Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and warm

My column, The Literary Athlete, is up in the new issue of THE SCRUFFY DOG REVIEW. It’s the last of a three part series on workshops, conferences, and groups, and this installment talks about groups, loops, and crit partners. The link will take you to the main page — click current issue, then click the Lit Athlete. Hopefully, you’ll stick around to read the whole mag!

Yesterday just sucked, every possible way for the majority of it. The tank was empty, but there were still things that had to get done. Sometimes you have to sit there and get it done, no matter what.

It was a challenge to write witty and engaging copy when I felt weepy and listless. I got some work done on a brochure. I’m sure I’ll tweak it, but if something’s not there in the first place, and I’m staring at a blank panel, there’s nothing with which to work. I did a little research. I tried to work on an essay, based on some notes I previously took. The notes are pretty good, and the essay is one of those pieces that needs to cook over time. Do a bit of work on it, put it away, let it percolate, then come back and do a little more work.

Tried to tackle the next section of SETTLING THE SCORE,using yesterday’s comments from the blog readers (which are very helpful, by the way). Unfortunately, the scene was as light and as graceful as a dropped anvil, so I chucked it. I’ll have to attack it from another angle.

In the next draft, I may cut out three characters and a subplot. Two of the characters, in the diner, I may keep for a pair of comic scenes, but the third — love him to pieces, but I think he belongs in a different piece. I was thinking in terms of actors, creating roles for the “perfect ensemble” I’d like to work with, instead of putting story first, and that’s one reason I’m running into trouble. I may very well have a “Max-full” version and a “Max-less” version, send them both to my readers and let them pick.

I did about 3K of work on POWER OF WORDS. I’m restructuring the chapters in this second section quite a bit, and weaving in some of the stuff set up as I’ve worked on the first section. I got the comments back last night — very helpful. Because I’m in the world and the jargon has to come naturally to these characters, I forget that not all of the readers will know what the terms mean. So I have to clarify and integrate that information without making it presentational or preachy. And I’m going to rearrange a bunch of information and let it trickle over several scenes instead of sticking it all in one. I’ve either got to cut one character or give him more to do, because he’s at a bit of a loss right now, and it’s more than because he’s at a life-changing crossroads, poor guy. He’s likable, and I’m not doing him justice. The notes got me really excited about the piece and how to make it more engaging, while still keeping the whole premise of it takes a boatload of people to pull something like this off, and the interpersonal relationships, both personal and professional, get very tricky! 😉 Because I’m worried about length, the internal editor is tripping me up and I’m skimming some things that need fleshing out. I need to work each section in as much detail as is necessary and then worry about cuts later. It’s really detrimental for me to write with an eye towards “this is too long, I have to telescope it” when it’s not on the page yet for me to work with. Internal Editress needs to take a vacation to Tahiti and not return until the draft is done (which I anticipate will take about a year, if I’m lucky).

Also, because POWER OF WORDS is about the making of a minii-series that then gets picked up as a series, I had to outline the mini-series and the first couple of seasons. That’s been fun, but it’s kind of like writing two pieces side-by side! I’m writing a set of arcs for the characters in the piece, and a set of arcs for the characters that the characters play!

I’m re-reading Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD, which I enjoy more this time around — I’m getting different things from it in this reading, which is good. I’m also re-reading Joyce Carol Oates’s published journals from 1973-1982. I usually re-read them once or twice a year as fuel. The remind me to step back and look at the whole creation of a piece, and then step forward to do more detailed work,without losing sight of it.

I’ve got some errands to run today, some bills to pay, some paperwork to file with authorities, and then figure out which writing projects to take with me this weekend. I don’t want to take too much — I need a lot of this to be about not doing a whole hell of a lot, and playing the time moment-by-moment to rejuvenate a bit. In fact, I may well make this a retreat weekend — the job itself is more my physical presence than anything else to oversee things, so I can do what I want as long as I’m there. A little reading, a little writing, a lot of yoga. I don’t HAVE to dash around the city, although if it’s pretty out, I may go to the park.

So, I watched THE GOOD GUYS last night, because I love Bradley Whitford’s work. There’s some good stuff on it, some clever work, and Whtiford is fantastic in it — the detail, the sense of comic timing, the knowledge of when to drop the comic mask to see what’s under it — absolutely great. They pack about two hours’ worth of stuff into a single 47 minute script, which, at times, felt like it was a bit much. Hopefully, that was because it’s the pilot and we needed the set up. It sounds like they’re keeping the character of Julian in there, which is great, because his timing, too, is impeccable. Some of the camera work annoyed me — jerky jump cuts — and the device of overlapping a few seconds from the previous scene when it comes back from commercial break sets my teeth on edge. I’m not a moron — I remember where you stopped before the commercial break, in spite of the fact that there are far too many commercials in proportion to shows now. This stylistic choice that’s in vogue now among the action shows — I find it condescending, and it insults my intelligence. If you insult my intelligence like that, you’re going to lose me. HUMAN TARGET only used it once or twice, thank goodness. I nearly threw shoes at the screen those times (and said many bad words), and, had that been the weekly style choice, I would have had to stop watching the show, Jackie Earle Haley or not. It has the same effect on me that a mirror ball has on an epileptic. Anyway, back to THE GOOD GUYS — there was a lot of clever, fun stuff in it, and I’d definitely watch the show if I was around. I don’t Tivo or DVR, so if I’m not around to watch the show or the re-run, too bad for me.

Back to the page, and I’m feeling a little more optimistic today.

Devon

7 Comments

  1. Is there something … “easy” you can take with you, something that doesn’t require too much effort or something you really enjoy doing? Editing or proofreading is my task of choice when I’m feeling drained or not very creative, or I’ll write a few fillers.

    Hope this cloud lifts soon.

  2. If you weren’t a strong woman, all of the pressure, near burnout and restless mind syndrome (I made that up as one of my issues) you would have already been on the floor never to get up again. Because of resilence, I am wondering if you are not paying attention to “signals” that you need some self care. The stronger and more capable we are, the less we forgive that we need a break – or is that just me?

    T

  3. Bird by Bird has been sitting here for a year untouched. I need to delve. Also, picked up one in Princeton that looks promising – Off the Page. Anything that gets creativity moving is okay by me.

    Sorry you felt weepy yesterday. 😦 Here if you need me….

  4. Love Bird by Bird. I should make a point of reading it again: maybe this fall.

    So sorry yesterday was so blah. Hope today’s shaping up to be a lot better!

  5. That stinks you felt yucky yesterday! I’m glad you’re feeling more optimistic today. Sometimes we have bad days. That just makes us human. Yes, even you. 😉

    You are awesome!

  6. OOO! I’m so excited it’ll be picked up as a series (is it weird that I’m excited about that? haha). And I think it’s totally cool you’re actually writing that story too. Awesome!

  7. Hi Devon … you certainly seem to cram a great deal in .. no news of Elsa .. so presume all well .. good news .. I’ll pop over and have a read of the Literary Athlete .. hope today goes well – Hilary


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