Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT (thank goodness, but it could mean today’s a rollercoaster)
Cloudy and cold

I worked the short play over and over and over again, because, especially in something that runs only ten minutes, every word has to lift more than its weight. And I sent it off. Either it fits the needs of this festival or it doesn’t. If it does, great, and you’ll get all the details to come see it. If not, well, it was a good exercise, I’ll look at it again in a few months, do some tweaks if necessary, and send it off somewhere else.

Received a contract from a potential employer, but can’t open the document, so I had to ask for a re-send. In typical Merc Ret fashion, I also tried a test run on the conference site, in preparation for next week – and couldn’t get in. So that had to be sorted out. It was, and I did some posting and spent far too much time between my poor photo editing program and BannerMaker Pro in order to create an avatar for the site.

Walked down the street to the small market to buy an onion. All I needed was a single onion, and I wasn’t about to skate across the ice to the car and drive to the next town for one onion.

Finished reading the MacLeish interview in WRITERS AT WORK. I disagree with him on many things, but I agree with him on his views on approaching the writing as work, with commitment and discipline. I also started the interview with Pablo Neruda. He quotes Robert Graves, at one point, about Graves’s belief that, in order to think, one needs to be around handmade objects (referring to the preference for first drafts in longhand versus the typewriter – this was in the 1970s). Honestly, when I’m not under the tightest of deadlines, I prefer to write the first draft in longhand. The slower pace of the hand, the connection to the page makes me more thoughtful as I write, and it needs less editing. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never actually read any of Neruda’s work, although I’ve heard of him ever since I started reading. That’s something that should be remedied.

Join me on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site for the February To-Do List.

I wanted something fun and frothy to read yesterday, so I pulled off TWICE OVER LIGHTLY, a book by Helen Hayes (yes, the actress) and Anita Loos (who was a marvelous, witty writer for print, theatre, and film, including GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES). I had high hopes. I’ve read the book before, years ago, when I first bought it. It was published in 1972, which means they did their adventuring through Manhattan around 1970. The Twin Towers weren’t finished yet, although the structure was up – that reference actually shook me. One would think that, eight years after 9/11, eyewitness accounts of its creation would no longer have such an impact. But it did. The Circle Line was still new. Even Port Authority was considered clean and wonderful. What surprised and saddened me was the amount of sexism and racism in the book, most of it casual. I’m not talking about it in terms of political correctness, I’m talking about it in human terms. Some things are the same – even back in the 1970s, New York was thinking in terms of bombs – in fact, the bombings were by homegrown groups who would now be labeled terrorists – they visit a site in Greenwich Village where only the shell of a bombed building sits. I’d forgotten about that. There was also an undercurrent of meanness in some of the writing that was meant to come off as witty repartee from writer to reader, and, for me, it didn’t work. Which is a shame, because I remember, as a teenager, looking up to Anita Loos and all she accomplished as a magazine writer, playwright, scenario writer, and screenwriter.

I don’t find cruelty funny – which is way a lot of what’s classified as humor, both past and present, doesn’t work for me. Witty repartee and a sharp comeback is one thing, but deliberate cruelty simply isn’t, in my opinion, funny.

I’m going to do a few pages on The Lucy Gothic, but it’s not going to be a big writing day.

As for the rest of today, I’m taking it off to do as I please, and enjoy flipping back and forth between the Super Bowl and the Puppy Bowl (with the Kitty half-time). Even though I’m not particularly a football fan, I enjoy the excitement and pleasure the game gives to so many.