Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I was trying to clear some admin work off my desk when the phone rang. It was the VW place — my car was ready a week early! I was so excited that I dropped everything and dashed over. I’ve got my Blue Bunny back, working pretty well, and they even washed it! So that’s a relief.

It also means that I can do the whole stretch of the different jobs down in CT, while my mom stays up here with the cats.

Again, time to adjust the mental focus.

It means missing some stuff I hoped to do up here next week, including the writers’ group dinner, and I’ll have to pack some more books, but it will give me a nice block of isolated writing time (even though I’m moving between two sites). I’ll be car-less for five days, and not in walking distance of anything, so I have to plan carefully, but it’s all good.

It also means I have to repack the clothes. I need 11 days’ worth instead of 3.

Dealt with trying to get my own health insurance before the window closes and it was nothing short of a nightmare. I’d been given the incorrect information about how to apply back in December, and the window may close before I’m processed. If that’s the case, they can go (you get the idea). I’m not paying a fine for being misinformed.

Anyway, I filled out the paperwork — my life does not fit into their forms.

On a positive side, I ordered seeds and plants last night. Finally, something to write about in the garden journal other than “it snowed again”. So I’ll have to get on that.

More brainstorming on a neat project with a writer friend, and Savvy Authors booked the workshop I tossed at them for March: “Unstick Your Book.” Participants get to bring in a WIP (usually I make them write fresh material for class), and, in very individual terms, we are going to find out where they’re stuck, why they’re stuck,and get it unstuck, so they can finish. Because that’s the point — not to get them to write the same stuff the same way, but to make them look at the individual work in a new way, from a fresh angle, and make it the best it can be. It’s not about writing it as I would write it, but how to make it work best within their own visions. Because it’s not about me — it’s about the work. Details are here. The need for something like this came up in discussions in other workshops, so I thought, why not create it? People are already signing up, and it gives me some work for March, which is a relief. The Dialogue Workshop, in September, is also filling up, which is great. It’s an Advanced Workshop, different from the two week one I’m teaching for RWA in April, and builds on what we’ve done in other dialogue workshops at Savvy.

So that’s all good, and bills will be paid, but I didn’t get much writing done.

Watched the season finale of HUMAN TARGET last night, which may be the series finale. Got my Jackie Earle Haley fix, which is always a good thing, and last night was a shining example of how good actors can find ways to make scenes and moments work, even in a big mess. The first third angered me so much, my reaction was, “Did this show even HAVE a showrunner this season?” But again, I’m not in there, the poor showrunner might have been browbeaten and undercut by producers and/or network execs who are running around trying to justify their salaries. I don’t want to pin it on the wrong person. But the first third of the piece was a giant mess — the lapses of logic were as big as black holes in the Universe, the writing and situation was untrue to the characters without reason — if they’re going to be that sloppy, there needs to be a reason. They’re not stupid or careless, and that’s how they were portrayed without a foundation. The way the first third was structured was disrespectful to the actors, who’ve busted their asses for two seasons getting the audience to care, and to the audience. Julia could have never tracked down Guerrero unless he wanted to be found, (and, if that’s what he did to bring her out into the open, it needed to be addressed) and he’s way too smart to have been conned by her. The way the show’s misused the character of Ames as the season progressed is just pathetic — she started out as strong, smart, funny, and a real potential protege for Guerrero, and, as the season progressed, they turned her into a shallow, self-absorbed, whiny creature who’s WEAK. She couldn’t survive the life she had or with these guys if she was weak. The scenes in the car with Guerrero weren’t comic relief – they were painful, although Haley was valiant about trying to pull something out of the mess, and he gave his scene partner much more than many other actors would in that situation. The boxes of files brought in marked “Guerrero”, where the villains learned about his pressure point? Make no sense in what’s been set up over the past two seasons — the point has been made more than once that he shifts identities and stays under the radar. He’s got a reputation, well-earned, but he doesn’t leave a paper trail. There wouldn’t BE any files, other than a page or two of unconnected police reports on mysterious deaths or disappearances in far-reaching areas (And yes, I have a way that they could have gotten the same piece of information they needed for the plot point — that would have fit the logic of the world that was set up the past two seasons).

Fortunately, it got better and tighter as the hour progressed (felt like that part was written by a different person or people). It was nice to see Ilsa more active, the rooftop scene was good and set groundwork for the Julia character to return at some point (she did a good job, she’d be worth a return). It was good to see Guerrero do what we’ve come to believe he does best — move like smoke, while taking out an entire team of opponents, and the choice of making most of the violence off-screen makes him even stronger and scarier. His final scene in the episode was beautifully done, perfectly played, fairly well-staged, effective. We hear how often he’s taken no prisoners — now we saw it. It was important to the overall character arc, because there have been times this season when they’ve tried to dilute his character, and it’s only been Haley’s abilities that have kept the character’s integrity intact.

If this is the series finale, it ended on a good breath of hope for all the characters (except Ames, of course, who never got a final scene, but she’s been an afterthought for most of the season). If the show gets picked up next season (with some different people in charge, I hope), it gives them a good jumping off point.

Shooting a one-hour drama — especially with action scenes — is a huge undertaking, I’ve been there, I know. Everyone’s pushed past their limit, especially towards the end of the season, and especially when ratings aren’t what one hoped, with enormous detail, scheduling, budget, etc. They could have kept the overall structure, the action, the locations, etc. — all they had to do was inject some more logic into the writing — logic supported by what they established over two seasons, and it would have been outstanding instead of just “okay, this is a serviceable finale.”

Again, this is just my personal response to the material and the way it’s handled. It’s ONE opinion, not THE opinion.

Continued reading AN EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF ORDINARY DAYS. What a beautiful book. I’m putting together the reading list for my year-long intensive, and that book will definitely be on the list.

Did not sleep well. The cats were impossible last night. Kicked them out of the bedroom, and then they tried to dig a hole in the carpet under the door. Had to let them back in — I don’t know why they were in such a tizzy, but there was no sleep to be had. Roadkill is in better shape than I am this morning.

Lots to do today, including going to the dump — ahem, “transfer station” — I don’t want garbage sitting around the house while I’m working out of town. Gotta make room for the new garbage! 😉 Seriously, we don’t generate much garbage, about 80% of it is recycling, and only have to go to the dump once a month or once every six weeks.

Hoping I can catch a nap this afternoon for a bit. Almost all packed — a few things need to get into the writing bag, but clothes and books are all packed. 12 books for 10 days — that should be about right. Gives “book bag” a whole new meaning!

Got to get some info to one of my editors so she can arrange a press pass for me at some local hockey games. Errands, etc. Still haven’t found those 200+ pages of notes for POWER OF WORDS, which is disconcerting. It took me weeks to sort out the character arcs, the arcs that the actor characters play, the show-within-the-book arcs, the plot arcs, and all the scheduling. I’d hate to have to start from scratch. It’s just odd that the notes wouldn’t be with the manuscript. I’m usually more careful than that — but then, it was an unusual situation. It’s got to be here somewhere, and it won’t be unearthed until I return.

The book, essay, and short story need to take center stage — especially since the latter two are due on the 15th.

Back to the page.

Devon

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I was such an effing waste of food on Saturday, it wasn’t even funny. Felt unfocused, had the blues (for no good reason; with all the chaos out there in the world, I REALLY have no reason to be personally glum, only existentially so), couldn’t settle into a writing rhythm.

Worried about the weather, so I took the loaner car (now nicknamed the BlueJ, for Blue Jetta) over the Sagamore Bridge to my favorite gas station in Bourne, filled up (bigger gas tank than mine, and they gave it to me with only 1/4 tank of gas), then drove back along the Bourne Bridge and Rt. 28 to see how long it would take. Taking 6 and the Sagamore, it takes 20 minutes to hit the station; it took 50 minutes to get home, and that’s with barely any traffic. Rt. 28 is just bendier.

Took care of a bunch of business/admin stuff, did three loads of laundry, unpacked a couple of boxes, contacted a local writing organization I found via an ad in POETS AND WRITERS — hopefully listing my credentials didn’t come across as egotistical — saw a call for writing teachers in Boston — the proposal will be a pain to put together, but it would be a good gig to land, and fortunately, if you don’t have an MFA in Creative Writing, you can use your track record. They prefer MFAs in writing, but since I earn my living doing this and most MFAs don’t, it should be a point or two in my favor. So that’s on the To Do List for next week.

The essay is almost written in my head (now to get it on paper), and the two reviews I have to write are starting to make sense. Again, next step it to get them on paper and out the door.

More Tower of London research, which, unfortunately, is fuelling the world-building for the serial rather than the book that’s on deadline. And then I got some more information on the serial — the guidelines mean I’d have to do some massive character changes, which won’t work for this piece. So it’ll be a novel, not a serial. The two anthologies by this particular company are still possibilities, if I want to try a different type of writing (and a new pseudonym). I have to look at the schedule, the dollars, and see if the challenge balances it all out. I like to stretch, but I also don’t want to stretch so far in so many directions that it dilutes the work.

We had a cracking good thunderstorm on Saturday night, my first since we moved in. I enjoy thunderstorms when I’m safely tucked away, and the summer storms should be pretty awesome. The cats didn’t like it, though; they burrowed under the covers and stayed there.

The storm woke me around midnight and I had trouble getting back to sleep — mostly the wind. Sat up and read for awhile, cats huddled next to me, went back to sleep around 2.

Sunny and warmer on Sunday morning. Not too much damage — front yard slushy and re-frozen, looking like a poor excuse for a hockey rink. Back yard had a few tree limbs down and the tarp over the bulkhead torn, but still there. Newspapers, etc.

Jeez. Nothing like someone claiming to be an “editor” who can’t comprehend what she reads. Fortunately, I encountered her in a social situation, not a professional one, so all I need to do is remember her name and refuse her if she’s ever assigned to me. It’s highly unlikely, because she doesn’t “edit” for places to which I submit, so hopefully it will never be an issue.

Reminds of the time I was turned down for a teaching job for a fiction workshop. The workshop went to someone who couldn’t get published (not even a letter to the editor) and had zero credentials, because she was sleeping with the President of the Board of Directors for that particular nonprofit. In those cases, you just have to shrug and move on.

Of course, I could create characters based on all three of the above, put them in a story, and kill ‘em all off! I’ve got a mystery short story due in a couple of months. 😉

The play is starting to percolate in my brain — I think it will be fun, a real brain teaser.

And an interesting steampunk opportunity landed in my lap — if I can get it done within a week.

Started work on the instructor proposal. I’m going to have to rewrite it –I sound like a dominatrix.

Struggled with the book, although I’m making progress. It reads well, I know what I want to do with it. Don’t quite understand why I’m having trouble DOING it. When I actually sit down and do it, it goes well. But I have resistance to doing it, which is silly, because it’s a perfectly good story in great locations.

Didn’t care about either of the teams in the SuperBowl, so I figured I could enjoy the game, since I had nothing at stake. However, since I don’t particularly enjoy football, it mattered even less. I didn’t even watch the whole game. I watched part of the Puppy Bowl, though, which always makes me laugh. The kittens in the half time show were too small — they were scared. They need to be just a little older to make the format work. Most of them still had their baby fuzz.

Finished Antonia Frasier’s beautiful memoir MUST YOU GO? Truly lovely. One of life’s funny synchronicities — she speaks warmly of Indira Varma in one of Pinter’s plays. Varma is now valiantly struggling with the less-than-stellar writing she’s given on HUMAN TARGET. I wish I’d seen her in the Pinter.

Reading A NOVEL BOOKSTORE, by Laurence Cosse (should be an accent on that final e), translated by Alison Anderson. Fascinating satire on the hatred of good books & terrorism towards those who write them — the Tea Party would probably love it, not realizing it’s satire. Really well done novel, very European mindset in the way it’s structured, fascinating, horrifying, and funny all at once.

Did not celebrate Reagan’s 100th birthday because I loathed him and thought he was a lousy president. He set into motion what eventually blossomed into the financial meltdown. This revisionist history about how great he was — he wasn’t. I lived through his regime, and it was awful unless you were already rich, and he helped you get richer.

Had weird dreams last night, “working dreams” (in which I was working, on play this time, and on a revival of WOMEN WITH AN EDGE. I was Busy). Meant I woke up feeling like I’d already put in a full day!

Back to the page — lots to do this week to prep for CT and meet a bunch of deadlines that have to be cleared off before I go.

Back to the page.

Devon

February 3, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snowing

Yep, it’s snowing agian. Just flurries, it’s pretty, but I am over it.

Unfocused day yesterday, although I managed to track down the address of someone I used to work with a long time ago and send him a “hey, how are you” missive. He’s been on my mind a lot lately, so I thought I’d reconnect and wish him well.

I didn’t post in the garden journal because “It’s snowing again” just didn’t seem worth a post.

I found some of the really intense, handwritten writer’s rough for CRAVE THE HUNT — thank goodness. I was worried I’d lost it. I still have to find the rest of it, which somehow got separated in the move, but at least I have this in hand, which will help with the next sections, and, if I have to, I can always rewrite the rest of the outline, because I remember where I was going with it. Once the first draft is written, I’ll probably have to do some massive cuts, but I’m just following all the threads here until I see what I have. It’s a complex story, and Billy Root’s fans will be thrilled with the way his character grows — plus there are great arcs for Jain and Wyatt, both as individuals and with their relationship.

Water coming into the basement via the bulkhead, so I had to put a tarp over the top of it, use the wet vac (which the owner left, fortunately), and check every few hours. Had to weight the tarp with the new planters — nice to know they can multi-task.

Found POWER OF WORDS, and re-read the parts of that I’ve written so far. It holds up better than I remembered, although it needs tweaking and cutting. Unfortunately, in the move, the 200+ pages of notes I’d written for it — which CAN’T be recreated — got separated — I’d gone as far as to mapping and the series arc of the piece they’re filming within the piece, and even production schedules, all of which I need handy in order to keep writing. So I can’t do much more on that until I find it in the boxes.

Got out a couple of queries yesterday, which was good, and got paid for an article (day after I sent the invoice — love that) and a workshop. That means I’ll be able to pay some bills before I leave on the site gigs.

Finished the reading for Confidential Job #1 (it’s wonderful); just have to do the write-up, send it off, and send off the invoice.

Decided that the exercises I created for the Setting as Character Workshop aren’t challenging enough, so I’m working on a new set.

Did some Tower of London research,and am finding ways to integrate some of the “fun facts” that even I didn’t know into the scene of the WIP.

My back is getting worse instead of better, which is worrisome. It’s annoying to be limited in what I can do, and being in pain drains away energy that needs to be used for writing. I might have to book an acupuncture appointment here and not wait until I see my regular acupuncturist in NY at the end of the month.

Watched HUMAN TARGET to get my Jackie Earle Haley fix. In spite of the problems with the series, he finds the core of his character, adds specific details, and stays true to the integrity of the character. He can do more with a tilt of the head or an inflection of a word than most people do with a whole page of dialogue, and in a way that enhances everyone’s performance around him, so it’s always worth tuning in for him. The show itself, though, is struggling, and it wouldn’t surprise me if next week’s season finale is also the series finale. The vision feels unclear, like there are too many notes coming in from too many different directions. Now that they’ve added two female series regulars, the writing for them is much weaker than the writing for the female guest stars last season (who were given stronger and more interesting characters to play–even on Monday’s episode, the female guest star had a better-written role than the series regulars, and her chemistry with Mark Valley was off the charts), the creators are not developing them, the creators are diluting the wonderful chemistry between the three male leads, and there’s a lack of balance between the A & B episode storylines and the overall series arcs. Last season definitely had its problems, but it also had an element of fun and a lot of potential; this season just feels unfocused and panicked from the creative aspect of it. I hurt for the people working on it — I’ve worked on shows that are struggling, and it is hard. You want it to work, you have a loyalty to it, you care about what you’re doing, but the people making the decisions and supplying the cash aren’t capable of making the types of decisions that would actually help the show. Every day you go in to work hoping there’s a breakthrough; every day, you get your heart broken. I certainly hope this experience doesn’t turn JEH off from doing television ever again.

My fun lunch was cancelled — the weather’s caused a domino effect, but I’ll have to get out when the roads de-ice a bit to get ink at Staples and print off those manuscripts. They need to go out the door tomorrow.

I’m going to try for a few really focused days at the page — I want the first draft of this book done before I head for CT, so I can spend time down there on revisions.

Back to the page — with an icepack against my back.

Devon

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Craigville Beach, about a 5 minute drive from me.

Saturday, January 15, 2011
Waxing Moon
Sunny and c-c-cold

Bitterly cold out. Hopefully, it will warm up a bit before I have to venture out later.

Yesterday was pretty quiet. Got the papers, mailed the taxes, etc. Vacuumed the whole house, put away some more stuff, scrubbed down the kitchen, did two loads of laundry.

Got some writing done (but not enough),commented on the classes, got in some reading. The library book I thought was a mystery (because of its cover and the fact that it was shelved with “new mystery”) is actually a wonderfully-written non-fiction, something I must have on my shelf, so I went and ordered it.

And hop on over to Gratitude and Growth to see why I nearly tossed back a book specific to area gardens because of the kind of typo that makes me froth at the mouth.

I have to have a moratorium on book-buying until my birthday — except for Yasmine Galenorn’s new release at the beginning of February. I have stacks of books I bought at the book barn, and stacks of stuff I got with gift cards, etc. I need to catch up before I buy any more!

Tried really, really hard to watch HUMAN TARGET last night. The writing, the concept, the everything is all over the place. The show is struggling, but one of the reasons it continues to struggle is that it feels like they’re getting too many notes and trying to incorporate them all instead of sticking to a solid vision. There were some great character moments, and Jackie Earle Haley manages to find his way with beats and details no matter what, but I think they’re even diluting his character, and it hurts to watch the show struggle so much.

Did a good chunk of work on the Samantha Light piece. A little over 1300 words, which is good for the first writing session of the day. I’m struggling with the other one, and I have to get it together. That’s the one on deadline.

Did some work on some proposals, and will have to do some more work so I can get them out. I’ve also got some proposals to get out to local places for in-person classes rather than online ones.

Later today, I’m off to see a raptor release at Long Pasture Sanctuary. It sounds fascinating, and I’m looking forward to it.

So, I need as much productive time at the page as I can.

Devon

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011
Waxing Moon
Partly sunny and cold
Twelfth Night

Tonight is the last night of Christmas, Twelfth Night, Epiphany, etc. Have you been tracking your dreams? Each dream you’ve had on a particular night corresponds with one of the coming months: First night of Christmas = January, Third Night of Christmas = March, etc., etc.

I haven’t remembered many of my dreams in this period, and I should have written down last night’s so I could analyze. Let’s just say I hope it’s allegorical!

I worked in the morning yesterday again while Imp slept in. Caught up on classes, did some writing, caught up on some other business stuff, did some puttering. There are some students who still haven’t posted the first assignment, which is now two days late with the next assignment due tomorrow. Don’t whine at me about time: I’m teaching two classes, keeping up with my own writing, continuing my yoga and meditation practices, turning around a couple of short assignments that arrived unexpectedly, entertaining an out-of-town visitor who’s never been to this area, planning and throwing a party, dealing with continued house-move stuff, and fighting a cold (I’ll let the cold win for a few days next week, after I’m back; right now, there are things I need to do, and I’m keeping it at bay).

We finally got out of the house around noon and ran our errands. Pretty much everything was geared to the party. Picked up a few pieces I needed (and, no, it’s not just because they’re still packed). Stopped at Border’s to use our gift cards and Border’s Bucks — picked up a few things that look interesting, couldn’t find a book I really wanted, but got a new release for my mom by her favorite author. Grocery and liquor shopping — we did very well in both, I must say. We got some more ice melt in because there’s another storm coming, heading to my favorite hardware store in Osterville and catching up with the owner.

Then we went on the Eternal Lawnmower Quest, which is how I’m starting to think about it. Sears has lawn mowers on sale, but not what’s going to really work for me. We had a very nice sales guy helping us, who basically thinks we should wait until March or April when the new shipment of good ones come in, that will only be about $40 more, but be something with which I’ll be more comfortable. They’re trying to get rid of what’s left here, and the dregs of the season aren’t really what’s going to work in this case. Of course, I’m drawn the most to the one with NO engine, but I was convinced that would get real old real fast.

Cooked dinner, caught up on classes, watched HUMAN TARGET. Jackie Earle Haley continues to be wonderful in it — I’m starting to think he can make almost anything work. The scripts are all over the place, very uneven, and the series lost a lot of its internal logic. I understand a new showrunner coming in, wanting to take the show in a completely different direction, etc., but the fact is that the writing this season is very weak, and we need arcs set up last season resolved, not ignored. Even the episode that supposedly resolved a character arc from last year was way off the mark. It feels like it’s got too many cooks in there spoiling the broth during note sessions and meetings. I may not have always agreed with its vision last season — but at least it had one. The female series regulars they added in this year just aren’t strong enough. A lot of it is the writing, but JEH is making some of the weak writing work, so the rest of them need to step up, or they’ll all be going home. There are some really good ideas and action sequences, but the execution is getting weaker and weaker.

Off to catch up on classes, then I have some baking to do for tonight, some food prep, and cleaning. To answer both Lara and Teresa’s questions — yes, I sprinkle dried lavender and dried peppermint on the carpets, leave it for at least 15 minutes, and then vacuum it up. It leaves the scent of mingled lavender and peppermint.

I better get the writing and classes caught up on, because the rest of the day is party prep. The only thing we have to do this afternoon is get ice and flowers.

Devon

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Got a nice chunk of writing done yesterday morning. Not necessarily what I was supposed to be working on, but it feels good to get back into the rhythm of daily writing. It’s kind of an odd little comic/paranormal/mystery, so we’ll see where it goes.

Didn’t get as much done on the blog posts that are due, so have to get back to those ASAP. Didn’t manage to get out to rake the flat back before the rains started. Oops. It’ll be icky to work with those leaves later this weekend.

Went to the small, individually owned hardware store one town over to get some replacement hardware, which had been lost in the move. They were really nice, and helped a lot, although finding replacement hardware for the Christmas tree stand was a challenge. That tree’s been in a box for nearly ten years and moved three times. Somewhere in all that, the bag of hardware I kept taped to the inside of the box got lost.

Anyway, came home, tried to put the stand together, found out that the bolts were just a tad too wide,drove back to the hardware store, got the next size down (why can’t they make it a fraction of an inch smaller instead of WAY smaller? I’m starting to understand why the company that made this tree went out of business). The prices are competitive with the big box stores and the people are really nice, so why not shop there and support a local kid who came back and bought the hardware store he worked in as a teen?

Also went to a lovely independent bookstore (next to the hardware store) called Books by the Sea, introduced myself to the people who work there, and bought some great stuff. They’re happy to have another writer in the area, and eager to be supportive.

Put the stand together — it doesn’t do exactly what it’s supposed to, but the tree is steady, and that’s what counts. With the angel on top, it nearly brushes the ceiling. Yep, it’s a big damned tree. And the ceilings in this house are kind of low. But it looks really pretty and full.

Wrestled with the lights (I am such a cliche when it comes to the lights, and it is my least favorite job). Didn’t have enough, so had to go out and get more. If I didn’t like this tree so darned much, I’d chuck it all and buy a pre-lit one, but this tree is special, so I’m just going to have to shut up and deal for its life.

Haven’t found all the ornaments yet — going on a treasure hunt in the storage area to find the rest of them, because we need to spread everything out in order to figure out what to put where. This tree is double the height and width of the one we put up in the apartment, so it will be fun. How did I ever fit it into my NYC apartment? Oh, yeah, I had to move it if I wanted to get to or from the couch!

Also have to get thumb tacks and ornament hangers. I know I have both, just don’t know where. . .

In the evening, watched some TV. Finally got a chance to watch the new season of HUMAN TARGET (and get my Jackie Earle Haley fix). New show runner, major changes. Yes, now they have female series regulars; I don’t know that I’m sold on them yet. There were female guest stars last year who would have made more sense as regulars this season, and it feels like last season’s arcs have been totally tossed and ignored to go in this new direction, rather than dealt with.

Started reading Kate Carlisle’s THE LIES THAT BIND. I like the series, so I’m enjoying it.

Up early, usual yoga, meditation, first 1K of the day, feeding the cats, etc. I want to focus on the tree today, finish up some freelance work, and find my Rolodex so I can start the overseas cards this weekend.

The animal shelter down the street is having a cat adoption weekend — 100 cats need homes. I don’t even know if I can apply to adopt, since I haven’t established myself with a local vet. And it may be too early to bring in the third — Iris and Violet are starting to settle, but they’re not completely comfortable yet.

Scumbag landlords lost their next round against the tenants, so I’m wondering what their next move will be. We haven’t heard peep from them since we left, but I’m sure they’re planning something. They won’t let us go without an attempt at one final big screw, even if their lawyers tell them they can’t win.

Really enjoying the workshop. The points brought up by the students are insightful and discussions are a lot of fun.

Devon

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Just a quick check-in. We are at the apartment to pack some more, finish packing up storage, and do last-minute stuff.

Packing the car yesterday morning was a challenge, but we got a lot in and had a smooth ride up to the house. Unloaded, ran some errands, which included getting a new safety deposit box. The bank down the street doesn’t have a vault, so we had to go one town over, but they are very nice, we got a bigger box, and we’ll share it. It’s in TD Bank, my mom’s bank — I’m starting to think I made a mistake going to Citizen’s Bank — so far, I’m not happy with their service and hoop jumping. Well, if I hate them in a few months, I’ll switch banks. In MA, you can actually do without signing away your first born and making a deal with the Devil, like you have to in order to get an account in NY.

Stopped at the 1875 (76?) Country Store on the way back to town, on Lori’s recommendation. Lori, it’s still cute as a button with some amazing stuff in it. I’m definitely going back to do some of my holiday shopping there. As it was, I bought a stone bracelet designed by a local artist. No, I didn’t need it; but it was lovely and one-of-a-kind, so I bought it! Turns out the woman behind the counter used to create haute couture for rock star girlfriends in NY, and we shopped at all the same fabric places in the garment district — most of which are gone now. She’s getting the backstage bug, so I said she should try hiring in as a stitcher at a theatre she likes — they always need stitchers on staff. If she hates it, she never has to do it again; if she likes it, she can take it from there. Anyway, another NY theatre person to hang out with — I can’t believe how many I’ve found. Seeds of my own company (obliterate that thought). But it’s interesting how we’re all finding each other.

Drove to Hyannis to do some errands (including stocking up on cat food in the house), then stopped at Cooke’s for lunch — buttered scrod, very good. There are fish often-used on the Cape that I need to learn how to cook. It’s not like scrod is all that exotic — I simply don’t use it much here.

Back to the house — raked for a couple of hours. Got most of the front done. Met the neighbors on both sides — very nice, very helpful, said if we ever needed anything, to let them know. The dogs across the street watched and barked. There was some sort of Major Yard Work going on at the green house on the corner with the amazing yard — it better not be empty, because I wanted to be friends with them! Waved at another neighbor and big dog who drove by. Saw one of the Hounds of the Baskervilles — I think he’s a mastiff. Elsa would have been delighted. He was very confused and stopped in mid-bark when I told him what a handsome boy he was!

The yard turns out to be about double the size I thought it was — makes the raking and fall prep work a bit more of a challenge. By the time I’m done, I figure 60-70 of those 30-gallon leaf bags. I’m up for it — I just have to do it in increments, and get a smaller tool to get in around the bushes. Turns out there’s a wagon wheel at the side of the house, so that’s where I’ll grow morning glories and moonflowers in the spring, let them vine right up it. And the vegetable bed is on my property, so I’ll have to decide what to plant there. The tomato/basil containers will be on the deck, as will the rosemary and most herbs, so I think I’ll grow lettuce, beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, and maybe eggplants and peppers. I’ll do flowers in containers.

I don’t have quite the feel of the yard yet, but I’m sure as I work in it the coming weeks, I will. 10 bags of leaves just for the front of the house!

Chatted with the mailman, too. Such fun to get mail in a mail slot in the front door!

Read the papers, put up signs to tell the movers where to put stuff, just sort of hung out. To bed early again.

Up later than usual — it was nearly 6 AM, imagine that! I’ve been waking up at 4 the past month. Yoga, meditation, putting the last few things together to bring back to NY and making sure the house is prepped.

Drive up wasn’t much fun — too much traffic, especially around Providence. Cats were happy to see us, landlords are being asshats (and this is new and different/). Only one neighbor has responded to my leaving announcement, my next-door neighbor, who was very supportive and gracious.

Headed to storage to pack up the last few stray items there, then I will stay up tonight packing as long as I can stand upright. Lara, thanks for the Aleve tip — I forgot I had it. Found four capsules — I’ll take two Thursday and save two for Friday. Advil and Excedrin Extra Strength aren’t cutting it any more, and I can’t function (much less drive) if I take the Canadian pain pills, so I haven’t. Reconfirmed with the movers.

Still have heard NOTHING from Sleepy’s. So — I’ll have a frame and a mattress on Friday, but no boxspring. I’m tempted to cancel the order, but I bet you they wouldn’t give me my money back. Definitely not doing business with them again, and will write to their CEO to let them know exactly why. I’ve bought plenty of beds in my time, and I have NEVER had this much unnecessary hassle. “Mattress professionals”? I think not!

I get to watch my guilty pleasure NCIS LA and get my Eric Christian Olsen fix tonight, but miss the premiere of the new HUMAN TARGET season tomorrow, so no Jackie Earle Haley fix until after I move. Somehow, I think I’ll survive. Honestly, I haven’t missed being without television most of the time. HUMAN TARGET has a new showrunner and has been extensively re-tooled. From the promos, I’m really on the fence about it, but I’ll give it a chance.

I can’t wait to get back into a regular writing routine. The stories and characters are getting impatient and want attention. I’m sure part of it is that the Nano energy is so strong, with so many people writing, but also — I need the daily writing sessions in order to successfully function.

And soon I’ll have them — in my very own brightly lit, comfortable writing room.

Two days until the big move.

Two.

Devon

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.

Devon

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and warm

You so did not want to be on my bad side yesterday. Let’s just say that some serious ass=kicking was in order, and that’s what I did. When I pay someone to do a job and they don’t do it, and then I step in and negotiate better than the paid negotiator — there are SERIOUS consequences. And when you’re paid to advocate for my 86-year-old mother and you try to take advantage of her — they’ll be scraping you off the sidewalk for weeks. And that’s all I’m at liberty to say about it.

Oh, and I had three loads of laundry done before 10 AM, which was no mean feat, either.

So the upfronts are out. HUMAN TARGET is in Friday night exile, but it’s on the sked (better than being on the skids). Hey, too many people out on a Friday; now that I don’t have to work a Broadway show, Friday’s become my night to stay in so it works perfectly for me, but we’ll see how it affects the ratings. None of the new stuff particularly excites me — I’ll watch what’s convenient and take it from there. I am, however, glad to see so many scripted shows picked up. Perhaps the age of the reality celebutard is drawing to a close and we’re going to stop paying people to be their worst selves. Let’s get back to well-written, thoughtful, provocative material and tell the important, universal truths within the context of a good story.

Ran some errands, picked up some books, did some writing, mostly on the screenplay. Packed for the Philly gig. Am waiting to hear back from a business email so I can make a decision that will affect other decisions and schedules. Clock ticking people, it’s 48 hours by the end of the day and no response means buh-bye. If you call yourself a business and I email you with a business question, I expect an answer in 48 hours or less. That’s standard business email protocol. If you don’t answer within 48 hours, I know you’re not a pro and I take my business elsewhere. It’s especially important for freelancers and small business owners to follow this protocol. If you “don’t have time” to answer your email, chances are you’re not going to be able to deliver a high standard of work. The email is the first test.

Which is why I get so upset when 1and1 screws with my email and suddenly stuff turns up that was sent days or weeks ago. It makes me look unprofessional.

I have some business to conduct this morning — potentially more ass-kicking. Then I have to go grocery shopping.

This next section of the screenplay is going to be overly long in the current draft. I’ve got a lot of story to tell, and I’m discovering it as I tell it. In subsequent drafts, I figure I’ll cut it by about 70%, but I have to get it all down on paper first before I can start cutting and rearranging, as I did with earlier sections. I need to tell the story in too much detail so I can pick and choose the most relevant, specific, and succinct for the final version.

Got a couple of cookbooks yesterday and got inspired. Also picked up Judith Martin’s NO VULGAR HOTEL, a book about Venice. I’m looking forward to it.

Elsa seems to be doing better. I’m going to email the vet in a day or two with a progress report. For the next month or so, we’re going to keep on this course of treatment, which should get rid of the infection and inflammation, and rebuild her immune system.

Devon

Published in: on May 18, 2010 at 6:29 am  Comments (5)  
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Out the door a little after five this morning for a good run. It felt great.

Drove up to South Salem on Friday and picked up Elsa’s new medications. She responded immediately and positively to the sinus infection medication — I’m wiping her nose like she’s a toddler constantly, but it seems like she’s getting rid of all the gunk, which is a good thing. I mean, have you ever tried to get a cat to blow her nose into a Kleenex? She responds much better to the natural hydrocortisone than to the synthetic steroid, and yesterday we added the olive leaf, so we’ll see how that works. So glad I didn’t just slap her into the other center for radiation treatment.

Got my teaching information off on Saturday morning. Also had a request to a pitch I sent for a writing job a few weeks ago, asking for my portfolio samples. I already like them — they talked contract terms and didn’t expect me to write an audition piece for free. So let’s see if I’m a good fit. It would be a long-term, intermittent gig that sounds like tons of fun. If the pay is even in the ballpark and they like my work, I’d do it. Found another job that sounds fascinating. I’m going to apply for it — getting it would send me in a completely new direction in life, lifting the bulk of what I do out of entertainment and into more academic/preservation/education nonprofit. Which is fine, I’ve done a lot of work in nonprofit, and I am particularly enamored of this organization — but it would still be a huge change. It wouldn’t be 9-5 — I’ve never been able to cope with that — but it would veer quite far from theatre and plays and screenplays. Although I doubt I’d give up playwrighting — the theatre is my emotional home.

Didn’t run on Saturday morning — it was stormy again, although it blossomed into a gorgeous day. So that makes only two runs in last week. Will have to make up for it this week, and, due to the out of town gig next weekend, will run Tues-Thurs-Sat next week.

Had a good morning writing session on the screenplay, SETTLING THE SCORE. I’m honing some of the scenes, rearranging a few beats, putting in some short scenes of the ensemble to break up the former linear structure that made it Lucas’s story. Lucas is supposed to be the catalyst, not the focus. I had to write those early, more linear drafts to meet some of the other characters through his eyes, and now I can work with them on their own terms.

It’s still too long and there’s still a lot of story to happen, but I will deal with that once I’ve put down everything I want to say. Then I can look at it, see what’s unnecessary and remove it,, and tighten the rest of it. Because very often, the actors don’t need three rhythmic beats to get out a piece of information — if they’re good and I give them specific lines with meaning, they can do it in one beat.

I was really, really nervous about the pottery workshop. It’s an introductory workshop, and i wanted to take it to see if I truly like playing with clay, or if I just like the IDEA of playing with clay. The Clay Art Center, which is one town over from where I live, is a place where professionals can rent studio space, where artists-in-residence teach, etc., etc. It’s not like taking a class at the Y. These are serious, full-time artists. I’ve never worked with clay. So I was, to say the least, intimidated.

The class was small — there were only two of us, which was great. The teacher, an artist named Jon McMillan was really terrific. Some people have both the gift of their art and the gift to teach — he’s one of them. He kept it relaxed and fun, taught us basic technique, while giving us a lot of information we needed on both the mechanics and the background of it. I was surprised by how much chemistry goes into the process. Since my dad was a chemist and it makes sense to me, that was something for me to use as a starting point. Also, an example of why mystery writers should keep their mouths shut in pottery class — of course, I started speculating how the tools could be used in a murder, which got me a few odd looks.

Anyway, we learned how to make a pinch pot and made oversized mugs using the slab method. Mine are pretty pathetic — it will take a lot of work to develop technique. I have to think less about it and feel the clay more. I may need to take 101 level classes more than once to develop a decent technique and lay a solid foundation. But it WAS a foundation, and I had fun with it. Since the construction of my pieces was beyond rough and rustic, I felt that very technical and specific painting would make the mistakes in structure stand out even more. So I opted for bright color and exaggerated brush strokes to support the construction. We left them to be fired, and I’ll pick them up in about two weeks. Yes, I’ll post photos. I was way out of my comfort zone for all of this, but that was a good thing.

It whetted my appetite. I want to take a basic pottery class, but the one that makes sense to take runs during dates that don’t work for me. This teacher, who I like so much, is teaching a glazing class that does work for me, time-wise, but I’m wondering if that’s putting the cart before the horse. The chemistry of creating glaze fascinates me, and I’ve spent to much time in wonder at the Edgware pottery glazes, I think it would be interesting. If it’s just experimentation and tile making, I could do it — if it’s creating objects on which to experiment, it’ll be too advanced. However, since Jon’s residency finishes this summer and he won’t be here in fall, this might be my only chance to take it. I also don’t want to take a slot from a professional who might really need the class to progress with a career. I shot him an email to ask him about it. He responded pretty quickly, and my instincts are right — too early for a glazing class at this point for me. Another sign of an excellent teacher — he’s honest while still being supportive!

I’m disappointed I won’t get the chance to take another class he teaches, but very grateful for the opportunity I had to take the workshop with him.

There was a wonderful exhibit in the space, by Marlene Ferrell Parillo, called DREAM CITY. It mixed tapestry (with beautiful stitching), beadwork, crochet, and ceramic. Very striking and inventive.

Anyway, the whole day gave me a lot to think about. Which is a good thing.

Came back in time to watch the live feed from the Preakness — it was weird not to be down at Pimlico this year. The Preakness is my favorite of the Triple Crown because Pimlico isn’t as fussy and celeb-oriented as the Derby and the Belmont, and there are still high hopes — at least at the beginning of the day — for a Triple Crown. I watched the video of all the other races so I could see where my picks landed and write my article.

Sunday, I worked on the Preakness article and actually got it out in the morning — which meant I had the whole rest of the day to read a novel by one of my favorite writers. I was so excited! I’ve read five or six of his books and one of them ranks among the best books I’ve ever read.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of them. The premise was interesting, but there was too much espionage and too much religion. It gave me a headache. The characters crossed and recrossed each other so many times I couldn’t keep track. I realize that was part of the point, but it didn’t work for me. I read his author’s note at the back, where he talks about the genesis of the idea and his passion for the material. This is definitely a book of his heart, and I feel guilty that I didn’t like it, but . . .I didn’t. I felt both disappointed, because I’d been looking forward to the book for days and it was my treat, and also guilty for not being able to like something that someone I genuinely respect is passionate about.

Today I have to play hardball with someone who’s being paid to play hardball with someone else and not doing her job. Hate that. Also, am looking over some material for a friend of mine, working on a big job application, and working on the screenplay, and maybe a couple of article pitches. I had some ideas during my meditation this morning — so much for an empty mind!

Okay, some television stuff: Rumor has it HUMAN TARGET has been renewed, but with a different show runner. Interested to see how that changes it, and happy for those involved who still have jobs. Very interested to see how they’ll develop the characters, especially the way Jackie Earle Haley will continue to embody Guerrero. HEROES has been cancelled — finally! I can honestly say that’s one of the worst shows with the worst acting I’ve ever seen in my life (and I’ve been around plenty of atrocious acting over the years), and it was appalling that it was on for as long as it was. LAW & ORDER: THE MOTHERSHIP’s been cancelled after twenty years, which throws a lot of people I know out of work and makes me sad. You know why the show is expensive to produce? Because Dick Wolf values the people who works for him and gives them what they need to put on a quality show. I remember working on the CONVICTION spin-off, and they’d have to change the schedule for whatever reason and put more pressure on the crew. They never said, “This is what we’re doing, tough shit.” It was always, “This is what we need to do, what do you need to make it work?” which is how true professionals behave. I’m irritated that they’re doing an LA production — calling it LOLA ? Really? Ick. We don’t need to see any more shows set in LA. I’m also annoyed on the behalf of an actor whose work I really like, who was very excited about a comedy pilot in which he was cast. The pilot was picked up, but he was fired. I hope the show tanks on its first episode!

By Thursday, I should get my readers’ comments back on POWER OF WORDS, which means i can take them to Philly with me over the weekend to digest them and get back to work on the second section of the book. I’d like to have the draft of SETTLING THE SCORE done by then.

So I better get back to work.

Devon

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

My post-Derby article is up on FemmeFan here. My editor loved it, even though I felt it lacked sparkle. Motivates me to make the Preakness article this week twice as good!

Exceptionally cold all weekend, frost on the ground this morning, and the scumbag landlords had the heat off until 6 AM today. Typical.

The alarm didn’t go off this morning, but Elsa is better than any alarm clock, so I went out for my run by 5:15. It’s quite light out, with just a sliver of waning moon, singing birds, corporate types scurrying to the train station . . .

So, where do I start? Didn’t write on Saturday at all — on purpose. Needed to refill creative well. Did my errands, sorted, purged a bunch of junk, took stuff to storage. Read. Cooked.

Got some good ideas for the next section of the urban fantasy.

Was about to order a great futon couch. It looks good, the price is good, and it will fit through the doorway — since they put in the new doors, I can’t bring in my sofabed. the doorway is now too narrow. Not to mention the doors suck. Anyway, I was trying to figure out the shipping costs, and, when I read the fine print, it clearly states that they don’t deliver the couch to the house. They deliver it TO THE CURB. If you want it taken into the house (or, in my case, the third floor apartment), you negotiate with the delivery guy when he arrives and you pay him cash on the spot. Sounds like extortion to me — no price quotes, no regulations. So I’m not ordering the futon. Bite me, assholes. You think I’m really that stupid? I wonder how many people were stuck with furniture left on the curb and wound up paying a couple of times more than they paid for the pieces themselves just to get them inside the house?

Elsa was up and down on Saturday — much better than she was on Friday, but still not doing as well as last week. I got up early on Sunday to give her the medicine, went back to bed, and had a weird dream.

In the dream, I was brought in to script doctor some piece or other rehearsing in Greenwich Village. I’m assuming it was a film, but maybe it was a play. That was unclear. It starred an actor who tops the list of people I still want to work with. He looked completely dazed at the disorganized chaos. No one seemed to be in charge. There were far too many producers floating around (as usual), saying, “I’ll take care of it” when something was brought to their attention and then doing nothing (as usual). We had to fill out huge packets of information we were told were “for tax purposes” but read like psych evaluations. I told the actor I was excited to work with him, just not sure it should be on this. He laughed. Some other guy asked me to watch his stuff because “You’re the amateur.” I said, “No, I’m the writer” and he replied, “Same thing.” I did NOT watch his stuff. I knew a lot of the actors in the project in the dream and had worked with them before, although in life, I’d only worked with one actress in a big musical. She kept trying to match-make me with this one and that one, whether I was interested or not (which she tried when we worked together). I was about to pitch a fit and either take over or walk out (in spite of the actor I really, really wanted to work with) when Elsa sneezed in my face and woke me up.

Obviously, I’ve been thinking about production a lot lately, since POWER OF WORDS takes place behind-the-scenes on one. This dream is a warning, the the specific actor representing not just himself, but everyone that’s still on that list of people I hope to work with (poor guy). Knowing how my dreams work, it may also be a caution– an opportunity may present itself and it may not be what it initially seems. I shouldn’t accept simply because there’s someone involved who’s on my list. So I stand warned. The nasty comment from the guy who wanted me to do PA duties represents the way writers are often treated in this business.

Made some cuts in SETTLING THE SCORE on Sunday, wrote twenty more pages, made more cuts, wrote eight more pages. Printed it all out (now that I have ink and paper again) and saw a huge, huge, HUGE logistics gap. There’s no way that character could have that piece of information vital to the plot machinations at that point in time the way I’ve got it laid out. I wrote some notes — I want to complete the draft before making any more fixes and running any more copies — and will move forward. Also, in the final draft, I’ll have to fix some formatting things. When I write scripts, I triple space between dialogue bits instead of double space. And the default font on this machine is Helvetica, which is fabulous to work in, but for script purposes, I have to change it to Courier (I loathe Courier). That will also drop the page count, which is good, because I’m up there now, and there’s still another good third of the movie to go. My goal is to have it run just over 2 hours, but feel like about 85 minutes.

On today’s agenda: pack more stuff for storage, work on SETTLING THE SCORE, maybe work on the adaptation of BEHIND THE MAN. I need to get my scripts sorted and synopsised and loglined over the next few weeks for some upcoming meetings. I may take WOMEN WITH AN EDGE out of retirement briefly just for the meetings, even. I should also take a look at my spec TV scripts — I don’t even know what one is “supposed” to have in one’s portfolio this season. I don’t know if I can still even use the BUFFY sample or the STARGATE ATLANTIS sample. If I need to come up with new ones, it would make sense to do one for HUMAN TARGET, since I spent so much time dissecting the show, but I don’t think that’s on “the list.” Of course, I might do one anyway, just to prove to myself that I can.

I’ll check with some acquaintances and find out what this season’s “list” is, and then figure out if I should even do a set of specs, or just stick to the plays for the moment, and this next round of meetings. I’m not angling for a series slot anyway — there are, literally, thousands of scriptwriters more qualified, in line ahead of me, and in LA so to do. But sometimes, even if you’re not up for the job, that’s the kind of sample someone wants to see in a meeting.

I’ll pack extra Excedrin, too. The meetings aren’t for a few months, but it takes time to put everything together, write any new material necessary, and have it be good, so I’m looking ahead. That way, instead of scrambling, everything is ready, I can just pull what i need for that meeting out of the file, and it’s much less stressful.

I’d like to get back to the urban fantasy this week, since I figured out how to overcome it’s obstacle, and, of course, ANGEL HUNT. My worry with ANGEL HUNT is that, once I go down the rabbit hole with that, I won’t come out for weeks, because of the intensity of the project. With the Preakness AND a pottery workshop this week, AND paperwork to complete for next year’s teaching schedule (yes, I’ve already got some major bookings for 2011), I don’t know if I can go down that rabbit hole right now. However, I want to get the book out on submission by the end of the month, so I need to get cracking.

Hard to sort out when so much has equal value and equal importance. But, I’ll figure it out. And I have to talk to the vet. Elsa is steadying again, but it doesn’t look like we can wean her off the steroid just yet. So we need to discuss next steps.

Back to the page.

Devon

Friday, April 16, 2010

Waxing Moon
Rainy and cold

I was up at 5:30, but decided not to run, a mixture of the rain, the coyotes,and the fact that I could barely put weight on my left knee yesterday. Nothing says “prey” like a limping target, right? If I feel better tomorrow, I might give it a shot later in the morning, not at dawn.

I did a little writing Wednesday night, after I scheduled the post — mostly outline work.

Yesterday morning, the cleaning crew came in, so I packed up and took off for the Greenwich Library, to do research for the Chet Grey story. I’ve wanted to do it for weeks now, and the story is at a standstill because of it.

It was a very intense few hours of reading about neurology, neuoplasticity, interior and exterior artificial “brains”, neurowarfare, biological and chemical warfare, and the development of the elite “warrior-athletes”, commonly labeled “Super Soldiers” in pop culture. My dad was a chemist, and wanted me to be a nuclear physicist. I forget, in between bouts of science reading, how quickly I take to it, and how natural a lot of it is for me. Truly good science writing is a joy. It’s inspirational on so many levels — quality of writing and quality of content. And it sometimes makes me wonder about the road not taken.

The research will serve far more than this Chet Grey story — which may well turn out to be a novella. It’s given me a few ideas for some straight-up sci-fi, and additional info to get past the “stuck” on a piece that started as a screenplay for Script Frenzy a few years ago, and then morphed into a novel.

I also picked up a nice stack of books at the library sale.

And Strand Books, bless ’em, already have some relevant books on their way to me. They are my go-to book resource.

At first, I was totally elated by the research, high on the possibilities, both in actual terms and in terms of fiction. However, as the day progressed, and the weight of the information really began to sink in, I was filled with a combination of hope and despair. I don’t believe that the governments and the private companies funding this work have the ethics to safeguard it. And, deep down, most people want to believe they do, but don’t and therefore ignore the fact all this even exists — hence the basis for best-selling espionage fiction. Anyway, it depressed the hell out of me. We can’t just have the intelligent in charge — even the most intelligent of people can get caught up in the excitement of discovery or of greed. We need people with strong ethics and a strong sense of social justice. The right wing nuts in this country have hijacked the term “social justice” to be a Bad Thing for America — when, in reality, the only “bad” about it is that it doesn’t let the corrupt have all the money and all the power. “Social justice” is a concept far removed from “socialism” — but then, most of the people who toss around that term have no idea what it really means, either. This country is not heading towards socialism, and socialism wouldn’t work here.

Basically, I think we’re all fucked at this point, no matter who’s in office, because there’s so much greed and so much corruption, corporations can do anything they want without consequence, and the ones who scream the loudest against it,the fake protesters, pretending to be grass roots, but, in reality, funded by the most corrupt and ethically-challenged individuals in this country, funded by the ones who want to maintain the status quo and just have all this distraction, the noise, the smoke and mirrors, so they can continue to economically and socially rape the country. The current administration hasn’t taken strong enough steps to turn back the previous regime’s corruption — and the Cheney years will go down in history as the most corrupt since post-civil war reconstruction — provided we have a world left in 200 years to read the history of this era. And, honestly, I’m beginning to doubt that we will.

But you know, with all that volcanic activity in Iceland, in addition to their economic collapse, I’m kind of glad I didn’t buy a place there a couple of years ago, when I was considering it!

I started reading one of the books I bought, something light to take my mind off it all, written by an author whose work I’ve enjoyed before. Not this time. The premise is good, the characters engaging, the execution doesn’t live up to it, and the writing is so sloppy I can barely get through it. Big disappointment.

Fortunately, I’m not friends with this person and don’t have to fumble to find something nice to say about the book, because chances are, we’ll never have to have a conversation about it!

The reading certainly made me look at last night’s episode of FRINGE with a different viewpoint. And, much as I enjoyed the scenes between the Walter Bishop character and the character played by Peter Weller, I still can’t get into the show. Part of it is Dunham’s unrelenting dourness. I understand, she’s really busy saving the world and all, and was experimented on as a child, but really, can’t she have a moment or two of pleasure, relaxation, or joy? This is nothing against the actress, she’s very good; I just disagree with the conception of the character. I also disagree with the show’s insistence (at least in the episodes I’ve seen), that everything in an alternate universe/alternate plane/whatever they’re calling it is negative and a threat. You know what? I bet they’re just trying to get through the day as much as we are, and with many of the same problems, corruptions, joys and sorrows. My philosophy differs on such a basic level that I can’t just accept and enter the world presented in the show.

I promised comments on the season finale of HUMAN TARGET, and here they are. First and foremost, I thought it was an excellent episode — the villains actually had personalities and posed a threat — finally! I was worried that the character of Katherine Walker would be a disappointment. We’ve heard so much about her all season. She was played by Amy Acker (whose work I liked a lot in both ANGEL and DOLLHOUSE), so the casting was a relief. And the creators made a smart choice — she wasn’t a Super anything. She was ordinary, and it was her very ordinariness and kindness that was Chance’s tipping point. Fantastic choice, and not one that’s usually made in this kind of show. There wasn’t enough of Jackie Earle Haley in the episode. Good fight scene with Mark Valley, and Haley gave my favorite delivery of any line in any show all season. The simplest line you can imagine: “Dude, it’s me” when Chance wonders how Guerrero found him that told us VOLUMES about their past, their relationship, their future. Perfect example of how the simplest of lines can have the biggest impact with brilliant delivery. The episode really needed to be two hours long, so we could have a bit more of the early Chance/Guerrero years, but if they come back next season, hopefully we’ll see. Something happened between them to make them intrinsically loyal to each other in a way they aren’t to anyone else. It might be better if we never know what that is; it might not measure up. I also loved the fact that Haley had the last line of the piece, about getting Winston back, and it’s the first chance we had to see that Guerrero not only gives a damn about Chance, but he also gives a damn about Winston. I also liked the fact that Katharine did not die in Chance’s arms. I was worried they’d go that route. Not doing so was the right choice, and it also opens up other possibilities.

Problems with the episode: Dog continuity. I’ve had trouble with it all season. They’ve got the dog, and don’t really utilize him properly. They keep sticking him in because they established him in the pilot, and they showed how Chance got him in this episode, but their use and continuity with him is shaky. Another problem: Winston’s phone. We see Chance steal it from his pocket early on to find the text with Katherine’s safe house address — another problem, I don’t believe the cops are that stupid to text Winston with the address — but, a few scenes later, Winston talks to Katherine and Chance on the cell phone. Katherine wouldn’t have answered her phone if she didn’t recognize Winston’s number, so how did Winston get the phone back? Another problem: Baptiste wasn’t hungry enough to prove he’s better than Chance. It was referred to briefly, but there wasn’t enough desperation and resentment there. Another problem: Towards the end, I don’t believe Guerrero wouldn’t take the old man out when he had the gun on him. I believe he wouldn’t shoot Chance earlier, and he went off the grid — that sets up a lot of their relationship. But when the old man shoots the guy who’s about to shoot Chance and Guerrero has the gun on him — I believe he’d have taken the shot (and succeeded) and he and Chance would have figured out where Winston is and how to retrieve him. I understand, in the overall arc, why it couldn’t happen, but it wasn’t logical or true to the characters in the moment.

I’m glad this wasn’t the pilot — it worked well as the season finale. If it is the SERIES finale as well, if the show doesn’t get renewed, at least we have enough information not to feel cheated. I hope it comes back. I’m interested to see where the creators take it in another season –whether I agree with those choices or not! 😉

I do miss being on set sometimes, but I’m where I need to be right now — writing — and, although I feel a little stuck, it’s the pressure I need to get me going in the right direction. Spending time on my own work rather than pouring that energy into other people’s work is where I need to be.

Got to go help my mom on something this morning, and then, it’s a day of writing. Will probably work on the Chet Grey story, make use of the research while it’s still fresh, but the bulk needs to be on the novella. The novella needs to be finished this weekend.

Back to the page. From neuroscience to 1889 in a heartbeat. I love being a writer!

Devon

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010
Waning Moon
Rainy and warm

Got up at 5:30 and didn’t run because of the bad storm. Tomorrow’s supposed to be lovely, so that will be my third run of the week instead.

No wonder I liked the actor who played “Connor Dunham” so much on Wednesday’s episode of HUMAN TARGET — it’s Christopher Heyerdahl, whose work I’ve enjoyed so much on SANCTUARY. And the other actor, who played Gerard, is Erik Avari, who’s always working and always good. Hey, give credit where it’s due and not just call them “those actors I liked”, right?

I think it’s really exciting that so much has gone/is going into production this pilot season. It’ll be even more interesting to see what actually makes it to release/airing, and pretty soon, the final renewal list will be in. Hopefully, the pendulum is moving away from reality crap and back to scripted shows, and hopefully, there will be an interesting array of actors.

Pilot season somewhat makes me miss being on set — a little. However, most pilots are shot on as tight a budget as they can get away with, which puts an awful lot of pressure on the crew. Depending on the production and the network, if it gets picked up, and there are names with enough clout attached who aren’t afraid to use it, the budget gets more realistic; otherwise, they continue to nickel and dime, and usually, those are the shows that tank pretty fast. You burn people out if you use as few as possible and push them for 18-hour days over a period of months. That part, I don’t miss. Nor do I miss the politics involved when the network demands actors are re-cast and stuff re-shot.

What’s frustrating is this assumption that a solid, healthy, loving relationship is boring. Lead characters who love each other are either kept apart forever or the show ends as soon as they get together. Most publishers who bring out “romance novels” – which seems to include any time a character kisses or has sex — want new pairs who get together in a book, rather than exploring the adventure of a healthy, solid relationship once the characters get together. Yes, it’s often in the submission guidelines. Some mysteries and urban fantasy have sustained relationships over the course of a series, but usually the threat du jour becomes a direct threat to the relationship, instead of letting the relationship grow and introducing a variety of threats. I think that does a huge disservice — it sends a message that sustained love isn’t interesting. Instead, it should be celebrated, and it should be celebrated in at least a solid fraction of our entertainment. Not just a brief reference to 80-somethings who’ve been together for years, but let us watch solid, healthy relationships evolve over the course of several seasons or the course of a series.

Yesterday was a frustrating day. Didn’t get much done, the taxes are a mess, etc., etc. Didn’t get enough writing done, wasted too much time puttering around on the internet.

An actor friend sent me a link to a YouTube interview. A fan was interviewing an actor whose work I enjoy. The fan, bless his pointy little head, was enthusiastic, but hadn’t done his homework and was just an awful interviewer. The actor was a little stunned by a few of the more ignorant questions, but, kudos to him, he collected himself and was as gracious and charming as he could be. I sat there, cringing with embarrassment for both of them — especially since the interviewer had no idea how badly he came across. I will have to write a scene along those lines for either this urban fantasy or in POWER OF WORDS.

Gotta love it, though, when watching a YouTube video counts as “research” for one’s writing! 😉

Good morning’s work on the urban fantasy today. Still feeling my way through the chapter, but I think I need to make some discoveries before outlining the next section. I have the loose frame of the entire piece in my head, but don’t yet want to write it down. I know what I’m aiming towards, and I have a couple of intense scenes to hit, but I need the whys. I also have to figure out where to introduce the antagonist, so that it makes sense and it’s a strong contest of skills and wills.

Gotta go to Trader Joe’s today — out of cat food. And work on taxes. And, hopefully, the writing day will improve.

Devon