Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008
Waxing Moon
Cold and snowing!

It’s snowing! I love snow! And I don’t have to go out in it, so I like it even more.

Nano is done. Congrats to everyone who did it. To those of you who hit 50K, double congrats, and keep writing until you’re done. To those who didn’t hit 50K, just keep at it – the important thing was that you stuck it out for the entire month, and, hopefully, learned some techniques that will help your writing in the future. Unfinished manuscripts drain your creativity. Even if you wind up keeping it in a drawer for years, at least finish the draft so you can move cleanly on to the next thing.

I never think I’ll do Nano again by November 30. I may or may not do it next year; shouldn’t have done it this year, it was more frustrating than usual. But I hit my goal and need to keep on, because I think it’s a viable piece, with some work. Next year, though, I might see what it’s like to do a year without mentoring. The majority of my mentees were fabulous, and I’m pleased with myself for cutting loose the dead weight earlier rather than later; however, the dead weight took a toll on me, even though I managed to buffer the toll from the group.

I’ll make my decision next year on October 31st!

Start of response to responses to my comments yesterday (skip if you wish):
To all of those who got defensive about shopping at Wal-Mart, I re-iterate: When you spend money at a store, any store, even the local newsagent, by spending your money there, you condone their policies. I actually set foot in three Wal-Marts in the last week (not black Friday, thank goodness, or I’d probably be in the hospital), in three different states, because I wanted to see first-hand if maybe I’d been too harsh over the past years.

I found the stores FILTHY. I’m talking they were all disgustingly dirty. The floors were so dirty that I had to clean my shoes with disinfectant when I got home – all three times. Merchandise was torn and strewn over the floor. The staff was rude, the other customers were hateful and pushy, and not only did they not have what I needed, what they had was MORE EXPENSIVE than other stores in the area, especially when it came to food. Comparing the food prices at the nearest Wal-mart to the store at which I usually shop, which is less than a mile away, there was about a 40 cent price difference on almost every item except junk food, with Wal-Mart being the higher priced. 40 cents per item adds up quickly.

I believe the death-by-trampling could happen anywhere in the country. If any of us researched our particular area, we’d find instances in history where mob mentality resulted in fatality. It’s not limited to Long Island and New Jersey. Yeah, I make a lot of jokes about both, and the escalating race tensions/hate crimes on Long Island are worrisome, but it can happen ANYWHERE the conditions are created. Wal-Mart CREATED the conditions for this to occur, fed the beast, whipped up the frenzy. They must be held partially accountable, while those who actually committed the murder must be hunted down and removed from the population, because they are a danger. The local police really dropped the ball, in my opinion.

One reason I haven’t run out to buy a Costco membership yet is because I haven’t yet had a chance to research the store’s background. If I disagree with their policies, I’ll forego the deep discounts.

I know all about living on a budget. Thanks to that unsigned check, NONE of December’s bills can be paid. The classy thing for them to do would be to express mail a replacement check, but we all know that won’t happen. I’ll have to wait two more weeks for them to cut a check, which will then be held by my bank for a week because it’s an out-of-state check. Am I stressed? Hugely. Things would have been tight, but possible, had I actually been able to deposit the check on Saturday morning. But that’s the way it is, and everyone is just going to have to deal. It’s one of the hazards of freelancing, especially when all these “financial institutions” that are getting billions in bailout money then turn around and triple one’s interest rates, even when one (me) regularly pays twice the minimum or more. I’ll get through it; I always do. I can pay rent. That’s it. None of my other contracts come due until the end of the year. So don’t talk to me about living on a budget. I’ve lived on a very tight budget AND taken care of my family all my life – just because I don’t have kids doesn’t mean that I don’t have family members dependent on me – and done it IN THE ARTS (apart from temp jobs here and there), not as a cubicle slave or working a job I hate, and shopping my conscience. I started earning my own way when I was eleven. I put myself through NYU film school, and I’ve never had the luxury of a spouse’s income.

Don’t get me wrong — I think it’s great when one parent can stay home with the kids in this day and age, and I wish we lived in a society set up so that parents COULD either switch off with one at home, one at work for months at a time, or whatever. And I applaud anyone who home schools. Believe me, seeing how so many schools have declined over the past years, if I had kids, I’d home school. And even during my years in school, most of the stuff I learned was in independent study or stuff my parents took me to see when we traveled. There were specific years I learned quite a bit — fourth grade, fifth grade, a bit in high school — but, for the most part, I’m unhappy with the way things were taught in school.

At a show on which I worked a few years ago, a whole group of us discovered that a favorite store had particular discriminatory policies, so we wrote a group letter, signed by everyone, and everyone has stopped shopping there. Do we miss the merchandise? Of course. And we sigh and moan about it sometimes. Do we miss the price breaks? Of course. But it’s better than condoning policies we find unacceptable. It’s not only low price points, either. I don’t shop at a well-known store in London, because I have problems with certain policies, and I find the behavior encouraged during their sales revolting. I’ll take a walk through the store as a tourist; but I’ll spend my money elsewhere. Not that it matters to them; but it matters to me.

There are stores with prices comparable or cheaper than Wal-Mart. They’re all up and down the north east, from New Jersey to Maine, and I can’t believe that Wal-Mart is the only store with good prices anywhere else in the country. I’ve traveled and toured extensively all over the country. Stores exist.

Do I think they are totally evil? No. There are two points where I think they made a huge, positive difference. One is in the $4 prescription program, which is especially important for senior citizens and people on fixed incomes. The other was during Katrina, when they were among the first to get trucks of fresh, clean water down to the devastated areas. The fact that Bush’s stupid people stopped them and wouldn’t let them through is an entirely separate issue – the company proved that they can step up in an emergency. They wouldn’t lose a lot by treating their employees better. In fact, they’d gain a lot.

And then maybe someone would wash the floors occasionally.

Management always blames labor for high costs, and, 90% of the time, it’s not true. In my industry, labor costs are approximately 11% of a production’s budget (not counting star salaries, which is a choice on the part of the producers, not a necessity, in my opinion). And yet, we, the ones who make it possible for producers to make a profit, are blamed for high costs like ticket prices, which keep away audiences. Fortunately, even though the unions have been severely weakened during the last eight years, our unions have maintained particulars are far as working conditions so it doesn’t literally kill us (most of the time) to work on a production. There was a serious injury on a major production last year which is litigation, so I can’t go into details, except to say that it is highly unlikely the injured person will ever be able to work again. Fortunately, it’s a company for whom I’ve managed to avoid working. But for the most part, working conditions in my industry are decent, although intense, and there’s always something to bitch and moan about, but the results are good productions. The fact that our work hours and conditions are regulated lets us do our jobs better and give more to the audience.

I worked for over a hundred companies as a temp during college and when I just started out, in and around shows, many, many times for honchos near the top. That’s where the waste and greed and high costs are incurred: Amongst the executives who spend the day playing putt-putt golf in their corner offices, take three hour lunches and come back drunk, then pass out in their offices for the afternoon, while the administrative assistants, earning maybe 1/20th of what these guys do, actually keep the company running. Yet these people, who spend most of their time on non-company matters during company time, have the power and use it to consistently make decisions that hurt the company and most of its employees. And let me tell you, the above scenario was the norm. Occasionally I landed a temp job for an exec who actually did the work, but most of his colleagues did nothing, yet were paid ridiculous salaries. It’s one of the reasons we’re all in such a big mess right now.

We all have to make our personal choices. And we all have to accept the consequences of those choices.
End of response.

Got a lot done yesterday, but not as much as I wanted, because I’m feeling lousy (most of it is emotional backlash from the past couple of weeks that’s physicalizing, I’m sure, but that doesn’t make it any more fun). Ran the necessary errands, but spent most of the day putting up the decorations. I have more decorations than space to put them, so not everything can be used. I always feel guilty about the decorations that sit unused for a year or so (I try to rotate). I feel like I’m not “allowing” them to come out and play.

The cats “helped”, especially with the ironing. Don’t worry, I made sure they didn’t get near the hot iron. I’ll post pictures in a few days.

But it looks nice. I still lack holiday spirit – in fact, I’m a cat’s whisker from turning into an atheist at this point, I’m so disgusted with everything, and yes, I am aware of the irony of that response during the holiday season. There’s still a lot of clutter to get rid of, stuff to purge, and figure out how to straighten it all out. The problem with juggling multiple projects is that you can’t really put anything away (if it’s “away” then, in my psyche, it’s “finished”) and there’s no room to keep it all out. But, somehow, you deal. That’s all you can do.

Got to get the final email out to my N3x, and then it’s back to the page. I’ll finish the assignment for Confidential Job #1 today, so I can get it out tomorrow (and invoice them – they actually pay on time). Got to get back to the mystery, the Maine project, the Mick Feeney story, the Jain Lazarus revisions, some material for the upcoming A BIBLIO PARADISE week hosting IWOFA

So it’s going to be a long day.


Devon’s Bookstore:

NEW! Too Much Mistletoe A Nina Bell Holiday Mystery by Devon Ellington. Nina Bell is back! Still trying to make a living in the New York theatre world of the 1990s, she’s trying to figure out which is the bigger mystery – a college friend’s disappearance, or her ever-complicated love life, as every man she meets wants to hang mistletoe over her head. Read an excerpt here and purchase the story for only $2.99 USD here .

NEW! “The Ramsey Chase” A Remarkable Adventure of Cornelia True and Roman Gray By Devon Ellington
Meet the adventurous Cornelia True of Bodwin’s Ferry, whose life changes forever when “fixer” Roman Gray lands naked in her petunias, and they combine forces to track down a serial killer determined to murder thirteen women in thirteen months for their blood, with his latest victim right there in Bodwin’s Ferry!
Only $1.49 USD for this 10K adventure, the very first Penny’s Dreadfuls release! Read an excerpt of the adventure here.
Purchase the story here.

Free limited download
“The Possession of Nattie Filmore: A Jain Lazarus Adventure” by Devon Ellington. If you loved HEX BREAKER, you’ll love spending time with Jain and Wyatt as they try to solve a haunted house mystery. Read an excerpt of the story and download it free here

Hex Breaker
by Devon Ellington. A Jain Lazarus Adventure. Hex Breaker Jain Lazarus joins the crew of a cursed film, hoping to put to rest what was stirred up before more people die and the film is lost. Tough, practical Detective Wyatt East becomes her unlikely ally and lover on an adventure fighting zombies, ceremonial magicians, the town wife-beater, the messenger of the gods, and their own pasts.
$4.00 ebook/ $6.00 on CD from Firedrakes Weyr Publishing.
Visit the site for the Jain Lazarus adventures.

Back By Popular Demand! 30 Tips for 30 Days: Kick Start Your Novel and Get Out of Your Own Way. A Nano Handbook by Devon Ellington. FREE!
If you’ve ever wondered whether or not you could survive National Novel Writing Month, this is the handbook for you! Ideas on preparations, setting goals, overcoming blocks, pushing yourself, tips for each day of the process, and ideas for going beyond, this handbook by veteran Nano-er Devon Ellington will help you survive. Best of all, it’s free! Download it here.
Limited time offer
Sensory Perceptions: Techniques to Improve Your Writing Through the Six Senses by Devon Ellington. Use the six senses to take your writing to the next level via a series of sense-specific exercises. By the end of seven weeks, you complete seven short stories!. $1.29 USD. Here.

5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.

Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on November 30, 2008 at 8:56 am  Comments (2)  


  1. Devon, I appreciate your response, but I feel that you have blanketed the previous day’s post with generalizations. This one in particular bothered me: “The type of shopper Wal-Mart attracts is the type of person who tramples an employee to death and shoves rescue workers out of the way when they try to resuscitate him.”

    I am NOT that type of person. And just because I shop at Walmart does not automatically MAKE me that type of person. I’m sorry you can’t understand that.

    As far as Walmart’s go, come to Nebraska. You’ll see that they are clean, with friendly workers, merchandise stacked neatly in place. I have been to several here in Nebraska and each one is the same. I just went shopping for groceries at Walmart last night and I talked to the check out clerk, asking if he worked on Black Friday and how it went. He said that he had worked that day and this is what he told me: “Actually, it wasn’t too bad at all. Everyone was very polite, stood in line, and were gracious.”

    I’ll let his words speak for themselves.

  2. I think we can agree to disagree.
    I truly wish the company that stiffed you would step up and do the right thing. You’re cats will stand around the ironing board/iron? My cats are scared of it for some reason. Well, except for Layla. *G*
    I’ll be keeping you in my prayers, Hugs.

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