I’ve dived into the writing, jumped off the cliff.

It’s much easier to delve fully into this dark character and also keep myself veery separate, not sucked into his worldview, when I don’t have to actually interact much with the world. Healthier, too.

I’m taking some time to fully understand Eddie and not do much else.

Other than preparing a bit for tomorrow’s big snowstorm, it’s all about the writing right now.

Published in: on February 9, 2010 at 7:56 am  Comments (9)  

Monday Part II — Character Challenges on the Page and in Person

Today started well with a solid writing session. It quickly fell apart through a sequence of stupid, petty occurrences that, individually, usually wouldn’t have mattered, but layered together, especially since I’m viewing the world through the prism of a very dark character right now, added up to something bigger and uglier than the sum of its parts. I wound up feeling under-appreciated, bitter, annoyed at the ignorant, and ready to take the next shuttle to Mars.

The question becomes, do I allow this dark character to isolate me while I view the world through his eyes and soul, or I do I push him away at intervals to regain equilibrium? One should search for balance, but there are some instances where balance has a negative effect on the work. So do I let the work have a negative effect on me in order to get deeply enough into it to do this project justice? If that is the case, I need to limit my contact with the outside world during the most intense times with this project — and we’re in early chapters of the book, so it will only get more intense. At the same time, I can’t let the book — and this particular character — swallow me up. Nor do I have the right to take out whatever the work is dredging up on those around me. Since I’ve got responsibilities outside myself, I can’t completely cut myself off, and I’m not sure if that’s fortunate or unfortunate. At the same time, I can’t afford to do less than my best for the book simply because it’s covering difficult emotional ground.

In the best of all possible worlds, since I’m working out of town over the next three weekends, I’d use that time to delve fully into my character’s darkness and then keep him at arm’s — and heart’s — length during the week. However, at the end of the month I’m teaching — not one, but two workshops AND a live chat to which there’s bound to be negative response because I”m not holding back on my contempt for content mills.

And now, of course, is the period of time when this particular, demanding, complex, fascinating, dark character comes riding in on the Muse, with the Muse being in harpy form.

“Balance” won’t work here, but I’m not yet sure how to juggle these conflicting demands. Actors often face this when preparing for a role, and usually, in the past when I’ve had to deal with this in writing, I’ve been able to block off the time to deal with the project and remove myself from the daily demands. I’m hoping to do that for at least a few days.

And I’ll probably contact some of “my” actors, who’ve been in this dilemma, and see where they’ve sought balance and where they’ve made the decision to go over the cliff for the duration, climbing back out when it’s done.

Published in: on February 8, 2010 at 10:58 am  Comments (5)  
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Quiet day yesterday, which was a good contrast to the previous couple of days. First of all, I’m very disturbed — two deaths in the building in six months, two suicides (one overlapping with one of the deaths in the building) in two weeks in the neighborhood; something is not right. There are a lot of unconnected dots right now, but a general feeling of dis-ease.

As far as the harassing phone calls, it was quiet on that front yesterday, and, to give Verizon credit, they contacted me with a method to block the calls. However, I have to put the block into play online, and Verizon won’t let me access my account. So that’s useless. But, hopefully, the FCC will also do some ass-kicking, especially since the point of origin has a history of offshore scams.

Decent writing day yesterday and good reading day. I watched part of the Puppy Bowl and only the final two minutes of the Super Bowl. Glad New Orleans won, although I wasn’t particularly invested in this game. Lost a lot of respect for everyone involved when they just stopped playing in the final 44 seconds. Yes, it was obvious that New Orleans was going to win. However, play is supposed to continue until the bitter end. But then, we’re not talking the caliber that is a hockey player, who doesn’t give up until the final buzzer, now, are we? Yet another reason I greatly prefer hockey.

Excellent first writing session this morning,about 1700 words on REDEMPTION KILL. Most of today will hopefully focus on writing, switching between several projects. I don’t think I have to go out into the cold. This week, I want to take a look at the exercises for the workshop I’m teaching at the end of the month and polish them a bit. It’s been a couple of months since I wrote them; it’s a good time to look at it with fresh eyes and tweak whatever needs to be tweaked before the conference.

Back to the page. It’ll be a busy week, but hopefully a productive one and with less tumult than last week.


Published in: on February 8, 2010 at 9:05 am  Comments (4)  
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Not one, single snowflake all day yesterday. Unbelievable! Honestly, as badly as I feel for those who were hammered, I do feel cheated!

So, in the past two days, I’ve read two mediocre books (I kept hoping they’d get better) and one book so bad that I had to put it down by page 15. Hate it when that happens. Fortunately, the one I started last night is a lot of fun.

Yesterday was a DAY. I’ve been dealing with harassing phone calls for the past few months, from a commercial number, but I can’t trace it back because it’s an 877 number. I’ve told them numerous times to stop calling. I am on the Do Not Call list. It’s ignored. They don’t actually tell me what they want anyway — just heavy breathing. So, I filed a formal complaint with the FCC — and the calls escalated. That SOB on the other end of the phone better hope the FCC finds him before I do. Because I am so done. I also told Verizon they damn well better pay attention — I’ve complained to them for months and they don’t even have the courtesy to respond. I’ll file with the Attorney General’s office and name them as an accessory. I did some further digging and managed to get information on the number — belongs to an outsourcing telemarketer with a history of scams. So, at least I have a file to send to the FCC and the AG.

Add to that, my neighbor went all weird, putting on NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET at top volume, with the door open to the hallway in the afternoon. The cats flipped out. Several neighbors and I asked her to turn it down and we were ignored. So I fought back, first with Bach and then with Nordic rock, an album called WILD WOMEN OF THE NORTH. I won. Gee, I can tell you’re surprised. 😉

Later on, the same neighbor had on a war movie, although not quite as loud. The cats were freaking out. I think she has a new large-screen TV with surround sound — she better get the settings worked out sooner rather than later, because I am not having stuff fall off the walls and listening to someone else’s idea of “entertainment” indefinitely.

At least I had a good first writing session on REDEMPTION KILL. I want to do a little more on it this morning, then switch back over to the steampunk, which never got the attention it deserved yesterday, because of all this other chaos. I also managed to participate in a loop chat on Castles in the Sky, which featured my new publisher at eTreasures.

So, all in all it was a productive, of somewhat frustrating and chaotic day.

Back to the page. I’m really glad I’m working out of town so much for the rest of this month.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Cloudy and cold
Not a damn snowflake in sight!

New Jersey, Baltimore, and DC are getting pounded, but up here — nothing.

Wrote a lot yesterday, read when I could, when the headache let up enough to read. It must be snowing somewhere not too far away, because I don’t want to rip my head off this morning. Maybe it’s started in the city.

So, obviously, Fox is as confused about FRINGE and PAST LIFE as the rest of us are. I was confused by the promos because the casts (in the promos) look so similar and so is the shooting style. I thought it was some sort of off-shoot or special episodes connected to it or something. On Thursday, Fox ran promos for both, but ran a couple saying PAST LIFE was premiering next week, and then a couple saying PAST LIFE was “next” when it was really the season finale of FRINGE. Whatever. By the time I remembered to watch FRINGE in other weeks, I found it so convoluted and I was so lost in the internal mythology I stopped, and I’m going to skip PAST LIFE (although one would think that’s the kind of show I’d watch). Maybe one day I’ll catch up with FRINGE on DVD and really like it, but I don’t have the patience right now.

Really, lately, most of the time the television is off, and I’m either reading or I’m in the midst of another writing session. I’m not someone who can stand to have TV on in the background while I do something else. Certainly not when writing — I don’t know of any published, successful writer who can actually create when the television is going on in the background. Some can edit, but the creation process can’t have someone else’s completed creation process leaking in. I can always tell when my students have written with the television on in the background. When I’m watching TV, that’s what I’m doing, that’s where my focus is. Very little this season has engaged me enough to get me to keep it on and keep me from the other things on my plate. I mean, after over twenty years of not watching TV much because I was working 8 shows/week with only one or two nights off — and I was usually out doing stuff — it’s kind of fun to sit home and just get to watch TV sometimes. But there’s not much holding me this season. And I don’t record shows to watch later, because I don’t get to watch them — unless friends or colleagues are involved. Then, I’ll record them, and sit up until 3 AM if necessary, and shoot off an email to the person if we’re close enough to be in regular contact.

And since I don’t watch so-called “reality television” — I disagree with people becoming celebutards and getting paid to be their worst selves — there isn’t a whole lot on there that interests me.

Until the Olympics, of course,where I’ll be watching non-stop, especially the men’s and women’s ice hockey.

Made glazed salmon for dinner last night, baked apple spice bread this morning, and will make a stroganoff meatball dish tonight (thanks, MIK).

Finally finished the first chapter of REDEMPTION KILL this morning, and got the characters off the cliff. Somehow, they’ve wound up with two dogs, but the dogs promise me they’re integral to the plot. I have the starting point for the novel and the ending point, but I’m blank-paging most of it (I’ve got themes and points to hit along the way but no outline), so this is interesting. Quite a contrast to POWER OF WORDS, which is very tightly outlined, to the point where I had to create production schedules to solve logistical problems that come up in the writing.

Will do a few pages of POWER OF WORDS, and then it’s back to the steampunk, baby!

Since I planned to be snowed in this weekend, I’m simply going to stay in, sans snow, and write anyway!


Published in: on February 6, 2010 at 9:59 am  Comments (6)  
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Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Cloudy and snowstorm approaching

I wish it would hurry up and get here already, because the pre-storm headache is killing me. Nothing works on these headaches — nothing over the counter or prescription. I just have to ride them out. As soon as the storm starts, I’ll feel great, but the time during which it approaches is excruciating.

The headache started yesterday afternoon and laid me low for the bulk of the day. I managed to get the grocery shopping done in the morning and some writing. I was useless for most of the afternoon, although I could read a bit here and there. And I made a broccoli-mushroom casserole for dinner, which was good.

Finished Deanna Raybourn’s SILENT ON THE MOOR last night, which I enjoyed. The first book in the series is still my favorite, thus far, although I’ve enjoyed all three. I really love the Yorkshire Moors, so I was a little disappointed when the protag didn’t have the same enthusiasm for them that I do. That has nothing to do with the quality of the writing, though, just one of my own little quirky responses.

Very good first writing session this morning on REDEMPTION KILL. An obstacle’s come up for my protags that surprised me, and I’m still trying to get them off that cliff, but it’s a worthwhile obstacle, so we’ll go with it. I’ll go back to it and hopefully finish the chapter later this morning, then switch back to POWER OF WORDS for a bit, tweaking an earlier scene so it aligns with something going on now.

I’m hoping to work on the steampunk this weekend. It’s starting to churn again, which is good, because I want to get that first draft done and give it time to ripen before I do revisions and get it out. I’ve got a deadline for it, although not a harsh one, and I need to put my focus back on that.

And I have to tackle Confidential Job #1.

But first, oh hurry up and start snowing so this darned headache lets up!

Have a great, warm, cozy weekend.


Published in: on February 5, 2010 at 9:02 am  Comments (8)  
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Had a good afternoon’s work at the Greenwich Library. Found both what I needed and what I wanted, which is a good thing.

Only television I watched last night was HUMAN TARGET, which, I’m happy to say, I think is starting to hit its stride (spoiler alert). The supporting characters were interesting and well-written, the villain was more fleshed out than in the past episodes– and played by William Mapother, who’s probably best-known for his role as Ethan on LOST. I don’t mind knowing who the villain is from the get-go as long as the conflict between protags and villain is an interesting journey. I still would have liked to see more development in Mapother’s character — they’re able to reveal a lot in a few words for the other characters, they need to do it with the villains — but at least this time, there was a sense of actual threat in it all. No scenes with the three leads physically together this time, but the paths they were each on were interesting enough so it didn’t matter. As usual, Jackie Earle Haley’s work was outstanding — the details about where he chooses to put emphasis — the way he tossed the phone aside, or dumped the cassette to put in the other cassette,or how he leans against the car waiting for a meeting — all those details reveal a lot about character. Loved Guerrero’s tough love scene with Winston on the phone disarming the bomb — I don’t for one second believe he didn’t know which wire to cut, he simply knew how to push Winston into making the right choice. My only issue was when Guerrero shot a character first in the back near the end. Of course, actor and/or character might well retort, “I’ll shoot him anywhere I damn well need to in order to get the job done”, but to me, that was the only thing that rang a little false in the episode — although I really liked the last shot from the downed character’s POV. I’m enjoying watching the piece develop, both character-wise and structurally. I keep doing production breakdowns in my head as I watch, though, “Oh, he only had to be on set two days, tops, to do that” — that kind of thing. I find it a fun, instructive hour. Especially since I’m pitching and in meetings for various scripting jobs right now, I’m getting back into that mindset. Hmm, I wonder if that make my cable bill a tax deduction? 😉

I had weird dreams last night that woke me up, but they fled before I could get a handle on them. I did, however, have other dreams that helped me in both POWER OF WORDS and REDEMPTION KILL. I did the pages I figured out — managing to solve two plot/logicial problems in a single short scene, yay me — and am about to spend some time on REDEMPTION KILL before I go and take care of mundane things like grocery shopping.

I’m not going to be abe to attend the art opening I was invited to tomorrow night because of the weather — I hear Philly’s set to get nearly a foot of snow, and they’re waffling on how much we’re going to get, just saying it’ll be more than we got earlier in the week. Well, my larder will be full, I’ll have gotten more paper from Staples, so I can stay cozy and writing all weekend.

Sounds good to me.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snowy and cold

We had about four inches of snow overnight. The roads look pretty clear, so I think I can hold on to my original intent to go to Greenwich Library after lunch to do some research.

Linkage stuff to share: My SDR blog is up “The Intersection of Life and Fiction.” The new issue of THE SCRUFFY DOG REVIEW is out, with my Literary Athlete column on workshops. Kim Smith kindly awarded me a “Prolific Blogger” award last week, and I haven’t had the chance to pay it forward, although I plan to in the next few days.

Acupuncture was great yesterday, and I felt so much better once I was done. Driving to and from Long Island wasn’t all that bad, either.

The writing went very well, so that was a relief. Switching between the long WIP I’ve been working on (tentatively titled POWER OF WORDS) and the dark piece (REDEMPTION KILL) works because they’re very different, and yet, they feed off each other in a weird way. Hey, I’m not going to argue, I’m just going to roll with it.

Two very interesting and different conversations yesterday re: scriptwriting jobs for which I’d pitched. The first really liked my samples, but they need someone local (in LA) to be on-site doing topical revisions — it’s the monologue for a small, daily show. They hired someone to fit that, but wanted to talk to me anyway about future projects. They’re in negotiations for a development deal for some scripted web projects, and wanted to know if they could keep me on file and contact me if and when they had funding for something like that. That project could be done mostly remotely, but, if and when they needed me present, they’d also have the funds to bring me out west as needed, whereas this project doesn’t have the budget. Everything’s an “if”, but they came across as having integrity, and should the opportunity come up, I think we’d work together well. If the opportunity doesn’t come up, at least we had a good talk! 😉

The second conversation was more typical. They like the samples, but wanted me to write a project-specific script for them to “help them make their decision.” Without pay. I refused. I said I’d write a partial at a specially-negotiated rate, but I don’t do free project-specific samples. I know that road — the “employer” sends out different “samples” to different individuals, tells everyone they’ve hired someone else and gets the whole project for free, not paying anyone. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. They also said that, although, in the ad, they’d listed a per-script rate (which I found acceptable but not brilliant), they’d decided that was the rate they were paying for ALL the scripts, not just one. I said no, thank you. These are NOT people I’d want to work with in the future.

So, I watched the premiere of LOST’s final season. I didn’t watch the narrated pre-show explanation — I stand by my belief that if you have to keep explaining things, you’re not telling the story well. I enjoyed seeing old, familiar faces from the first season, the season I liked. I enjoyed the scenes from “the plane didn’t crash” section. I see where they’re going with the rest of it, and I’m just sighing and shaking my head. As I’ve said frequently when I’ve dipped into it once I stopped watching regularly, I enjoy the scene work, but not the overall arc, and I don’t trust the creators to lead me on a fulfilling journey. I’m glad the show gets the support it does, it is truly innovative on so many levels, and I’m glad so many people are fanatically loyal to it — that helps everyone creatively, the show’s creators, the writers, the actors — and, once the knock-offs run out of steam, will hopefully open the door to more innovation. But LOST lost me at the top of Season 3 and never won me back. It’s really well done, and, in spite of it, I feel like they’re over-manipulating the audience. To me, that’s a turn-off. I’ll probably watch it here and there over the coming weeks, and I want to see the series finale to see if my speculations are correct. But I’m certainly not planning my week around it.

Imbolc ritual was lovely, honoring the stirring of what is to come.

Good first writing session this morning. The word count is low, but I’m writing a scene that’s both physically and emotionally complex and I’d rather take my time with it than rush through it. It’s pivotal to the rest of the book, so I’d rather get it mostly right (there’s always room for improvements during revision) than rush through it, blow it, and then not have built a strong foundation for the rest of the piece.

Back to the page for a bit, and then I’m headed off to the library.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Groundhog Day

The big news is that I came home from the site job to find the building crawling with cops. Rumor has it some poor guy in the next section of the building blew his brains out. Two deaths in the same section of the building in six months? Where there are only 16 apartments in the section? Something isn’t right.

Add to that, the local police commissioner hit an 8th grader with his car yesterday — and they took the commissioner to the hospital. I’m just shaking my head.

The groundhog in PA saw his shadow and says 6 more weeks of winter; the one on Staten Island did not (because it’s going to snow), and says we’re headed into spring. I think Phil in PA is right — the cats haven’t started shedding their winter coats yet.

The site job was more complicated than I expected, but, in spite of everything, the writing went gloriously well. What a relief to get those dark characters out of my head and onto the page. They’re surprising me in the best possible way, and are delightfully more complex and dimensional that I expected.

And then, I was dumb enough to check my email. I was rejected for one of the residencies for which I applied this year because I’m a “genre writer” instead of a “serious writer.” Um, excuse me? I take my writing seriously AND I earn a living at it, which is more than the bulk of their attendees do. Oh, but I’m still considered “family” and they’d love financial support.

They don’t think my work deserves a residency because earning a living at my craft must mean I’m a hack, but because I’m one of the few in this business who CAN earn a living at it, they want me to GIVE THEM MONEY so that those who can’t/can’t be bothered to make a living writing can stay there? The sheer arrogance/delusion made me laugh in spite of myself.

And people wonder why I prefer animals to humans most of the time.

My ego took a hit, but I’ll get over it.

In fact, because the writing was going so wonderfully well, I got over it a lot faster than I expected. My characters were too insistent and fascinating to allow me to wallow. 3500 words on that piece, 1500 on the other WIP.

Plus, I booked a gig I really wanted but thought I’d have to pass for at least 10 days of the month that had been put aside for the residency. Door closes, better one opens.

Eight minutes into CHUCK last night, I had to turn it off. They’re working too hard, and the focus is on the silly and the slapstick instead of the interspersion of the silly with the sweet and charming and with the action. I really like most of the cast, but for me, this season, it’s gone off the rails.

I had a very good first writing session this morning on the WIP. I’m going to move back over, now, to the piece with the dark and disturbed characters so they don’t get impatient and ruin my day.

I’m headed to acupuncture today, and then Imbolc ritual tonight instead of meditation group. May the guy who recently took his life (if, in fact, that’s what he did and didn’t get pushed along by someone) rest in peace. The last thing we need is a ghost wandering around the place, freaking everybody out.


Published in: on February 2, 2010 at 8:53 am  Comments (10)  
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Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I’m delighted that Kathryn Bigelow won the DGA for HURT LOCKER. If you haven’t seen this movie, go see it immediately. It’s not an easy, lighthearted piece, it can be damn heartbreaking to watch, but it’s worth it. Bigelow’s work is wonderful. I”m a fan of Jeremy Renner’s work anyway, and he’s frighteningly good in this.

Friend called in trouble, frantic and frightened, so dropped everything and went to help. Situation temporarily handled, with more decisions to come. Can’t go into detail because it’s not my life. It was exhausting, though.

At least some of the tangled story/character strands started to make sense. Felt like a huge weight was lifted off me. My brain is clearer, it’s starting to make sense, I don’t feel trapped in the labyrinth of my mind.

Went to a Grammy party last night, because three actors with whom I worked on Broadway (and for whom I hold deep affection as performers and human beings) are in AMERICAN IDIOT, and the cast performed on the Grammys. I’m delighted by their success. It’s not my path right now to go back into the union and work on the show, but I’m definitely going to see it once it opens and support them.

If you haven’t read my opinion of WATHCMEN (and you give a damn), scroll down to yesterday’s post and see my take on it.

Excellent first writing session this morning, and I hope that sets the tone for an excellent writing day.

I’m off to the site job! 😉


Published in: on February 1, 2010 at 8:16 am  Comments (6)  
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