Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday, January 31, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and bitterly cold

I watched WATCHMEN last night, and, of course, I have a lot to say about it. The person who gave me the DVD thought I would either love it or hate it. My reaction wasn’t that absolute and simple. And remember, I’m not familiar with the graphic novel, so I’m coming to it fresh, without any preconceived expectations for the piece. And from my own rather odd frame of reference.

SPOILER ALERT. I discuss my reactions in depth. Don’t read it if you haven’t seen it and don’t want details. Skip to the next bold subheader.

I always felt held at a distance from the piece, very aware of being a voyeur instead of being embraced and included in the world. As someone who prefers the immediacy and intimacy of theatre to film, that happens more often than not when I watch a film — also, thanks to film school and working on film sets, there’s usually a part of me that’s looking at all the production elements; it’s a very rare piece that sucks me in completely and takes me on a journey to the extent that I’m not aware of production details. That’s the downside of working in the business. It’s harder to be fully drawn in.

I thought the look of the film was absolutely gorgeous, production values and art direction stunning. I loved the period detail and the way historical detail was woven into the film’s alternate reality. I liked most of the casting. Unfortunately, I pegged the villain in the first fight sequence with the Comedian, and got impatient with some of the characters during the course of the film for not seeing it or suspecting it sooner. Rorshach’s getting derailed every time he discovered something made sense, but the other characters’ unwillingness to see bothered me without more depth to why they wouldn’t, which ties in to a later comment.

I didn’t find enough musicality in the piece overall — by that, I mean every scene had equal heaviness. I’m not talking about adding in comedy or anything like that, but I felt the absence of scenes that swelled contrasted with quieter, more intimate scenes. The tone was too even throughout. I realize that one of the themes was that these characters don’t have lives or friends outside of each other and they’re now disconnected from each other. There was a lack of dynamic from scene to scene that made the overall arc seem a little flat. The cadences of Ozymandias, Night Owl, and Dr. Manhattan were too similar. They. Spoke. As. If. Every. Word. Had. Equal. Importance. The exception was when Dan and Rorshach have their argument that leads to Rorshach saying, “You’re a good friend.” That was pitch perfect.

In general, Jackie Earle Haley’s performance as Rorshach was my favorite, with the most dynamic, the best use of voice and physicality, and (as Haley does in HUMAN TARGET in a very different way), he finds his character’s unique rhythm and stays true to it, responding to other characters in a flow that feels completely natural. He’s also not afraid of stillness — too often actors freeze in scenes where they have to be still, but not Haley. He can be absolutely still and reveal more than most actors do at their most active. Another interesting response he provoked in me was that, while I felt compassion and understanding for Rorshach (even when I disagreed with his choices), I never felt pity. There were times I felt PITY for each of the other characters, but I felt COMPASSION for Rorshach. I can think of a whole list of actors who would have tried to make him a more sympathetic character by eliciting pity or sympathy from the audience and playing up his past as victimhood, and I think Haley made the stronger choice. Also, in the scenes where he wasn’t wearing the mask, he managed to convey enormous vulnerability in addition to his toughness, even when snarling. It’s one of those examples of the layers and dimensions you get when you put the right actor into the right role

It was interesting what the actors brought to characters who, basically, are unlikeable, for the most part. I almost felt it was like SuperHeros/SuperFlaws. Their flaws were magnified even more than their strengths, which I thought was interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian. No matter what the genre, what the role, Morgan can always be counted on for a thoughtful, intelligent, dimensional performance. Just when it seems The Comedian is irredeemable, he turns on a dime and has an insight that calls out an equal flaw that another character tries to hide. Again, I can run through a whole list of actors who would have wanted to make him more sympathetic, or just been wooden in the role.

I wanted to see more of the team’s past work together. I wanted to see how they’d worked together (or not worked together) in the past so that their disconnect from each other had more of a basis. The map scene didn’t give me enough, nor did the scenes with the Comedian and Dr. Manhattan in Vietnam. I had mixed feelings about the whole Vietnam thing anyway, but that was more because that war defined me as a person very strongly than any logical story element. I would have never forgiven Silk Spectre II and Night Owl if they hadn’t gone to get Rorshach, and I wasn’t really sure why he hung back (unmasked) when he saw them followed into the alley, unless he wanted them to get a taste of what they left behind. I assumed that was his reasoning, but I could be way off the rails. There’s talk of Night Owl and Rorshach being partners — I wanted to see that, and how that partnership broke down. If there was more on the ties that bound them and separated them, the refusal to realize Adrian was behind it all would have made more sense. Rorshach was going to get and accept and act on the truth no matter what, but there needed to be more dynamic in the others’ choice to turn a blind eye. I realize there’s a time limit on a script, and I don’t know if that was in the graphic novel, and maybe it wasn’t in the movie because it wasn’t in the novel and they stayed true to the novel, but I missed that. I also got tired of the gore after awhile. Although the violence was somewhat stylistic, I kept going, “Oh, you’re not going to do it that way, are you? Yep, you are.” And shaking my head.

The ending in Antarctica angered me. Ozymandias left alone wasn’t justice, in my opinion. I think the tiger should have reformed and ripped his throat out. To me, that would have been poetic. And really, a female antlered tiger (her name was Carla)? Really? Are we working with animal hermaphrodites here? That and Rorshach murdering the dogs (though I understand why he did it) angered me in the wrong way. Rorshach’s death also angered me, although I realize he was also asking Dr. Manhattan to end his pain. Well, that’s what I got from his eyes, anyway. Again, I could be wrong. Showing the destruction of New York City — really, can all these filmmakers who weren’t in NY for 9/11 put a moratorium on scenes showing the destruction of NYC for about thirty years or so, because those of us who lived through it and actually lost people we cared about in it have seen the real thing, and don’t want to see someone’s twisted vision on film. To me, that was irresponsible filmmaking, whether it was true to the novel or not.

The following scene with Laurie, Dan, and Sally was a much-needed breath and had some lovely work in it, but not enough to make up for the previous sequence, and the final scene at the newspaper was simply annoying. There was a lot I liked about the movie overall, and some performance details that really stood out for me, but the ending was unsatisfying. I am interested in hunting down the graphic novel now, because Stacia Kane mentioned that its ending is different, and I want to know the difference.

It’s definitely worth seeing, I liked more than I disliked, and I’m sure people have a wide range of responses to it, especially if they’re not familiar with the world of the graphic novel. And again, I come at it from a very different angle than most people.

Back to Real Life and Writing

So it’s the end of the month, which means my January wrap-up is on the GDR site. Got more done than I realized, but not as much as I wanted.

Characters are chattering in my head from different projects. It’s like tangled yarn in there, and I’m trying to gently sort it out to see who belongs in which project. If some of them don’t shut up, I’ll have to kill them off. Way too noisy.

I was frustrated with my music yesterday and mentioned it on Twitter. A guy named Blake McKibben sent me a link to one of his songs and I liked it, so I bought the album on iTunes. It’s got lyrics, so it’s percolating music instead of writing music, but I like it.

There’s percolation going on, which means a lot of wandering and muttering, but when it’s sorted, it should make the writing go more smoothly.

Heard an interesting tale on the grapevine as to the fate of a project with which I was once involved. Quite a few months ago, I was hired to fashion a pitch for a project, with the prospect that if it was picked up, I would continue to develop it for X fee. I did it, including snippets of dialogue and character, since those are my strengths, and I was paid per the contracted rate for the pitch. The people to whom my client pitched the project loved it and wanted to move forward. However, my client decided that he wanted to spend less on the writing, and slashed the fee moving forward by two thirds. I refused. He hired someone cheaper. The people who wanted to fund the overall project where horrified at the drop in quality and dropped the project.

What can I say? You get what you pay for.

Of course, the client blames me for not agreeing to work for a pittance. Bite me. The money was there in the budget and we’d talked about rates before he hired me to do the pitch. I delivered. He tried to screw me. Buh-bye.

I can’t be happy about it because ti’s always sad when a project dies in the water, but this is a case where what could have been a creative, positive experience was killed because the middleman doesn’t respect writers or writing. And it was important for me to stand my ground and not set a negative precedent.

Writing today. I’m on a site job tomorrow, but it’s more of a case of just being present in a supervisory capacity I can take the laptop and work on my writing for the bulk of the day. I think I might take another crack at trying to finish the play BLOOD SOUP for my producer before working on the three-hander. My cell doesn’t work at that site, but the last time I was there, the wireless does, so we’ll see.

Good first writing session this morning; let’s hope it set the tone for the rest of the day.

Devon

Advertisements

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010
Full Moon
Mars Retrograde
Really darned cold!

Minus four degrees F this morning — and I’ll have to go out in it later to run some errands. Ick From what I hear, it’s snowing farther south. It smells like snow here, too, in spite of the predictions, so I think I’ll head out earlier rather than later.

Yesterday was okay, but frustrating. I had focus problems, and felt I was getting bogged down in the logistics of the WIP. I pushed through, and it’s getting better.

Had fun at my friend’s place. Always good to unwind.

Knock me over with a feather! Verizon actually sent a check for some of the money they owe me from the provider switch over. Imagine that!

Watched the series finale of DOLLHOUSE. Wow. Not what I expected, but in a good way. And no neat little bows to wrap things up without any ambiguity. What impressed me the most was the actors’ total commitment to the work, and how they went for it fearlessly. You could tell how much they cared about this project, no matter how badly Fox treated them. Alan Tudyk had some great moments, some casually delivered lines that could have been throwaways in the midst of a tense scene, and the way he delivered them was just brilliant. Whedon’s great at being true to the vision of his created worlds, rather than giving the audience (or the network) what they expect. It’s one reason I respect his work so much. Whereas I stopped watching LOST in spite of good writing and scenework because I felt the creators were messing with me (meaning the audience) just to mess with me and broke my trust, I never feel that way with Whedon’s work, even when it takes unexpected or disturbing turns. He never breaks the pact with me as an audience member, and I know I can trust him to take me on an unusual journey and not be left twisting in the wind or disappointed at the end.

Tried to watch CAPRICA. I want to like it, and I like parts of it, but I’m not sold on it as a whole yet.

Pitched for two script writing jobs last week. Because of where they were listed, I’m pretty sure they’ll go with someone cheaper and less experienced, but they sounded like interesting projects, so I at least wanted to try.

Got my next assignment from Confidential Job #1, and it looks interesting. Will start tackling that probably on Monday. This weekend, I want to write, and maybe catch up on some DVDs I’ve got stacked up. I’ve got iN BRUGES to watch, and the full season of LIFE ON MARS. A friend’s encouraging me to see WATCHMEN, saying I’ll either love it or froth at the mouth in fury.

What I watch tonight depends what kind of mood I’m in after a day of writing.

Back to the page, and then braving the cold to get things done.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on January 30, 2010 at 9:11 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and COLD!

JD Salinger died. I liked FRANNY AND ZOOEY and his short stories. I was never a fan of CATCHER IN THE RYE on more than a stylistic level. Holden Caulfield was a whiner who worked my last nerve. But Salinger made a huge contribution, beyond Caulfield, to writing, and he played by his own rules, not getting involved in the uber-marketing crap.

More trouble with 1and1 yesterday. I decided that the newsletter should cover January and February, and reworked it, since I hadn’t been able to get out January’s due to the host problems. It was a nightmare, but I finally got it out, in spite of the site freezing, the address book disappearing (which meant there were times I couldn’t even hand-enter the addresses, because I couldn’t read them), etc., etc. I told tech non-support to stop arguing with me and actually work with me to give me solutions, and, if they couldn’t, to switch me back to the older version of the webmail, which they won’t do. And I’m sick of seeing the little watch every time I want to do something. The watch is supposed to be like the hourglass Windows uses, but what it really means is not that something’s loading, but that it won’t work.

And, of course, 1and1’s instructions on moving the files to the FTP client have NOTHING to do with what’s actually on the screen. I tried to move stuff and couldn’t.

I didn’t get enough writing done and got even more frustrated. It was more of a craft day than an art day anyway — I didn’t feel like writing, so I had to rely on craft.

On the upside, my publisher wants me to write a piece for the relaunched blog for the house, and also to write a short story tie-in for DIXIE DUST. So that will be fun. I’m feeling about as creative as wilted lettuce, but I’ll think of something.

I was worried that I missed the series finale of DOLLHOUSE, but it’s tonight. Phew! There were definitely some episodes I preferred to others, but, overall, I found the series fascinating and disturbing and thought-provoking, which is why I liked most of it. And the writing and casting were pretty strong. Dichen Lachman, Enver Gjokaj, Fran Kranz, and Alan Tudyk were the standouts for me in the show.

Another upside — the page for the ARDEUR essay anthology is up at SmartPop books. Hop on over here to read about it and find out more information about my essay.

Decent writing session this morning on the WIP. I’m over 100 pages in longhand now, especially since I had to go back and insert scenes. As I’m moving forward, I’m finding stuff that needs to be seeded earlier for logistical purposes, so I’m adding those scenes. That way, I can go back around to them later when I need to. When I get to the point of revisions, it will also help me see where I can make cuts.

Back to the page for awhile, and then I’m off to spend the afternoon withe a friend. I’m hoping I’ll get inspired for the YA short story, and hope that tomorrow I have the focus and energy to tackle trying to pull my webmail files to the FTP. Since 1and1 won’t/can’t help me, I have to figure it out on my own. I’m worried about the incoming mail that can’t be sorted — I may have to forward everything to another address, at least for the moment.

Sigh.

Once this difficult web host transition is done, I hope my new host is less stressful, and I can get back to a steady working system. I don’t even feel that I can adequately pitch and follow up because I can’t trust that anything will get through. Why am I paying these people? They’re holding me cyberly hostage to keep getting paid for services they don’t provide. I need to break free.

Devon

Published in: on January 29, 2010 at 9:11 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snowing!

So, they told us we’d get “some” snow when the arctic front comes through on Saturday. Of course, that meant we woke up to about a half inch of snow and it’s coming down at the rate of about an inch an hour now.

I don’t mind — it’s pretty and I don’t have to go anywhere.

I feel a little better. The weaker lung only hurts sometimes when I breathe now, instead of all the time, the cough’s almost gone. I want to sleep all the time and have no appetite, but the fever’s finally gone.

Didn’t watch any TV last night. Read Deanna Raybourn’s SILENT IN THE SANCTUARY instead, and really liked it. There’s a lot of warmth and humor woven within the Victorian, Gothic, mystery, and romance elements, and it’s done well. I love how even minor characters are memorable — it’s what I always try to do in prose and scripts — and I’m reading the books for structure as much as pleasure.

So, the iPad came out yesterday. I have a problem with the name — I think iTablet has more panache and sounds less like an electronic feminine hygiene product. Plus, if we have the iPOd, the tablet should be called something more distinctly different. It looks like it’s fun, but I don’t need it. It won’t serve me any more than a netbook would serve me — it can’t hold the amount of manuscript information and research I need to cart around with me on the laptop. I hope it does well, but I don’t personally need it.

What I need to go is get back to the page and make up for the time I lost this week. I lost one assignment yesterday because of webhost problems, and time-sensitive material that supposedly went out — didn’t. The dickheads in tech non-support didn’t help at all, simply argued with me that there isn’t any problem. Pardon my language, but, really, that’s the term that best describes them. If all I can do is stare at the screen and none of the applications work, there’s a problem. Stop arguing and start looking for a solution. And when you tell me to do something, I try it and IT DOESN’T WORK, come up with something else. And then they had the balls to send me a “Satisfied with our Service?” email. Hmm, let’s see: You cost me the bulk of January’s income AND refuse to fix the problem AND argue with me. What do YOU think? The sooner I can pull off my webmail files and get away from them, the better.

I had to get another pitch out to a company for a really good, long term job, so I had to use my personal email on gmail instead of my professional website-linked address and was not happy about it.

Okay, deep breath, Om and all that. I need to get back to the page. A short story started knocking around inside my head yesterday. If it’s actually willing to remain SHORT, I’ll draft it out so the characters will leave me alone, and then get back to my other work.

Devon

Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 9:25 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was a lousy writing day. I kept getting chills/fever and be out of it for a few hours. Then I’d feel better and try to get some work done, then it would hit again. One lung is fine again, but the weaker lung is still in trouble. It’s the one that always took longer to heal all those years when I struggled with constant bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis (from the time I was a kid until I was in my mid-thirties). I’ll focus on lung clearage and keep trying to rest, and should be back to sort of normal in a few days.

February’s well-booked, and most of it is filled with gigs that aren’t dependent on the web host — thank goodness, because, yet again, 1and1.com was completely useless yesterday. I could read email, i even managed to respond to ONE — and then, nothing.

I tried to download the FTP thing that’s supposed to make it possible to pull my webmail files and IT DOESN’T WORK ON A MAC. In fact, I didn’t even hit the download button, because it clearly states it’s only for Windows. Now, why the hell did they tell me to use it when it doesn’t work on a Mac, and I’ve clearly told them in every email that I’m on a Mac? Fucking idiots, pardon my language.

And, honestly, i felt too lousy to keep looking for something that worked. I’ll have to get back to that when I’m feeling better.

Didn’t get much writing done. Frustrated with the play because the tone’s too heavy and it’s supposed to have a lot of humor in it. I can’t write it and then layer in the humor, because the humor has to grow organically out of character and situation. So I have to attack it from another angle.

The WIP is going slowly, but okay. This particular catalyst happened, the new character is in to add to the conflict, the chemistry’s working, yeah, now if I only had the energy to keep up the kind of pace I had in the last couple of weeks.

Watched some TV yesterday. Liked HUMAN TARGET episode better than the first two in some ways, but there were a few things that really bothered me. They probably won’t bother most of the audience, but they bothered me. First of all, again, I knew who the villain was in the first shot in which the villain appeared on screen. Second, I never feel there’s any actual threat from the villains, because they’re not well-developed characters. For the hero to really shine, the villain has to be a good match and a real threat. In the first three episodes, they haven’t been. Third, they never named the poison — they had Guerrero make a vague reference to it being “airborne and lethal.” He’s my favorite character, but, um, DUH. And yes, it came through the vent, but was it released into the overall ventilation system, or just in the single apartment? Not naming the poison (a creative team choice, not an actor choice) was a lazy and illogical choice on both writing and research levels. In spite of the cute banter between Chance and the female op about the ear piece, again, a lazy creative team choice. She’s a pro; she’d expect him to have an earpiece. It made her look unprofessional. If the villain was really such an important DC mucky muck, he would have had an apartment, not a hotel room.

Things I liked: Jackie Earle Haley’s work, which is why I keep watching the show. I was never familiar with his work as a child/teen actor, just his work as an adult, and I really like it. HIs performance in LITTLE CHILDREN ranks up there in the top handful of performances I’ve seen in my life that I find completely unforgettable — and is one of the few film performances on that list — most of the others are theatre performances. I should be familiar with his earlier work — we’re close in age — but it wasn’t stuff I watched, and once I started working in theatre in my late teens, I was working all the time and didn’t get to see much unless it was the work of people I knew in the theatre. I like the rapport between the three leads — it doesn’t even bother me that there’s not a regular female character in the mix yet, the way it usually would. I liked the touch of having Guerrero read the manual for the defibrillator. It would have worked better had Chance not done the same thing in the airline cockpit last week, but will work even more strongly if, next week, Winston uses a manual for something — that gives us a tie between the three of them; they’re all ready to learn whatever they don’t know to get the job done, and they don’t come into the situations knowing everything. A none-of-my-business creative choice: Rather than finding the antidote in a hotel fridge, I’d rather Guerrero pinpointed the poison, the antidote and either knew how to make one or knew someone who could. Again, that feeds into several shaky logistics in the writing, and I might be more aware of the details because of my own research into poisons and the close way I followed the several news stories that were the basis/inspiration for the episode. The look and style of the show are good; I like the way the actors work together. The pace was better in this episode than the previous two. The writing’s still a little surface for me; too many logistical lapses (which could be fixed in a word or phrase; you don’t need a big scene) and the villains need to be more three dimensional and more lethal. But as long as Haley’s around peeling back layers of Guerrero. I’ll keep watching.

Back to the page today, and some stuff to get out to my new publisher. I’ve also got to go grocery shopping — a woman cannot live on red wine and mayonnaise alone.

My characters call. I must respond.

Devon

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cooler

Okay, I’ve rejoined the Land of the Living, pretty much.

Monday was just a rough day all the way around. A chronic condition was triggered, not just by stresses that piled up over the previous few weeks, but made worse due to the jackhammers outside the building where I stayed for hours on end. I’m hyper sensitive to sound, and there are certain repetitive machine sounds that trigger negative physical response. Jackhammers are one of them.

I also suffered an assault by the Doubt Demons on Monday. The whole, “Who do you think you are, calling yourself a writer?” and “If you were really all that, you would have moved already” and “what makes you think that production company would want YOU?” and on and on and on.

Well, I’ve seen the reels that this production company’s done. I respect their work. It’s high quality. I also think my writing could take them to another level, and that’s why I’m pitching to them. My experience in theatre and fiction is what will make their spots really shine.

Add to that someone’s trying to pick a public fight with me over a critical literary essay I was paid to write, and whose contents I stand by. When the person discussed in the essay thought I was a man, that person fell all over the self praising it. Once the person found out I was a woman, the person started criticizing me publicly and trying to draw me into a fight. Uh, no, thanks. I’m going to step back and let your metaphorical cow patties hit the ground, not me, and I’m not playing in your dirty sandbox. Not interested. I don’t care that you’re famous and I’m not. I was paid to state my opinion and back it up. That’s what I did, and I did it in a much more respectful way than a lot of other people have responded to the work. Sorry if I don’t worship the person or the person’s work, but I don’t. I’m not going to pretend I do and fawn. Hell, I don’t fawn when I LOVE somebody’s work.

The weather was disgusting on Monday, but it actually stopped raining and was sunny when I left the site to head back to the station. It was so windy that I had to stop and take refuge in a few doorways along the way because I couldn’t walk against the wind, and I’m hardly a delicate little flower.

I felt like crap when I got to the station, and I was early, so I sat in the waiting area of 30th St. Station, hoping I wouldn’t pass out. One of the lovely K-9s took it upon himself to keep me company and lick my face — he knew I wasn’t feeling well.

I went out to the MegaBus stop and — no bus. Then, we had a cloudburst and dashed to the nearest building to get out of the rain — where the security guard said we couldn’t “loiter.” The bus was 28 minutes late, and the driver comes out, shuts the door and walks past us without saying a word. So we’re standing in the pouring rain in front of an idling bus for another 15 minutes. He doesn’t put our luggage in the luggage hold, just opens the door. So I put in my suitcase my own damn self, while other people just stood on the curb looking confused.

I had a good seat, but the temperature was so cold all the way back that my hands literally turned blue. The driver ignored all requests to turn off the air conditioning. The water on the outside of my coat turned to frost by the time we got to New York.

Not to mention that we were stuck on the Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel for over an hour. Better in front of the tunnel than in it, but still — an extra hour in a freezing bus while I’m soaked to the skin is NOT my idea of a good time.

We finally get to the drop off point, and the SOB opens the door to the luggage compartment and steps back, chattering on his cell phone. I climb in to the luggage compartment (as everyone else stands there with their thumbs up their asses), retrieve my suitcase, and start to walk away. The SOB driver stops me and says, “Aren’t you going to tip me?”

I looked at him and said, “Do YOU see any pigs flying?” and kept walking.

Oh, yeah, the company is going to hear from me.

I grabbed a cab to Grand Central, managed to make the 7:16 train (I’d left the site in Philly at 2). The train wasn’t very full — again, unusual for rush hour. One guy on the train looked at me and said, “Did you fall into the Hudson River?”

“That just did so much for the self-esteem,” I said.

Gotta give him credit, though. He forced the conductor to get one of the first aid blankets to wrap me up in (He said if the conductor didn’t get it, he’d just yank the first aid box out and get it himself), and offered me his flask. I didn’t even fuss that it was blended whiskey instead of single malt.

Got home well after 8 PM, took a hot bath, had something to eat, felt like someone took up residence in my chest and was trying to hack his way out with a machete. Prepared some disgusting herbal concoctions, but, other than feeling like I swallowed a rasp and it’s stuck in my throat, I feel much better this morning. Lungs are a little sore, but I’m dosing myself anda it’s getting better. Fever’s gone.

I’m going to start working with someone on sound therapy. Since I’m so strongly affected by certain sounds negatively (to the point where they can trigger things like a heart attack), we’re going to find positive choices to counteract them.

Because it’s not like we lived in a civilized country that actually provides health care options.

For the most part today, I’m staying in bed and writing.

eTreasures was bought by a new person, so I’ve got a new boss as far as DIXIE DUST RUMORS. I’m excited by her ideas, and signed on for some promotions and offered some ideas of my own. I’ll refresh the link once the new site is up and the book is available again.

Okay, gotta get back to bed. I think I’m done with any sort of exertion for the day.

Devon

Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 9:40 am  Comments (9)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Home

Back home after a NIGHTMARE of a trip.

Sick.

Will write in bed tonight and tomorrow.

That about sums it up.

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 8:37 pm  Comments (4)  

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Stormy

‘Tis a dark and stormy morning in the City of Brotherly Love. I hope it settles down by mid-afternoon, when I head back to The Big Apple.

I can’t believe I have to already go back — I’m just getting settled.

Stayed in yesterday, nursing the knee and writing. It was cold and grey, so I really didn’t miss anything by not going outside

I’m almost to page 100 of the WIP (in longhand). I have to rewrite a fight scene in the next draft that totally sucks in this one. I’m usually good at fight scenes. For the pivotal ones, I call fight choreographer buddies, we rent a studio, and we talk about the scene, its context in the overall work, we choreograph it, we do it a few times, with me in the different spots so I know how each character feels. Then, I watch them do it a few times and write it in detail. Then I cut it, so it reads leanly and tightly, but has the necessary moves and details to make it believable.

This fight scene isn’t elaborate –a blindside punch, a counter-punch, a third, disabling punch, a gun draw. The reason I didn’t spend a lot of time on it in the first draft is that it’s not important in the overall context of the book as more than a catalyst to draw two characters closer, bring a new character into the book in a subsequent scene who is important to the rest of the book, and give us some important information about the two main protagonists in the scene AFTER the fight scene. I do have to introduce the attacker in this scene earlier, or he’s too much of a reverse deus ex machina. But, in this case, the fight scene is less important than the two scenes directly after it, so I need to keep it crisp and shocking, while still making sure my main protag doesn’t come off as ineffectual.

Other than that, yesterday was taken up in writing an assertive (some would say aggressive) pitch for a production company with whom I really, really want to work as a writer. I’m out of my mind to even consider it, but that’s par for the course, right, and it’s a gut instinct reaction to go for it. I have to time sending it carefully — I have about a two week window for it to hit the right person, and I have to make sure I hit those correct two weeks.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

So much for working on the steampunk and the play this weekend, but the WIP is very demanding, and I must go with something that’s flowing this strongly.

I’m almost packed to go back, and I’m straightening things up before I head out. My mom’s been staying with the cats, so they have a human slave and don’t have a reason to trash the place. Hopefully, it won’t be a miserable trip back. I’ve got a good book for it, though!

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 9:15 am  Comments (6)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Went outside to enjoy the sunny, cold day. Unfortunately, I somehow managed to tweak my knee, probably in transit on Friday, so things like walking were, um, difficult. Same problem I had on the stairs backstage on the Broadway shows. So I had to cut my outdoor time short. I did find a great, organic bakery in the neighborhood, since my previous neighborhood favorite bakery is under new ownership and now sucks.

Got bath salts and took a good long soak, which helped the knee a lot. It doesn’t bother me at all during yoga, just walking.

Spent most of the day writing, in longhand, on the WIP. Didn’t realize it. Just wrote until I was hungry, cooked, ate, wrote some more, and then it was time for bed.

The Comcast internet connection here is so slow compared to the Optimum I have at home. But I’m grateful to get online. Just frustrated that I can do an entire yoga sequence every time I’ve got something to download!

If you were in the midst of what I’m writing, it might be interesting. But since I’m writing, not talking about it, there’s not much to say, I’m afraid! I’m at a place in the work where I’m going very deep as far as getting it down on the page, and then, in the next draft, I have to go even deeper into the characters — I can feel their motivations as I write, but it still reads a bit flat and surfacy. But this is the first draft, the skeleton. The second draft is where I explore every possible tangent and mutation, and the third draft is where I cut and shape.

I have to start putting it in the computer soon, though. I’ve got about 80 pages in longhand written, in just over a week, and I don’t want to have to type 200+ pages in all at once. I keep wondering how I’ll have to restructure — this will be far too long for a single novel, I think. But I need to have it all on the page before I can rearrange and restructure, so the Editing Self needs to get out of the way right now. The piece as a whole needs to be as fully realized as possible, and honed to be as specific and clear as possible (even in the sections where ambiguity is the order of the day). And then I can figure out if I can/need to cut substantially more, or break it into more than one volume.

But first, the whole story and character have to be on the page, the themes coming forward, the characters and their desires fully realized — or fully thwarted — in order to find the structure that serves the piece best and is still marketable.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on January 24, 2010 at 11:03 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , ,

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Here I am, having fun in Philly. Trip down was fine — I even got a seat on the train in to NYC — which, during rush hour is stunning. Wandered from Grand Central to Penn, rode on the top deck of the bus, pulled out my book, and, before I knew it, we were in Philly.

Okay, so it was a really, REALLY good book, Sharon Shinn’s FORTUNE AND FATE, one of her Thirteen Houses novels (which I love). In fact, it was so good, I did little else once I arrived in Philly but curl up and finish the book!

There were these three guys on the bus, a few rows behind me. They were in their late 20s, early 30s, and were going to Philly for the day to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, etc., because they’d never seen it and were curious. They’d gotten together the previous night to re-watch NATIONAL TREASURE, and now wanted to see some of the places that were talked about in the film! It was pretty funny.

I got settled in, got the work I needed to get done for the day completed, and got some groceries in. I’m shocked at how much higher the grocery prices are here than they are in NY. It’s almost cheaper for me to eat out all the time.

It’s been over a year since I was down here. They rearranged the furniture, and there’s a big, chest-high tall cabinet in what used to be open space. I keep banging into it every time I go around the corner, because I’m not used to it being there. Sigh. There’s also an enormous grandfather clock in one corner, with a deep, sonorous chime every hour. I LOVE long-case clocks (I’m a clock person), so every time it chimes, it backs me happy.

Had a late lunch/early dinner from a neighborhood Mexican place, which was great. Went out for a cocktail with an acquaintance and some friends of hers at a neighborhood place. Got back in time to catch CAPRICA, which has been heavily promoted. I need to watch a few more episodes before I make a final decision. Right now, it seems to be at the crossroads of an interesting, responsible exploration of belief and obsession, or it could turn out to be religious right wing crap. If it’s the latter, I turn it off for good. There were individual scenes I really liked, but I’m not yet sure, as a whole, it can hold me.

Got a little bit of writing done last night. Today, I need to do some dashing about — especially since tomorrow is supposed to be rainy and horrible, and I just don’t want to go gallavanting.

I hope to spend most of the next two days at the page. I need to juggle the WIP with the Steampunk with the first act of the new play.

My mom called– she went over to feed the cats and they’d trashed the place — tables overturned, mail scattered everywhere, cushions strewn all over the livingroom. Yes, they are not happy they were left alone yesterday!

Sigh.

Have a great weekend.

Devon

En Route

Friday, January 22, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Who knows what the weather is? I’m scheduling this to post

I’m headed to Philly this morning for a weekend gig. I’ll be enroute when most of you read this. And I’m looking forward to some fun flirtation tonight.

Did the proofs for the anthology essay. Only found one mistake and sent in the correction. I’m satisfied with it — I said what I wanted to say, even though, in the early drafts, it took me awhile to figure out exactly for what that was. That’s what “drafts” are for, though, isn’t it? Overall, the anthology is very different than the initial concept that was pitched when I first signed on — focuses on a single topic of the writer’s work instead of the body of work.

Which doesn’t really matter; it’s simply an observation.

One of the things my friend and I discussed on Wednesday was whether or not I miss the work — on Broadway or on TV. I don’t miss the way things are run, the politics of the places, people who aren’t in the trenches of the work making decisions which make it harder to run the production well, the hierarchy, especially in the TV world. I miss some of the actual physicality of quick changes on Broadway — especially working with actors with whom I have a good rapport. I don’t miss the 8 show/week schedule and working nights, weekends, holidays, and the dreadful commute. I don’t miss the long hours on TV or the “hurry up and wait”. I miss the camaraderie backstage — the jokes no one else would ever get unless they worked on that actual production, the way you sometimes even miss people you don’t particularly like. I don’t care how many reality shows like AMERICAN IDOL pretend to show what goes on behind the scenes — each production is totally unique, has its own energy and rhythm, and relationships are formed with a closeness that, if you don’t work in the business, you can’t understand. Yes, a lot of them are transient — if you’re not working together, you don’t see each other. And sometimes, you work together again, and it’s like you picked up a conversation that stopped only moments before, even if years have passed.

As a writer, I miss being in the rehearsal room with actors — that’s always one of my favorite parts of the process. I’m not involved in the rehearsal or production process with Cloverleaf at all, but I hope at some point, to develop a piece with a director, producer, and cast along the lines of a more collaborative working process, which I enjoy, and which I’ve had in the past. That energy of creation, working on a common goal to make all the elements of it shine — it’s a wonderful feeling.

Provided, of course, you have the right mix of people. Put the wrong mix together — even if they’re talented — and it can turn into a nightmare. Been on a few of those. Where people’s personal agendas and power trips become more important than the work.

Got a good amount of writing done in the morning, less in the afternoon. But I got all the laundry and other crap done, so I can leave town with a clear conscience (and clean lingerie).

Should be connected in Philly — will try to check in over weekend.

Enjoy!

Devon

Published in: on January 22, 2010 at 5:02 am  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Just another quick checkin, because the writing is going very well and I want to keep as much momentum going as possible. I’m eating, sleeping, dreaming this WIP. It’s put the steampunk behind a bit, but, fortunately, I’ve got time and space before that deadline, and can roll with this piece, since it’s on fire. I had to work out the logic of the piece within the WIP, but now that that’s figured out, the characters are chattering, several unexpected ones have come forward to demand attention, and they’re all surprising me in the best possible way. So I’m running with it. I’ve used up two entire ink pens in two days.

I need to accept that fact that most first drafts still work better for me in longhand.

Yesterday was good. I drove up county, picked up my friend. We visited a disappointing store, but had lunch at a great little restaurant, and caught up on life, the universe, and everything. It was good to see each other again.

Came home, took a nap, did some more writing. Didn’t watch much TV — I want to like HUMAN TARGET (I have a weakness for a good action show, my guilty pleasure) but, in both episodes that aired so far, I’ve gotten ahead of the story far too early, and spotted the villain in the character’s first shot. It’s a little heavy-handed for me. I keep watching because I like Jackie Earle Haley’s work in it. He’s taken what could easily be a two-dimensional cardboard cutout character, and given him detail and elegance. The costume designer also served him very well — the elegantly, expensive casual costume choices perfectly ironed, the matte shine on the boots, etc., support the character. But the writing and the direction is off for me, especially the pace of the direction. There’s a heaviness and too many pauses in the dialogue scenes (except for Haley’s work — he stays true to his own character’s rhythms). They don’t need that much weight to counter the action.

The final proofs for the anthology essay arrived — I’ll try to turn them around today, so it’s not hanging over me this weekend. They’re due Tuesday, but I’d rather get them finished earlier rather than later.

Although pulling myself out of my own WIP to proof an essay on someone else’s work will be difficult. I’m in the headspace of only being passionate about my own work at the moment.

But a deadline is a deadline, so I better get over it.

The weekend’s work is cut out for me — I’ve got the work that needs to get done on site in Philly, I”m taking the WIP, the steampunk, and the notes for the new play. I’ve got to get started on that. It’ll be interesting to see if I can switch between contemporary realism to steampunk to comic noir mystery over the course of the weekend.

Or maybe my head will just explode and the cat will lick my brains off the floor.

Going to CT this afternoon to take care of the laundry, throw the last few things in my suitcase. The backpack will be easier to take than the big writing bag, so I have to pack the backpack this evening with the computer, the iPod, the writing files, the book for the bus, and I have to throw the travel yoga mat into the suitcase. I’ve got my bus ticket, and I’ll pick up my train ticket this morning. I’ve got to travel into the city during rush hour, which means I’ll have to stand in the vestibule with my luggage for the nearly-hour long train ride in. Ick. But then I sit on the bus for a few hours, so it all works out.

The books from Strand arrived: FRANCIS BACON: THE TEMPER OF A MAN (about Shakespeare’s contemporary, not the painter), and SHAKESPEARE AND CO.: CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE, THOMAS DEKKER, BEN JONSON, THOMAS MIDDLETON, JOHN FLETCHER, AND OTHER PLAYERS IN HIS STORY. Yes, I’m back to feeding my Shakespeare obsession, even though I doubt I’ll actually get to write that book this year.

The Deanna Rabyourn books have not yet arrived; I was hoping to read them on the trip. Oh, well. Time to pull some others from the TBR pile.

Got to get some housework done before I head out to do laundry. I’m sure my head will remain filled with the WIP. What’s that expresson? “Chop wood, carry water.” It’s amazing how the mundane tasks feed the creative juices.

Back to the page.

Devon

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Just a quick check in. I have many opinions about the debacle in MA yesterday, which denies me health care for the rest of my life and has the Republicans circling around me, clapping and singing, “Die fast.” However, right now, there is far too much rude language in what I have to say, and there’s a more elegant and stronger way to say it, so I’ll wait, and I’ll revise it into a paid opinion piece (yes, people do pay me for my opinions) instead of simply ranting on the blog. I’m not surprised the Democrats lost the seat — the day Vicki Kennedy sneered that she “wasn’t interested” in running, as though it was beneath her, was the day she slapped everyone in the state in the face and guaranteed Republican victory. She didn’t have to run; what she had to do was phrase her choice it in a less insulting manner, and the family needed to be active in the campaign, instead of washing their hands of it because none of them were running.

On a happier note, I had a great writing day yesterday. I wrote about 20 pages in longhand (yes, my hand hurts) on the project that’s currently on fire, while percolating the next section of the steampunk, which will get the bulk of my attention this weekend.

I never made it to meditation — the writing was going well, and I was not about to stop.

I nearly forgot that I have a piece up on the SDR blog. That’s what I get for being organized and writing all my articles for the publication and blog at the top of the month! 😉 It’s called “Setting Up a Successful 2010”, and it’s about setting up systems to make your submission/pitch/query process easier.

I’m going back to the page for about an hour, and then I’m headed up-county to have lunch with a friend in a small town on the Hudson River. It’s a lovely day — perfect to get outside for a bit, though well-bundled.

And then it will be back to the page. I’ve got some straightening up to do, and tomorrow’s my last day of prep before the trip. The final proofs of the anthology essay came through yesterday, so I have to take a look at that and turn it around before I leave on Friday morning. I think the book itself drops in early April.

If you haven’t read my kids’ story, “Mina’s Test”, it’s in the current issue of STORIES FOR CHILDREN magazine, under the Jenny Storm name. It’s my first shot at a piece for 7-9 year olds, and it’s kind of cute.

Have a great day!

Devon