Thursday, January 27, 2011

One of the trees in the side yard

Thursday, January 27, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snowy and cold

It snowed all day yesterday, and I was glad to stay home. I worked on the workshops — realizing, as I went over the exercises, that I’d been unclear in my lecture about formatting, and needlessly confused the students. I apologized, and I’m working with the ones who see their pieces as stage plays to get it properly formatted. In all the times I’ve taught the workshop, the students never wanted to work in stage format, just for the screen, so I stopped focusing on stage format. And here, I have students who want stage format — and have picked work that will be powerful in it. Exciting, but I feel badly that I was unclear.

Got some good work done on the new book. It’s not happening as quickly as I want it or need it to happen, but it’s getting there. I’m finding its innate rhythm, and hopefully, as I get further into it, I can accelerate it a bit. Looking at it as another type of Nano won’t help, unfortunately, because quality is just as important as quantity, and I’m only going to get one shot at revision for this submission, and it will be without the two month rest period that is necessary between the first draft and edits. My own fault for not getting into it early enough.

Started reading Michael Innes’s APPLEBY AND THE OSPREYS. Innes had a long and successful career as a writer and as a mystery writer (Innes is a pseudonym). It took me awhile to “get” the gentle humor and cerebral wit of the book, but now that I do, I really enjoy it. He gives a wink and an elbow to the ribs towards Christie’s formulas, and there’s a solid layer of satire under the manners. There’s a lot of intelligence in the writing, which I enjoy. He’s from the era where the puzzle was more important than the action, and it’s fascinating to see how it’s constructed. I think I can learn a lot from him, and I want to read more.

It’s like any genre — if you want to learn how to do it well, you have to read the Masters. If you want to write plays, you read the Greeks and Shakespeare, and work your way through to O’Neill and Inge and Odets and Glaspell and Miller to Albee and Pinter and Stoppard and Churchill and Wasserstein and Devere Smith and Parks.

Great writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s influenced by the writers who wrote before. If you study the greats, you raise the bar for yourself. If you only read the mediocre, that’s where your writing stays.

Some garden stuff arrived yesterday via UPS. And this carrier was the good one — he came all the way to the door and helped me get the box inside. It’s adorable! Can’t wait until the weather lets me put it out.

We didn’t get hammered by the weather as badly as Boston, which is in a great big mess, but it will be a pain to shovel. However, it’s supposed to get sunnier later, and I have to get my mom to an appointment with her new doctor this afternoon, so . . .

I also have to get my act together — the window is open to sign up for insurance, and, if I don’t sign up (health insurance is mandatory in MA), I get fined at tax time. I’ve got an organization whose sole purpose is to find me care I can afford — I just have to pull my paperwork together and we’ll sort it out. Preliminary research showed several affordable options, so let’s hope at least one of them pans out. It will be good to have access to traditional health care, even if I rarely use it.

Back to the page for awhile, then out with the shovel!



  1. I love seeing pictures of winter. I too am in the process of writing.

  2. Thank you for sharing your pictures. It’s a good teacher who realizes when more clarification is needed. You are a good teacher.
    Hope your day goes well!

  3. Glad to see the sun is helping you melt some of that! It’s helping here too, but I had to get it down close to the blacktop for it to do any good. And there’s more expected today. I’ll either be dead or buff by the end of it! LOL

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