Mon. April 10, 2017: Creativity During Retrogrades

Monday, April 10, 2017
Full Moon
Venus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Spare me from the retrogrades! No such luck.

Busy weekend. I started the LA section on POWER OF WORDS, and did some work on the Orient Express section.

I did some further plotting for the revision of FIX-IT GIRL — I have to figure out where I need to put the new material, then write the first draft inserts, then I can go back and start a genuine revision. I’m keeping the ending where it is, on the train from LA to New York.

I did a lot of research, relevant to both projects: books on the studio system, books on various actors and directors, costume research. Also read Joe Eszterhas’s THE DEVIL’S GUIODE TO HOLLYWOOD: THE SCREENWRITER AS GOD. I don’t particularly like him or his work, although I respect what he’s accomplished. I don’t like the arrogant, swaggering persona he projects. I disagree with a lot of what he says — his contempt for many people in the business, and dislike of many manifestations of collaboration.

On the other hand, he has a point, and everything starts from the script. He believes one must fight for the script. I agree, to a point: I think a lot depends on the project. When the script originates with the writer — in other words, as he so often does, the writer writes the script from his own idea/something he wants to do and sells it — then, yes. Defend away, fight, be careful where you compromise. But when you’re brought in to write from an idea or a scenario or a treatment — then you’re hired to bring to life someone else’s vision, and I think you have to be more flexible. Of course, he loathes the idea of rewrites or script doctoring. Again, I understand his position, not messing with another writer’s work. But there are times when it’s the wrong writer for the project, or the notes have gotten things so muddy no one can see or think straight anymore.

Good for him that he’s earned the right not to be flexible, but I think there are plenty of cases where one has to be flexible. Especially when one is paying dues and building credits.

I disagree with many, many things in the book, but his actual advice on the process of writing — six script pages every day on the first draft, how to set work aside and go back and rewrite, that the “first draft” that is shown to anyone is really at least the third draft, writing every day and so forth and so on — that’s all great. It’s such a tiny part of the book — he knows he’ll sell more copies with the more controversial stuff about what he has fun with and/or loathes in the industry — but when he talks about the actual writing, he’s got good, useful stuff to say.

Read some Adrienne Rich poetry and prose, both in honor of National Poetry Month and in preparation for a piece on A Biblio Paradise, which will post tomorrow.

Have working title for the Lavinia Fontana play, but still don’t have the catalyst that will actually put the play into motion. More research required.

In the shower this morning, I had an idea for a new screenplay, set in the late 1930s, as the country comes out of the depression, but before the start of WWII. I’ll have to do some research for it, but I liked the idea — it plays against a lot of the noir ideas of the late 30s/early 40s, and some of their hypocrisies, and yes, the lead role is a woman. A very smart woman. Anyway, I sat down and wrote the outline already this morning, a quick paragraph for almost every scene — a couple of places where I need to figure out where the plant a couple of things.

So, I guess, between the errands and the yard work, and 1K on POWER OF WORDS and 1K on NOT BY THE BOOK and figuring out where to plant additional scenes in FIX-IT GIRL, I better get six pages of script done!

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Published in: on April 10, 2017 at 10:00 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 10, 2017: Creativity During Retrogrades  
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Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 8: First Week/Inspiration for the Weary

This is the one-week point. You’ve survived an entire week! Woo-hoo! Congratulations! Have I told you recently how proud I am of you? I am – very, very proud.

The second week is difficult because that’s when you tend to hit a wall. The fresh bloom of love sometimes passes in the project, and it becomes hard work. And sometimes that’s what writing is – work. You push through the tough parts until you reach another place where it flows and you get that inky high again.

Here are some of my favorite books that I read over and over again when I start having trouble putting words on the page. I don’t use any of them as the be-all and end-all, but I use bits and pieces to help fuel me:

MAKING A LITERARY LIFE by Carolyn See
ESCAPING INTO THE OPEN by Elizabeth Berg
SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS by Terry Brooks
WRITE AWAY by Elizabeth George (my process is soooo different, but she has some good ideas)
THE RIGHT TO WRITE by Julia Cameron (the only one of her books I like)
THUNDER AND LIGHTNING by Natalie Goldberg (the best of her writing books, in my opinion)
Any of the Paris Review interviews edited by George Plimpton

There are plenty of other writing books worth reading, but these are the ones I go back to, time and time again, when I get tired.

Come Write In! Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4, Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills, MA

Fri. December 27, 2013: Random Inspirations & Thoughts on the UPS Debacle

Friday, December 27, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Good writing day yesterday. Got some truly good work done on the holiday novella, figured out some plot stuff on the other novella, but spent most of the day on the Sparkle and Tarnish series — typing up the next chapter of TRUE HOME, and then adapting some of it for the teleplay. So those deadlines are chugging along.

Did some work for the Writers Center, pitched for some jobs, worked with students.

I found a few paragraphs about some correspondence in the George Eliot biography that sparked the idea for a new play (not the one I got the grant to write — I’ll have to write that one first, then I can work on this one). I tracked down the reference in the notes/bibilography, and now I’m going to see if I can get my hands on the primary material for research. This is very exciting!

Watched RATATOUILLE last night — very funny and clever. Glad I got to see it.

A word on the UPS Christmas delivery debacle: I’m not at all surprised. UPS has a horrible attitude towards customer service, which is why I don’t use them. When a customer pays extra to have a package arrive on time, it is UPS’s job to get it there. Period. If it doesn’t get there, it is up to UPS to refund the cost of shipping — which, in my experience, they NEVER do. A senator is getting on their case about this, and it’s about damn time. Yes, drivers work long hours during this season. But if UPS is going to charge the ridiculous fees they charge, they have to deliver — in EVERY sense of the word. Or pay the price. In every sense of the word. It’s not the drivers — although plenty of the drivers I’ve encountered are asshats, everything from refusing to deliver during the day because it’s a residential address while delivering next door when that’s considered a “business” (and I can see my package iN THE DAMN TRUCK) to leaving the box of books I judged last winter in the driveway in a rain storm to merely slowing down when they “deliver” and throwing the box out of the truck in the general direction of the front door — management sets the tone. It’s time that UPS management was replaced.

Still feeling a bit under the weather, but too bad for me. I’ve got to get the leaves and the recycling to the dump and do a library run.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on December 27, 2013 at 8:33 am  Comments (3)  
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Mon. Jan. 16, 2012: Productive Weekend

Monday, January 16, 2012
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold
Martin Luther King Day

Boy, has it been cold the past few days! Truly winter, but at least no snow that stuck (a few flurries).

The lunch on Friday was good — quite illuminating, lots of good conversation. Got me thinking in some interesting directions.

Busy weekend. Got a lot of work done on Saturday, including more work reading a friend’s manuscript. I’m taking longer than I should with it — I’m enjoying it, but it’s hard to get uninterrupted time to really sit down and focus on it. It deserves my FULL attention — it’s an interesting piece. Got some other work done, worked on the book, and sketched out some short stories that have to get done this week.

Re-read Margaret Atwood’s NEGOTIATING WITH THE DEAD, her fascinating book on writing. Re-read OLD BOOKS, RARE FRIENDS for research on a project. Started Paul Fisher’s HOUSE OF WITS, about the James Family (background for something else). Worked with my students.

Sunday was a quiet day. I’m taking one day a week (usually Sundays) where I’m unplugged — no internet at all. I find it’s helping me both physically (the problems of too many hours at the desk) and creatively. I’ve always liked working in longhand — the result is more thoughtful and needs less revision. AND it gives me a chance to percolate in a different way than sitting in front of a screen does.

I cooked over the weekend, nice and relaxing. I haven’t done much cooking in the past week. So that was fun. And got three loads of laundry done. Need to get the vacuuming done today.

In spite of it technically being a holiday, I’ve got a lot to get done today. Lots of work to clear off the desk, some proposals to write, time with students, etc. I actually have to do more than I planned, because the hole in the wall (from my mom’s fall) will be fixed tomorrow morning, which means I lose my prime writing hours. So I have to get double done today. I also have to dash out into the cold to get milk and coffee. Can’t run out of those!

Struggling with the current sequence in the book. I’m not happy with the logic.

I’m behind in reading blogs, so that’s on my list this week. I want to catch up with everybody. For the most part, it should be a quieter week than last week, which is greatly welcomed. But you never know what might happen!

Devon

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I’ve got a blog post up about Dialogue over at RWA’s Fantasy, Future, and Paranormal Chapter, here.

I’m teaching over there for two weeks in April.

Yesterday was an outstanding writing day, the type I reach for all the time. I wrote 29 pages on MODERN CREATION MYTHS, 20 in the morning, and 9 in the afternoon. I’ve developed the antagonists so they’re more fully dimensional. Even when they’re working together for a common cause, they’re still drawn very individually, with their personal, distinct reasons for making the choices they’re making clearly drawn, and separate motivations revealed over the course of the story. Money plays into their desires, but each one has specific reasons outside of money for deciding to be on that side of the fight. It gives my ensemble of protagonists a lot more to work with.

I hit a stuck point/stopping point in the afternoon, partially because I was tired, and partially because I wasn’t sure how to bridge into the next plot sequence. I hopped onto Twitter for a little mindless distraction. It just so happened, a few tweets down, an actor I follow had been shooting on Malibu beach during “golden hour” and posted an absolutely luscious photo. That photo unlocked the inspiration for what drives the next bridging section.

Yes, I made a note to thank him in the acknowledgements!

It was one of those lovely moments of synchronicity, where we were both doing our thing, happened to convene on social media at the same time, and he provided the inspiration I needed. I love when that happens.

Because actors (good ones) tend to work in a pretty high state of sensory awareness, they’re capable of capturing a moment — either in a performance or in a photo where they grab a moment outside themselves that they want to preserve in time — and sharing it in ways that make others see the world differently. All artists do that — writers, actors, painters, potters — they capture a moment in time to make the audience experience the world differently, albeit briefly.

So that was that, and a good day’s work on that piece. Then, I did some work on the Tele Seminar, including working on the landing page. Firefox (the only server I can work on my web host with) was wonky yesterday, so I have to go back and finish today.

Spent a good chunk of time on my students’ work, and am really pleased at their positive, playful, committed attitude. My workshops seem very structured at the outset, but once you’re in them, there’s a lot of creative freedom within the structure.

In the evening, I wrote nearly 5K on a project for an anthology. I was going to pass on it, but some ideas have been swirling. The characters I originally envisioned for this piece said, “No, sorry, we’re busy doing something else”, but a new cast of characters stepped up to the plate, and off we went. I haven’t written in this genre in a very long time, and wasn’t sure I wanted to go back to it, but I’m rolling with it, and seeing where it takes me.

By the time I fell into bed at nearly midnight, I was wrung out.

But I woke up ready to go back to the page this morning!

I tried a kundalini yoga session for the first time a few days ago. It was definitely a challenge, and I couldn’t do all of it full out, but I felt much better. I’m doing some yin yoga to help my back and hip flexors, and continuing with mixing hatha and vinyassa, but I think I’ll add the kundalini in a couple of times a week, too. I wonder if that has anything to do with getting the creativity flowing again?

However, my hip is bothering me from all the sitting yesterday, so I’ve got to do some poses to work the hip flexors later this morning and this afternoon. I may have to invest in one of those foam rollers. I also hope, when I start walking the sanctuaries in the nice weather, that’ll help.

Back to the page again — there’s a lot to do! I want to tackle the play first, and then move on to the other things on my list.

Devon

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! May a wave of love, friendship, and general good will envelop the world today! You don’t HAVE to spend a fortune – a smile to a stranger in the street costs nothing. And there are all kinds of inventive ways to show your loved ones how much they mean to you.

My story “The Peace of the Night” was accepted for the June issue of THE RANFURLY REVIEW. I’m very excited, for a number of reasons. This is one of a set of loosely connected stories I started writing in Jamieson Wolf’s workshop last October, and I’ve been working to polish and hone them over a period of months. Something about these stories and characters feels very different from anything I’ve previously written and very right. Also, I’ve wanted to be a part of THE RANFURLY REVIEW since it launched, but, until now, haven’t felt I had a piece that suited the particular publication’s vision. Once I started polishing this story, it felt like the right fit. I’m glad the editor agreed!

PJ – the automatic update WON’T turn off on the McAfee. That’s part of the problem. And uninstalling and re-installing didn’t fix the problem. Gives a whole new meaning to “The Ghost in the Machine”, right? 😉

If you haven’t checked out my debut on Sole Struck Fashions, please hop on over and leave a comment!

Nursed my poor little computer through the day, having to turn it off several times. Pitched for nearly a half a dozen jobs. Worked on the proposals. Worked on the brochures. Played with the cats – who were annoyed because they’ve barely seen me for a week. Unpacked and repacked for the weekend gig.

Read a bit in I, TOO, AM HERE, which is a compilation of excerpts from the letters of Jane Welsh Carlyle. I first came into contact with this book as a weekend guest at a family friend’s. Cold winter night by the fire, etc., etc. I searched for my own copy for over 20 years. Recently, I thought about it again and tried to track it down. Then, I opened a box in storage and discovered Strand Books tracked it down for me several years ago, and I own a copy!

I also realize that, although I know of Thomas Carlyle’s work, I’ve never actually ever READ it, a hole in my literary education that needs filling. We stopped at the house on the way to Culzean several years ago, in Scotland. It wasn’t open that day.

Reading Virginia Woolf’s diary yesterday, I came across a passage where she talks about visiting Zennor, in Cornwall. That was one of the places we visited, when we were in Cornwall. I never associated it with Virginia Woolf – I always think of St. Ives in connection with her. Zennor is tiny and somehow mysterious. I wish I could have spent more time there.

Of course, this morning, the McAfee has hijacked my computer yet again. It “updated” for over four hours yesterday – WTF is going on? And why won’t customer service fix it? And what part of “it is unacceptable to freeze, crash, and hijack my computer” is incomprehensible to them?

In any event, I started the revisions on ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. I didn’t get very far, because, already in Chapter One, there’s huge change necessary. I don’t want it, but in order to fit the genre guidelines of the markets I’m eyeing for this particular piece, I have to make this change.

I also realized, reading over another piece of mine that’s supposed to be an historical, that I either have to radically change the characters and some of the plot to make it true to the time period, or I have to shift it into a parallel universe in order to stay true to my characters. The piece just won’t hold up as a piece of historical fiction. And the changes necessary to make it true to the period gut the heart and soul of the piece. By shifting genres, and picking it up and sticking it into a world specifically built for it, I can solve the problems.

My poor computer needed a rest, so I shut it down. Then, I lay down, planning about a twenty minute nap. However, I woke up completely groggy and disoriented two and a half hours later. Guess I was more tired than I realized!

The fantastic thing was that I woke up with the plot of a comic novel complete in my head. I’ve jotted down most of it. It’s kind of a SCARLET PIMPERNEL-COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO spoof, but with my own odd spin to it. And it’s very different from Lauren Willig’s novels. Don’t get me wrong, I love what she’s done—but this book is very different. It’s definitely something to appear under the “Ava Dunne” name – it’s got that edgy, odd humor, in spite of the historical context – to which I can be true, in this case, because it feeds into the satire of the book.

So I guess the nap was worth it.

Great yoga session earlier than usual last night, gave the cats lots of attention. They are not amused that there are suitcases and bags again in the hall. I’ve got to wind up a few more things online before I leave at 10 AM, and then it’s off to work for the weekend. I won’t be back online until sometime on Monday, which I just realized is a holiday for most people, so I hope I can get a lot done in peace and quiet. I’m hoping that Monday brings a lot of good work on the two plays looming over me and the Billy Root story.

Valentine’s Nights Part One was a lot of fun, thank you very much, and I’m looking forward to Parts Two and Three! 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, and back to the page!

Devon

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and mild
All Souls’ Day

Whew!

I had quite the train ride into the city yesterday – all good, don’t worry – but I can’t talk about it yet because, well, it’s a long and complicated story that I may be able to tell you someday, but today I can’t! 😉

In any case, enough happened to spark a story that’s still percolating, which is part of the reason I can’t talk about it; the other is because of the very lovely people involved, some of whom would prefer not to be mentioned in the blog at this point.

It was a fascinating 50 minutes, let me tell you.

Did all my errands, got home, wasted far too much time researching something that may well turn out to be a wild goose chase.

Felt progressively worse as the day went on. I think I picked up some sort of bug on the petrie dish of the train. I wanted to start Nano at midnight, but was too sick so do to.

I managed to fulfill most of my other commitments and went to bed, then got up early and started the Helena Francis mystery. The first few pages were a bit of a slog, but I managed to get through it, and it started picking up. I keep reminding myself to trust in the characters, and try to make each scene as full as possible without getting stuck and losing momentum.

I had to send the N3 mail via email – the Nano site kept crashing, told me people didn’t exist, didn’t accept PMs, etc. Typical Day 1 of Nano.

I have a kazaillion errands to do and then it’s back to the page. Cornelia and Roman still need my attention, as does the western.

Devon

Untitled Helena Francis Mystery: 2,856 words out of 50,000 (Nano goal)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
2 / 50
(4.0%)

Untitled Helena Francis Mystery: 2,856 out of est. 75,000 words (total goal)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
2 / 75
(2.7%)
Published in: on November 1, 2008 at 8:30 am  Comments (3)  
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