Tues. Sept. 10, 2013: Commonly Known as “A Waste of Food”

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cool

Yesterday, I am what is commonly known as “a waste of food.” I couldn’t focus; I couldn’t get anything done. I will have to more than make up for it today.

It was nearly 11 PM before I had my chapter finished — during the first 3/4 of the workday, I got less than 1000 words done.

I’m not happy with the chapter at all — it serves a purpose as a bridge, but needs more substance. However, for the moment, I’m going to keep going.

Frustrating, because I didn’t get anything else done I needed to get done, either. It was just a restless day where I was ready to climb out of my skin.

Today has to be better and more focused.

At least I got some of the lawn mowed! Time to start putting the yard to bed for the winter.

I think part of it has to do with emotional fallout from not getting that contract I wanted and needed a couple of weeks ago. Even though I jumped right back into the fray, I’m still hurting.

Here’s to a better, more focused, more productive day today.

Devon

Published in: on September 10, 2013 at 6:28 am  Comments (1)  
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Mon. Sept. 9, 2013: Writing, Neuro-Ethics, Idea Batches, & Script Coverage

Monday, September 9, 2013
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

Busy weekend. Most of the focus was on the new novel. I’ve now written six chapters, the first 107 pages. I’m happy with the bones of it, although it will need revision. The pace is a little more intense than my usual one, but it fits this particular book’s rhythm. My original concept was category genre, but it’s evolved into contemporary fiction, so I’m rolling with it. I trust my characters, and they are not disappointing me.

Did my course work for the Creativity Course and the Paleontology course. I’m a bit disappointed in both. I don’t feel challenged enough. Maybe I was just spoiled in the archaeology course.

Found my neuro-science research and the notes for the project that didn’t work. That one can’t be saved — too derivative. But I wrote eight pages of an outline for another one that I think will work. Even if the neuro-ethics course keeps getting pushed back, I’m going to tap that professor as a resource.

I also jotted down a batch of notes, because ideas come in batches, and, on days when the well runs dry, I can pull out the notes and get to work. These are loglines for projects I’d love to create, a mix of prose and script projects, and I hope I get the chance to explore at least some of them.

I went over my script coverage package samples again, and I’m happy with them. Now, it’s a case of running off copies of the packet, sitting down with the production book, and deciding where I want to pitch. I like the work, and I want more of it.

Have to do some work in regards to the play today, and also knock out a couple of articles. I was paid for the last batch of articles, so now they get the next batch.

The 9/11 Anniversary is coming up, and I’m trying to prepare myself. I will honor those I lost that day, but I also have to function, unfortunately, because I have to attend a grant writing seminar at the Arts Foundation that night. This is a wound time does not heal.

Relaxed by watching movies in and around the writing all weekend. There was a continuity issue in BOURNE LEGACY that bugged me — at the top of the motorcycle chase, suddenly he’s putting on a pair of sunglasses. Where the heck did he get them? Renner’s a smart enough actor to want logic, and a movie that is so detailed that the wallet he later gives her is in the shot when he picks up the car in Chicago is not going to make that kind of continuity mistake. But it bugged me (hey, I used to work in wardrobe — it’s one of the discussions I would have had with actor and other crew in setting up the shot). I hunted down B roll footage on line and saw that, originally, the sunglasses were in the helmet hanging off the handlebars, so when he hands her the helmet, he takes out the sunglasses, delivers a line (giving her time to get the helmet on), puts on the sunglasses, and off they go. THAT made sense. It was cut in the edit, to keep pace. So, from a production point of view, it calmed me down, but that shot is still going to bug me any time I see it (but you know, sometimes things get sacrificed).

Watched MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL. My response was, “meh.” I grew up absolutely crazy about the series (I mean, really, Peter Graves? Be still my heart, especially as a kid not even realizing I was learning about story structure), and just never really connected to the film franchise. What they do, they do well, and there were some character scenes I loved (especially the second-to-last in Seattle that had some great detail work by the actors). Too much character development was sacrificed for action, especially when it came to the villains. The team discussed the whys of the villainy, but I would have rather SEEN it during the scenes where we encountered the villains than HEARD about it in dialogue (I know, don’t faint, I actually want information not given via dialogue). I mean, it was fine, it was fun, but I don’t feel like I missed anything by not seeing it in the theatre.

And, of course, NEWSROOM was on, but because it was part of a two-episode season finale, it felt dragged out to me. I love the show, I’m glad it’s coming back next year, but this episode didn’t pack the emotional punch the last few episodes did.

So, I’m back at the desk this morning, juggling novels, getting other work done, hustling for yet more work. I feel pretty good creatively right now, but there are some other ducks that need to mind the row.

Devon

Published in: on September 9, 2013 at 7:05 am  Comments Off on Mon. Sept. 9, 2013: Writing, Neuro-Ethics, Idea Batches, & Script Coverage  
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Fri. Sept. 6, 2013: The Evolving Novel

Friday, September 6, 2013
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

It’s definitely autumn. The heat would kick on if I’d let it.

I struggled yesterday. It took me all day to write one chapter, just over 5200 words. Not a good thing. It shouldn’t have taken that long.

I managed a trip to the library to drop off some books and then took a walk on the beach. The beaches are ours again, now that it’s past Labor Day. I’ve missed being on the beach regularly. I need the sound of the waves.

Wrote some letters, got some admin work done. When I finish today’s fiction quota, I’ve got some articles to knock out.

An actor friend wants me to write a caper script. Amazing, how when a civilian says, “You should write”, I just want to smack him, but an actor I like working with mentions something, and off I trot to the desk. Occupational hazard, I guess. Made some notes on the caper script and on another piece that I thought would be prose, but might start as a script and then I’ll adapt it.

I hope this will be a quiet, writing-centric weekend.

The book on which I’ve been writing a chapter a day started as a potential category piece, but is evolving into more of a contemporary exploration of loyalty and fame. I’m just going to let it be what it is, and then take it from there.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on September 6, 2013 at 8:12 am  Comments (1)  
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Thurs. Sept. 5, 2013: Need Breathing Room

Thursday, September 5, 2013
New Moon
Cloudy and cool

I had a good writing morning yesterday, getting another chapter of the book done, and I’ve gotten about halfway through (1800 or so words) of the third chapter this morning.

Someone else wants to know if I’ll write a script — when there’s money on the table and a contract, I’ll say yes and get to work. Not before.

Worked with students, fixed the non-fiction proposal, sent it to my agent.

Started the coursework for the creativity class, which was disappointing. It feels like it’s geared to eight year olds. Which is fine, but I’m not eight and I’m not trying to “find” my creativity. I want fresh challenges in it. Frustrating.

The Paleontology course, on the other hand, is a hoot. I’m having fun with it.

The course I need, desperately, the Neuro-ethics course, keeps getting bumped back.

I’m stressed out and trying to juggle a lot of things, while also riding a creative wave, and trying to find ways to replace the hole the contract I didn’t get left. I really need some breathing room, a couple of weeks where I don’t have to WORRY about anything and just keep my head down and work. That’s just not going to happen for the next few months.

Buck up, bunny, as my friend used to say, and deal.

Devon

Published in: on September 5, 2013 at 9:29 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Sept. 5, 2013: Need Breathing Room  
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Wed. Sept. 4, 2013: Writing Frenzy and Neuro-Ethics

Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Day Before Dark Moon
Sunny and cooler

Flat out yesterday. 4707 words (18 pages) on one of the two priority projects I’m juggling. Just over 1200 words this morning, and nowhere near stopping, although this morning’s work was more of a struggle. I was fighting a scene in a different POV, because I don’t like switching POVS within a chapter. But I didn’t want this whole chapter in this second POV. But I needed the scene. I tried to do without, and it didn’t work. So I went back and added it in, and now the chapter is smoothing out a bit.

Also invoiced some articles, wrote, polished, invoiced, and sent off two reviews. Pitched a couple of jobs. Responded to some emails. Worked on the book proposal, but couldn’t finish it. I’ll have to finish it and get it out today.

I had to stop work for a few hours yesterday because of severe storms, and I didn’t want to blow out the computer. Thunder, lightening, torrential rain. Refilled the jugs with rainwater for the plants, though, but it was still a lot.

Sat down and watched THE BOURNE LEGACY all the way through last night. Hey, I pay for On Demand, I might as well use it. I liked it a lot better than I expected. Structurally, it’s astonishing. I mean, the action sequences are spectacular, too, but the way it’s written and edited, the structure is one of the strongest I’ve seen in a long time. I’ll have to watch it a few more times and break it down, really get inside the structure, live in its skin, and I’ll learn a lot. Renner and Weisz were excellent, and I love how, with Weisz’s character, every time she’s pushed beyond her limits and one thinks she’ll totally lose it, she steps up and comes through. Some of the supporting cast were a bit cardboard, but I figure those character developments were sacrificed for pace. I would have liked the assassin in that final chase to have been a threat from earlier on, but that’s just me wanting more development in antagonists in work — heck, I teach a class on antagonists. There were a couple of places where I wanted just a single beat of stillness — both these actors can use stillness to positive effect, and, especially in a movie where pace is so important, there were two or three scenes where I just wanted ONE more beat of stillness, especially between them. I felt the full connection was cut short in those particular edits.

What I found interesting in the plot was that it reminds me of research I did on various Super Soldier programs a few years ago – I wonder if the screenwriters and I read some of the same source material. Somewhere, still packed, I have the book on the program that I tracked down, after finding it at the library and knowing I had to have it as part of my research materials for a project. I remember working with Vietnam Vets years ago, and they were already talking about that kind of program. So it’s interesting to see how these theories and possibilities are creatively explored. And the question asked over and over again: Can you keep your moral compass, your integrity as a human being, and still participate in war? If you don’t participate in war, is the only choice being conquered? Do some have to hang up their moral/human integrity in the name of keeping the many safe? Where do you draw the line? I don’t think we have easy answers to that. I don’t think there have ever been easy answers to that, no matter what we want to think and believe on an individual basis. Warfare has always been about cruelty and dehumanization, and advances in technology and genome science have created new questions, not solved old ones.

That’s why I signed up for the Neuroethics class that keeps getting postponed. These are some of the questions we explore in regard to programs like developing Super Soldiers. I want to take that class, because I want to dig deeper.

Then watched LUTHER on BBC America, which is just so character-oriented that it’s always a terrific ride. I think it’s running four consecutive nights, so that will be good.

Lots of work today,and a blazing headache, so I better get to it.

Devon

Tues. Sept. 3, 2013: Hellish Weekend & Jeremy Renner Saves This Writer’s Bacon in a Dream

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Waning Moon
Sunny and humid

A Hell of a weekend. A good lesson in not letting the b.s. get you down.

Friday, I had a fairly light workday. I was waiting for what I’d been assured was good news on a big contract that would take up most of my time in the upcoming months. I was clearing things off my desk, preparing to actually HAVE a holiday weekend.

A little after 5 PM, the news came — I did not get that contract. I’ve been jerked around all summer with assurances about how much they love my work while they went and hired someone with no practical experience, no track record of meeting deadlines, but with more degrees.

To say I was devastated and heartbroken is an understatement. First of all, I am the best person for the job. Period. End of story. I have the skills, the creativity, the ability to meet deadlines; they even said my proposal was so perfect they didn’t need to change even a comma. Yet they gave the contract – -which means the MONEY — to someone who has no practical experience, but a string of letters after the name.

That throws the rest of my year out of whack — I’ve got to scramble financially and find work to replace this. It wasn’t something that could be layered onto anything else — it would need my full attention, so I held back on long-term projects that would conflict. That was MY stupidity, and I’m paying for it dearly now.

Hurt, angry, frantic. That was my Friday night.

I didn’t get any sleep. I was too upset. I couldn’t pretend it was okay, because it wasn’t okay, not on any level. And I will NEVER believe them again until the check has cleared – -this is a big name house with a solid reputation. The fact that they fucked me over in this way means my price just went WAAAAY up in anything related to them in the future. I already know the person who beat me out for the gig can’t meet the deadlines or deliver solid work — they’ll find it out. Cold comfort to me, who has to find a way to pay the bills over the next few months, but, ultimately, I have to trust that the universe will find a far more interesting way to sort this out than I ever could.

Also, pretending it doesn’t bother me when it does would just make me sick. And I’m angry at myself for trusting them — although I trusted the person who set me up with them in the first place, because that’s what she’s paid to do. Don’t bullshit me with the talk of future projects. I need something NOW.

I was up before 5 AM on Saturday, and between 6:30 in the morning and about 4 in the afternoon, I wrote another book proposal and sample chapters. This is a book that I want to write, a book I’ve wanted to write for awhile, but was put aside for the moment when this other project came up. So I sat down and powered through it.

I was exhausted by the end of the day, but happy with it. It’s something I know well, something about which I love to write, and very practical.

I could have spent the weekend wallowing in my anger and self-pity, but I decided to take the frantic momentum and turn it around. I wrote something important to ME, something I want to do, and that also has huge market potential, so it has the best of both worlds, for the right partner.

I put it aside on Sunday, and made some notes on an idea I’ve been playing with for awhile. An idea that is FAR out of my wheelhouse, a huge stretch/leap for me in my work. But I’ve found the voice and it feels right.

I did 994 words on it Monday morning. I like where I’m going with it. It’s so far out of what I usually do, and in a POV I rarely use, but it’s working, and I love it.

And I pitched some article ideas — got to jump right back into the water, get back on the horse, all those cliches, right?

I had to stop then, because I had to drive Costume Imp back to Providence, so he could get his bus back to New York. The bus, was, of course, delayed, but I’m glad we got off Cape early, because by the time we returned, there were backups coming over both bridges that looked interminable. Plus, on the way home, we took a detour to Target.

Over the weekend, we gorged ourselves watching TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY on demand. I can never get enough of John Barrowman and Eve Myles anyway, and their chemistry is terrific. But this show is one of the most terrifying, relevant, and best written shows I’ve ever seen. It was wonderful to be able to watch the entire season in just a couple of days.

NEWSROOM wasn’t on this Sunday, so I wound up watching the end of THE BOURNE LEGACY. I’ve seen bits and pieces over the past weeks, but still haven’t sat down and watched the whole thing from start to finish. I should — it’s got Jeremy Renner in it, and he’s one of my favorite actors. I liked his work well before HURT LOCKER and most people even knew who he was.

But anyway, note to self: don’t watch THE BOURNE LEGACY right before bedtime unless you want it to invade your dreams. Actually, it was the actor AS an actor, not as one of his characters who invaded my dreams. I dreamed that I wrote another show for the National Marine Life Center, but the actors didn’t show up for rehearsal, and I couldn’t find them for the performance. Which was sold out. For some reason, Jeremy Renner wandered past as I was running around looking for my actors, stepped in and cold-read all the roles in the entire script, bringing down the house.

Which he is totally talented enough to do, but since we’ve never worked together, I don’t know why he would! Even though it was a dream, I’m terribly grateful to him, and woke up with some solutions. I spent so many years working with actors, I don’t usually dream about them. Too much of a busman’s holiday. But if my subconscious wants to personify itself as Jeremy Renner, who am I to argue? 😉

I’m sure other people have dreams about Jeremy Renner in quite a different context!

Obviously, I’ve got some anxieties about remounting the play.

Upon coming back home yesterday, another idea blazed across the brain (because Ideas come in batches, always). I wrote an outline, and this morning wrote 4707 words (18 pages) of this project.

So, I’ve got two priority projects to juggle, plus the fantasy trilogy, plus getting the play up again, plus finding enough work to pay the bills for the next few months.

Which means I better get back to it, huh? I’ve got two book reviews to finish today, some contracts to resend, work on the play, work on the grant for the next play, invoicing for previous articles, and a final polish on the proposal I wrote on Saturday (that I still love) that I intend to have on my agent’s desk by the end of the day.

Power on.

Devon