal scene. It was completely organic to the piece and necessary, brief, and not a big deal at all. It didn’t feel shocking or out of place. Plus, you’re in a big darned theatre, so, except for the voyeurs with the opera glasses, you’re not seeing a whole lot.

And believe me, there are plenty of plays that put nudity on stage just to sell tickets. I attended a production at a well-known off-Broadway company a few years back. Can’t remember if I knew one of the actors or one of the crew or why the heck I went. Maybe we just got on the list for one of the previews or something. At any rate, it was a tiny theatre. I was in the third row, and if I’d stretched, I could have touched the bed on the stage.

In the second act, one of the actors is completely naked, sprawled backwards, doing a monologue as part of a 12 minute scene. There was no organic reason in the text for him to be nude in that scene. He had the body, and the company knew it would sell tickets. Good thing he HAD the body, because he sure couldn’t act.

That was exploitation. And, believe me, I know what they pay off-Broadway, and he should have demanded a much higher salary.

Equus is different. The publicity photos that are being blasted around the world are pushing the nudity angle to sell tickets, which annoys me. There’s a shot of Radcliffe and the actress nude together. Now, I don’t remember, in the production I saw, the actress ever actually getting naked with the boy, but maybe that’s something they decided to do for this production. And the house staff will have its hands full taking away cameras.

Photographs are not allowed in ANY professional theatre – it’s a violation of the performers’ right to their image. You purchase a ticket, which is the right to see the live performance IN THE MOMENT, something that can never be exactly replicated again – not to photograph it and sell it or show it to others. Also, using a flash can disorient the actor and cause serious injury onstage. Especially if the actor is trying to maneuver on or off stage, is disoriented by a flash and is run over by a two ton piece of scenery. By being a selfish bastard and taking a photograph, you could maim or kill someone involved with the production. And let’s face it, people are going to try to sell photos of Radcliffe’s genitalia on eBay. I used to work front of house and remove film from cameras – it’s in the program, on the ticket, announced before the show, so if you’re going to violate it, you deserve to get your camera taken away. Personally, I think there should be a list, and if someone violates the no-photograph rule in one theatre, they should be banned for three years or more from all of them.

Regarding Radcliffe and Equus, I’m curious as to how a 17-year-old young man can handle this role. Working on it is bound to change his view of the world not just as an actor, but as a person. It’s an awfully young age to work on the material.

With the whole Harry Potter thing – look, Radcliffe is an actor. His job and responsibility to the audience is to show up on the HP set when he’s contracted and do a terrific job. Which he does. When he’s not on contract, it’s his job to make me believe in any character he plays. That’s what he’s trying to do.

I’d much rather see him doing Equus than go around drinking and doing drugs because the pressure of being HP has become uncomfortable.

I came to the HP movies as a fan of the books. When Rowling writes other books, I plan to read her work, because she’s a damn good writer. With the movies, I was a fan of the body of work of several actors whose work I’d known for years (Rickman, Thewlis, Smith, Shaw, etc.). And I’m interested to see what Radcliffe, Watson, Grint, et al do away from the HP movies.

I’m much more interested in a body of work than seeing someone do the same thing over and over and over again. Part of that is because theatre/film/television is my profession in tandem with the writing. But part of it is because I’m not an ignoramus. There’s enough information on the inner workings of the industry now that only a moron isn’t going to allow growth and change in the performers of which they claim to be “fans”.

As I said in the Dog Blog essay about writers, which makes sense in this situation, too: Decide if you’re a fan of the actor or of the character; own it, and take responsibility for it. If you’re a fan of Harry and only Harry – don’t go see anything else. If you’re a fan of Radcliffe, go with an open mind and give him a chance.

He’s 17. With any luck, he’ll be around for a long time, with a large body of work. Look over Johnny Depp’s body of work. He started young, had early success with Jump Street, made his own way in unusual (to say the least) work, and now he’s got the over-the-top success as Jack Sparrow. Why can’t Daniel Radcliffe find his way, too?

Okay, here’s the January wrap-up for the GDRS:

January 2007 Wrap-Up

Done:
Devon’s Random Newsletter
Finished 1st draft of Token and Affection
Plum essay revisions completed and essay accepted for anthology
Started Chasing the Changeling
Quarterly Newsletter
Occasional (but more frequent than last year) entries on Biblio Paradise and Wordish Wanderings.
Circadian Poems
SDR blog every Wednesday
Kemmyrk Mondays and Thursdays
Devon Ellington temporary site up

In Progress:
Typing Token and Affections
Working to finish 1st draft of Real
Pitches
13-in-Play
Reading research books for the Assumption of Right rewrite
Requested revision for Tumble
3 short stories – I’m going for quality over speed

Postponed/Dropped:
Work on Fix-It Girl
Dixie Dust Rumors queries out
Typing Shallid
Next SDR column begun

Additional:
Unknown Journey outlined
Knockabout Kingdom outlined
Marching Band stories outlined
“New Year’s Resolutions for Sports Fans” article (pub. By Femme Fan)
“Submission Log and Pitch Tracker” article written and submitted
Two interlinked paranormal comedy stories outlined
“Ink in My Coffee” moved to WordPress
“A Biblio Paradise” moved to WordPress
“Kemmyrk” moved to WordPress
“13 Traveling Journals” moved to WordPress
“Place and Space” moved to WordPress
Joined Kristen King’s Query Challenge 2007
Novel idea: Turn of 20th Century
Novel idea: Contemporary action/psychological
Designed and put up Fearless Ink site
Designed and put up Cerridwen’s Cottage site
Joined a blog chain
Devon’s Random Newsletter for February

Disappointments:
Rejection of The Merry’s Dalliance
The death of Barbaro

Successes:
First article of the year published on Jan. 4 (by FemmeFan)
Plum essay accepted
Token and Affections first draft done
Negotiations for possible regular writing gig (not signed, sealed and delivered, but I’m hopeful)

Reading:
Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner. Very good; lots of fun.
Death by Station Wagon by Jon Katz. Excellent. (Actually, I read this in December and forgot to list it).
Hell’s Belles by Jackie Kessler. Wonderful! Excellent!
Dorothy and Agatha by Gaylord Larsen. Liked the plot; struggled with characterizations. Okay.
Diaries by Lavinia Riker Davis. Lovely.
The Ragman’s Memory by Archie Mayor. Excellent.
Off Season by Philip R. Craig. Very good.
Death on a Vineyard Beach by Philip R. Craig. Very good.
Seeing Red by Jill Shalvis. Very good.

Devon

Chasing the Changeling — 20,842 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
20 / 45
(44.4%)
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January 30, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Felt vaguely uneasy for most of the day, and couldn’t put my finger on it. Some of it, I’m sure, comes from the fact that this building is in the sale process, and we wonder how the new owners will try to drive everyone out; part of it, stemming from the former, is that my relocation is being taken off my schedule and is now on someone else’s schedule; part of it is trying to get my head around the full show weeks I’ll be doing over the next month or so, and trying to reconcile it with the transition, the relocation, and keep all the writing balls afloat. And who knows what else contributes to it?

I had a terrible time getting things done, and, most importantly, focusing. Again, I think part of it was switching around the routine – not getting some creative work done before I started the practical. It left me out of sorts. I’m getting in my own way again, and I don’t like it.

Starting my day with: feed the cats, yoga, write, and THEN officially start the day is a natural rhythm for me, and when that is disrupted, dis-ease sets in. I never thought of myself as a creature of habit – you really can’t be when you freelance, and I’ve freelanced my whole darned life – but this particular configuration works for me.

So, I have to figure out how to protect it and nurture it amongst all the change and chaos around me.

I finished Seeing Red by Jill Shalvis, and enjoyed it. I liked the dynamic between Summer and Joe. I also thought the way the family tried to protect itself and heal itself simultaneously was interesting. And, of course, I loved the puppy, Ashes.

I’m a member of the Sierra Club, now, since I signed that petition against the opening the Sequoia Forests to logging. They have some interesting local events; I hope I can attend one or two of them.

Catching up with blogs yesterday, it was interesting to read, in Ann’s blog, why she likes the show Grey’s Anatomy so much – the very same reasons I stopped watching it are the reasons she continues to watch it! Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s well-written and well-acted. However, the lives have gotten so messy that I find it wearying. I get to deal with people with lives in that much turmoil on a regular basis, and I am well-paid to do so. I don’t want or need to come home and watch it on television. I hope it runs a long time and they’re all happy, but I’d rather watch something very different in my sparse spare time. Maybe, once things are a little calmer in the lives around me, I’ll go back and enjoy it.

Got another pitch out today; should have gotten more out, but, oh, well. I’m starting to send them out from the Fearless Ink address, since that’s the business writing site, instead of the primary address I can only access from home.

Too tired to think straight. The pitch wasn’t my best, but I knew I had to move fast.

I’m working my way through the piles on my desk. I had three large piles, and a stack in the printer tray. I managed to get through one entire stack and the printer tray – dealing with every single item, not just rearranging stuff.

Another migraine threatened, probably due to exhaustion and frustration. And that, of course, leads to feeling discouraged at not getting enough done, and it all spirals downward from there. And fretful and jumpy as a cat in an electrical storm.

I remembered reading in one of the health magazines – Yoga Journal or Health or Natural Health or one of those – how important a warm lunch is and how that helps keep the body in balance. So I had vegetable soup with bread and butter. It did help, a bit.

And, I decided to cut myself a break on the short stories I’ve fretted about readying for the end of the month. “Illuminated Nude” and “The Man on the Yoga Mat” are more interesting and more complex than I expected, and need more time to unfold. Why rush them and send off something that’s not well written? That won’t achieve a goal of publication. Since it wasn’t contracted, the only deadline I’m breaking is my own, getting them done in time for a submission deadline; but it’s not contracted, so I’m not putting anyone else out. I’d rather stick to the integrity of the story than wreck the piece just to get it out by a certain date.

Worked on a newsletter that needs to get out this week. The other newsletter, for Biblio Paradise, will go out about mid-February, when I’m back from the little stint in the city. It’s almost done, too; just needs a few tweaks, and I have to go over the mailing list.

Also, I have a stopgap version of the Devon Ellington site up:
http://www.devonellingtonwork.com
It’s not as cool as Colin’s design, but it’ll work until I learn everything I have to about the other one to get it up. My friend, Barbara Rosenthal, is going to park her work on one of my pages until she gets her own site. And, in a few months, I intend to have some interesting items in the “Bazaar” section.

If you want a treat, click on to the article I have on the site about “How to Bet a Horse”.
(http://www.devonellingtonwork.com/betahorse.html)
And yes, that’s yet another of my photos in the header; this one was taken at Rye Beach.

I cried when I heard about Barbaro’s death. That was a special horse. He meant a great deal to many, many people, but those who dealt with him every day and grew to love him must be hit especially hard. It’s the dark side, the unfortunate side of horse racing – these creatures are being bred for speed rather than endurance, or a good balance, and they’re getting more and more fragile. This is a sport where living creatures die or are permanently disabled on a regular basis.

Got a few pages done on Changeling this morning. I think I’m getting it back on track.

Off to the theatre. Hopefully, it will be a smooth day, and I can get everything else cleared off my desk by the end of the week.

Devon
Chasing the Changeling – 19,842 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
19 / 45
(42.2%)

RIP, Barbaro

Rest in peace, sweet horse. There was never another like you, and there never will be.

Published in: on January 29, 2007 at 6:23 pm  Comments Off on RIP, Barbaro  

January 29, 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Hop over to Circadian to see  “flashback to summer”, Sylvia C’s poem.

Click over to Kemmyrk for the latest on The Celtic Oracle.

And zip on over to A Biblio Paradise to see my picks for my favorite books of all the reading I did over the past few months.

Oh, joy! The virtuoso biographer Claire Tomalin has another book out! This one is about Thomas Hardy, one of my least favorite authors. Yes, I know his craft is superb. However, I loathe Tess of the D’Urbervilles – yet another male writer punishing a woman for being sexual. However, if Tomalin writes it, I’ll read it. Her biography of Pepys is one of the best books I’ve ever read, period, and her other biographies are excellent.

And Thomas Mallon, one of my other favorite authors, wrote the review in The New York Times Book Review.

Train was late – gee, there’s a surprise! – but I got to the theatre in plenty of time. All sorts of buzzing going on, as usual. Because of the lessons learned during this (and the last) Saturn Retrograde, I can somewhat disengage and not get caught up in the bullshit, which is nice. Do my job, be pleasant to everyone, and move on. I genuinely like about 90% of the people with whom I work, but there are always going to be the shit-stirrers, who make trouble just because they can.

And one can choose not to engage, and let them spin their silly little selves into their own knots.

There’s something very freeing about choosing not to engage, and it certainly cuts down on the stress!

After the matinee, my friend B. and I went to one of our premiere hangouts in the neighborhood, Sosa Borella, for a few glasses of wine, some appetizers, and a good chat. We were shortly joined by an actress friend of ours, who got royally fucked (pardon the language, please, but believe me, in discussing the situations of these last few paragraphs, the four-letter words truly are the BEST descriptions in the English language) by a producer she’s known and regarded as a friend for twenty years regarding a series job. Fortunately, she’s got a fascinating play to do instead, and the series is most likely going down the tubes anyway, so the Karma Dogs are taking their bites now rather than later, always good to see.

What can I say? This is a brutal business, as well as being cyclical. Right now the cycle is at the point where all the clichés ring true. Most of the time, things run along, and there are the daily frustrations, and oh, well; but every once in awhile, one is confronted by the ugly side of the entertainment business, and the truth that those who make the decisions and hold the purse strings are usually the least creative, the most manipulative, and genuinely believe that the people who make it possible for them to earn these obscene incomes should pay to work, not the other way around.

Came home and puttered for a bit. The cats alternated between being glad to see me and mad that I left in the first place.

Because I got such a late start this morning, I haven’t done my pages yet. I have to get a lot done today, including a lot of admin done this whole week, so I can be in the city full-time next week without worrying about anything on my desk out here. I have to get a great deal of both creative work and practical work done, and must manage my time carefully.

And, now that it’s been two full months since I finished the first draft of Assumption of Right, I’m allowed to go back and start the edits. I think doing so while I’m working in the theatre full-time is a good choice – I’ll have that energy flowing along with the revision (since it’s mostly set backstage).

If you have tarot questions, please send them here by Friday; I’ll answer some of them on Kemmyrk next Monday.

Another issue of Devon’s Random Newsletter will actually go out by the end of the week (can you believe it?). If you haven’t signed up for it, you can sign up here.

Off to get organized, always a monumental task after a few days on the show.

Devon

January 28, 2007

January 28, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

The Capercaillie Beautiful Wasteland CD finally arrived (I ordered it in November). So I loaded it onto the Zen V. It’s one of my favorite CDs.

I only load music I completely love to the Zen V – the tried-and-true – Capercaillie, Texas, Tellu, Hedingarna, Ani DiFranco, Elvendrums, Pat Benatar, Springsteen, etc. That way, I can just play all the tracks in any order and be happy.

It helps a lot when the train gets frustrating, or there’s too much construction noise, or I’m off by myself doing day work.

Managed to get out a submission before I left for work.

Very sore from dragging around the heavy coats on two shows yesterday. This morning’s yoga got a lot of the major kinks out, but I’m still sore. And I get to turn around and do it all over again.

The cats hate the feeling of the sticky mat under their paws. However, Elsa figured out that if she stands next to it and rolls onto it, her paws never have to touch the mat!

My mom said the dog is like a different animal – he’s happy and peppy and playing. So, all he needed was company and reassurance.

Yesterday, my mom had to come over while I was at work – because I couldn’t get the front door to close, and I had to make the train for work. Even with the keylock chain on the door to keep intruders OUT, I couldn’t risk the door being cracked open for fourteen hours – it was wide enough for nosy felines to slip through. So, the door’s been fixed. And cats corralled.

What sort of omen is that, eh?

Artie treated me to dinner last night at eatery. It’s been around for quite a few years – since Miss Saigon was running, and that was back in 2000 – but I’d never eaten there. A group of us from that show had gone in when it first opened, but they were so rude, we walked right back out. But I’d heard good things in the interim. The food was very good – Artie had farmer’s pasta and I had a duck tostada – and the service was also good.

And, there are three new restaurants in the neighborhood that we have to try in the coming weeks.

I wandered up to the Time Warner Center after (actually, I was thinking of something else and wandered all the way up to Lincoln Center before I realized I overshot it). I went to Borders and got books by two of this blog’s visitors: Seeing Red by Jill Shalvis, and The Tin Box by Holly Kennedy. I look forward to reading both of them.

I’m reading Philip R. Craig’s Death on a Vineyard Beach. One of the things I like about his books is how he weaves daily life into the mystery. In most books of the genre, the mystery IS it. It drops in, rips the fabric of life, and first people have to get through it, then they have to cope, and we often don’t see them doing so. In both of the Craig novels I’ve read, the mystery is there, but so is the daily life. Yes, JW investigates – but he also keeps to his unfettered schedule of fishing and drinking Sam Adams and spending time with his wife, and generally, having a life. I like that style a lot. It breaks the rules one is taught in mystery writing workshops – but, to me, it allows me a deeper connection to the characters, and lets me suspend my disbelief and live in the world of the book more thoroughly.

Did a bit of work on Changeling this morning, but am not happy with it. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s not working, but it doesn’t feel right.

Back to the show for a matinee. This will be the last time I do this track for quite awhile. The way it was originally set up, it was my favorite track. Some of the permutations make sense, but some were made to stoke the various dressers’ egos, and I have no patience for that. Changes should make the track run more efficiently, not be made just so the dresser can mark territory.

The shower beckons, and then I need to eat and catch a train . . .

Devon

Chasing the Changeling – 18,717 out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
18 / 45
(40.0%)

January 27, 2007

Saturday, January 27, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

But at least the heat is working again.

I gave myself a day off from writing, because there was a lot to do, not much time, and there was no point in driving myself crazy, or it wouldn’t all get done. I ran most of my errands, cut the ones that could be put off without disruption to anyone else’s schedule.

I went over to help my mom with the dog. He’s much better – the problem was that he literally made himself sick with terror and worry. My mom is very good with animals (which is why she’s a professional pet sitter), and, between us, we reassured him, and he was much, much better by the end of the day. He was back on his paws enough in an hour or two so he didn’t need to go to the vet, after all. My mom winds up the job she’s currently on today and will be with him full-time until his people return – although we have no idea when that will be. He’s a very sweet dog, but doesn’t know many words, and that lack of comprehension makes him even more scared of what’s going on. He’s never been left before, or around strangers, so the past month of being shuffled from pillar to post without his main human has been devastating for him. At least my mom can provide some stability for him over the next week or so. He already adores her, and he even brought me his favorite stuffed toy as soon as I walked in the door.

I spent most of the day with the dog next to me, reading Philip R. Craig’s Off Season. Craig’s series is set on Martha’s Vineyard, and it’s well done. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in it.

One of the things I like best about “discovering” a previously unknown-to-me author who has a lot of books to his (or her) name is the lovely anticipation of having a whole list of books to work my way down. I have that now, with both Philip Craig and Archie Mayor, and it means lots to which to look forward.

Rearranging parts of “The Man on the Yoga Mat” and it works better this way.

Did some work on Changeling this morning. Had trouble getting back into it. I’m in a complicated section that needs a large swath of uninterrupted time, which I don’t have, so it’s a mere skeleton with lots of squiggles here and there as I remember bits and pieces necessary to the puzzle.

Off to shower and then to the theatre for 2 shows/14 hour day. On a train just after ten; will return around one a.m., grab a few hours’ sleep and then go back for the matinee. It’ll be the last time for awhile I do this particular track (the heavy coat track) because the new permanent person starts on Tuesday, and hopefully, the actors will have some stability for a bit. As stable as anything can be in the transient world of theatre.

Monday, I have to be very, very focused to get out a whole bunch of paperwork stuff that MUST go out before the end of the month.

So I won’t have recovery time. But, then, this entire week will have to be about supreme organization of time, with no excuses.

Oh, yeah, and in The Sequel: Building’s under contract, so who knows what fresh hells await?

Devon

Chasing the Changeling – 17,967 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
17 / 45
(37.8%)

January 26, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2008
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and COOOOLD

. . . .9 degrees Fahrenheit out there today, and we have no heat.

Not acceptable.

Today’s poem on Circadian: “Simplicity” by Ann Smith.

Thanks for the words of encouragement, everybody. Your love and support is greatly appreciated. I sometimes feel that the Fates are trying to test me to see how badly I want this – dangling all sorts of theatre jobs and writing jobs in front of me and making me choose. So I’m choosing, but who the heck can ever tell ahead of time, tarot or no tarot, which choice is right?

Got some work done on the short story “The Man on the Yoga Mat”. Not flowing as well as I’d like – I think I may have to rearrange some of it and come up with a stronger opening. But I had to write my way into the first draft a bit before I figured it out.

Interestingly enough, the new issue of Yoga Journal has an article about men and yoga classes – which is very helpful for the story.

Work was fine yesterday – lots of repairs, but nothing so major I couldn’t do it. But I was glad to get home. The migraine eased up about halfway through the day. Or maybe I’d just popped enough Excedrin by then so I didn’t notice it.

Today is a crazy errand day – I have to be all over the map, and won’t get back until late afternoon or early evening. Which means a truncated writing schedule. And a full contingent of shows this weekend.

And, my mom agreed to look after someone’s dog when they had an emergency – and now the dog is sick. The owner left no instructions, no cash, no vet number – so I’m going to call my vet and see if he can take a look at him this afternoon. Poor thing.

So much working away from home upsets the cats; they don’t seem to understand that part of the reason I’m doing this is to keep them in their preferred organic cat food and cat litter! 😉 Seriously, the cat food I now feed them has 0% ash content (most cat foods use ash in the process; my vet advised me that anything 4% or higher was very bad for them, because the ash builds up in their intestines and causes problems later in life. And yes, it’s ashes as in the stuff from the bottom of your fireplace or a charnel house. Check your food label, it’s listed). And the new litter to which I’ve switched them – not only is it compostable, dust-free, and odor-free, they like it, which is the make-or-break for any litter.

Last night, the wind howled like a thousand lost souls on their way to Purgatory. It was truly eerie. The cats and I were all rolled up in the featherbed, with only our noses peeking out. I felt like something out of a cartoon. You could hear garbage cans and things blowing down the street, and it was the first time I’ve been here where I truly thought the windows might blow out. But they didn’t, and, other than the fact there’s no heat after the coldest night of the year, we’re all fine.

Off to try to get everything done, and file yet another complaint with the State about the scumbag landlord. The pipes are groaning like they’re trying to warm up, but it should never have happened in the first place, and it’s happened too often over the course of the past year for me to cut any slack. I don’t care what the excuse is this time – I want results.

Devon

Published in: on January 26, 2007 at 7:51 am  Comments (7)  

January 25, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Burns Night
Virginia Woolf’s birthday
Snowing

Have a laugh at my attempts at herbal studies over on Kemmyrk.

Check out the poetry news on Circadian.

Sometimes, you lose.

I lost yesterday, to the migraine. I managed to get some admin work done, but I thought my head was going to explode. It was the type that also creates nausea, so all was unhappy.

I wonder if the stuff the exterminator used triggered it.

It’s not supposed to affect humans or pets adversely, but I somehow doubt it.

However, the cats were fine (thank goodness), but I was not.

I tried everything – lying down, gel pack, passive traction with the rubber balls at the base of the skull.

Nothing.

So I caved by 2:30 and took a Canadian pain pill. It took the edge off, and made it difficult to focus. After awhile, I was able to read for short periods of time, but not any of my research material.

I managed to finish Archie Mayor’s The Ragman’s Memory. What a wonderful, thoughtful, clever, enticing book. I definitely want to read the entire series.

In response to the responses to yesterday’s second entry, “How to be a Full-Time Writer” (if you haven’t read it, scroll down): I forgot how many of you recently joined me on this journey. I’m in the midst of TRANSITIONING from two full-time careers into the full-time writing. I lost eight months of the transition fighting the developers last year, who were trying to drive out the 100+ families in this building. So I’m a little behind schedule, but, for once in my life, I’m TRANSITIONING instead of LEAPING. I’ve already cut way back on the theatre and increased the writing. That steady progress has to continue. In this case, a break as opposed to a flow is the wrong choice.

It was a choice I SHOULD have made back when it was pointed out to me over a dozen years ago. But I didn’t. In some ways I’m glad I didn’t, but in some ways, I know it makes the hill all that much steeper to climb now. It points out consequences of a road not taken. As glad as I am to have had 20+ years in the theatre, it took a toll on my writing and the overall flow of the writing career.

And I certainly wouldn’t cut and run when I made a commitment to the show until the beginning of March. Once I make a commitment, I do everything I can to keep it.

To bed early last night, because I could not get rid of the migraine. It’s a combination of the physical factors of the demands of the show and the mental demands of trying to balance the writing and the theatre work.

The migraine woke me up at 5:30, so I got up to start the day. A long session of yoga and plenty of coffee (in spite of the warnings about caffeine with migraines, it helps mine), helped. And, once the snow began, the pre-storm pressure lifted, leaving just the migraine.

Because I’m a swing, and I cover when others are out, calling in sick is not an option. So I’ll take some Excedrin migraine and work through it.

Managed to get some decent work done on Changeling. Working on it alleviated some of the migraine pain – probably because it released the tension built up by not writing. Although I have a loose outline, I find each chapter creates itself and its world, and the process of discovery is exciting. I feel as though I have the best of both worlds – the world of pre-planning, and the world of blank-paging. Let’s hope it all holds together for a coherent story.

Since “Illuminated Nude” is far more complex than I originally expected, I need to work on the other two stories due by the end of the month first and make sure they get out. “Illuminated Nude” would be great to include, but I’m not going to rush through it and hurt the story – especially since it’s not a deadline with a signed contract.

I have a lot to clear off my desk before I start doing full weeks on the show again. Next week will have to be very long days of practical work rather than creative work.

Devon

Chasing the Changeling – 17,217 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
17 / 45
(37.8%)

How to be a Full-time Writer

I was fortunate enough to work with Arthur Miller in the early 1990s off-Broadway. I was the wardrobe girl, but he always treated me like an integral part of the company. I was an integral part of the company, but you’d be amazed at how few of the people in a production’s “creative team” actually have a clue about how anything gets done backstage.

Anyway, I was thrilled to work with Miller, who was one of the reasons I committed to a life of the theatre in the first place. I was thrilled that he always took the time to seek me out when he came to the theatre once the play was running and talk about just about any topic under the sun.

One day, I was off doing a cue, and when I got back to my wardrobe room, I discovered him reading. One of my short stories. Which I’d left IN my bag, which meant he was rooting around in my bag, something I wasn’t happy with. What did make me happy, however, was his praise of the story (which turned out to be one of the first pieces of mine ever published in a lit magazine and paid).

And he told me that I needed to quit the theatre and write full-time, because I would never be a full-time writer until I relied upon it to pay the bills.

I wasn’t ready to leave the theatre at that point in time. I loved it too much. I still love it, but I’m ready to leave.

And, looking back, I know he was right. If I’d had to count on paying the bills with my writing from an early age, I would be much farther along in my writing career.

The conversation continued, in detail, about the need to delineate UNINTERRUPTED writing time, and space away from family and daily concerns in order to be able to fully inhabit the world of your work. Miller insisted that even if a writer claims to be able to work in a room with distractions – people talking, the television on – the quality of writing will never be as high as it could be if they had the courage to listen to their own souls in silence.

Interestingly enough, around the same time, David Mamet said the same thing in a seminar where he was kind enough to speak for a foundation for which I worked part-time. I’m paraphrasing, but basically, he said that, when he was starting out if, in their small theatre company, they didn’t write well enough to put butts in the seats, they didn’t eat.

Janet Evanovich, one of our most successful current writers, has her life structured so that she has plenty of quiet time to work. In her book, How I Write, she talks in detail about the need for a space outside of the fray, and how wonderful her family is about turning the writing into the family business and supporting that. It’s one of the reasons she’s succeeded, and can do what she does.

Do I regret a career in the theatre? Working on and off Broadway, doing shows all over the world? Of course not. Tens of thousands of people would kill for it. However, I also acknowledge that the theatre was my first career, and now I’m moving into my second career. I’m too old and too tired to run two full-time careers successfully. And, frankly, I’m too old for the intensive theatre schedule of barely one day off per week, working nights, weekends, and holidays. I want something more balanced, and I think, even drawing strong boundaries for the writing, I can achieve it with the writing.

But Miller – and Mamet – were right. I’ll never make a living at it, be a full-time writer – until I rely on it to pay the bills.

Published in: on January 24, 2007 at 12:35 pm  Comments (15)  

January 24, 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Check out today’s poem on Circadian: a very funny howl of despair from Ariel Cade.

And I have an essay on the Dog Blog entitled “Sometimes You Just Can’t Help” about lazy writers trying to take advantage of generous writers. While I’m sure it will piss off some newbies and make them defensive, the final version is much gentler than the original one!

Yesterday was an exercise in futility and frustration. I switched around my routine, and didn’t do my daily pages right after the yoga, because I needed to get something off first thing in the morning.

And then I had trouble getting back to the page, especially since a great, big, noisy Verizon truck pulled up before 8 AM to work on something at the building next door. Glad they’re getting it done, but it made it impossible to work, with some guy in a cherry picker right outside my window working on the building next door yelling down to his co-workers on the ground while the generator is booming at full speed.

The Zen V, turned up all the way, couldn’t block the noise.

The train was on time and the heat was on – in winter, no less. I began to think maybe I’d stepped into an alternate reality.

Work was fine, both day work and the show. I was terribly awkward in the first change (hadn’t done the track in about seven months – hadn’t worked with this actress in over a year), but it got done. Everything else went much more smoothly, but I was tired by the end of it.

Missed the 10:10 by less than a minute, and had to wait for the 10:40, only to have a drunken matron in a fur coat deposit herself next to me and be a vile pain for the ride back.

I’m reading Archie Mayor’s The Ragman’s Memory – absolutely fascinating.

This morning was all about waiting for Godot – uh, I mean the exterminator. So I’m getting a late start. I have a migraine thrumming inside my head and the base of my skull, but there’s a lot that needs to get done today, so too bad for me.

Devon

January 23, 2007

Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Check out Silas Byrne’s essay on poets and striving poets on Circadian. I have a feeling it can open an interesting and perhaps heated discussion!

If you missed the interview Kristen King did with me last fall, she’s got the links posted again here:

http://inkthinker.blogspot.com/2007/01/kristen-king-featured-in-article-on.html#links

Anita – your blog won’t let me comment.

Colin – I can’t get your blog to load at all. I finally did, but . . .

Fie on Blogger!!!

If you need a pick-me-up, visit this link via Dorothy Thompson:

www.dorothythompson.youaremighty.com

it made me smile.

Promise to all of you regarding The Mag: although I’ll look for advertising, I will NOT accept ads for anything as vile as Botox. That’s a promise!

Got out a job pitch and the quarterly newsletter. Worked on two other newsletters.

Because of all the time spent on the computer, in addition to my morning daily yoga practice, I did a few poses in the late afternoon. What a wonderful difference!

It was snowing last night – a nice, peaceful contrast to all that’s wrong in the world.

And I worked my way through about a year’s worth of old magazines. I read them when they come in, but then they stack up. So I sorted through what I want to keep and what I can recycle. Doesn’t make much of a dent, but it’s something.

I changed my routine this morning and did computer work before working on Changeling, and I’m all messed up now. I have time to do a few pages, but then I have to run for the train. So no word bar update this a.m.

I’m off to the theatre for both day work and a show (a track I haven’t done in about seven or eight months). See you in the morning!

Devon

January 22, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Whew! Busy, busy, busy!

Check out today’s Circadian Poem: “Anticipation” by Kristina Logue.

Pop over here to see how I’m doing on the work with The Celtic Oracle.

Rhian – I fixed the link, and I’ve put your ideas for The Mag in the folder. The best retreats I’ve ever been on had a variety of artists working in different types – painters, performers, writers, sculptors, dancers, etc. – and we’d sit around at dinner and into the evening, influencing each others’ work. It was great. I agree – magazines don’t do enough of that, nor do they spotlight emerging artists enough. Even if the artists are great about sending out press releases, most mags are going for the big score to interest bigger advertisers. Good to keep in mind.

Michelle – The question is what do you feel magazines – whatever magazines you like – are missing? With all this specialization, you’d think there’s be a magazine for the likes of me – and my friends in various art forms – and I don’t feel there is one. There are magazines that cover facets, but not that look at the whole artist as a whole person. As much of a magazine junkie as I am, I sometimes look at the pile and feel absolutely fractured.

Tim – I’m honored!

Tori – there was a crate of clementines next to me, and believe me, aiming for Lexus Bitch’s head was awfully tempting!

Sue – got your ideas; put them in The Mag file.

Four loads of laundry done yesterday, including all the new fabric. More research for the article pitch – I’m still only halfway through all the material, but think I have enough to write the pitch.

And cooking, my favorite thing. Minute steaks marinated in red wine vinegar, soy sauce, onion, and garlic, served over rice and sweet peas. I’m marinating a honey-soy-mustard chicken for tonight.

Came home to a long email from my boss at the show, asking to book me for quite a few days (and several full weeks) between now and mid-March. I can do a lot of them, and I’m going to say yes – they’re broken up enough so I don’t think it’ll make me too wacky, and I can pay off some bills. But it means I have to be VERY organized on the writing and house-hunting fronts – I’ve got quite a few additional balls in the air and I can’t afford (physically, emotionally, or spiritually) to drop any of them, even if I’m doing 8 shows/week and pulling 14 hour days. Somehow, I will figure it out.

Expect additional bitching and moaning from me here. And also the occasional amusing anecdote, provided it doesn’t embarrass or hurt anyone in the show. Ooh, I wrote “antidote” three times in a row instead of “anecdote” – is my Freudian slip showing? 😉

Saw the premiere of The Dresden Files last night. There were a couple of places where I flinched because something didn’t quite hold together – and, from my own experience working on set, my sense is that it was more a case of running out of time and cutting a few scenes or shots to stay on schedule than an overall problem. Although I’m wary of a few points they set up and I’m . . .leery . . .of how they’ll explain them. I liked most of it a lot, and if I happen to be home when it’s on, I’ll watch it. I’m interested to see where the character goes. They’ve set up the antagonism between Harry and his uncle (even though Harry killed him? But he was in the last scene? I know, I know, magic, immortality, and all that, but it has to be logical within the context of its world). The focus seems to be ceremonial magic and the contrast between the ceremonial and illusionism. I’d have to capture a screen-save to actually look at the symbols tossed around to see if they’re accurate.

And tonight – Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip comes back – some of the best writing and acting on television!

Got to get that newsletter out today – January’s fading quickly!

Devon
Chasing the Changeling – 15,592 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15 / 45
(33.3%)

January 21, 2007

Sunday, January 21, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and COLD

The problem with doing admin work all day is I feel so unproductive. That sounds silly – I should be glad it’s done, right? But because it’s a bunch of little bits that take longer than it seems they should, I always feel like I’ve gotten very little accomplished.

Regarding the question on Saturn Retrograde: Better than Mercury Retrograde? Not so sure about that. During a Mercury Retrograde, travel is delayed; communication is hard and misunderstandings abound; electronics go klaplooey; but it’s a great time to go bargain shopping. You want to stay away from big ticket items: houses, cars, computers, plasma TVs – but go to thrift shops, flea markets, or hit sales.

My mantra for a Mercury Retrograde: Stay low, stay quiet, go shopping.

Safest thing to do.

Saturn is the planet of life lessons. If you haven’t learned –and made the changes – since the previous Saturn Retrograde – the Universe is going to kick your ass and you’ll have a hard time.

Because I was thoroughly ass-kicked last time around (still have the bruises), I’m being especially careful this time. Every time I find myself falling into a pattern, I stop and ask if this is really the most positive way to deal with it.

Got the links and thank yous out to the interviewees for the Lit Athlete article.

Cleaned out a bunch of email accounts that had way too much spam in them. But managed to retrieve some non-spam that nearly got lost.

Worked on Circadian.

You know what’s cool about Valentine’s Day, Circadian-wise, this year? Many of the really good submissions are from men. And it’s lovely writing. Loving and clear and unsentimental, but with deep feeling.

So Mia and several others are encouraging this new magazine idea. I’m definitely open to brainstorming for a few months, and to getting it started once I’ve relocated. That’s the big thing – I don’t want to commit to something this big until I’m settled. The other thing is to write a business plan/proposal and get financing, because I want to pay all the writers. It might not be a lot, especially at first, but I want to pay everyone. I’m still waiting for a grant to come through for another project that will allow me to pay some writers for some stuff. I’d hoped THAT would get off the ground by May, but it now looks like October.

I also don’t want to exclude either men or married people. I have plenty of friends who are both, and I’d hate for them to feel left out of the mix, as either writers or readers.

So – writers, artists, readers – what’s missing from the magazines, in your opinion? What cravings are not being fulfilled? Let’s brainstorm over the next few months.

Regarding the advice of putting advertisements on the blogs and the websites: I appreciate your expertise, but I’ve decided not to do so right now. I’m happy that it works for others. I tend to ignore the ads on other people’s sites, unless the ad is for the new book or a friend’s book or something. I feel battered by everything being advertising/marketing all the time. I’d rather my pages weren’t that – which sounds like a contradiction since both Fearless Ink and Cerridwen’s Cottage are there to market my work. But people are coming there because they want to learn more about my work, not read ads for a casino cruise or erectile dysfunction or something. I’m going to put up Links pages in a few weeks on both sites to lead readers to other sites I think they might find interesting, but, at least for now . . .I’m skipping the ads.

Errands: Put gas in the car; went to Trader Joe’s; went to the drug store (hey, lipstick was buy one, get one free, I am there). Trader Joe’s was enormously busy – that’ll teach me to go on Saturday at mid-day, right?

The poor guy in front of me – he had two items and a woman with a cart ready to burst at the seams shoved him with it in the back of the knee so she could go ahead of him in the line. He had two things – she could have let him go first. But he doesn’t say a word, lets her go ahead of him. She’s digging through her purse, she’s bitching about her life (chick’s wearing a full length fur coat AND dangling a Lexus key – oh, here are the violins, you’re the one who married someone who gives you STUFF instead of love, don’t tell me you didn’t know what you were getting into — and get a better colorist, you can afford it), anyway, on and on, and on. The poor guy is totally uncomfortable and she does everything she can to make him more uncomfortable. I’m starting to wonder if maybe she’s naked under the coat and flashing him. She’s muttering something to him and, even though I’m behind him, I can see he’s turning all shades of red. I really thought he was going to crawl into the produce display and pull the lettuce over himself. Anyway, she finally leaves, he places his two things on the checkout, pulls out his wallet and change flies everywhere. I pick up the change and hand it to him and he’s beet red, very grateful, and looks like he’s going to burst into tears at any moment. And he can’t be more than 20. He’s about six feet four, but he’s YOUNG. Poor kid.

So he pays, and leaves. And I whip all my stuff through the checkout (I bring my own bags and can pack MUCH faster than they can). I take everything outside, pull the bags out of the cart to leave it where it needs to be – and the guy’s waiting for me – to carry my bags to the car because I helped pick up his change. It was so cute! I thanked him and told him that was his good deed for the day, but tolerating Lexus Bitch scored him angel points for at least six months.

Nice to know there are still some sweet guys growing up. His parents did a good job!

On today’s agenda is picking up groceries at the OTHER store (I love having six grocery stores in a five mile radius, I am such a spoiled grocery brat), and going over to my friend’s place to do laundry and cook a nice meal. This’ll be a busy week theatre-wise. I got a lot done in the fussy admin quarter, but not nearly enough writing.

You’re right, Brandy – it’s so important to eat properly. I’m usually pretty good about it, but I’ve woken up later than usual lately, and the food is what’s getting cut from the schedule, which it can’t.

And congrats to my friend J. from the UK, who just bought a place in Saratoga!!! We go to horse races together all over the world. He loves Saratoga and spends so much time there, especially over the summer, that it makes complete sense to own a place there.

Nice morning’s work on Changeling, but I need to get a lot more writing done today and tomorrow in preparation for the week.

Wrote a blurb for my friend’s book, which is always fun.

Devon
Chasing the Changeling – 14.092 words out of est. 45,000

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14 / 45
(31.1%)