Tues. Aug. 3, 2021: Love The Libraries

image courtesy of Foundry Co. via pixabay.com

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Partly cloudy and cool

For some reason, the weekend feels like a really long time ago.

There’s a post over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions blog. I’m slowly gearing up the other blogs.

I didn’t manage my time properly, so I ended up writing up script coverage all weekend. I need to figure things out better, so I have weekends off from the coverage, or it’s just too much.

I found out that a new independent bookstore opened, within walking distance. My first instinct was to run right over and check it out. However, I decided to wait until I get paid, so that I can actually spend money there (not just buy one thing because I feel like I can’t go in without buying something, but buy several things and give them some serious business). I also discovered that, at Norad Mill, on the way to Wild Oats Market, is a yarn store. I don’t need more yarn – I have so much in storage. But there’s a yarn store, so you know I’m going to go there.

The list of possibilities for upcoming Artist Dates grows. And that is a good thing.

I like that there are places I can frequent within walking distance.

Norad Mill also has a yoga studio, with strict vaccine rules for in-studio work. Even with that, that everyone needs to be vaccinated, masks are welcome within the studio, I’m not sure if I feel comfortable going back into the studio. There’s another studio (near the new bookstore), but it’s online only right now. As much as I’d like to go back to class, I’m not sure, even with precautions and protocols, I feel comfortable enough so to do. I feel like I’d need a separate set of mat, blocks, props, etc. to take to class that would need to be decontaminated and kept separate from my daily mat and blocks I use at home.

But it’s nice to know that the studios here follow protocols. Unlike the studio on Cape, where, during the height of it all last year, pre-vaccine, people could be inside without masks.

I received sad news. The Broadway colleague fighting COVID, who seemed to be improving, died of a heart attack on Friday night. He was a sweet, gentle soul who is an enormous loss.

It also increases my rage against anti-vaxxers. They are domestic terrorists, walking biological weapons, and need to be dealt with as the murderers they are.

Saturday, I put the cat condo back up. It’s in a corner of the living room. Because the ceilings are so much higher here, it doesn’t dominate the room, the way it did in the Cape house. The cats aren’t sure about it yet. It has to be their idea to go back into/onto it.

Worked on unpacking/setting up my office some more. It’s better, it’s workable, but I want it wonderful, and it’s not there yet.

The new Eureka vacuum arrived. It’s wonderful. It was also horrifying to see how much dirt was in the rugs that the other vacuum hadn’t picked up. But now, we’re finally getting things clean.

When I lived a block from Times Square, in NYC, the constant cleaning was discouraging. I’d scrub everything down; an hour later, there was a light layer of soot and grime over everything. When we first moved to the Cape, a decade ago, things were a little gritty because it’s sandy (beaches have sand), but, overall, it was cleaner. However, it got progressively dirtier, as trees are cut down, and there were the constant mowing/leaf blowing/chain saws. The dirt had an oily residue from all the machinery in constant use. Even with regular house cleaning, it was difficult to get it clean, much less keep it clean. As we unpack, even though we cleaned things before the move, everything needs a second, thorough scrub.

The dirt and dust, at least so far, is a different, lighter consistency. So far, at least, it’s easier to clean, even though we technically live in a city.

Who knew there were so many kinds of dirt? Not soil, but dirt.

Sunday was about some more unpacking. There are still a few boxes in the living room that need unpacking, but it’s not stuff for the living room. And we need to rearrange some stuff, and decide what to put on the mantel. So far, nothing looks quite right. Our mirrors are the wrong size and shape. I feel as though it should be a painting. If we keep the porcelain figurines (which have been in the family for generations and keep getting hauled around) on the mantel, I feel it should be a pastoral scene with a lake (for feng shui, there needs to be water over a fireplace, even if it’s not a real one), so it looks like the figures stepped out of it. If we move the figures (although who knows where), it can be some other sort of painting, as long as there’s a watery vibe to it (but not a sinking ship type of thing; not good for feng shui).

I tried putting the pieces I brought back from Australia oh, so long ago, when my play was produced there, but they don’t look or feel right there, either. They will probably go in my office.

Monday morning, in my first writing session of the day, I passed my daily quota, for the first time in months. It felt good. I’m getting back in synch with my creativity. I’m starting, slowly, to feel like myself again. The self I was when I moved so optimistically to the Cape ten years ago (nearly eleven now), although I doubt I’ll ever feel that level of optimism about anything ever again.

Got out some LOIs, caught up on email. Worked on the class presentation. Walked down to the post office to mail a few things.

I can see the college library from my front windows. So, yesterday morning, I walked over and got a Community Card. I have permission to both check books out of the library and to work in the library (it was practically empty today and everything is well spaced, but if COVID numbers keep going up, I doubt I will). Everyone at the college – students, faculty, staff, vendors – is required to be fully vaccinated, at least. But I don’t want to push my luck.

For research, it’s a fantastic library. Lots of books I can’t find anywhere else. I only checked out two books, but they will keep me busy for a bit!

Home, tried to get back to work, had a bad case of the I Don’t Wannas. Did a little unpacking and rearranging.

Worked on some script coverage. Started the next book I have to review. Paid some bills.

An interesting call for a flash fiction submission landed in my inbox, so I’m playing with some ideas.

Spent some time on the acupressure mat, with the eye pillow on, and Willa was absolutely convinced I was dying, and it was her job to resuscitate. Poor cat. Her original human, who gave her up because he was too sick to take care of her and of Charlotte, must have been in bad shape.

At least I’m sleeping better.

As I’m roaming around the neighborhood, learning my way about, I’m meeting various neighbors. People are good about distancing when unmasked outside, and everyone in the area is vaccinated (most are connected to the college, or to other companies that insist on vaccination). The timbre of conversation here is so different than it was on Cape.

For comparison:

Topic: My life and work in New York, and it comes up that I worked backstage on Broadway for years.

Typical Cape Cod response: “Oh, so you were fired and came here? But I bet you still have connections. How soon can you get me free tickets? There are lots of shows I want to see, but I’m not paying those prices.”

Berkshires: “I bet you got to work on some cool projects and with some talented people.”

(For the record: I was not fired. I was aging out, and wanted to leave while I still loved it).

Topic: Professions. I’m asked what I do for a living, and I respond with “writer.”

Typical Cape Cod: “What’s your real job?”

Berkshire: “Can we get together one day to take a walk around the lake/get coffee and talk about how you approach character and plot? I’m vaccinated, I promise.  I’m trying a few things, and I’d love to hear how you do it.”

See the difference?

Not everyone on Cape was like that, of course. The people who became my friends weren’t like that, or we wouldn’t have formed friendships. But, at networking or Chamber Events or Writers’ Center events or art openings, meeting and chatting with new people, that same response came up over and over and over again, for years.

Not that it’s perfect here. The Town Clerk still hasn’t responded to my request to change voter registration (which, according to the Secretary of State’s office has to be done here), and the equivalent of my health organization hasn’t responded to any of my requests for information. The original requests went in nearly a month ago. The local chamber of commerce hasn’t responded to my request for information (although the larger 1Berkshires has).

But when I meet people and talk to them, I’m met with interest, rather than the hostility of “you think you’re so great because you work in the arts, but you can’t be that great or you wouldn’t live here” which I got pounded with constantly on Cape for years.

It’s not about my view of my own “greatness.” It’s the fact that this is my profession, not my hobby, I put in the work, and earn my living at it.

Up early this morning, wrote my 1K in longhand. It felt good. There’s stuff I need to research, details, but the writing itself feels good, even though the story itself is light years away from what I usually do. Stretching is a good thing.

The bulk of today’s focus will be on the materials for class: finishing up the Power Point presentation, putting together the handouts. My host is doing maintenance, so I can’t upload anything until tomorrow, but if it’s ready to go, that means I can upload, test, and troubleshoot before Friday’s class.

I also have to make another trip to the post office, and then I’ll swing by the public library to return books/pick up books. I think it’s nice enough to walk today, so that’s what I’ll do. Walking more is both a good way to learn the area, and a way to regain fitness and strength. It’s safe to walk around here, too. People aren’t idiots, and don’t roam in unvaccinated packs, like they did on Cape. Even when we’re unmasked and vaccinated, we give each other room, passing on the sidewalk, etc. None of this invading personal space and literally blowing on the backs of people’s necks that the assholes did during the pandemic on Cape, thinking it was “funny.”

Got to do a grocery run, too. I’m out of oat milk. I put cow’s milk in my coffee this morning, and that was a mistake. We need a few things like eggs and butter, too.

Time to get back to work. Slowly, I’m finding my work rhythms again. I still get tired quickly, and have to take more breaks, but taking breaks isn’t a bad thing. When I take proper breaks, I’m more focused and productive when I actually work.

And I’m soooo much more productive working fully remotely than going into someone else’s office.

Back to the page, hoping for a good day, on multiple levels.

Mon. Oct. 1, 2018: Persistence — How Badly Do You Want It? #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, October 1, 2018
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

There are five Mondays in October, which means I have to sort my thoughts on persistence into FIVE posts. Yes, that will take persistence!

When I teach, one of the first questions I ask is, “How badly do you want this?”

The students who will gain the most out of my classes are not those who prefer “having written” to writing. I am strict, and demand a high level of productivity and commitment.

Because that is what you need if you plan to have a career in the arts.

High productivity.

Ever-increasing skills.

Commitment.

Persistence.

I spent most of my professional life earning my living in the theatre. I worked my way up to Broadway, production managed some indie films, and day-played on network television shows.

I made the decision that was what I wanted to do quite young, and started working professionally when I was 18, and still in college.

Did I ever do other things? Of course. I temped all over the country. I worked at nearly 200 different companies. I worked at many non-profits. Some of them were great experiences, like the Guggenheim Museum and the Neuberger Museum. I did a three-year stint for an art book publisher during the day while working off-off Broadway at night. I did five years working for the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation part-time, as I worked shows at night, moving from off-off Broadway to off-Broadway. Eventually, I worked enough off-Broadway to just work theatre, and write, and pick up some extra cash between gigs playing the horses at Aqueduct and Belmont and as a tarot reader.

Then, I worked at the Public Theatre for some people well-established in the field, who recommended me up the ladder to Broadway because they liked my work.

I made the leap.

At the same time I transitioned to Broadway, shows I wrote were produced in London, Edinburgh, and Australia, so I took time off from the transition in order to be with those shows in those locations.

When I worked on Broadway, I wrote. I had shows produced in small theatres. I collaborated with fellow artists.

I started getting back into writing not just plays, but short stories and novels again. I took workshops. I learned how to pitch. I learned more about effective pitching from working with film acquisitions people at conferences than anywhere else, and it is what I learned from those film people that honed my skills so that my novel pitches started to hit.

I made a tough decision that much as I loved writing scripts, I did not want to relocate to LA and start at the bottom of the ladder again. I didn’t want to do what was necessary to achieve a spot in a writer’s room. I respect writer’s rooms enormously, and the collaboration that goes on there. It is not an environment where I would thrive. Do I still write and pitch scripts? Yes. But I’m not going to earn a spot in a writer’s room of a television drama in LA. My career trajectory isn’t going to go there. I’m at peace with it. Most of the time. 😉

When it was time for me to leave Broadway, because the physical demands of the backstage work were too much, and mentally, I needed to stop splitting my focus between working on other people’s shows and my own, I left New York — and moved far enough away so that I wouldn’t be tempted back.

I dug in, and through a mix and match, and a lot of pain and frustration, made it work. I shifted and expanded what I write and how I handle my business in order to make a living. Unfortunately, I live in an area that talks big about celebrating artists, but doesn’t actually support working artists. Are you a visiting artist who likes the beauty and history of the area? They’ll fall all over you. Have a summer house? They grovel. But move here, live here year round and try to work? The attitude is that you must have failed elsewhere, so the expectation is for you to work three part-time jobs at minimum wage without benefits and do your art for “fun” because “we don’t pay for that.”

So I don’t work for them. I have some local clients I enjoy and value, who value me in return. I expanded my client base beyond the bridge, and reconnected with international contacts. I network here, sure, but have redrawn my boundaries, and when the demand is made to work for free, I say no. Because this is my business, not my hobby. I’m not living off a trust fund. I’m not writing for pin money. I am not supported by a corporate husband paying the bills.

This is my profession.

I talked in earlier posts about how if you don’t respect your own work, no one else will, either.

Saying “no” has done more to expand my business than saying “yes” to the wrong situations ever did.

Is my life perfect and without struggle? Of course not. I am still building the life I’ve always wanted. I will always be building the life I want, because life changes, breath to breath. You can either insulate yourself and pretend it doesn’t, or rage that the world refuses to change to suit you. or think on your feet and make the decisions that support your choices.

I knew, when I was six years old, that I wanted to be a writer. Once I fell in love with theatre, I wanted to do that, too. I had a dual career as long as it worked. While I have a multi-pronged writing career, it is also what I want. I like doing different things, having different facets and challenges.

Years ago, I thought I wanted an ivory tower existence. I imagined something quite different from what it is.

But what “is” is better, in many ways, than the roads not taken.

And the road I hope to build in the coming years will continue to improve. Not without obstacles, pain, and tangents — but if I persist, I can build something good.

I got here because when I asked myself, “How badly do you want this?” — my answer was, “Badly enough to do what it takes.”

 

Published in: on October 1, 2018 at 3:55 am  Comments Off on Mon. Oct. 1, 2018: Persistence — How Badly Do You Want It? #UpbeatAuthors  
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Mon. July 9, 2018: Say “Yes” — #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, July 9, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde

 

There’s a saying I’ve heard about both opportunity and the Muse: that when it knocks, you better answer or it will move on to someone else.

I believe that.

Of course, there are those who will insist they are “offering” you an “opportunity” to try to get them to work for free while they do nothing. Laugh and walk away. That is not something you to which you want to say “yes.”

But say “yes” to new experiences that are out of your comfort zone, but that you might enjoy. I did that with Argentine Tango – I said “yes” to taking classes for a few months. Not only did I have the chance to do something I hadn’t done in years – dance – I met new people, learned about a world-wide community, and gathered material for at least three new books. I even put a tango scene into my radio play “Light Behind the Eyes” which was produced this past March.

I said “yes” to attending my very first Bouchercon way back in the mid-1990s, and that was the catalyst to writing novels again. I said “yes” to my very first Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which led me to an invitation to participate in the Adelaide Festival Fringe, which meant I got to go to Australia, something I’d always wanted to do. And I got to go there as a working artist.

In Australia, I said “yes” to a local networking meeting someone I’d met in passing invited me to, which led me to saying “yes” to a curator for the library, who invited me to see an illuminated manuscript, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen in my life. I said “yes” to doing a promo on a local radio show – which got such a positive response that I wound up co-hosting the show while we were at festival. I said “yes” to an invitation to an art gallery opening, where I was exposed to stunning work by Aboriginal artists depicting the sections in Australia where the ozone layers are burned all the way through. I said “yes” to an invitation to join a group of Aborginal women artists for their morning coffee – a rare honor, since they didn’t mingle with the other festival participants often – and learned a whole new way of communicating and relating.

I said “yes” the first time I was invited, in my first theatre lighting class in college, to working on the crew of a show – and that, eventually, led me to my career on Broadway.

I said “yes” in high school, when I was starting to learn cello, but they needed more viola players and asked me to switch. And I learned the viola (not that I remember it after all these years, but still . . .)

I said “yes” when I was just getting back into thoroughbred racing to work on a benefit to help racetrack workers have access to childcare and ended up with lifelong friends among trainers, jockeys, backstretch workers, which led me to pitch (and accept) a job covering the Triple Crown for thirteen years, and go to races in England and Scotland.

I said “yes” when given the opportunity to write about ice hockey and spent months with a minor league time; I said “yes” when given the opportunity to cover America’s Cup and learned about sailing and those beautiful old Newport yachts (even though I can’t swim). I said “yes” to covering Highland Games and local sports and lighthouses and restaurants and anything else that sounded interesting.

I can’t even count the times I’ve said “yes” – because I say “yes” more than I say “no” – especially if it means a new experience. I trust my gut – if something seems off about the offer, or I figure it’s dangerous in the wrong way, I decline.

But I trust my gut, and saying “yes” means I had opportunities and experiences many others around me haven’t. I ask questions. I’m interested in the world. So when someone offers me a chance to do something unique, especially by someone who is passionate about their interests, I try to say “yes” and then enjoy it!