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.”

 

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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!

 

Mon. June 18, 2018: Follow Your Dreams — A Personal Story #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, June 18, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

I’ve lived my life by that motto.

I knew I wanted to be a writer by the time I was six years old. I published in school magazines and newspapers. As a teen, I wrote plays, and I did press releases and other articles for local and regional newspapers about the high school music groups with which I was associated.

In college, I got away from the writing (although I wrote plenty of awful poetry) when I committed to theatre. I graduated high school early, tested my way out of freshman year, and entered Florida State University in Tallahassee mid-year. I took a stage lighting class. I was supposed to put in 20 hours of lab work in the theatre during the semester. I put 20 hours in my first week and never left the building until I transferred to NYU’s film and television program a year later. I got terrific experience at FSU, and even picked up a few side rock and roll gigs.

I transferred to NYU and got into the film department. My first day in film school, I met the guy who still, all these decades later, is one of my closest friends. But, because I was practical and a problem-solver, I wound up more on the production management level than the writing level. I had two brilliant professors, who encouraged me, and with whom I’m still in contact. One was my screenwriting professor, and I wish I’d studied more with him. I still use what I learned from him, in screenwriting, playwrighting, radio writing, and novels.

I picked up theatre jobs here and there. In other words, I started earning my living in the arts when I was 18. Any non-arts job I ever had was only temporary, and in between shows, for the cash. I knew I wasn’t suited to an office job or anything the fearful call “a real job.” Honey — working in the arts is about giving EVERYTHING and leaving it out there. It’s far more real than ANY office job. So shut the eff up.

When I graduated from NYU, I moved to the west coast for three years to work in regional theatre. I knew I needed experiences outside of New York. I loved it, but I also knew that if I was going to realize my dream of working on Broadway, I had to be in New York. While I was west, I spent some time in LA and knew it wasn’t for me.

I came back east, initially to help with a family issue, for two months. I immediately landed a stage management job and worked my way up in the off-off-off-off Broadway community. (I had worked as a stage manager and production manager in San Francisco, and as a props person in Seattle). I switched to wardrobe (as a stage manager in small SF companies, I’d often both stage managed and handled quick changes). I worked my way from off-off-off Broadway to off-off Broadway and then to off-Broadway. I did some work in New York as a stage manager and an associate production manager, for the Pearl Theatre and for Manhattan Class Company. I did wardrobe for the Vineyard, and then spent several seasons at Manhattan Theatre Club, which led to open-ended runs rather than repertory.

While I was still working off-off Broadway, I spent three years working during the day for an art book publisher. I learned an enormous amount that has served my writing career well, working both sides of the table. I worked in the development offices of the Neuberger Museum and the Guggenheim Museum. At the latter, I spent my lunch hour walking the museum, immersing myself in the art. I worked part-time for five years for the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, when it was so small the staff consisted of the Executive Director and me, putting on seminars and support groups and roundtables and award shows. I learned so much.

It was at Manhattan Theatre Club where I had the honor of working with Arthur Miller and Athol Fugard within the same six months. I’d started writing again. Even though I was the wardrobe girl, Athol respected that I wrote, that I was starting to define myself as a writer. He invited me to sit in on rehearsals any time I wanted, to ask any questions I wanted. I did, and I learned an amazing amount from him. He directed what he wrote, but he kept his writing self and his directing self separate.

On the first day of rehearsal, in his opening remarks, he said, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the writer is dead in this process. There will be no revisions during rehearsal. The bad news is that I promised him you chaps would speak every line exactly as written.”

I loved it. He demanded respect for the words. No paraphrasing (which American actors tend to do more than any other actors, claiming to be “in the moment” when, in reality, most of them simply haven’t bothered to take the time to memorize).

I worked with Arthur Miller within the same six months (their plays were produced one after the other in the season). I adored him. He was one of the most vibrant, vital, intelligent people I ever met. He used to hang out in the wardrobe room during the show sometimes.

At the time, I was getting back into writing. Monologues for actresses with whom I worked, who couldn’t find good monologues for auditions. Who landed the job every time they used something I wrote for them. I was also working on a short story, for a themed competition.

I wrote the first draft on butcher paper in between cues in the wardrobe room. I typed it up and worked on revisions between cues (there were long periods where I didn’t have any quick changes with my actors). I hid the pages in the room, but Arthur found them one evening when I was on the deck doing quick changes.

I was mortified when I returned to the room and found him reading the pages. He was Arthur Miller! I was, well, me.

He looked up and said, “This is good. What are you doing working backstage?”

“I like it. Plus, you know, I like to do things like eat. I have to pay the rent.”

“You need to write full time. You’ll never be the writer you can be, find your full potential, until you rely on it to pay the bills.”

David Mamet told me something very similar when we worked together.

Arthur gave me some suggestions on the text. He never treated me like “less than” because he was Arthur Miller and I was a wardrobe girl scribbling in a corner. He always treated me like a colleague. We kept in touch until his death, and he always pushed me to do better, be more — and only write.

It was quite a few years before I had the courage to only write — and it was AFTER I’d accomplished my dream of working on Broadway.

The monologues I wrote expanded to plays, the plays that would take me to fringe festivals in both Edinburgh and Australia. I found my work got a much stronger reception in Europe than in the US. It wasn’t angsty enough for the American audiences at the time; there was too much sharp humor.

I landed at the Public Theatre and worked with one of my idols, Hal Prince. Another person at the top of his craft who liked and respected everyone with whom he worked. The assistant designers at the Public were working on Broadway and took me with them when the show at the Public closed.

I found myself learning how to be a swing dresser on Broadway, on the production of MISS SAIGON, and in the union. Each series of cues a dresser performs during the course of the show is called a “track.” If you read my novel PLAYING THE ANGLES, set backstage on a Broadway show, my protagonist Morag is a Broadway dresser.

MISS SAIGON had 13 tracks. I learned them in 26 performances. You follow the dresser once to learn it; the dresser follows you as you do it. Within three months, after swinging every track on the show multiple times, the lead actresses who played Kim requested me when their regular dresser took another job. I stayed with the show for five years, until it closed.

It was an amazing, creative group. We wrote plays, songs, other performances, and all went to each others’ shows. Which took place at midnight, in various venues around the city. We put on our own shows, and hung out with the cast & crew of other shows like SNL at KGB. We did The Easter Bonnet Competition and Gypsy of the Year and Broadway Bares to raise money for AIDs and breast cancer. I worked the Tony Awards once and attended it twice over my years on Broadway.

I think I had four shows I wrote produced during that time, in small venues. Dozens of monologues and short pieces. A few short stories published. MISS SAIGON closed and I worked on other shows at other theatres: RENT, GYPSY (the Bernadette Peters version), FOLLIES, 42ND ST, SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS (with Mark Hamill, who became one of my favorite people ever), URINETOWN, and then as a swing on the first 3 1/2 years of WICKED.

I loved it, but I knew I was aging out. Physically, it was getting tougher and tougher. Mentally, I was struggling to get the writing done and work full time on Broadway. They’re not kidding when they say, “The theatre is a jealous mistress.”

By this point, I was also day-playing on television shows shooting in New York. For the money. I could earn in one day on set when I earned in a week on Broadway. I liked it. I learned so, so much. But I didn’t love it the way I loved Broadway. I’m better suited to theatre production than television production. Which is a shame, from a financial standpoint.

I was also writing about sports for various publications. I covered horse racing and ice hockey. Thirteen years’ worth of Triple Crown races; traveled with a minor league hockey team for eight months as background for a book. Covered America’s Cup races and learned about sailing, although I can’t even swim.

By this point, the first Jain Lazarus Adventures were out, ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, DIXIE DUST RUMORS, and a bunch of short stories and anthologies. I was writing for calendars and almanacs. I was doing marketing writing for companies. I was writing and teaching and working on novels and trying to build a writing career as the publishing world changed. I hit a point where I had to make a decision. I had to decide if I would stop writing or if I would give up Broadway.

I knew I couldn’t continue physically on Broadway much longer — heavy costumes, raked stages, blowing out my knees running up and down concrete steps carrying stacks of clothes.

I chose writing.

SPRING AWAKENING was my last show as a swing on Broadway. The last event I worked was a staged reading of ALL ABOUT EVE, which had a plethora of people I loved working with involved, AND I got to bow out by working with Jennifer Tilly, Keri Russell, Peter Gallagher, Annette Bening, Angela Lansbury, Zoe Caldwell, and more. It was a great way to leave the business. I’d heard so many stories about how wonderful Peter Gallagher is, and thought, “No one can be that great” — he IS that great, and even better. I’ve never laughed as much with anyone as I did with Jennifer Tilly, and I loved working with Keri Russell (we had five quick changes in a staged reading, which means walking around holding scripts).

I moved away from New York to write. There are challenges. I live in a place that is a prime example of how trickle-down economy does not work. I live in place that, if you’re a working artist who visits, they fall all over you, but if you chose to LIVE here, you’re considered a failure and should get a “real” job. Honey, this is a real job. Granted, most of the clients who pay me well are remote, but I’m working a real job. I’m writing material that helps businesses grow and spread their message. I’m writing books that I love. I’m writing plays and radio plays that invigorate people.

I have always made the choices to do what I love. To fight for what I want, to refuse to compromise and be forced into work I hate. I have made plenty of personal compromises along the way.

Every single one of them has been worth it.

Just because I love what I do does not mean I don’t deserve to be paid for it. Loving my work does not mean I don’t deserve to earn a living at it. I do. And nothing less is acceptable.

Those who don’t have the courage to follow their dreams often try to punish those of us who do.

They are not worth our time or our energy.

Do what you love. Follow your dreams. Make them your reality.

Mon. April 23, 2018: Listen To Your Heart #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, April 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

If  you’re looking for a hearts-and-flowers inspiration post on this topic, move along. This post is about determination, focus, will power, and passion.

If I didn’t listen to my heart, I wouldn’t have had the career in theatre that made me so happy, and I wouldn’t be a writer.

I started writing at age 6. I knew I loved theatre not much after that.

Of course, people told me it would be a “nice hobby” but I needed to get “a real job.”

What did I do?

I started landing paying gigs in theatre and rock ‘n roll when I was 18. I worked my way through college, between work-study and gigs. My college degree is in film and television production, from NYU, but I worked in theatre. I moved to the west coast for a few years to work regionals. I came back, and worked my way up from off-off-off-church-basement theatre to Broadway.

Because NO ONE was going to tell me that what I did was not “a real job.”

Anyone who doesn’t think working in the arts isn’t “a real job” has never worked in the arts. Cubicle dwellers wouldn’t last a week. You have to be fit physically, mentally, and emotionally. You have to be smart, able to think on your feet, a problem solver, have a quick learning curve, and able to work with all kinds of people. You learn that the nastiest people in the business are usually the most mediocre talents, and if you remain cordial and professional, they’ll nasty themselves out of a job and you’ll go on to work with better.

You have to love the work beyond measure. You have to be willing to give up nights, weekends, holidays, because your work is what others want when they play. You have to be ruthless. You have to be kind.

You have to love it.

Writing is much the same way. I wrote as much as I could through the theatre and film work. Production is all-consuming, but so is writing. When I had time to write, I sat down and I damn well WROTE.

If my show call at the theatre was 6:30, and I didn’t have day work or a special event with one of the actors, or spend my dark day from theatre on a television production, I was at my desk by 8 AM and I wrote until 4:30. A switch went off in my head at 4:30, and then I went into “show head” where, until I walked out of the theatre, the show was the only thing that occupied my world. Now that I’ve aged out of working in production and am writing full-time, I keep a similar schedule, although I’m usually at my desk by 7 AM. But 4:30 is no longer “show head.” Now, it’s cocktail hour! 😉

Focus, skills, learning curve, passion.

I can’t tell you how often over the years people told me I’d never “make it.” Of course, their version of “making it” had to do with fame and magazine covers and reality television.

My version of “making it” is to do good work with people I respect that expands people’s understanding of the world through the arts.

I worked hard, I continually learned, I loved what I did. I grew personally and professionally. Most important, by listening to my heart, I didn’t let the bitter, angry people who didn’t have the guts to go for it derail me from my dreams.

Listen to your heart.

Go for it.

 

Published in: on April 23, 2018 at 5:44 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 23, 2018: Listen To Your Heart #UpbeatAuthors  
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Thursday, July 9, 2015: After Being Under the Weather, Coming Back Up

Thursday, July 9, 2015
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and cooler

Quite the week! I hope all of you had a great holiday.

Thursday night, I relaxed at home, and did some reading and writing. Cooked a chicken-and-zucchini dish that turned out really well. Friday, I spent most of the day doing garden work — including rescuing three sad-looking cucumber plants from the sale rack of a local garden store. They’re replanted, and doing well. Did some mowing, too! The borage and the morning glories are in bloom, along with the Shasta daisies, and the Hollyhocks are still going strong.

Friday night, I cooked a stuffed eggplant dish that was really good.

Saturday morning, I was up very early, and out the door by 7 AM to get over the bridge before the traffic got bad. There wasn’t much traffic, although the PowWow was set up at the Fairgrounds — good reminder that I couldn’t take the Bourne Bridge to come back, although there wasn’t a problem going over. Traffic coming on-Cape was already bad.

I was one of the first ones there, and I sat and worked on a short story while I waited. I helped set up the hospitality tent, and then worked the booth for awhile. I had to leave at noon.

The parade was terrific. I’ve marched in parades in New York, such as the Labor Day Parade, and, of course, if you work on Broadway, eventually you’re on something that’s participating in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — quite different than the local parade going down Main Street in Buzzards Bay! It was wonderful. People were really creative and having fun and throwing candy — hilarious. The Dive Shop, with their Pirate Ship and the Buzzards Bay Buccaneers, was a highlight.

CanalFest itself was quite good, better than I expected. And tons of people. I hope it did well for NMLC.

By the time I came home, I had chills and a fever. Not sure where that came from. I cancelled out of the afternoon and evening commitments and rested.

Traditional hamburger dinner on Saturday night — good fun.

The fireworks on Saturday night, in this neighborhood were awful. The idiots behind me (who certainly aren’t qualified to use explosives) set off such large explosives that a clock fell off the wall, glasses rattled on the shelves (fortunately, cabinet doors kept them from smashing), and the poor cats, especially Tessa, were terrified.

Not only that, but the debris littered our yard. We found crap all over the yard, the deck, the roof, including spent shells. The blue jays dislodged some bigger stuff from the trees the next morning. We were lucky the house and yard didn’t catch fire.

Our guests, who were expected on Sunday, postponed, which was a good thing, since I still felt awful on Sunday. After a consultation, I was told to go to bed and stay there for a few days.

Sunday night, more idiot fireworks.

Monday, I cheated and mowed some more, then did work on the piece set in 1938. The research I’m doing is enriching it enormously, and I’m pleased with the overall shape. But I did “rest” a lot!

Tuesday, I finished the mowing — I’m finally caught up, at least for the moment! I also went to the bookstore and bought some freshly released books: SPELLCASTING IN SILK by Juliet Blackwell, FATAL RESERVATIONS by Lucy Burdette, FLIGHT FROM DEATH by Yasmine Galenorn, and A MURDER OF MAGES by Marshall Ryan Maresca.

Since I was on “bedrest” — well, I was out on the deck on the bench — I read SPELLCASTING IN SILK first — love the Lily Ivory series. I’m interested in the character arcs growing throughout the series. I’m a big fan of Blackwell’s writing anyway. I also read most of FATAL RESERVATIONS, which was also fun.

I also tried to resolve some plot problems in the contemporary theatre piece.

Wednesday, I spent a good chunk of the day prepping a radio play for submission, and doing some work on a New Adult piece that I started awhile ago and put aside. It has some structural problems that need to be resolved so it can go back into the writing queue.

I read FLIGHT FROM DEATH, which I really liked — and I’m excited by Galenorn’s new Whisper Hollow series, which debuts in November. I read the first chapter, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Up early today. I’m feeling a little better, although the ear infection is still bothering me, and that affects my balance. A co-worker will be out all week because she fractured her ankle — she’s having a bad run of it, health-wise this year. It will be a busy at work, both today and tomorrow, but then I’m off again for the weekend, and can finish getting well. I’m not going to Tango tonight — not feeling well enough, and my balance is too messed up to be able to dance in heels.

Next week will be very busy — working the week, including the Saturday “on”, and also, we have a staff day on the Tuesday, which is usually my day off, but I’m doing it any way.

I think I’ve almost figured out the next bit of BALTHAZAAR, the part that wasn’t quite working, so I can get back to writing it.

I have Spectacle of the Trees stuff to do, the upcoming Christmas in July, Mermaid Ball stuff, and Casino night stuff. Also, I want to rearrange my office some more, and get more stuff sorted and purged. Hopefully, I’ll feel well enough to get back to it shortly.

Hope you’re having a great week!

Devon

Published in: on July 9, 2015 at 11:52 am  Comments Off on Thursday, July 9, 2015: After Being Under the Weather, Coming Back Up  
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Thurs. May 30, 2013: Busy NY Days and Having to Wear Shoes

IMG_1145
The small pools at Rockefeller Center

Thursday, May 30, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and hot

Yesterday was a wonderful, albeit exhausting day. Up early, left Brooklyn at a reasonable hour, rolled into Rockefeller Center.

First stop: Christie’s Auction House. They had a viewing for the upcoming Latin American Art Auction. It was amazing. There’s a reason Christie’s has such a stellar reputation — not only are the pieces stunning, but they are well-curated, and the staff is pleasant.

Of course, I gravitated immediately to Matta’s work. His paintings have spoken to me since I was in college and saw them when my roommate studied him in Art History class. If there’s a Matta, I find it instinctively.

There was also work from a Cuban painter named Tomas Sanchez that I loved — his use of light and color and the four elements. And Emilio Sanchez’s use of light reminded me of Edward Hopper.

What a great way to start the day!

Headed up Fifth Avenue. Stopped at St. Patrick’s (under renovation) to visit the Brigid altar. Stopped in St. Thomas’s because I attended the ordination of one of the first women priests (Anglican) there when I was in high school. I thought it was somehow appropriate that, when you stand in front of the church’s 9/11 Memorial, you can hear and feel the subway moving underneath.

Further up to the MOMA, where I found a card of the Edward Hopper painting that inspired one of my short stories. Bought it and will frame it when I get home.

Up to the park, where I had coffee and a nice chat with one of my students. Then did the Broadway matinee sweep, but didn’t really want to bother anyone during the shows.

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I swung by my beloved Belasco Theatre to take photographs — nothing’s running in it right now, but that theatre holds a special place in my heart. It’s a little gem, and I wish a bit more would be invested in it to preserve it. The history, the stories, the atmosphere of it are completely unique to any theatre in which I’ve ever worked.

Headed for the NY Public Library, where I spent quality time with Patience and Fortitude, and used the reading room to get some work done. Got some background written for something I want to work on.
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To the Harvard Club, where the Indie Next Generation Awards Ceremony was held. The Harvard Club has many strict rules and nut dispensers, and that’s all I’m going to say on that topic. But our function was lovely — how can you not love a place that hands you a glass of champagne as you walk in? I met a lot of great people, caught up with my agent, and got to applaud the authors. I’m glad I was a part of it as a judge.

Once I left the Harvard Club, I went back to Broadway, backstage at NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, to catch up with friends. It was great to see people and catch up and all that good stuff.

From there, I headed up 9th Avenue to Molloy’s Pub. Got there before any of the people I was meeting, so had dinner (hey, it was past 8 PM & I hadn’t eaten since breakfast). Joelle Charbonneau joined me after her signing at Books of Wonder and we had a good natter about the business, and then Costume Imp joined us when he got out of work at the ballet (they knew each other in college). So we had a great time.

By the time Imp and I got back to Brooklyn and settled, it was nearly 1 AM.

Up early again this morning — the concentration today is downtown and the Village. Walking the old neighborhoods, getting the changes photographed and logged in for the HEART SNATCHER trilogy, HUNTING THE DREAMSTALKER, and a couple of other things that use contemporary NY as a background.

I should wear the cute shoes that go with the dress, but my feet are swollen from yesterday, so to hell with it, I’m wearing the sneakers. The Knickerbocker Club (where I have a meeting with a former mentor this afternoon) is just going to have to deal. 😉

I’m not used to wearing shoes anymore. I don’t wear them at home, except to run to the store or to go out for a meeting. An hour, two hours a day, tops. Having to wear shoes all the time is much harder than it sounds!

Devon

Monday, June 13, 2011


Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard

Monday June 13, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Friday was all about the house. The Fire/Health Dept. inspection took all of ten minutes, and the guy was twenty minutes early. When does that happen? Good thing I was ready!

Right after lunch, the owner came to help me do stuff around the house, and teach me what I didn’t know. We put a washer into the hoses so they don’t sputter. We walked the property lines, so now I actually know what they are! We discussed the downed limbs and the broken limb of what turns out to be an “autumn olive” — it seems to be repairing itself, so we’re not worried. The three windows I couldn’t switch from storm to screen are now done. The two sets of back doors now have the screens in place. The screen door from the front door is bent, so we’re not putting it in. He’s going to schedule a plumber to fix the downstairs toilet, and, at some point this summer, someone’s going to come to clean the furnace. We also worked on the dryer.

So I think we’re set now!

After he left, I planted the petunias, dusty miller, and coleus in the urn — it looks great.

Finished Juliet Blackwell’s HEXES AND HEMLINES, which I really liked, and Laurie R. King’s A GRAVE TALENT, which I liked in a different way. Also read Jennifer Crusie’s TRUST ME ON THIS, which was fun.

Sat on the deck reading for awhile in the evening, wrestled the freshly painted bookcase upstairs, and will fill it today. It looks really good. It’s a little too damp to paint today, I think (rain predicted), so I might have to wait until tomorrow to start painting the bureau and the other two small bookcases.

Writing-wise, I gave myself the weekend off. I start writing with my students on Monday, for Write in Company. I need to read the material for Confidential Job #1 and do some work for the Mermaid Ball.

Saturday, up early, yoga, meditation, tended the garden, and of course it immediately started raining. My neighbor mowed his lawn in the rain. Whatever. I’d rather not rust out my blades. Ran some errands, but spent mostly a quiet afternoon at home. Signed up to bake cookies for an event benefitting the local library & museum. They needed only one more person, and I’d been considering it since I saw the sign-up, so why not? I’m good at baking & it’s for a good cause.

Read Laurie R. King’s THE ART OF DETECTION. It’s from the same series as A GRAVE TALENT, with TALENT being the first book and DETECTION being the most recent. The latter is twelve years later in the characters’ histories from the first, yet I didn’t feel lost. Hopefully, via the various libraries, I can get them all and then read them to fill in. DETECTION is also interesting because the murder victim is a Sherlock Holmes enthusiastic and King’s other series focuses on Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. One doesn’t often get the chance to call crime fiction “elegant”, but I definitely felt that King’s writing was elegant. She tells a good story, her characters have depth, her settings are wonderful, not a word is wasted, and the tone is . . . elegant without being artificial. That’s the only way I can describe it.

Covered the Belmont Stakes via live stream. Just as they’re going to the post, a stranger POUNDS on the door — doesn’t knock, POUNDS. I think there’s something wrong, and the dimwit is there to SELL me something — something about opening a new carpet cleaning business. I take a flyer, explain this is a bad time because I’m covering the horse race. He snatched the flyer back, saying,”I’m taking this, because I only have a limited number” and storms off. NOT the way to get me enthusiastic about your new business you’re trying to build, asshole.

Worked on my Triple Crown article. Did some work for the Mermaid Ball. Dealt with the month’s bills (ick) including my quarterly taxes, which were fine. Had the money put aside, had the paperwork, not a big deal. Some of the other stuff sets my teeth on edge, but the quarterlies are much easier than the once-a-year stuff. Big perk of freelancing.

Rearranged the books in my room — moved the things I want in the freshly painted bookcase there, unpacked two boxes of my grandmother’s leather-bound books for the other bookcase. We’re getting there.

Sunday — up early, yoga, meditation. Since it was pouring with rain, I didn’t have to water the garden! Got in the papers, had a leisurely morning.

Repotted some plants, including the Big King Eggplant and the mints guarding the front door into new pots and got them settled. Managed to plant the sunflowers, but ran out of soil before I could do the zinnias. Another trip for more soil (sigh).

Reading Henning Mannkell’s ONE STEP BEHIND. He definitely inhabits the same Sweden as Larsson, although the tone is a bit quieter and sadder, without that fiery undertone of frustration at lack of social justice, just a weary awareness of it. Amazing how different the different translators make it sound. Larsson’s translator used much more Americanized language, while Mannkell’s is very British. Makes me wish I could read Swedish, so I could read both authors in their native languages.

Watched the Tony Awards, and was delighted by how many of my former colleagues were on stage! And some of them won! I thought the show was well done. Last year, it focused too much on the Hollywood invaders — this year, it was about the theatre people again, and the show was both better and more fun. Neil Patrick Harris was a great host, and his number with Hugh Jackman was hilarious (as were the opening and closing numbers — the latter of which had been written during the show).

The Tony Awards makes me miss the joy of working on Broadway, but really, thinking about it later, I know I made the right decision to leave. To work on Broadway, you need to use all your time and all your heart — I did that for years, and now there are other things I want to do and experience.

Up early this morning. Because of all the rain, I didn’t have to haul out the hose. I’ve got a bunch of business correspondence to get out, work on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, two articles, some research for the Ball, a trip to the dump, baking for Wednesday’s event (no one’s given me any information, there’s no information on who to contact — it’s a little late, I’m not going to start baking at midnight). So I’ll bake whatever I damn well please! 😉 At least it won’t be too hot to bake — the heat kicked on. And I’ve got to do laundry and get the house in shape for Costume Imp’s arrival tomorrow.

My class starts this morning, for the next two weeks of intensive writing. I need it as much as the students!

Back to the page.

Devon

ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, available from Champagne Books.
Annabel Aidan’s webpage here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


totem pole outside of the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT

Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and mild
Autumn Equinox

Yesterday’s jaunt to the city actually went well. Train was sorta on time, I got a seat, I wandered over to my first meeting, everything went better than expected, I wandered over to my second meeting further on the West Side, that went better than expected, and I got to hang out with a friend and colleague for awhile, catching up. He was my business rep on Broadway, and now he’s shifted over to handle the film and TV contracts, and just one of my favorite people, so it was nice to sit down for an hour or so and catch up.

It was a lovely, sunny fall day and I wandered back to Grand Central. The fall B’way shows are loading in, so I got to stop and say hi to about 110 of the crew guys I’ve worked with over the years on this show and that show, and catch up. Much as I adore them all, it made me realize even more that my life is no longer here. I’ve got years of wonderful memories, I hope B’way continues to thrive, and I need to be doing other things. May we all be happy and successful!

Got on the train at Grand Central, after climbing over a film crew. I’m surprised NYPD let anything film on the East side with all the stuff going on at the UN. Of course, the train didn’t work — two working trains in one day is more than Metro North can handle — so we all had to move to another train. But at least it was before we left the station.

I got home early in the afternoon, took care of some other business. I was worried that I wasn’t as sharp as I needed because of the migraine, but I seem to have held my own pretty well. And I was actually dealing with people and organizations who work WITH me rather than against me, which is a nice change.

The ducks are lining up nicely, and pretty soon, I’ll get them to quack in formation! 😉

I got about 30 floppies transferred to flash drives. It’s slow going, because I’m at the boxes of old material that has to be converted to RTF before I can transfer it, or I can’t open it on the Mac. Just keep going, a little bit every day, because a little bit still gets us further than doing nothing.

I want to repack a little bit for the Philly trip. I’m off to acupuncture today and then dinner with a friend.

The landlords sent me a threat via email right before the close of the business day yesterday. They always do that, so one can’t contact the appropriate agencies, hoping it will ruin one’s day. Um, no. All it did was piss me off. I responded with a very pointed letter cc’d to the appropriate agency individuals that will go out via certified mail. They don’t get to ignore the parts of the law they don’t like and make stuff up when they misinterpret what they do.

Watched some TV last night, hoping my migraine would go away. Excedrin Migraine no longer works, and none of the prescription stuff does, either. Interested to see where WAREHOUSE 13 goes next season. They set up some interesting possibilities. Glad to see that Eric Christian Olsen is now a regular on NCIS:LOS ANGELES. I like his work, and think he adds an interesting dynamic to the group. He makes some interesting, detailed choices in scenes that are so different from the other actors in the show, and they work so beautifully, both as an individual performance and in the larger, ensemble context. It’s sometimes tough to put that kind of detail in a procedural show and have it work.

Decent morning’s writing. Not brilliant, but decent. The piece is taking an interesting turn. It will be hell to revise due to the twists and turns it’s taking, and it will be an interesting challenge to make it all logical within the context of the fictional world, which is modern contemporary, a fictional town stuffed into a real region (me stretching geography again), but with its own odd personality.

Didn’t sleep well last night — odd dreams that might turn into a new script, and also the migraine pain. Thank goodness I’m going for acupuncture today.

Devon

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Pretty decent weekend, actually. Elsa made solid progress, both Saturday and Sunday. I’m trying to ease up on some of the medications as she steadies. I think part of the reason she backslid was she was being overmedicated. As we clear up certain symptoms (and, hopefully, the causes), I’m changing dosages, stopping cycles, and adding different things to fight the other problems. Eventually, I want her symptom-free, so then we can rebuild her immune system and she won’t get sick again. The antibiotics really caused serious damage to her system. Imagine what it’s doing to humans, all this over=prescribing of antibiotics, if this is what happens to cats! I had a vet in the city who said you could predict human illness by watching which illnesses grew prevalent among the companion animal population.

Saturday sucked as far as being a writing day, but I soldiered on. I watched the US-England World Cup Soccer game on Saturday afternoon, which I thought was kind of “eh” although I think our goalie, Tim Howard, is pretty awesome. I still find ice hockey more exciting. I’m not well enough versed on it all to write intelligently about it, so maybe in four years, if the US gets into it again, I’ll be positioned so to do. This time, I’m just watching to watch. Saturday night, there was nothing on TV and my hip was giving me a lot of trouble, so I did two hours of yoga and a good, long meditation.

Sunday, I spent some time at the farmer’s market, getting in good stuff, and had a much better writing day. The radishes, the cilantro, the strawberries — heaven!

I read a book by someone who’s work I’ve read for more than twenty years. I used to love her writing and her quirky, off-the-wall characters, but hadn’t read anything of hers in a long time. The writing’s still often beautiful, but the characters aren’t as interesting. And, she tried to write a politically astute book without doing the research and getting the solid facts on which to base it, so it didn’t work. If you’re going to write that kind of book, you need to know the facts inside out, whether the point of view condones or refutes those facts. But if there aren’t any facts on which to build it, you just look lazy and ignorant, and that’s how it came across. I was very disappointed, and expected more from her — certainly more intelligence. The characters don’t have to come across as rocket scientists, but the author shouldn’t come across as not very bright. When you want to put across your point of view, you have to have a delicate touch, not ram it down your readers’ throats. When you’re trying to explore an opposing point of view, you have to be even more thorough in research and fact-checking than when it’s a viewpoint with which you’re familiar and support.

Decent writing day yesterday — finished Chapter 14 of POWER OF WORDS. it’s weak, but at least there’s something there to work on.
Elsa was well enough so I could attend a Tony Awards party last night. For the most part, i thought it was well done, although there were sound problems in the first section that were simply unacceptable. The mix was bad, the wrong mics were on and off — either the sound guy really screwed up OR (and this is a strong possibility) the PSM was calling cues wrong, and it was the sound guy who wound looking like the jerk. I was happy to see that, in one of the categories, I had worked with four of the five nominees. I also got to see friends of mine perform a number from a show I hope to see in the coming weeks. I vehemently disagreed with some of the choice of winners, but it’s an exciting night and I’m not going to publicly trash anyone in my industry here, no matter what I think, especially not on a night that’s filled with so much joy. And, every year, the Tony Awards reminds me how proud I am of the work we do on Broadway, and how grateful I am for the years I’ve spent there. And I can say I’m thrilled for all the awards won by RED — it’s a fantastic play.

Home late, up early, out for a run a little after five. It was so humid I had a tough time. Oh, well, at least I was out and moving. Now, it’s back to the page. I want to start Chapter 15 of POWER OF WORDS, finish an article, and work on transforming Act I of BEHIND THE MAN from interactive to proscenium. I also need to figure out where to put the act break. As an interactive piece, it’s a three act. For proscenium production, it needs to be a two act. Which means I have to create a cliffhanger somewhere in what is currently the middle of the second act.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on June 14, 2010 at 5:03 am  Comments (3)  
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010
Waxing Moon
Something must be retrograde, but darned if I know what it is

I am a wreck. Tough weekend.

First, I came back from the site job on Saturday afternoon with a sore throat and a fever. I took to my bed, with a book, and the cats, and plenty of fluids. The book was okay — I didn’t have to think too much, it was pleasant and poignant. But it set a section among actors, and, while it was obvious the author reads tabloids, it was equally obvious the author’s never spent any time around actual actors, and that spoiled the book for me. You could still get the fairy-tale quality the author strove for if you based it a little bit more on the way actors actually behave in those situations.

Fever broke in the early evening, returned later that night, broke again in the night. Sore throat faded the next day.

I wrote on Sunday, working on a short story that I want to get out in the next couple of weeks, getting out a few short stories, following up on a few pieces that have been twisting in the wind for far too long, and getting out a few queries.

I tried to watch — and like RIVERWORLD last night. I really did.

Uh, no.

It took me awhile to figure out why I didn’t like it — there were the elements there for a cracking good story. And it just didn’t work for me. The first forty minutes, I kept saying to myself, “Okay, just roll with it. Roll with it.” But, after a certain point, if you have to keep TELLING yourself to roll with it, there’s a problem. And then the Conquistadors came in, and it went south for me. There was too much right wing-nuttism trying to masquerade as social enlightenment. If they really meant the latter, not the former, they did a poor choice of showing it, because it came across that they supported the former. There were a lot of good actors in it; some performances worked for me, and some didn’t. The character of Jessie didn’t work for me — mostly, I think, due to the directing, which Made. Every. Moment. Equally. Important. instead of working with ebb and flow. But if Jessie’s our hope for humanity, we are all damned screwed — too much Twinkie, not enough substance.

Again, to be fair — I only suffered through the first two and a half hours, and missed the last hour and a half.

Because I had to rush Elsa to the emergency vet.

She’d been getting worse all day, more and more mucous-y, and when she sneezed blood, that was it. I packed her up and drove to the emergency vet in White Plains. They were very nice. She behaved very well. They have her a very strong antibiotic, faxed the info over to my regular vet at North Short Animal League, and I have to call them to day and get an appointment in the next few days. The BEST case scenario is that she may have pneumonia. The worst is, well, much worse. So please keep a good thought for her.

Got home well after midnight. Couldn’t sleep at first. It was pretty late (or early) depending upon how you look at it, when I finally got to bed. I didn’t set the alarm for 5:30 to run this morning, but Elsa woke me at six anyway, patting me with her paw and saying, “Hey? Aren’t you usually up by now?”

Tried to work on the short story this morning. Hard to concentrate. I have to choreograph a fight scene using a welding torch, which is a challenge, and, hopefully, will wind up being a welcome distraction.

I was sad to read that one of the Derby-pointed horses I was interested in broke down and had to be euthanized over the weekend. That always makes me cry.

Weird tax fact: You can write off a racehorse, but not a hearse.

The Doubt Demons attacked in force this morning, since I am overtired and worried. I have to juggle a few things around re: the vet bills, and, of course, there’s the little voice saying, “Who do you think you are, thinking you can make it as a full-time writer? If you’d stayed on Broadway, you wouldn’t have to worry.” Which is, of course, a crock, because Broadway’s a hard place to make a living, too, due to the limited amount of work available. But it’s a familiar challenge, where the writing is a fresh challenge each day. The fresh challenges are one of the reasons I like it, but at times of great stress, it makes it harder.

I was going to write an essay/post about the remake of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, and how Jackie Earle Haley must be kicking ass as Freddy Krueger, because the movie’s not even out yet, and I”m getting a lot of people contacting me (well, Cerridwen Iris) about dream stalking. So the post was going to discuss dream stalking, and how important it is to separate the actor from the role. You may think Freddy Krueger’s stalking you in your dreams, but remember it’s the character and not the actor. I think it’s safe to say that Haley’s way too busy working and living his life to go around stalking individual viewer’s dreams, even if he was trained in the way so to do, not just the way the movie (a piece of fiction) depicts it. The man’s working a lot right now (thank goodness) and has a life. Tip of the hat to him, though — it must be one hell of a performance. But that post is going to have to wait.

Must light candles today — 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, I can’t believe it’s been 15 years. It still seems very fresh.

I have all sorts of business and admin stuff to deal with today, I have to take care of a very sick cat and see what we can do to get a full diagnosis and treatment, and I’ve got to find a club big enough to effectively beat back the Doubt Demons.

Devon

En Route

Friday, January 22, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Who knows what the weather is? I’m scheduling this to post

I’m headed to Philly this morning for a weekend gig. I’ll be enroute when most of you read this. And I’m looking forward to some fun flirtation tonight.

Did the proofs for the anthology essay. Only found one mistake and sent in the correction. I’m satisfied with it — I said what I wanted to say, even though, in the early drafts, it took me awhile to figure out exactly for what that was. That’s what “drafts” are for, though, isn’t it? Overall, the anthology is very different than the initial concept that was pitched when I first signed on — focuses on a single topic of the writer’s work instead of the body of work.

Which doesn’t really matter; it’s simply an observation.

One of the things my friend and I discussed on Wednesday was whether or not I miss the work — on Broadway or on TV. I don’t miss the way things are run, the politics of the places, people who aren’t in the trenches of the work making decisions which make it harder to run the production well, the hierarchy, especially in the TV world. I miss some of the actual physicality of quick changes on Broadway — especially working with actors with whom I have a good rapport. I don’t miss the 8 show/week schedule and working nights, weekends, holidays, and the dreadful commute. I don’t miss the long hours on TV or the “hurry up and wait”. I miss the camaraderie backstage — the jokes no one else would ever get unless they worked on that actual production, the way you sometimes even miss people you don’t particularly like. I don’t care how many reality shows like AMERICAN IDOL pretend to show what goes on behind the scenes — each production is totally unique, has its own energy and rhythm, and relationships are formed with a closeness that, if you don’t work in the business, you can’t understand. Yes, a lot of them are transient — if you’re not working together, you don’t see each other. And sometimes, you work together again, and it’s like you picked up a conversation that stopped only moments before, even if years have passed.

As a writer, I miss being in the rehearsal room with actors — that’s always one of my favorite parts of the process. I’m not involved in the rehearsal or production process with Cloverleaf at all, but I hope at some point, to develop a piece with a director, producer, and cast along the lines of a more collaborative working process, which I enjoy, and which I’ve had in the past. That energy of creation, working on a common goal to make all the elements of it shine — it’s a wonderful feeling.

Provided, of course, you have the right mix of people. Put the wrong mix together — even if they’re talented — and it can turn into a nightmare. Been on a few of those. Where people’s personal agendas and power trips become more important than the work.

Got a good amount of writing done in the morning, less in the afternoon. But I got all the laundry and other crap done, so I can leave town with a clear conscience (and clean lingerie).

Should be connected in Philly — will try to check in over weekend.

Enjoy!

Devon

Published in: on January 22, 2010 at 5:02 am  Comments (5)  
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Well, the migraine won and I lost yesterday, so yesterday was a “lost” day. It happens. I managed to get my errands done, but that was it for the day.

Light doesn’t bother me with these migraines, but I’m even more hypersensitive to sound than usual, and very aware of scent. The sound of the maintenance people taking out the garbage (three stories below) nearly killed me. Low-toned piano music usually helps, and I had some incense burning, which also helps. Yeah, they’re in direct contradiction to most headache remedies, but they work for me. That and some rosemary oil on the temples.

I managed to read a bit, off and on. Unfortunately, it was one of the worst books I’ve ever read. I won’t detail the title, the author, or even the genre – I’ve never read this person’s work before, have no knowledge of this person via internet or anything else – and will avoid all future work by this person. It was supposed to be funny – well, that’s what the book blurbs stated. Okay, I LOATHE book blurbs, the fact that the blurbs told me what to think should have tipped me off. It wasn’t funny. It was stupid, poorly plotted, unmemorable supporting characters, clichés all over the place instead of actual human beings, bad jokes about sexual choices that barely masked homophobia (while pretending to be “tolerant” about it), and the protagonist was an idiot who didn’t learn from her mistakes, jumped to stupid conclusions, and was mean to the people around her. Why would I root for this person? I kept turning the pages hoping the protag would meet her demise – even though it wouldn’t have made sense, since the book was in the first person. Ick, ick, ick, ick. Thank goodness I picked this up at a book sale and it only cost me about twelve cents – or I would have asked for my money back! I want those two hours of my life back! (Preferably without the migraine).

I rarely dislike a book as intensely as I disliked this one. Usually, I can cut some slack and say, “Well, it’s not to my taste, but there’s a market for it” – I can’t imagine anyone with a quarter of a brain who’d think this was worth the time.

Fortunately, I then slipped into Peter Dickinson’s The Yellow Room Conspiracy. I didn’t get very far because my head hurt too much, but what I read is beautiful. Every word in every sentence is perfectly placed, and the way the sentences flow into each other to create paragraphs that enhance mood and character and plot – in addition to being just a damned good story, the construction is gorgeous.

The problem with lying prone fighting a headache is that one’s head starts to fill up with stories again. I made some notes. There were some characters and situations that floated around my head for a few weeks that are now coming together, so I’m jotting notes in order not to lose them.

Remember that dream I had last week about a (well-known) actor, and I interpreted not as being about that particular actor, but about work on Broadway? I got a call to work a show last night. It’s from someone with whom I haven’t worked with before, and she’s rightly cautious to find out more about me instead of just saying, “Come play with us.” I’m going to update my theatre resume and I’ll email it over today. If it works, great, it’ll be some quick cash; if not, that’s fine too, because I’ve got plenty of writing on my plate, and I don’t miss the theatre as much as I expected. I’ll just roll with whatever opportunities come my way and not worry too much about it.

I’ve got residual migraine soreness, which I hope dissipates over the course of the day. I have to catch up on what didn’t get done yesterday. And, of course, the landlord is shutting off the water for a good portion of the day, so I have to fill up everything and hope that he remembers /bothers to turn it back on. At least we got written notice, even though it wasn’t technically 24 hours ahead of time, which, by law, it’s supposed to be.

There’s a new neighbor in the apartment across the alley. Elsa disconcerted him by sitting in the living room window and staring at him while he hung his new blinds. It was really funny. And, as soon as he was done, he pulled them down. She was very disappointed. She hoped he had a large screen television she could watch from the window. The guy in the apartment next door to the new guy, whose large-screen television she used to watch from the kitchen window, rearranged his living room and now she can’t see it. Yeah, when I move, I have to get a bigger television for the cat.

To answer Piter’s question, from a comment he left on the March 13th post, I consider this blog part of my job. I’m a full-time writer; it’s how I earn my living, and I consider this blog part of that. It’s also a joy. But it’s definitely not a “hobby.” And I’m glad so many of you agree with me that the whole blogger-as-royalty-commentor-as-peasant model is crap. You know, if people want to classify themselves like that, they can. WE don’t!

Decent morning’s writing so far. Let’s hope the rest of the day remains productive, and the migraine doesn’t flare up again. I really don’t need a multi-day migraine.

Devon

Published in: on April 8, 2009 at 7:06 am  Comments (7)  
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Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was one of those days you have when you’re dealing with an illness where you have to feel worse before you get better. Oh, well, but ick. I’m feeling better today, thank goodness, but the early part of yesterday was not fun.

I got some errands done. More building crap – gee, what else is new?

I’ve got most of my ducks in a row for the trip to Cape Cod in just over a week, so that’s a good thing. I’d pack – you know me, I like to pack at least a week before I leave – but, if the weather’s nice, I’m only wearing dresses, and I don’t want them squashed in the bag for a week, so I guess I’m just going to have to pack (oh, horrors) the night before.

I’ll make sure the writing bag is ready early, though.

Colin Galbraith posted an interesting dilemma on his blog, stating his decision to put aside a WIP because he didn’t feel the story had anything to say. I feel like that every time I go to a PEN event – here are all these Serious Literary Writers who are changing the world, and what the heck am I doing?

Telling stories. My characters want their stories told. I have to tell them, or I don’t get any peace, they’re yammering so much in my head; and I often don’t know what the themes are in the work, “what I’m saying”, until after the first draft is done. What I think I’m writing about and what is actually underneath the actions are often two different things.

So I try not to worry, at least in early drafts, and see what I have, what the characters have to say, what growth arcs are happening, before I try to impose the rest of it.

The adaptation shocked me the other day, because I realized that, while I thought it was “about” one thing, it’s really about something entirely different, and, although it’s set in a different world, many of the same decisions/situations/dilemmas face the characters as we are now facing. That wasn’t my intent when I started – in fact, had I begun Script Frenzy with that intent, I would have scared myself off and never gotten more than a page or two into it.

I lost almost my entire writing day because I had to back up files – including system files – in case my hard drive decides to die. Yes, Melissa, it’s time to go Mac, I am desperate to go Mac, but the outlay of cash is more than I can handle right now.

I like all the bits of my computer, so, in spite of the fact that Dell’s response to my question is, “We don’t have that information; you have to buy a new system” – again, more coercion – when I tried to get information about replacing just the hard drive – I’m talking to other people, and that may be what I do. Why not replace the hard drive and reload all my programs/systems for $150 or so rather than spending $600-800 on another crappy PC system that will only work well for the first month? I’m perfectly happy with the monitor and speakers and keyboard and all the rest. Why not just replace what’s bad and keep this system limping along until I can afford to do the total replacement that I want?

So, I’m annoyed that I’m losing days when I’m on such tight deadlines, but I’ve got to make sure these systems are backed up (time to by more CDs) before it gives up the ghost for good, and I’m asking around as to what kind of hard drive I can buy to put in here and then I’ll pay someone who knows what they’re doing to put it in. And I can reload the programs myself – I’m going through all my disks to make sure I have them, and anything I’m not sure about, I’m backing up again.

Frustrating.

Traveling in and out of the city was annoying, as usual. Too many people in too small a space, and the trains, as usual, running badly. I had quite the encounter with a SFT. She was crossing the street in the opposite direction, with plenty of room, but tried to shove me and said, “ExCUSE me. You need to move.”

Yeah, I’ve got the bumper of a yellow cab at my hip and you’ve got all of W.49th Street, bitch. But I said, “I’m the resident; you’re the Stupid Fucking Tourist; you move.”

“I pay your salary!” she screeched.

“YOU pay me shit,” I replied. “You’re here because I wrote something so fascinating that coming to NYC was suddenly the most important thing in your life.”

I meant as a copywriter, but she was too stupid to understand. Her eyes got very round. “Ooooh, are you FAMOUS?” she asked.

“You’ll never know, will you?” I retorted, and walked off, leaving her in the middle of the street making fish faces.

Maybe that’s the way most B’way workers get through the day, saying oh, well, the tourists are paying my salary, I’ll deal with their rudeness. But the SFT’s do NOT pay mine.

Grabbed an iced coffee at Thalia (which I promptly spilled down my shirt because the lid wasn’t on properly – oh, well, dark colored shirt, easily washed). Show was fun. I’m dressing the men, and they’re lots of fun. Caught up on all the backstage stories from the other shows, including the stories about the Major Television Personality who was recently brought into a show to boost ticket sales, and not only hasn’t that happened, he’s stupid AND clueless. At least if you’re clueless, be nice. Well, that’s what the producers get when they go for name instead of talent. I feel for the people working on the show every day, but I don’t have much sympathy for those producers.

Whatever.

Got home around midnight, puttered around. Got up at my usual 6:30 this morning, coaxed the computer up, did some work on the adaptation. I have to really push on the script today. Another short writing day, because I have a show tonight, and then the weekend has to be all about writing.

Keep your fingers crossed that this hard drive can last another week so I can back everything up, meet my deadlines, get a new hard drive, and then drop it off to be fixed before I leave on my trip.

Devon

Adaptation: 41,322 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
41 / 90
(45.6%)

Devon’s Bookstore:


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on May 23, 2008 at 7:24 am  Comments (4)  
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