Wed. March 18, 2015: Such a Busy Week!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Day before Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Hilaria Day
Sunny and cold

Busy few days. It was Pie for Pi Day at the library on Saturday, and lots of people stopped by for pie. We also had a storyteller, so it was a busy day, and there was putting together and getting out information on some upcoming events.

Ran errands on Saturday morning, before going to work, because the weather on Sunday was supposed to be vile. By the time I got to work, it felt like I’d put in a full day.

The weather degenerated during the day, so we had a nice fire in the fireplace and settled in for the afternoon and evening.

William Goldman’s THE SEASON is a mean-spirited book. I realize Broadway in the late 1960s is, in many ways, different from Broadway today. But he’s approaching theatre as a film person, with a film person’s perspective on each position (even though he had two shows on Broadway). Even though he did a lot of interviews, interviewing someone about a show is very different than being backstage on that show, and he can’t capture the true experience of Broadway without being backstage night after night on a production. I think he’s an amazing novelist and screenwriter, and I’ve learned a lot about the politics of screenwriting from him, but I LIVED Broadway for many years, and he missed the magic of it completely. I feel sorry for him, because, even on its most frustrating day, Broadway is exhilerating, in a way that I’ve certainly never experienced in film or television.

Starting to work my way through the books for the contest. The quality has a much wider range this year than in previous years. What’s good is very good, and what’s bad is pretty darn awful. Some of these books — did anyone even run it through spell check? I’ve noticed that the books weakest in story and character are also the ones with the worst proofreading/copyediting. The good ones, though — it’ll be hard to narrow them down. I’m reading everything, and then I’ll go back and re-read my top choices. It will come down to liveliness and elegance of the writing and the immediacy of the characters in the end.

Finished watching WEST WING. I’d forgotten how much I loved that show. Re=watching it, I also learned a lot about how structure supports good characters and story telling.

Planted sweet peas and four o’clocks — inside, of course.

Monday, up early. Got work done, and then got in the car to head north of Boston. The traffic, was, of course, a nightmare. But we reached Georgetown right on time. The microfiche machine was much larger (and heavier) than I expected. The microfilm machine was pretty much was I thought it would be. Loaded them into the car. Went to Ipswich for lunch — 5 Corners Deli — very good. What a lively town!

Very different vibe north of Boston than south of it.

I laughed when I saw how close to Maine we were — 40 miles from Kittery!

I had a bad feeling about 93 coming back down, so we went 128 instead. Good call, because 93 was a mess. 128 wasn’t bad, although it took a little longer. Less stressful, though.

I’d gripped the steering wheel so tightly that my tendons hurt. When I relaxed, I wondered why the steering wheel was wet and sticky. Turns out I’d cut my fingers moving the microfiche machine, hadn’t realized it, and had gripped the steering wheel so tightly it was the “pressure on the wound.” Every try getting blood off a steering wheel? Not fun.

However, when we got back, the table I’d put aside for the microfiche reader wasn’t strong enough to hold the machine’s weight. So I had to go out and buy another table. Which meant I had to rearrange the office. Which meant I was also moving some stuff around in the back bedroom. Which didn’t work, and meant I had to put everything back together.

And then I looked up and it was 7:30, and I was supposed to go to a panel a friend was doing from 6-8 PM. I didn’t make it, and I felt badly about it.

But the machines are all set up properly in the office.

Watched SAVING MR. BANKS, which I found disappointing. Emma Thompson was very good. Bradley Whitford was underused, and I thought his character was underwritten. I was irritated by the tone of the piece. A wonderful biography of P.L. Travers came out a few years ago (it’s in a box somewhere). She was definitely protective of her work (with good reason), but I certainly didn’t get, from the biography, that she was the miserable, neurotic, mean-spirited mess that this script portrays. Of course, it is a movie by Disney about a Disney project. The tone is bound to be: Disney — good; anyone who questions Disney – crazy and wrong.

Yesterday, I was up at 5:30 AM and out the door by 7. Marine Life Center Board Meeting at 8. Went pretty well. Our new board members are lively and enthusiastic, they have good ideas. I need to get some writing done for them this week.

Since I was on that side of the bridge anyway, I went to Target. The weather was dreadful, the blender I want is twice what I want to pay for it, but I found some other stuff I needed. I was going to go to Lowe’s, too, but it was pouring and the thought of getting soaked going to and from the car was no attractive, so I came home.

Unloaded, worked on the contest, worked on student manuscripts.

Put together some talking points for the other contest, ran off the minutes, headed to Cotuit Library for the Cape Cod Writers Center meetings — executive committee first, then Board. We got a lot done. I need to get some material up on Google Docs for them later this week.

We were sitting in the meeting room, with big windows, and, suddenly, the storm comes exploding around us. As one of the members said, it was like the end of the world.

Missing WEST WING a lot. We watched seven years’ worth since the blizzard in January.

This was not a good writing weekend, and that frustrates me. I look at my notes for the next radio play and for the screenplay that has to get done and feel completely disconnected. I look at the notes for the next novel, and am not happy with what I’ve written so far. I still have the thread of the hour-long TV pilot, but I have to finish my research on-site in Maine for that in May. I’m looking forward to diving into the microfilm research for the historical play. But my writing is not at the pace or the level it needs to be at right now, and I’m unhappy about it. I haven’t quite figured out how to fix it yet, but I have to do it soon.

I have a Reference Committee meeting this morning in Hyannis, then play catch-up at the library, and then we have a program on the weather this evening. Long day. I’ve got a training session tomorrow (also in Hyannis, also for the library), then afternoon at the library, then milonga in the evening. Friday, I’m just at the library all day — I’m hoping that will be a good catch-up day.

Hope you all had a good St. Patrick’s Day — so nice NOT to be in New York, dealing with the drunks. And hope you’re having a great week.

Today is Hilaria Day, so — laugh a lot!


Published in: on March 18, 2015 at 3:04 pm  Comments Off on Wed. March 18, 2015: Such a Busy Week!  
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and warm

My column, The Literary Athlete, is up in the new issue of THE SCRUFFY DOG REVIEW. It’s the last of a three part series on workshops, conferences, and groups, and this installment talks about groups, loops, and crit partners. The link will take you to the main page — click current issue, then click the Lit Athlete. Hopefully, you’ll stick around to read the whole mag!

Yesterday just sucked, every possible way for the majority of it. The tank was empty, but there were still things that had to get done. Sometimes you have to sit there and get it done, no matter what.

It was a challenge to write witty and engaging copy when I felt weepy and listless. I got some work done on a brochure. I’m sure I’ll tweak it, but if something’s not there in the first place, and I’m staring at a blank panel, there’s nothing with which to work. I did a little research. I tried to work on an essay, based on some notes I previously took. The notes are pretty good, and the essay is one of those pieces that needs to cook over time. Do a bit of work on it, put it away, let it percolate, then come back and do a little more work.

Tried to tackle the next section of SETTLING THE SCORE,using yesterday’s comments from the blog readers (which are very helpful, by the way). Unfortunately, the scene was as light and as graceful as a dropped anvil, so I chucked it. I’ll have to attack it from another angle.

In the next draft, I may cut out three characters and a subplot. Two of the characters, in the diner, I may keep for a pair of comic scenes, but the third — love him to pieces, but I think he belongs in a different piece. I was thinking in terms of actors, creating roles for the “perfect ensemble” I’d like to work with, instead of putting story first, and that’s one reason I’m running into trouble. I may very well have a “Max-full” version and a “Max-less” version, send them both to my readers and let them pick.

I did about 3K of work on POWER OF WORDS. I’m restructuring the chapters in this second section quite a bit, and weaving in some of the stuff set up as I’ve worked on the first section. I got the comments back last night — very helpful. Because I’m in the world and the jargon has to come naturally to these characters, I forget that not all of the readers will know what the terms mean. So I have to clarify and integrate that information without making it presentational or preachy. And I’m going to rearrange a bunch of information and let it trickle over several scenes instead of sticking it all in one. I’ve either got to cut one character or give him more to do, because he’s at a bit of a loss right now, and it’s more than because he’s at a life-changing crossroads, poor guy. He’s likable, and I’m not doing him justice. The notes got me really excited about the piece and how to make it more engaging, while still keeping the whole premise of it takes a boatload of people to pull something like this off, and the interpersonal relationships, both personal and professional, get very tricky! 😉 Because I’m worried about length, the internal editor is tripping me up and I’m skimming some things that need fleshing out. I need to work each section in as much detail as is necessary and then worry about cuts later. It’s really detrimental for me to write with an eye towards “this is too long, I have to telescope it” when it’s not on the page yet for me to work with. Internal Editress needs to take a vacation to Tahiti and not return until the draft is done (which I anticipate will take about a year, if I’m lucky).

Also, because POWER OF WORDS is about the making of a minii-series that then gets picked up as a series, I had to outline the mini-series and the first couple of seasons. That’s been fun, but it’s kind of like writing two pieces side-by side! I’m writing a set of arcs for the characters in the piece, and a set of arcs for the characters that the characters play!

I’m re-reading Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD, which I enjoy more this time around — I’m getting different things from it in this reading, which is good. I’m also re-reading Joyce Carol Oates’s published journals from 1973-1982. I usually re-read them once or twice a year as fuel. The remind me to step back and look at the whole creation of a piece, and then step forward to do more detailed work,without losing sight of it.

I’ve got some errands to run today, some bills to pay, some paperwork to file with authorities, and then figure out which writing projects to take with me this weekend. I don’t want to take too much — I need a lot of this to be about not doing a whole hell of a lot, and playing the time moment-by-moment to rejuvenate a bit. In fact, I may well make this a retreat weekend — the job itself is more my physical presence than anything else to oversee things, so I can do what I want as long as I’m there. A little reading, a little writing, a lot of yoga. I don’t HAVE to dash around the city, although if it’s pretty out, I may go to the park.

So, I watched THE GOOD GUYS last night, because I love Bradley Whitford’s work. There’s some good stuff on it, some clever work, and Whtiford is fantastic in it — the detail, the sense of comic timing, the knowledge of when to drop the comic mask to see what’s under it — absolutely great. They pack about two hours’ worth of stuff into a single 47 minute script, which, at times, felt like it was a bit much. Hopefully, that was because it’s the pilot and we needed the set up. It sounds like they’re keeping the character of Julian in there, which is great, because his timing, too, is impeccable. Some of the camera work annoyed me — jerky jump cuts — and the device of overlapping a few seconds from the previous scene when it comes back from commercial break sets my teeth on edge. I’m not a moron — I remember where you stopped before the commercial break, in spite of the fact that there are far too many commercials in proportion to shows now. This stylistic choice that’s in vogue now among the action shows — I find it condescending, and it insults my intelligence. If you insult my intelligence like that, you’re going to lose me. HUMAN TARGET only used it once or twice, thank goodness. I nearly threw shoes at the screen those times (and said many bad words), and, had that been the weekly style choice, I would have had to stop watching the show, Jackie Earle Haley or not. It has the same effect on me that a mirror ball has on an epileptic. Anyway, back to THE GOOD GUYS — there was a lot of clever, fun stuff in it, and I’d definitely watch the show if I was around. I don’t Tivo or DVR, so if I’m not around to watch the show or the re-run, too bad for me.

Back to the page, and I’m feeling a little more optimistic today.