Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Gray and gloomy

Yesterday was mostly about the conference, which is as it should be. We are buckling down to work. It’s a smaller conference than the Muse, so it’s easier to give the students more individual attention. It’s easier to work in depth with a dozen students than over a hundred, which is what I’ve sometimes had.

Comcast is driving me nuts. I’m kind of shocked by how badly Comcast sucks. I’m managing to get the work done, but I’m worried about the live chat this afternoon. I’m deeply grateful I have Optimum back home.

Cooked tuna steaks for supper, which was great. Watched the Olympics for a bit. Fox’s idea of supporting HUMAN TARGET was to run a marathon of the few episodes already aired on FX — but with more commercials and cutting scenes, most of which were Jackie Earle Haley’s, which royally pissed me off, since I think they’re the best scenes in the show. People work so hard to put on a show — 18, 20+ hours a day, and, having worked on hour-long dramas, I know how hard it is. And then the network messes around and makes stupid decisions. You know the old adage, “Those who can’t do, teach?” — which isn’t true if you get a good teacher. What is true is “Those without a creative or commonsensical bone in their bodies become network executives.”

Did just over 1000 words on one of the short stories, which was good. Did notes on another piece. Worked on my next assignment for the humor workshop. My first two assignments were well-received, so hopefully, I’m on the right track. It’s a challenge, but I like it.

Word from home is I received a royalty check — always like that. I think I’m going to use it for a pottery workshop in May. I haven’t been able to afford the 14-week course, in either financial or time-related terms, but there’s a one-day introductory workshop in mid-May I’d like to get into at the professional studio next town over.

That’s pretty much it. I commented on exercises in both workshops this morning. I have a live chat on freelancing as a career not a hobby (look out, content mills, I am saying exactly what I think of you), commenting on more exercises, working on my assignment, and, hopefully, getting more writing done. The plays are percolating, so once I get home this week, I’ll put time into those. I have to get two of them out to my producer by mid-March, and well, tomorrow will be March.

Back to the page.

Devon

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snowing

Spent a great deal of yesterday on conference work, which is as it should be. Unfortunately, it took much longer and was frustrating because the conference site kept kicking me off, and then, when I tried to post, it said I was flooding the site and would be banned. Excuse me, I’m doing my job! After several hours of it, I was ready to say, “No more.” I did sent a relatively polite email to the conference organizers asking for ways around it and expressing my frustration in (for me) relatively mild terms. They’ve tweaked something so the threat doesn’t appear, and now I’m only booted off every half hour instead of every five minutes.

It definitely makes tomorrow’s live chat a challenge, and makes me even more grateful that I have Optimum at home and not Comcast, like I have here, because Comcast isn’t as good or as reliable. Who would have ever thought I’d find a reliable provider? Now, if I can only wrestle away the websites to a new host, I’ll be all set.

Finished reading THE JOURNAL KEEPER, which is lovely. I highly recommend it.

Will go back to THE MANUAL OF DETECTION later today, in and around conference work.

Looks like I will be here until Monday, after all, which is a good thing, although Monday is turning out to be chaotic. I thought I’d have a full eight hour workday here before heading back to NY, but, although I’m still heading to NY in the late afternoon, my workday is truncated because someone else is coming in during the afternoon. I can’t change my ticket — they’re still trying to catch up on the cancelled transportation during the snow — so I have to either try to work elsewhere or do other research, et al for a few hours before coming back, picking everything up and leaving. I will probably do the latter.

Went to Trader Joe’s to do some grocery shopping — it was packed. Seems no one went to the store before the storm hit, so they’re all going now that they’ve emptied the larders. But I can cook and eat properly here now, instead of opening cans or putting something in the microwave or eating out all the time.

A family member in Maine has been diagnosed with cancer — that will change this year’s schedule quite a bit, as I’ll travel back and forth to help out as needed, and we’ll all do what needs to be done so he can recover.

About a block away is a music studio. They’re rehearsing with their windows open, and, due to the direction of the wind, I can hear the pieces. It’s quite lovely. Lots of french horn. Although the 34th time you hear Ravel’s “Bolero”, it gets a little old!

Conference is going well. We had to get some specifics sorted out — things that, to me are common sense, and, had the students pulled that at ANY of the writing programs in the country, they’d have been bounced. But, as a friend reminded me, this is the first conference many have attended, and they don’t know. To me, it’s common sense, and, even when starting out, I wouldn’t have dreamed of pulling such a stunt. But, for the moment, I clarified the position and will give them the benefit of the doubt.

I’m even taking a workshop in a genre out of my comfort zone to push me a bit.

I miss the cats, and, from what I hear, they are being spectacularly rambunctious in my absence, but I’m settling in a bit and getting down to work.

Back to the workshops.

Devon

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I’m back home, for a couple of days. Weekend gig was good, but busy. I could only get online via the very slow PC, so all I did was check messages and tweet occasionally. The essay I busted my ass so much to get in on time — still not up. Typical. Last time I take a quick turn-around demand from them seriously.

Didn’t do much work on ANGEL HUNT. I’ve gutted chapters 10 & 11. I’m going to combine them in the current draft, and I think I’ll write most of it from scratch without looking at the earlier draft, and then fold in anything that’s still relevant. Right now, by trying to revise what’s on the page, I’m getting caged by it, when what I need to do is take the literal meaning of the work and Re-Vision what purpose the chapter needs to serve and how to get there. I won’t be able to take the hard copy with me to Philly — I’m not hauling around several hundred pages of manuscript — so I won’t do much work on it while I’m there.

Besides, the conference starts on Friday — I’m teaching two workshops for an entire week AND doing a live chat on Sunday afternoon. That will take up the bulk of my time.

Made some notes on a few other pending projects, worked a bit on the short stories. I’m trying to gear up and get back into the headspace for the commissioned plays, but the light humor isn’t coming through. I need to get on the ball with those — the producer has to plan next season, and I want to be a part of it.

I did start another play, a much more serious one. that just sort of came to me out of nowhere, and wrote the first two scenes.

Reading-wise, I finished THE SWAN THIEVES. I liked it, although I felt the end was a little anti-climactic, and there were questions left unanswered (not directly related to the main plot) that I needed answered. In a way, it reminds me a little of AS Byatt’s POSSESSION, which is one of my favorite novels (never saw the movie).

After THE SWAN THIEVES, I needed something light and completely different. I read Michael Thomas Ford’s JANE BITES BACK, which is quite clever and funny, riding the Austen and the historical figure re-creationist wave while also poking fun at it.

I also picked up another book that I loathed. I won’t bash the writer here — it’s too hard to make a living doing this. Let’s just say that, after 50 pages, I was so furious, and the fury gained when I skimmed it, that I took it back to the store and swapped it out for something else. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that before. It was unrelenting, unnecessary gore, and unrelenting violence towards animals, which is one of my personal “don’t cross” boundaries. In the first 50 pages, a horse was brutally slaughtered in detail AND a supposed favorite pet dog was handed to a character to be eaten alive — no way. And that’s not even touching what was done to people.

Elegantly sparse prose can communicate horror much more effectively, in my opinion, than the verbal equivalent of a slasher film. And that’s what this was. Not for me.

I picked up something that looks far more interesting. I stuck it in my bag to serve as my travel book to Philly later this week, and, if I like it as much as I hope, I’ll write about it.

Watched the Olympics nearly non-stop. I don’t think I’ve ever had the television on so much in my life. The US Women’s Hockey Team continues to thrill me. I just can’t get enough of them. The US Men’s Hockey Team has come together nicely, as evidenced by their 5-3 win over Canada last night, which was a great game. and goalie Ryan Miller is obviously one of the unsung heros, until now, of the sport. These Olympics will change all that. Earlier in the day, I’d called the game as going 4-3 to the US, but they got that extra, empty net goal. The Russia-Czech Republic game was also great, although I expected at any minute, they’d start ignoring the puck and go after each other swinging. Yes, you can’t have physical fights in Olympic hockey, the way you can in the NHL, but you could tell they REALLY wanted to!

One of the things I like about the snowboarding is how much individuality the participants retain. Watch someone do a run once or twice and you don’t need to look at the screen anymore to know who it is — the style is that distinctive. I hope that doesn’t get sponsored out of the sport.

Watched a lot of the skiing, the aerialists, the ski cross (first year for that). I’m annoyed that the Olympic committee won’t allow women to have a ski jumping event — they do it, why not include it? Watched the speed skating and short track — so glad for Apolo Ohno. As I said before, it’s wonderful to watch him really grow into himself. Delighted that Bode Miller’s doing so well, and loved his interview about his definition of success and basically telling everyone who tries to force him to define himself in their terms to F*&k off. I totally relate, since I live by my definition of success in my field and am constantly attacked for it — especially by those who can’t earn a living at it. He articulated what I feel very well.

I love that fact that Julia Mancuso wore a tiara to the medal ceremony. She’s my favorite of the female skiers. And tiaras and cookies make everything better, in my opinion!

Good for Evan Lysacek, congrats to him. I felt Johnny Weir’s program was underscored, though, because it was gentle instead of flamboyant, and he should have gotten third or fourth.

I know I’m forgetting some of the fun moments, but I didn’t write them down, so, oh well.

Research books were waiting for me when I got home, including one on taxes (since this is the year I start the whole self-employment tax thing), the Mac, and the new WRITER’S MARKET. I started going through the WM. So far, I have 15 pages of single-spaced notes on markets to which to pitch articles. ARTICLES, not fiction or anything else. And that’s just the list that covers topics with which I’m familiar and don’t have to spend hours or days in additional research. So, when some wanna-be who defends content mills and getting paid for pennies starts up that there’s no work out there — if I can have 15 pages of notes on well-paying markets just on topics where I can pitch myself as experienced — there’s well-paid work out there.

More fuel for my live chat on Sunday on making a living as a freelancer.

I’m reworking my workshops a bit, tinkering to make them the best they can be for this group, and will post Welcome messages hopefully later today.

The next few days are filled with practicalities, admin, pitches, errands. I leave later in the week for Philly, and every duck has to be in a row before that. But it’s a good busy, so I’m going to enjoy it.

Devon

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

Busy day yesterday, but not much of it writing-related. I was at one site in the afternoon and another in the evening. I had internet access in the evening (as I do now) — but that didn’t always mean I could get into the conference site! We had to keep re-setting the password.

And I haven’t found a slot in the tower for my flashdrive, so everything this week might be in longhand.

It’s not a problem; just changes on what I can work.

I’ve got The Lucy Gothic with me to work on, and started that short story I mentioned yesterday, tentatively entitled “Consequences.” It will not be ready for submission by tomorrow, but maybe by the end of the week. I also have the notes for the Ocean Book, if that strikes me.

So, the CEO of Wells Fargo Bank took out a full-page ad in the NEW YORK TIMES today that basically insults our intelligence (should we really be surprised?). In it, he claims that these “junkets” for which they’ve been criticized are not for execs, but for rank and file workers (right) who are more productive when they are rewarded, and don’t come from TARP money, but from bank profits. Now, if the bank was making enough of a PROFIT to afford to afford sending employees on junkets, why did they come whining and screaming and begging to Congress for TARP money? Why did Congress give them billions of OUR dollar if the bank was MAKING A PROFIT? Did they provide Congress with misinformation in order to get more money? I think some serious questions need to be asked, in light of this very expensive, full page ad.

In addition, there was another article, explaining how top executives in many companies are paid something called a “gross-up” to compensate them for the taxes they pay. Excuse me? These guys, who make millions and billions of dollars are reimbursed for their TAXES? That’s not a “gross-up”, it’s a gross out.

Congress needs to come down a lot harder on these institutions, especially now that they’re taking our money for themselves and not actually putting any of it back into the economy so we can pay our bills. And maybe, I don’t know, buy food.

The Executive Gravy Train comprised of our hard-earned money needs to be derailed.

Back to the page, or at least an attempt back to the page. I’ve got to bounce back and forth between several sites today.

I enjoy it, but I can’t get too locked in to “shoulds” over the next few days. It requires being flexible and adjusting as work-related stuff comes up.

Have a great Sunday!

Devon

Published in: on February 8, 2009 at 9:18 am  Comments (4)  
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
About to snow

First they said we’d get a “dusting” of snow. Now they’re telling us it’s 4-6 inches.

I’m going to do a tiny vent, not directed at my regular readers, who are lovely, but at some of those who find my blog randomly (many of you who’ve stumbled across the blog are quite lovely, too):

When I (or any other working writer or professional in ANY field) takes the time to answer your specific questions, usually emailed off the board, especially when you are a stranger and haven’t searched the blog or forum to find the answer which is probably in there somewhere, at LEAST have the courtesy to say THANK YOU. We are taking time out of our money-earning day for someone to whom we owe nothing. The least you can do is let us know you appreciate our time, even if you choose not to honor our advice.

I would say in the last two months, I’ve answered, in detail, specific questions, from thirty to forty random individuals. Exactly TWO have said thank you.

That’s just rude. Not to mention the fact that these people wasted my time, which always gets my panties in a bunch! 😉

I had a great online chat yesterday afternoon. My moderator was great, the questions were good. Of course, the darned computer froze in the midst of it for nearly five minutes, and I said Many Bad Words All in a Row. Good thing the chat wasn’t audible!

Hey, if you haven’t yet bought HEX BREAKER, go buy a copy, okay? I want to give my numbers a bump this month with the next book set to come out in a few months. Numbers help decide future contracts. So, if you haven’t got “around to it”, it would be great if you would this month! 😉 And thanks to those who have bought copies and supported Jain, Wyatt, Billy, etc.! You are very appreciated. Every copy that’s purchased helps pay the bills and helps decide future contracts. So, yes, supporting living writers is important!

And, of course, the two short story tie-ins are still a free download. Visit the Jain Lazarus site for excerpts and direct links.

I didn’t get much done. I hopped on and off the conference board to put up exercises and comment and take other classes. I was kind of distracted, not wanting to get too deep into anything non-conference until I got a good sense of how it all runs. It’s mellower and less frantic and stressful than some of the other conferences, which is nice, and means I don’t have to worry quite as much about doing other work. Now that I know the vibe of the place, I can adjust how I spend my time there.

Applied for a couple of agency things. We’ll see. I’m skeptical. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. There’s also a job that’s way out of my usual realm, but it’s so fascinating I’m going to put together a proposal for it. Contract negotiations for another gig broke down, mostly because they don’t send me a contract in a format I can actually open, and I won’t start the job without a signed contract in place.

I changed my routine this morning and it wasn’t the best choice. I hopped on the board first to correct exercises instead of doing my first 1K of fiction for the day, so now I’m having trouble getting out of Critique Head and into Creation Head. I know better.

And I’m having resistance on the Billy Root story because of stuff that has nothing to do with the actual story, so I just have to get over myself.

Maybe I’ll do a chunk of CHANNELLING JIM MORRISON instead.

Devon