Thurs. Jan. 17, 2019: Ideas Come Even While Sick

Thursday, January 17, 2019
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

I’m still sick. Which means I’m behind on everything.

I had to cancel client work yesterday. There was no way I could go on site, without a voice, and hacking up a lung every few minutes.

I stayed in bed, reading, all morning. Reading for pleasure, and nothing that required too much concentration. In between dozing off now and again.

In the afternoon, I went over the radio script revision one last time. The original director wanted a minor character cut, so that’s what I did; the new director (the one I get on well with) liked him, so I put him back in and I also added him into the last scene.

Smoothed things over, did a few proofreads, and then, the pain-in-the-ass bit — added the line numbers.

You can’t format Word (or Pages) to put in the line numbers the way they’re needed. I don’t have Final Draft software for my old Mac, but I hear you can’t format that for radio scripts, either.

Which means adding the lines by hand on each line, and changing the spacing.

When I’m forced to work in line-numbered scripts for radio, I put the lines in last, because any revisions screw up the lines. You can’t just change one thing and have it adjust. It has to happen manually.

It’s a major pain in the ass, not to mention a time drain. Usually, it falls to the production manager to finalize the format on the production script (having held that role in multiple productions, yes, it fell to me). But smaller companies make the writer do it.

So I did it, and the script goes off today. I also did some dramaturgy.

And when I proofed it, right before sending, there were major line mistakes, so I had to do it all over again. I HATE NUMBERED SCRIPTS.

It makes me eager to get back to reworking the stage play into a full-length, rather than a one-act. There were so many layers in this particular undercover operation.

I wound up not sending a proposal to a particular summer conference because I was too sick to word it properly, and because it interfered with another conference I want to attend in DC a few days earlier. Rather than split my time and lose four days out of a week travelling to try to get a couple of days at each conference, I’m only going to one.

I’ve been asked to speak at the Writers Night Out in May; I will send my acceptance today. It was nice of them to think of me. I’ll have to make sure my handouts are up to date.

Did a little bit of noodling with a new idea. Not quite new — I’ve been working on variations of this for years. Sort of gothic, but with a twist and some comedy. It might never go anywhere, but lying in bed feeling miserable made me remember all those gothic-style books about invalids and governesses and brooding fathers and cliff top mansions.

I need to get some groceries in before tonight’s storm, but I’m not really well enough to do much of anything else. I have to finish a book for review. I need to get started on the contest entries. I have galleys to work on.

I’ll be glad when all the galleys are done and the books are ready to go, and I can work on the next Coventina Circle novel. It’s GRAVE REACH, Lesley’s book, and we already have the cover!

I didn’t do my weight training this morning because just picking up the weights exhausted me. Hopefully, I’ll feel up to it later in the day. I don’t want to start skipping. I did my morning yoga and meditation. Although I stuck to my meditation practice yesterday, I didn’t do yoga.

But I do get tired quickly. Pushing hard on the radio play yesterday took a lot out of me physically, although it was good for me mentally. I have to take it easy, or I’ll get sicker again. My whole body aches from coughing.

It will be nice when I’m not coughing all the time, too. So much for Robitussin’s 12 hour cough relief. I’m lucky if it works for 2. It’s not like I take it often, either. Maybe once a year. When they charge $16 for a small bottle, it damn well should work.

I miss Contact Cold Medicine and their “tiny time pills.” That always worked the best for me.

I have to get ahead on some blog posts, and then it’s back to the page for me.

 

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Tues. Jan. 15, 2019: The Waves of Different Opinions & Ideas

Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Waxing Moon

There are several links for you to check out today.

Over on A Biblio Paradise, join the Reader Expansion Challenge, where we stretch each month to read beyond our normal genres and new-to-us authors, then share them. I hope you’ll join in.

Yesterday, on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site, I talked about using each week as a building block on your goals, and, this week, to add one more thing.

Today, on the same site, I have my mid-month check-in up.

I didn’t feel well on Friday. It didn’t help that I had printer problems. I changed the drum, no problem. But now the paper won’t catch. I can’t be without a printer, and I can’t afford a new one right now. So, I’m basically screwed. I’m tired of disposable printers. I want my printer to work, for years on end. Or be fixable. Not with these crappy plastic parts that stop working if you breathe on them wrong, and then you have to buy a new printer.

Actually, this Brother laser has been great. I’ve used it daily for about seven or eight years, which is amazing. But I’m on deadline and need it working now. The first time it ever had a paper jam, it shouldn’t just give up the ghost.

Read FIT AT MID-LIFE: A FEMINIST JOURNEY. The book is very well done, and still depressed the hell out of me. All this talk about running and cycling and swimming and triathlons. I don’t want to do any of it. I hate running and cycling hurts. I can’t swim. So, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Deepen the yoga practice. Stay with the weights and add as I hit levels of fitness. Try other things to find something I like. I’d like to try the rowing machine (can’t swim, so can’t actually row on the water). But I have to be careful with my shoulder, from when it was dislocated and I still have issues. I HATE treadmill desks and standing desks. Not doing them. So, we’ll see.

I managed to finish the requested revision of the radio version of “Confidence Confidant” — so I can send it off this week. I cut one character, brightened some dialogue, clarified a few things, added some sound cues. I did not implement the sexist request to make one of the female characters more “likable.” That would change the point of her character and the piece.

I don’t like the particular way they need it formatted — between using multiple fonts in the script (something I’ve never encountered before, anywhere) AND using line numbers — adding in the line numbers, after reading it through several more times and making more tweaks, is the absolute last thing I will do, and takes the longest.

But, overall, I feel good about the revisions. I’ll probably update the BBC format and the stage play, and re-register/re-submit as necessary. I still plan to expand the stage version into a full-length, adding in active scenes of what happened in the New York jail.

So, yes, I still want to write more about Kate Warne. Next year, I might do another short play about another of her cases, where she posed as a medium.

I was also delighted that the proposal to write a play about Canaletto’s Sisters for 365 Women was accepted. I’m looking forward to that. Of course, the minute I announced it, some random guy started telling me what was wrong with the idea, since he’d done a dissertation on a contemporary of Canaletto’s. First of all, I’m still in the research stage — I’m sure I would have discovered the points on my own. Second, the classy thing to do would have been to say, “Hey, I’d love to be a resource” and then privately tell me where he felt I got off track. Instead, he chose public humiliation.

Not interested in dealing with him.

I’m tired of internet bullies. Not engaging.

I’m also tired of people who claim to defend others’ rights making demands that if I don’t do/like/say what they want, they’ll block me. I don’t care. I will do/like/say whatever I want on my own timeline; I won’t trash what you like, although I may say it doesn’t work for me if you’re inviting discussion. If you into something I’m not, providing it doesn’t hurt anyone else, I’ll just keep scrolling. It’s not my business.

But if you are inviting discussion, then don’t get mad when people have different opinions or experiences. There’s a way to disagree while being respectful and kind. Really, the stupid lately is off the charts.

I’ve barely been on Facebook for weeks, and, I have to say, I don’t miss it. I was offline almost all day again Sunday; when I checked the news, that’s when I found out about Stratford, so I kind of wish I’d stayed off all day!

I’ve let go of a bunch of people in my life lately, which was necessary. Last year, I did a lot of reconnecting and catching up. But I’m not doing all the heavy lifting any more. Hey, great, glad you’re doing well, and we can both continue on our separate journeys. I learned that the one I’d always looked upon as the “one that got away” was better off away; I learned that some people that were once important to me at a particular stage of my life are well and happy and creative where they are. That’s great for all of us. Want to connect further? Great Ball’s in your court now. I’ve opened the channel. What you do from here is up to you. But I’m no longer always going to be the kin-keeper, the organizer, the connector. Can’t make the time to stay in touch? Fine. Be well. I have people who actually do make time for me on whom I’ll spend my energy.

It’s official: I’m teaching a workshop on Character Closets: Wardrobe at a Character Development Tool at the NECRWA conference in April. You can learn more about it here and sign up here. I’m putting together a fun presentation, and I hope to reconnect with people from previous conferences and meet lots of new readers and writers! We’re finally allowed to promote our workshops!

I was heartbroken to learn that the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford burned down on Saturday night. That was such a huge part of my early theatre career, even though I never had the chance to work there. But I attended Shakespeare performances again and again and again, to learn. Christopher Walken as Hotspur, and, later as Hamlet, among other experiences. It was a beautiful, wonderful place.

The official line is that it’s devastating to the community, but I’ve heard rumors about the town wanting to demolish it or sell it to developers for years, so I’m suspicious about the cause. It’s just a little too convenient.

I was sick as could be on Sunday. I bundled up and read — worked on the book for review, read a book lent by a friend, and did research on the Algonquin Round Table for another project. That way, at least I didn’t feel like I’d lost a whole day.

Back to writing first thing Monday, which at least got my week off to a decent start. I’m so far behind where I want to be.

Had a great conversation with the director and the producer of the radio play – who totally backed me in what I felt were sexist notes. The director also asked that I put back a character the previous set of notes had asked me to cut. Easy fix.

Client work, and a quick trip to the library; then I had to skip meditation, because I was still coughing. I’m losing my voice, so I’m not going to be able to test the monologue on Wednesday, either. That’s frustrating.

But this desperation for rest that I’ve had for weeks has now manifested into illness to force me to rest. Only I can’t afford to let any of my deadlines slide right now.

Client work again today, and then rest. There are also still decorations to put away.

 

Mon. Jan. 14, 2019: Self-Care in Community #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, January 14, 2019
Waxing Moon

Since January is the Self-Care month for our group, let’s talk about self-care in community.

So often, we’re desperate for some quiet time, alone time, that we forget there can be power in self-care together.

That’s not as much of a paradox as it sounds.

My yoga instructor mentioned it last week, when a group of us began a season of Monday afternoon meditations together. This is in addition to my daily meditation practice in solitude. Once a week, a group of us get together to be quiet in company.

Fellow writers, you know how, during Nano, the write-ins are great, because you’re sitting in a group of other writers, doing your own thing, but being together?

That can work with self-care, too, in some situations.

Many of us in this meditation group were part of a 12-week session last summer of Savaskana/Savasana for 90 minutes, once a week. It was great to lie in a room with fellow mindful practitioners and not have any expectations. My yoga studio also does regular “sound baths” — where participants lie down in restorative positions while a variety of sound washes over us for an hour. As someone with extreme sound sensitivity, this is wonderful.

As much as alone time is vital to creative well-being, try something in company. Walk with a friend. Join a class in something you enjoy, or you think you might enjoy.

Care in company can play a wonderful part in healing and balance.

Namaste!

Fri. Jan. 11, 2019: Dig In and Write

Friday, January 11, 2019
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

Got some admin work done yesterday, blogged ahead on some topics and scheduled posts. Got some other writing done on the various deadlined projects, but not enough. Will have to make up for that today.

Will also have to give it another go to fix the printer today.

Took down more decorations. Got the big tree in the living room down. Most of the stuff is packed away. We keep finding stuff that we thought was packed. I still have some lights to take down, the ribbons around the doors and windows, and the tree in my office.

I had to make a grocery run and a run to get in wood for the fireplace before this weekend’s storm. Doing a few admin things this morning, and then cutting myself off from the world for hours to catch upon the writing.

Mitch McConnell is a disgrace and needs to be removed as Senate Majority Leader. He’s been nothing but an obstructionist and a sycophant for at least a decade. He needs to be removed and investigated.

I’m pulling back from someone I was getting to know because I notice a pattern that I find unhealthy for me in personal relationships: This person is good with making the grand, public gesture, but not good at consistent one-on-one dealings. People do the best they can do, and I certainly don’t want or have the right to change anyone. But I do have the right to withdraw from a situation that’s starting to border on the unhealthy for me.

In general, I think it would be a good idea to hunker down this weekend and stay offline. I have plenty to do, I need large swaths of uninterrupted work time, and there’s nothing I can contribute publicly. I just have nothing left right now. I’m doing what I can privately, working with my representatives. I don’t feel comfortable broadcasting everything I do, especially for someone else. It feels like boasting. It feels like I’m looking for public acknowledgement of doing what I believe is right. I’ve always believed that genuine philanthropy is anonymous. Sharing ideas and tools to get things done is great, but posting every action, for me, makes me uncomfortable.

I got an idea before I fell asleep last night for something really cool, but of course, I didn’t write it down and it’s fled. Let’s hope it returns one day.

On the agenda this weekend: THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, DAVY JONES DHARMA, Radio play rewrite, work on monologue, work on anti-gun violence play, research Renaissance Venice, finish taking down decorations, laundry, lots of cooking, read and review a book.

I’m also trying not to get sick. I have that throat tickle and a cough.

In the meantime, have a lovely weekend, and let’s hope next week shows progress in our political situation – and our personal ones. Because they are connected, no matter how many people prefer to stick their heads in the sand and pretend otherwise.

 

Published in: on January 11, 2019 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thurs. Jan.10, 2019: Focus on Writing

Thursday, January 10, 2019
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was a long, damn day onsite with a client. It was a good day, a productive day, but a long one. I couldn’t face cooking when I came home, so I picked up a pizza on the way.

And I’m still trying to take down decorations!

Put in my responses for the notes on the radio play. Called out the comments I felt were sexist — they’re not happening. But most of the other ones make sense, and I will implement them in the new draft. Of course, this company uses a format completely different from any other radio format I’ve ever worked in, but hey, gaining an additional tool is always valuable.

Got the next book I need to review. And the first shipment of books for the contest arrived. I’m excited to dig into them. They look good. Every time I pick up a book, either to review or for a contest, I want to fall in love with it. Doesn’t always happen, but I’m always excited and optimistic.

Tried adding the exercise bicycle to the fitness routine. I’d tried it a few years ago, and it caused so much pain in my knees, hips, and back that I stopped. But I need more elements in the routine, so I’m trying again. Just a short stint, but I was in pain a good portion of the night and this morning. I’ll give it a week of daily attempts; if it doesn’t feel better, I’ll stop.

Meanwhile, my 94-year-old mother does 20 minutes every day of the week on the bike! That’s her preferred form of exercise.

I’ve stuck to the weight training, though, and that feels good. I even upped the repetitions on one of the lifts. I’ve also added plank position every day back into the yoga sequence. I hate it, but I need it for the core. So I’ll deal.

I have some admin work to do today, and some LOIs to get out. Hopefully, a pitch for an article, and also work on a conference proposal I want to send out tomorrow. I also have a detailed proposal to go to my representatives on the federal level about the government shutdown. This crap has to stop, and if Mitch McConnell won’t do his job and let votes come to the floor, then remove Mitch McConnell. Even if it’s unprecedented. This administration has set the precedent that rules don’t count.

On today’s writing agenda: THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, start revisions on the radio play, and work on the first of the monologues. And write ahead on some blog posts. I’m going to introduce a Reader Expansion Challenge on A Biblio Paradise next week.

On the life agenda: Get the rest of the decorations down from the tree. Fix the printer, if possible.

Have a great Thursday!

 

Wed. Jan. 9, 2019: Using Rest to Regain Balance

Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Waxing Moon

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for a post on Multi-Tiered Marketing.

I’m still tired, but I’m hoping today, my last day this week with this particular client, will go smoothly and then I can get a rest.

Got my review out on time, and will get my next book to review today.

I’m also going to try to fix my printer today; or else I’ll end up buying a new one on Friday.

Got some writing done, but not enough. However, I think I’m getting into the swing of it again.

STILL taking down decorations. I’m starting to think I’ll be taking them down until the summer solstice.

The new clothes are a hit; getting a lot of compliments. I feel better wearing them, and I wear them with more confidence, which helps, too.

Also got a request from a full script from a UK company to which I’d sent a pitch. So I’m on track with my resolutions. I know, I know, the year is young. But I’m not! 😉

The new meditation class on Monday was great. I hope I can make it every Monday for the next few months. It certainly helped me navigate yesterday.

I have to send my responses to the radio play notes today (for the one that’s being produced here), and then get to work on the revision. Which I have very little time to do, instead of the seven weeks I was supposed to have. Shall I have a little cheese with my whine? I’ll get it done. I might bitch and moan a bit, but I’ll get it done.

Working on the monologues, since I want to test it next week. I may draft two and decide at the last minute which one to test, taking the emotional temperature of the room.

Unless there’s a snowstorm next Wednesday, in which case I’m not going anywhere.

I think I’m going to write the emotional lifting and the civility monologues first, although the mansplaining one is also pretty insistent. I’ll play with them for the next few days, and see what works best.

Need to do some research on the Venetian Renaissance and also on the Round Table for two different projects. BALTHAZAAR TREASURE is pretty much back on track, but I’m behind where I want to be on DHARMA.

Somehow, it will all work out. If I can balance some really good rest over the next few days with the writing, I’ll even out and be productive again.

 

Tues. Jan. 8, 2019: Please, Just Let Me Rest

Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
No Retrogrades

I’d forgotten what it feels like not to have retrogrades.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise for my take on “The Book Boyfriend Dilemma.”

Busy few days, and it was a little overwhelming. Friday morning was stressful with a client, then I had some errands in the afternoon. I ended up buying some clothes to freshen up my wardrobe, some pants and skirts. I need to have a bit more of a polished look this year.

When I’m writing at home, I can wear whatever I want (usually yoga clothes, never pajamas. I can’t write in pajamas). But when I actually have to leave the house, I need and want to look professional, even if it’s not to a formal meeting.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived on Friday, a day early, so that was a fun treat.

Saturday morning, I had errands — and wound up doing more clothes shopping — more pants and a few jackets. So I’m all set for the coming season.

Got two sets of notes on the radio play — which they claim they originally sent early in December, and I never received them. I had a conversation months ago, when they claimed they’d sent me something and I had never received it, which is why they didn’t get a response — if I don’t respond in 2-3 business days, it means I didn’t get it, and please follow up. I can’t respond if I don’t know they need something. Which they did not do, again. Now, they want a new draft in a little over two weeks. When I should have had seven.

I’m all signed up for a conference at which I’m a presenter — the schedule hasn’t officially been released yet, so I can’t give out the details. I will, as soon as I get the okay. Got a pitch for another radio play out (to a different company).

Started taking down the decorations. It took me a month to get them up; I don’t know why I thought I could get them down in an afternoon. And I used enough florists’ wire to build a small city.

Got some writing done, and some work on galleys. Not enough, I’m behind, and it frustrates me.

Got yet more contradictory information on my health insurance. I now have four sets of documents, all which contradict each other. I’m turning the whole mess over to Elizabeth Warren’s office. Don’t ever believe the marketing crap that health coverage in the state of Massachusetts works. It shouldn’t cost me several hundred dollars in repeatedly having to send documents via certified mail (which they always claim they never received, even when I have proof) and dozens of lost work hours every year to sign up for health coverage — all with the threat that I’ll have to pay a fine WHEN THEY SCREW IT UP EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Single payer. Anything else is just stupid.

Exhausted on Sunday. Had trouble getting going. Working on finishing up a book for review. Had to do some client work that I couldn’t get finished last week, and which had to be done by Monday.

Worked on taking down decorations. Still not done. The tree only has lights left on it, but it will be another day or two before I can get them off and take the tree apart. I haven’t even stripped the tree in my office of ornaments yet.

I’m just unbelievably exhausted, and don’t see any option for rest coming up. It’s not about sleep. It’s about rest.

Sunday night was a fancy dress party. The reason I’d been shopping earlier in the weekend was to find a dress for this party. I didn’t find one, although I found pieces to freshen my wardrobe. But it turns out that I could fit into my favorite navy blue velvet evening gown. I paired it with my new blue suede pumps, thigh-high stockings (I’m sticking to my resolution not to wear pantyhose anymore), a multi-colored velvet wrap, elbow-length red velvet gloves, and I had my hair up with a tiara. I was pretty pleased with the effect.

The party was fun. It was at a restaurant in Hyannis. There was live music, a dance floor. I had a few glasses of Prosecco, danced, talked to people I knew and didn’t.

When I got home, I changed into pajamas and made scrambled eggs and ham for a late, light supper.

Monday was spent in client work, a couple of other appointments, and then a new meditation class. I desperately, desperately needed it.

I was exhausted when I woke up on Monday, but proud of myself for sticking to the weight training. I do the weights before I do yoga, and that works much better. I used to do it the other way around, and it didn’t work.

My printer is acting up – just when I have A LOT that needs to be done in the next few days. I’m trying to replace the drum and hope that solves it; otherwise, I have to buy a new printer.

With a client today and tomorrow. Thursday, I start digging into the radio script revisions, and focus on some of the other writing.

Usually, even when I’m too tired to physically write much, I can work out plot points and story themes. But I’m so physically and mentally spent that I can’t even string two silent thoughts together. It’s very hard to be vocally coherent with clients.

And maybe, MAYBE this coming weekend, I can get some rest.

I’m going to figure out where I can take a few days off, either later this month, or early next month.

I still have two books coming out quickly that need to be marketed; and get back in the groove of GRAVE REACH, which comes out near the end of the year. And the plays. This year is about a lot of scripts.

I also have to get the registration of the websites shifted over to Name Silo. That means the sites will probably go down for a bit, as 1&1 tries to sabotage the transfer. But I’m happy with A2 as my host, and I want Name Silo to hold the registration. I want to finally be free of 1&1 for good. I wish I’d had the courage and the knowledge to leave them years ago. It’s cost me thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

But most of all, most of all, I am desperate for some rest.

Mon. Jan. 7, 2019: Long Term Practice Pays Off #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, January 7, 2018
Waxing Moon
NO RETROGRADES

Can you believe it? Nothing is in retrograde right now. We get the chance to catch our collective breath!

This month’s topic is self-care, and the first topic I’m going to tackle is how commitment to a practice over a long period of time pays off.

I’m using two long-term practices from my own life — writing and my yoga/meditation practice — as examples.

I have a commitment to write 1K day on what I call my “primary project.” Of course, as a full-time writer, who writes for others as well as creating my own work, I have to write a hell of a lot more than 1K/day to keep a roof over my head.

But that 1K/day, first thing, builds up the pages and the chapters and the books. It is the foundation of my writing career.

Before you start whining, writing 1K/day doesn’t mean you never get a day off. The difference is that you CHOOSE when you take time off instead of just letting the writing slide until days and weeks of not writing accumulate.

Uh, uh! What did I say about whining? You have a full-time job, but want to be a full-time writer? How badly do you want this? Do you simply want the idea of being a full-time writer, or do you actually want to be a full-time writer?

If it’s the latter, then treat your writing as your second job until it’s your ONLY job. That doesn’t negate the passion, the fun, or the creativity. It makes you a professional.

The other thing that separates pros (especially in the arts) from the rest is that the only purpose of the day job is to support the writing. That is, if you actually WANT to be a full-time writer. It means you change day jobs whenever you need to, and whenever it gets in the way of the writing.

When I worked in theatre (and I wrote then, too), I’d take non-theatre jobs in between shows. A show closed, I’d take a job. Usually with something arts-related. Trust me, you never, EVER want me as your waitress. I waitressed for two days, swore off, and haven’t had to work that gig since. I leave that to actors, who, you know, actually like people.

Anyway, I’d take a day job, and when I landed another theatre job, either the day job would let me work a flexible schedule that didn’t interfere with rehearsals, techs, shows, matinees, put-ins, etc. — or I’d quit the day job.

Until I reached the position where there was no down time between shows. I went from show-to-show-to-show, and then, on Broadway, I was lucky enough to land slots on long-running shows, such as MISS SAIGON, where I worked the last five years of the ten year Broadway run. 8 shows/week. Nights, weekends, holidays. I took my two weeks’ vacation once a year (usually a week twice a year). A couple of times, I took a leave for a month when one of the shows I wrote was produced overseas. But I was there. 8 shows/week for five years.

Theatre (and writing) always came first. ALWAYS. The work must always be protected. ALWAYS.

“But I have a family! I have responsibilities!”

So do I. But my family and my partners needed to be fully supportive, carry their weight, too (although, most of my life, I have been the primary breadwinner in any relationship). Any partner who didn’t carry his share of the physical and emotional work? Or, more importantly, who got in the way of it? Gone.

Because the RIGHT partner doesn’t get in the way of the work.

For me, it’s lonelier to be with the wrong person than to be single.

It paid off in theatre. I worked my way up to Broadway. And it was wonderful. And when it was time to leave and do something else, I accepted it, and did so.

It is paying off in writing (which is always a journey). Writing is my business as well as my vocation and my passion. It is not my hobby.

I am not rich (working on that–sort of a joke, sort of not). I’m not famous (thank goodness, and some of that is a choice, much of that is luck, and some of my decisions that may cost me cash that fame would bring, but buy me the peace to do the work — we’ll see how they’ve turned out at the end of my life/career).

I’ve given up plenty that society considers “normal.”

I don’t regret it.

I wanted it badly enough.

I show up and do the work.

I am relentless when I have to be. Ruthless when I have to be.

Long-term practice pays off.

Moving to the yoga/meditation practice, which I’m sure is more along the lines of what you expected from a self-care post, this past year of practice has caused a huge positive shift in my life.

Every single day of 2018, I did at least a short meditation. I admit, I skipped yoga on some days (and regretted it, every time).

But every single day, and often more than once a day, I maintained my meditation practice. Even when I had a session with a meditation group on any particular day. I kept up my own practice.

It helped my focus. It increased my concentration. It lowered my stress, which improved my health.

But I didn’t realize the full impact until New Year’s Eve.

This was the first New Year’s Eve in years where I wasn’t miserable.

I talk about that misery in detail in the January 3rd, post, so I won’t go back into it here.

I didn’t have it this year. I didn’t have the misery, the desperation, or any of that. I wasn’t happy and dancing around, but I was content. For the first time in years of New Year’s Eves, I was content.

Be where you are. Start where you are. You’re fine right now.

That’s what we work on at Kripalu.

That’s what I work on in the daily yoga and meditation practice.

It doesn’t mean to stop striving to be better or do more. But it means to stop hating yourself in the moment. It doesn’t mean give up and feel like nothing can or will ever change. It means taking stock of the moment.

Accept yourself.

Take care of yourself.

You are fine where you are.

Once you hit that point, then, THEN you can build something positive for the future.

Commit to something that makes you feel happy or content or serene or fulfilled. Do it, even for a few minutes every single day this year. When you’re tired, when you’re sick, when you’re overwhelmed.

Do one good thing for yourself for a few minutes every day.

Chart the difference until next year. You’ll be surprised.

You’ll be content.

You might even be happy.

Published in: on January 7, 2019 at 6:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Fri. Jan. 4, 2019: Social Media As Performance Art

Friday, January 4, 2019
Dark Moon
Uranus Retrograde

Getting in gear for what I want to get done in 2019.

Yesterday, I got some writing done (not enough) and worked with a client. It was a tiring day, although a good one.

I’m going to see how next week goes; if it’s similar to this one, I’m going to start getting up an hour earlier to get in more writing. I’m so tired when I get back from this one particular client that it’s hurting my writing. I’ll be wrapping a project there in the coming months, but I can’t afford to lose as much writing time as I’ve been losing, due to exhaustion.

I’ve added an additional yoga session at night, before the night meditation. To get the kinks out before getting to bed.

Weight trained yesterday (one of my designated days). I was still a little sore from Monday’s session, but I still like the way I’m easing into it. Too often, we push too hard at the start of the year, and then lose heart when we can’t keep up.

So I’m hitting the ground running in the sense of the plan, but I’m also being more careful in how much I take on at any given time. Or trying to. You know how that blows up.

I came across information from a friend I’d had all the way back in high school and shot off an email just to say hi, never expecting to be remembered. But my friend does, and we’re catching up. Which is fun. I’m glad I did sent the email!

I’ve been thinking about social media lately, and how so much of it is a form of performance art.

No matter how “authentic” we choose or intend to be, we still choose what to reveal and what to keep back. As we must.

There’s a lot of pressure on job seekers to be careful on social media. That’s a post for Ink-Dipped Advice, but my take on that is that if they don’t like what I do on social media, they won’t like what I do in the office, either, so I’m not parsing my words to please some unknown future client.

I’d rather stand for something and not get the job than be a coward and compromise my integrity in order to get it.

But it IS a form of performance art.

You build an audience. They feel the same sense of possession and connection and emotion as does the audience at a theatre performance or a film screening. Or, even more, as the audience does of a show they regularly watch.

Our social media audience knows us and doesn’t know us. We connect on certain levels, sometimes in ways that might carry over into life, sometimes that won’t. Some relationships become unbalanced. We do get to know certain people who can become genuine relationships, but there are also others that are more pleasant at a distance, or are just for the moment of connection, and then both parties move on. When one of the parties doesn’t move on, it can cause problems.

I’ve certainly worked with enough actors where audience members feel an intimacy with the performer that exists within the plane of the work, but not with the performer directly.

The plane of the work is when the artist’s work touches the soul, and the audience’s response allows the artist to create more work. That comes in the form of approval or challenge or applause or questions or money == most often a combination.

The audience expects to be fed. The artist needs to keep creating material to feed the monster, or the monster will move on to someone else who feeds them more regularly.

That can become a burden — for an actor, for a writer, for a creator on Patreon, for someone with a huge online following, be it on social media or on a blog or whatever.

Personal boundaries are important, while still feeding the audience. I think the best thing one can do is be honest when one needs a break. I know I don’t like to announce publicly when I’m going away (even when there’s a cat sitter living at the house), because I feel like I’m asking to be burgled.

At the same time, when we travel for appearances, conferences, etc., we have to get the word out there in order to bring in the audience, in order for the audience to meet us in person.

Which can be equally daunting.

I’m an introvert. There’s a reason I worked backstage rather than onstage. I don’t enjoy acting; I don’t enjoy being the center of attention.

The work is important. I like to be in the shadows.

But now, writers are supposed to be out there exposing everything even more than actors. I don’t agree with that. I don’t believe it enhances the work. It certainly can be exhausting for authors.

The flip side of that, is that I enjoy meeting people at conferences. I enjoy teaching workshops. I’m fine one-on-one. It’s the performance aspect I don’t like.

Which is why so many introverted writers are grateful for social media. We get to connect with our audience, we get to feed them, and we still get to stay in the shadows. We are both performer and our own stage manager, when we do it well.

I don’t like being forced into a spotlight. I don’t use author photographs or post selfies. That’s not my thing. I don’t like my workshops video taped or attendees to take photos and post. I don’t pose for photos at networking events. I know I was there. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. There’s no reason pictures of me need to be up on the Internet. It’s not about me. It’s about the work.

Keeping part of yourself back for only yourself, your art, your intimates in life isn’t “lying to the public” as is far too often the accusation. It’s an absolutely necessary measure of self-protection for the work and for the soul.

Everyone — writer or anyone else — needs to make their own choices about how much to share, how much to perform, how much to keep back. It is a personal choice, and not up for debate with the audience.

Audiences as an entity are fickle anyway. Individuals within the audience may become loyal, but the entity itself will always be chasing something new, something promoted as the “next big thing.”

Make your choices. Change them as you need to. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Client work this morning, then a few appointments this afternoon. I have to finish a book review and get that out. I have to write a good bit over the next few days.

The first batch of books for the contest has shipped, and will arrive in a few days.

I’ve also got to finalize some proposals that need to go out next week.

I should wait until Sunday to take down all the holiday decor (is it that time already?), but I’m going to start Saturday. I have a fancy dress party to attend on Sunday night, so I’d like to get as much done ahead of time as possible.

I’m signed up for a course on Human Rights in Open Societies out of the university in Utrecht, Netherlands. It starts in early February, and I’m looking forward to it.

Have a great weekend. I sort of feel like the year actually starts as of Monday.

Thurs. Jan. 3, 2019: A Year of Daily Meditation Paid Off

Thursday, January 3, 2019
Day Before the Dark Moon
Uranus Retrograde

The day before the dark moon is always the lowest energy day of the month for me. Unfortunately, I’m with a client today, so too bad for me on the energy front.

New Year’s Eve wound up being better than I expected. I got exasperated with too many people determined to lash out at others and be snarky, especially toward artists. But, as I said in yesterday’s posts, those who don’t have the courage to follow their dreams always try to punish those who do.

Last year’s dedication to daily meditation paid off on New Year’s Eve. I didn’t miss a single day of meditation in 2018 (although I skipped yoga sometimes). Often, I meditated twice a day.

New Year’s Eve showed me the positive result.

New Year’s Eve is often difficult for me. I had many years of trying too hard to run around to parties and have fun. When I lived in NYC, I could see the ball drop in Times Square from my window, and had parties. That was fun, but then, even though it was a block away, it became part of the sealed-off area. People had to come in early, or not come. Arriving after the show wasn’t an option.

Then, it got stricter. Even if I lived there, if I left the neighborhood before 6 PM, I could not return until after midnight. So the years I had 8 PM shows, I was forced to go out after my show, until I could get home. Do you know how expensive it is to go out on New Year’s Eve in New York? Even when I was with people I liked, I was unhappy.

Then, I tried taking the day off, whenever possible. Sometimes I went out of town to yoga retreats or other things. But being with a bunch of strangers didn’t cut it, either.

Here on Cape, it’s been better. Quiet New Year’s, maybe with a few friends over (I make sure I’m off the road by noon, because people are already drunk).

But I’m still often attacked by both the Doubt Demons and the Ghosts of Past Failures. New Year’s Eve often finds me teetering on the edge of the Abyss of Hopeless.

Often, I welcome the New Year in with exhausted relief, and desperation for something better.

This New Year’s was quite different, and I credit the daily yoga/meditation practice with a lot of it. Yes, I got cranky at the whiners and trolls on Social Media. But there were also some wonderful people who came into my life through that (especially via Twitter) with whom I would probably not have crossed paths otherwise. They’ve been a source of inspiration and conversation and laughter and creativity.

I stuck to my practice, I did minimal socializing with a handful of people I wanted to be with, I cooked a great meal (we eat salmon for wisdom on New Year’s Eve). I tried a new side dish — scalloped potatoes and parsnips with thyme, which was excellent.

I’d made two kinds of devilled eggs — my infamous eggs, based on the recipe in THE NEW BASICS COOKBOOK, and Ina Garten’s smoked salmon devilled eggs. I tried to make the devilled eggs with avocado in them per a Twitter pal’s recipe, but it didn’t work. They didn’t look right, they didn’t taste right. Either he’ll have to let me sous-chef when he preps his next party, so I can learn from him, or I’ll keep playing with the recipe on my own until I get it where I want it.

We had the traditional herring before midnight (don’t ask; seriously, don’t ask).

The bayberry candle burned merrily most of the day, and a little past midnight, to carry prosperity into the New Year. We had a nice fire in the fireplace.

Just before midnight, we opened the back door to let the old year out; watched the ball drop; then opened the front door to welcome the New Year in.

I stayed up a bit longer to babysit the candle and make sure the fire was properly banked.

The weather was awful; I felt sorry for people out in it.

I didn’t feel particularly unhappy or depressed or worthless. I wasn’t happy or joyful, but I was, at least, content. Which is a huge step.

Slept in until after 8 o’clock on the Day (which I rarely do). Did the annual Fire & Ice ritual, which I do every New Year’s Day — and this time, it felt peaceful and grounded. It was a much better way to enter the year. No sense of desperation due to the previous year’s failures, and the ghosts of the other failures lurking behind them.

It’s a nice change.

Yoga/meditation (start the year right, now, don’t lose ground). I’d started the weight training again on the Eve because my designated weight training days are Mondays and Thursdays, and I didn’t want to wait until Thursday. Even though I started slow (rather than starting too fast and giving up), I was still sore on the Day.

Long, hot bath in some of the treats from the Goddess Provisions box, dressed, and then it was Eggs Benedict for a late breakfast (with prosecco and cranberry juice, of course). Yummy.

So we had something from the pig before noon, another long-time tradition.

It was a really pretty day, so Dance Partner and I took a walk on the beach. He’s only around for another few days– he was on Cape for a few weeks visiting family, and he goes back to his life on Twelfth Night. We had a lot of fun together these past weeks, and I have no regrets. Besides, his entrance into my life gave me the idea for THE LINGERIE TRAIL, so how could I not be pleased?

Scored the ham, added the bourbon and molasses. The ham turned out really well. Will write the recipe down in the special recipe book, so I can recreate it.

Played with some ideas. I’m letting some things percolate; other things need more focus. I’m trying to see which of the ideas will take shape as the first monologue. Juggling other work.

Send out the proposal for the play set in Renaissance Venice. If it’s accepted, that’s four plays on the roster this year. Three novels releasing, and four plays to write, plus the novels for 2020 to write, so I don’t fall behind. Time management skills much?

Getting back to what still needs to be done on the BALTHAZAAR galleys. The next two books are too tightly scheduled, and then I have some breathing room to get ahead.

Client work yesterday – tiring, but it went well. Today, I’ll also be with the client (I’ll miss my favorite yoga class, sadly).

Weight training this morning, too. I’m getting back into it slowly, so I don’t overdo too soon and get discouraged.

I’m looking forward to getting back to a regular schedule next week. I need some uninterrupted writing time.

But then, I always do. I may start getting up even earlier than I already do to make up the difference.

 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019: Hit The Ground Running and Hitting Back at Those Who Denigrate Artists

Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde

Time to hit the ground running. I have a few thoughts on that, over on Ink-Dipped Advice.

Friday wore me out. I had to take the car in (which wasn’t as bad as I feared). I spent time with a client, then had some running around to do.

I was also still spinning ideas for the online brainstorming session I had with Jackie Kessler, Deanna Rayburn, and Erin Cronican on new material for WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST.

WOMEN WITH AN EDGE is a show with legs. Some of the material is evergreen; some is dated. It’s time for another show along the same lines that deal with topics relevant now. I have a few places I can test material, although there’s not a theatre on Cape who’d have the guts to produce the piece. Too right-wing around here.

But we brainstormed pages of notes, and I’ve taken it further. I threw some ideas into the Women Write Change forum as well on Monday, so I’m sure that will generate more ideas.

I want to write the first couple of monologues this week.

Saturday was unseasonably warm. I had another run to the store (because there’s always one more thing). We got the garbage to the dump (and the guys got their cookies).

I started playing with some more ideas. Because ideas come in batches. So it’s important to take notes, date the notes, and then figure what’s pulling hardest and where to put what.

Sunday I managed fourteen pages on an idea with which I’m playing — I think it will work. My two main protagonists are deliciously more complicated and manipulative than I originally envisioned. It will be interesting to see how they play off each other. A missing music composition is a big part of the story, too.

Worked on the proposal for the play set in Renaissance Venice. With that, and the anti-gun violence play, and the two women authors play, and WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST, that’s four stage plays and three novels releasing this year. Minimum.

We’re pushing the Jain Lazarus re-release back to 2020. It doesn’t make sense to do it this year. That way, in 2020, the third Gwen-Justin book releases, the third Nautical Namaste releases, the fifth Coventina Circle releases — along with the first three Jain Lazarus. Those are all outlined — it’s a case of writing/revising.

This year, I’m scrambling to get BALTHAZAAR and DHARMA out on schedule — last year was just too much. GRAVE REACH will be in good shape in a few months, and ready for edits. And we’re still trying to figure out if the Justice by Harpy trilogy can come out this year.

Plus, I want to make room to have at least one stand-alone a year.

I’m posting this on Monday, so I have no idea what my Eve and Day will be. I’m determined to make them good. I’m determined not to teeter at the edge of the abyss I usually find myself on every New Year’s Eve.

I have worlds to build.

Social media has just been depressing lately. I know I need it for the books and the writing. I enjoy genuine interaction, and I’ve met some great people.

But there’s too much viciousness. And too much whining.

You want to be a full time artist? Then you have to rearrange your life and put the work first. You can’t do it all and have it all. If you want to be a part-time artist in order to have a more balanced life, fine, go ahead. But don’t whine at those of us who made the choices and put in the work about “not having time to write.” You are CHOOSING not to write. You are CHOOSING other elements in your life over the writing. And they are your choices. So own them.

I’m also tired of being attacked for earning money from my work. Loving my work does not forfeit my right to earn a living at it — provided I’m willing to put in the work. I am. I do.

Those who aren’t willing to put in the work or believe getting paid for art and craft is “selling out” can go to hell. Because I have stuff to do and can’t be bothered.

And all these attacks on artists as not being smart or who shouldn’t have opinions or participate in political activism? Those who make their living in the arts tend to be smarter and more committed than those around them, or they couldn’t do it.

If you think artists are stupid, if you attack them for being intelligent, articulate, and committed to building a better world, yeah, you can go to hell, too.

I have no time for these jealous, petty morons. People who attack artists generally do so out of spite, because they hate that artists have the talent and the skills and the work ethic, and, most importantly, the COURAGE to put it all on the line.

I’m not arguing with them. I’m not “debating” with them. Let those who are only in it to cause trouble and spread spite twist in the wind.

I have art to create. I have work to do. I have a world to change, one story at a time.

 

Thurs. Dec. 27, 2018: Hypocrisy & Artistry

Thursday, December 27, 2018
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Second Day of Christmas

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday.

Solstice was a little more drama-ridden than I would have liked, and I was under more stress than I wanted, but it all worked out.

Nice ceremony, starting at dusk, when the house went into full dark. Then, the fire lit first, then the candles in each room, then the tree and all the lights I have around the windows, then the outside lights, then the ritual, followed by a nice meal.

The Narcissistic Sociopath shut down the government, screwing 800,000 federal workers right before Christmas. Typical. He’s such a vile and disgusting pretension of a human being, and those around him, like Ryan and McConnell, who enable him, are even worse.

Saturday was the full moon. Again, more drama than I would have liked (and less writing). More cookie platter deliveries, a few errands and things I had to get done.

Trader Joe’s was a zoo. People screaming into their cell phones and acting like it was the bumper car ride at an amusement park. I met a lovely elderly man there, clutching his list, his cane, and his cart. I walked through the aisles with him, more to keep him from getting knocked over than anything else. His wife was sick, and the family coming in, so he decided to take over cooking the dinner. He was a WWII pilot in the RAF; he guessed he could figure out how to cook a turkey.

What a contrast to that awful man at the library, a week or so ago, whining that his wife was recovering from surgery, couldn’t do anything, so his meals weren’t on time and the house was dirty? When challenged he should step up and help he said, “That’s not why I got married.”

I will use the lovely ex-RAF man in a book as a positive character, and kill off a character based on the nasty man.

Worked ahead on Sunday on a bunch of articles and posts I’ll need in the new year. Didn’t get enough work done on any fiction. But even writing non-fiction helped a lot. Steady writing helps me keep my equilibrium.

Started a proposal for one of the plays that will have to go out the first or second week of January.

I’m under enormous deadline pressure for the next few months, so I have to step it up. The emotional exhaustion of the past couple of months has led to physical exhaustion. I’m sleeping, but I’m not getting any rest.

I also had a chance to sit with a stack of books on Degas and Sargant, and figure out which painting I want to use as a clue in DAVY JONES DHARMA. I’ve got it — it’s a lovely painting of a dancer in an aqua-colored costume. That will be perfect for the Scavenger Hunt clue.

Woke up to a bit of snow on Monday, not quite a white Christmas Eve, but still pretty. Read and wrapped packages and wasted time on silly things and spent time with the guests.

Dinner was the traditional pork roast, with mashed potatoes, green beans with hollandaise sauce, and red cabbage. It was very good. We had home-made stollen for dessert.

Quiet evening, talking, burning down the advent candles and the bayberry candle. Sent some good wishes to friends and cyberfriends.

The hypocrisy of the so-called “Christians” is in even starker contrast this year than in previous ones. Going to church, talking about God and love, and then supporting the policies of this administration, the racism, the sexism. It’s sickening. I’m at the point where, when someone starts the whole “Jesus” tirade, I ask them what they’re doing about the wall, about the children in cages, about homeless veterans and homelessness in general? When they start to sputter, I say, “Live your path and then come tell me what you’ve accomplished. Not doing anything? STFU and get out of my face.” I’m done with these hypocrites.

Up late with the candles, then filled the stockings. Up early the next morning (the cats won’t have it any other way).

We opened the stockings, then I made our traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs served with thick slices of panettone. Then I stuffed the turkey and got it into the oven.

Then, we did presents. We usually do them on the Eve, but this year, we did them on the day.

Settled down to read, while the dinner cooked. Turkey with all the trimmings. It was delicious. Read, talked, listened to music for the rest of the day.

I read two theatre-oriented books: UNMASKED, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s memoir, and SOMETHING WONDERFUL, about the Rodgers and Hammerstein partnership. Both books talk a lot about process, which I loved. It got me thinking in terms of structure and possibilities for the three plays I’ll write this coming year: the anti-gun violence play, the play set in Renaissance Venice, and the play with the two women authors central to it.

I need to figure out where to submit the other plays I’ve got. I haven’t been active enough about submissions in 2018. That changes in 2019. I need to get back to the Thirteen-in-Play, where there are always at least thirteen pieces out on submission or pitched. Separate from the client work pitches.

Someone told me about a production company that’s looking for new film scripts, but I don’t think what I do is in alignment with what they want. The two film scripts I have that are ready to go are very different: an action/adventure and a drama. I’ll do some more research on them, but why send them something they’re not looking for? Unless they’re on the hunt for good writers? But if I don’t like writing what they like producing, it’s a waste of both our time.

I’d like my client work in 2019 to have more script work for clients involved. I have to research companies that specialize in that kind of work and pitch to them, rather than to the corporations/small businesses directly. All I want to do is write the scripts for them, not produce the segment or any of the other production work that goes with it.

I spent most of yesterday onsite with a client. I’ll be with that same client today. Tomorrow morning, I have to take the car in over the bridge to Plymouth — in bad weather, and I’m worried the repair will cost more than I can afford. If it’s simpler than I fear, I’ll spend some time with my client. If not, I’ll do what needs to be done.

2018 was definitely better than 2017, but 2019 needs to put them both in the shade.

 

Thurs. Dec. 20, 2018: Enter the Holiday Stretch

IMG_0392

Thursday, December 20, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

I’m in the process of winding up year-end work with various clients. Some of it are permanent wraps on projects that are done, and I’ll be replacing them with new projects/clients in the coming weeks. Some are just getting things cleared up as much as possible before this holiday, and then I’ll be doing some work in between and then we start again in January.

By next year at this time, I want to arrange my life so I can completely take off from Solstice until right after the New Year. I need that time and space on multiple levels.

Got the exterior decorations up outside, including fixing some of the light strands. One is beyond help, but I had enough without it. Another, I had to make a quick trip to the hardware store to pick up a few things. The old white men were giving me sage, negative advice on what I “couldn’t” do, because, after all, I’m just a little woman, and couldn’t possibly know anything about electricity.

Honey, I started my career in lighting for rock ‘n roll. I can do things with a splicer, electrical tape, and pliers that you can only dream of.

Anyway, I got most of the lights working again. One set needs a bit more attention, but I was losing the light, and I need to be able to see.

Today, I’m running around finishing the cookie platter deliveries (even over the bridge). I did a big grocery shop, so I have the food for the Solstice, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day. I’ll deal with the New Year’s meals next week.

I’m playing tomorrow by ear, because of the weather. We’re supposed to get a big storm (rain, not snow). I’m supposed to take in the car and do a few other things (like get in some more liquor), but I might hunker down, celebrate Solstice, and then get the car in over the weekend. I also have a few more stocking stuffers to get, but for the most part, I’m in decent shape. I have to wrap. Which means I also need more tape.

Next year, I’m going to buy fabric and either silk or velvet ribbon, use pinking shears to cut, and wrap everything in fabric.

I will sweep the fireplace and lay the fire for tomorrow night today, though. I want to make sure all I have to do when it goes dark is strike the match, and then it starts.

I have writing and cooking and reading and some friends coming in for the weekend and holiday, so we’ll be brainstorming the next three plays I plan to work on. I’ll need to hit the ground running on them after the first of the year – with at least three books on the roster for next year (more, if something that’s written is picked up and needs editing), and some travel and appearances and other life stuff, I’ll have to plan my time carefully to write three plays along with everything else.

But they’re good ideas, and they won’t leave me alone until I fulfill them. I just have to fix a few structural things in the rest of my life so to do.

Have a lovely holiday, and I’ll see you on the other side!