May 30, 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Almost full, almost Blue Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Dog Blog post will go up later today.

Yesterday was a rollercoaster. I went in a bit early and over to the NYPL. I took a lot of photographs (with permission, for the inside ones, anyway) and will do a separate post on how walking it affected the story. In other words, I’m going back and rewriting the chapter inside the library – breaking my own rule of not rewriting until I’m completely done with a draft.

I couldn’t photograph in the reading room, but I took notes. And I forgot to look for the photocopy machine – and it’s not on the floorplan — I think I have to give my male protag back his research cubicle and give him scanning capacity – I’ll check with the research librarian I know there how to structure it. Thank goodness for David, who always knows how to steer me in the right direction! I found a wonderful painting on the 3rd floor that I can tie in to something later in the book – it gave me so many ideas I wanted to run right back home and start rewriting the chapter!

I treated it like I would a preliminary location scout for a film, and it worked well. I took a lot of photos and notes, and now I’ve got almost everything I need. I was feeling jazzed and creative coming out of there, and it held for the whole day.

Needless to say, focus or lack thereof, was an issue at the theatre. Thank goodness it was only daywork. If I’d had to do quick changes, who knows what they’d wear onstage!

I’m breaking another rule by sending first draft chapters of Medusa to a friend to read – we’re swapping chapters of our WIPs as we work. Usually, it’s a third or fourth draft before anyone else sees it, but this time, I wanted faster feedback.

Elsa, my oldest cat, the tortoiseshell, had what we call “An Episode.” She has a neurological problem that prevents her from being able to land on her feet. For instance, if you pick her up, before you put her down, you make sure she’s right side up and say, “All four feet, Elsa, all four feet,” so she’s got them going in the right direction, and then you put her down. She can jump and climb and all that, but if she rolls off something, she goes splat. When she was a kitten, at least three vets told me I should put her down because she “wasn’t worth the extra work.” I disagreed. Yes, she has times where she gets confused and disoriented and needs extra attention, days when she’s never met any of us before and the apartment is all new; but she’s lively and funny and affectionate. She’s thirteen years old now, and definitely worth it.

She had a really good day on Monday, but Tuesday, she was having a rough time. Fortunately, my mom could stay with the cats while I was at the show. And she seemed much better by the time I got home.

And I had a fit of nostalgia on Monday about NYU, which is sure to bite me in the ass down the road. I completed a 5 year program in 3 years during my time at NYU – holding down a ridiculous amount of credits year-round, working my way through the film/television program by working in theatre, which is totally ass-backwards, but are you really surprised? And I prefer theatre, and that’s where I spent most of my professional life. I started working professionally in the theatre when I was eighteen, before I even got into NYU. I had a mixed experience there, for a variety of reasons (many of which were due a lack of good judgment on my part).

But receiving the alum info/resources packet the other day and doing research for this interview that might or might not happen, I started thinking back, focusing on the good times, and wondering . . .

I’ve always stayed in touch with my advisor, through all the years since I left, at least with cards at the holiday. In fact, I owe him an email, and we may get together to catch up in person. Unlike most of my fellow students, I never had a crush on him, but he was probably the best and most steadying influence on me there. I didn’t confide personal stuff to him (which was probably a relief for him), but when I flew in the face of what I believed to be administrative bullshit, he was there to pour oil on those troubled waters and make sure everything worked out. Even then, I had problems with authority.

I also had a writing teacher who I believe is the single biggest, most important influence in my development as a writer. He always believed in me, no matter what. And, I can’t tell you how often I’ve felt I let him down by not being a famous author (although this is a projection on my part; he’s never done anything to make me feel that way). Anyway, I looked him up in the NYU directory, and shot off an email yesterday, thanking him for everything. In addition to technical skills, he taught by example how important it is to take a stand and speak out when you believe in something. He taught me a lot about walking the walk as well as talking the talk.

And he emailed me back. I honestly didn’t think he’d remember me. I didn’t think I was that memorable. But he does. In fact, he says he remembers me “very well” – which I hope is a good thing. And he wants to stay in touch.

I also found email addresses for some of the other students with whom I worked. I’m still friends with my best friend from that time, who’s built a career both as a location manager and as a documentary filmmaker. But I’ve lost touch with most people from NYU. Other than the small team of filmmakers who used to work together all the time, as a commuting student, I didn’t know many of my colleagues. Plus, I was working – either a work/study job in the Interactive Telecommunications Department, or back in the theatre. Anyway, I sent off some emails, catching up with former colleagues and wishing them well. I’m always happy to see someone living his or her dream.

Today’s agenda is mostly writing. I read my friend’s adaptation of a short story into a stage play, and commented last night (he’s on deadline), and I’ve got to sort out the muddle of Act II of City of Lost or I will be royally screwed next week—uh, end of this week.

Good Names is developing in an interesting way. In addition to the plot, the themes are developing. Technically, plot-wise, it’s an historical murder mystery. The first victim won’t be killed off for several more chapters, but she’s already getting on my last nerve and I’m looking forward to bumping her off (on the page). I decided that she isn’t going to be out-and-out horrible, but there’s a build-up of slow annoyances and narrow-mindedness that leads to her demise. The main theme of the book is the protagonist refusing to be confined and defined by society (and teaching the narrator this), but the themes of building families and giving people second chances are also developing. On top of that, a new character’s inserted himself into the story – he was supposed to be a walk-on, one of the young street boys that ran around at that time doing errands for a coin. But he is bound and determined to become integral to the action. And fluster my young narrator. AND, an elderly character I originally envisioned as an antagonist has other ideas. She’s still difficult and antagonistic, but there’s quite a different agenda behind it. She’s surprising me (in a good way) and I think she’ll surprise the reader.

I’m going to do some rewrites on Tracking Medusa from yesterday’s work, and then move on to new pages.

Two days and counting, not just to the start of Script Frenzy, but to the release of PERFECTLY PLUM, to which I am a contributor. If you haven’t ordered your copy yet … uh, why not?

Studying sailing; trying to figure out when the NHL Draft is, because I cover that every year; I know it’s in June, but I think it overlaps with the America’s Cup, and I’m trying to figure out how I can be in two places at once. Yes, I checked. The draft is June 22-23, in Ohio and the Cup starts on the 23rd in Valencia. I knew I should have paid better attention during those bi-location lessons!

The Barbarians may have to hold off migrating for awhile. I think I’m at capacity.

Devon

Good Names – 18,537 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

18 / 100
(18.0%)


Tracking Medusa
– holding at 15,553 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

15 / 90
(16.7%)

PS.  Breaking news — my press credentials came through this AM for the America’s Cup.  Woo-hoo!  I am psyched!!!!

5 Comments

  1. I love your NYPL pictures! And congrats on the America’s Cup press credentials! Very cool!

  2. I still stay in touch with my grad-school advisor. Just sent him an email today and he replied back. Lucky guy goes to Germany every summer with his wife. I really didn’t make too many friends when I went to grad school simply because I was a non-trad student – married with a toddler. Didn’t leave any room for partying and I was ok with that. I did my partying as an undergrad!

  3. I like the pictures of the NYPL you posted. I am always fascinated by pictures of different libraries. I can just imagine the Lions.
    Sounds as though you have good memories of NYU and your instructors of you!
    Good Names is taking shape before my eyes, with your updates. Best of luck with the play!

  4. I *love* that feeling of excitement over a book. It’s amazing. And when you finally get to the keyboard and get to hammer out the words… it’s just magic. 🙂

  5. I find using photographs to spur on the creative process fascinating. Unfortunately, I’m a crappy photographer so if I’m trying to find inspiration, I use other people’s pictures and drawings.

    On advisors and crushes: I went to one Nanowrimo meetup and found out that one woman had a crush on my advisor. My first thought was–Ew! (No offense to my advisor, if he ever happens to stumble on this comment.)

    And in response to an above commenter about grad students and partying: I guess I would be considered a traditional grad student, but I don’t party. In fact, I don’t think I’ve known any grad student who were party animals. We’re all too busy stuck in lab, class, or the library studying. If we’re at any substantial gathering at all, it’s for the free food. 🙂


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