Mon. Aug. 19, 2019: Feng Shui for Inspiration — #UpbeatAuthors

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image by silviarita via pixabay.com

Monday, August 19, 2019
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

We’ve talked about using paintings to inspire us when we’re stuck. So many other art forms can also be used: any of the fine arts (sculpture, textiles, mixed media) or music or dance or anything else.

But sometimes nothing works.

That’s when applying the principles of Feng Shui to our creativity is useful.

There are two parts to this: applying it to the space in which you work, and applying it to the project itself. It might sound weird to Feng Shui a project, but I’ll explain how I do it.

There are multiple schools of Feng Shui. I like the Black Hat School, which Karen Rauch Carter details in her book MOVE YOUR STUFF, CHANGE YOUR LIFE. In my opinion, this is the best Feng Shui book out there, and makes the most sense to my life.

Feng Shui for Space
Draw a bagua, writing in the nine life areas: career, skills & knowledge, family, prosperity, fame & reputation, relationships & love, creativity & children, helpful people & travel, and health in the appropriate points, per the typical bagua. In this piece, the techniques I talk about are from the Black Hat School. If you use Compass School, or a different technique, you might have to adjust where you stand with your bagua to survey the space.

Holding the bagua in your hand, stand in the doorway of your workspace and look around the room. Look at the placement of furniture, decorations, windows, mirrors, etc., and see what falls into each area of the bagua.

Using advice from the Feng Shui School of choice, start moving around objects so that they fit into the correct area of the bagua. If there’s something that can’t be moved, or something missing, look up the “cures” to balance it out. Even more important, clean your workspace. Tidy things up. Dust. Vacuum. Wash the windows. Water the plants. Rearrange furniture if you can or want to. Change the curtains or tablecloths or throw pillows or pictures. Remove anything that is dead or broken. Remove anything that doesn’t serve you any more.

Look through the rest of the house or things you have packed away to see if you already own something that serves as a “cure.”

You don’t have to throw out items with sentimental value just because they don’t fit the space anymore. Pack them away, with gentleness and compassion. A time will come when you want to freshen your space again, and then it might fit. In lean times and sad times, items I packed away ages ago have come in handy on multiple physical and emotional levels.

I genuinely believe that all these organizers who try to get you to throw out perfectly good “stuff” are just trying to get you to buy more stuff. If it’s still useful and purposeful, even if it isn’t needed right this second, pack it gently away and save it for the future.

Take another look at the space. If something still doesn’t feel quite right, keep tweaking it. But I bet you feel happier just being in the space.

Often cleaning up my writing room helps get me out of the “stuck” place, or the uninspired place.

Additionally, looking at the areas in both my writing room and the overall house, and making adjustments in the relevant areas will help get my creativity moving again.

Stand at your front door, looking at your entire space. Where does your writing space fall within the bagua? Mine is in the Helpful People & Travel sector in this house. So I have power tools in the writing room that serve Helpful People & Travel in respect to the overall house, while also looking at the room itself and seeing where the room itself falls into the bagua. It can get a little confusing sometimes, and I find myself adjusting and readjusting after most big projects. I’m a nester, which means wherever I work — the desk, the reading/writing chair, etc. — I tend to pile up what I’m using.

Feng Shui for Projects
How the heck do you Feng Shui a project?

I bet there’s advice on that out there somewhere. At the time of this writing, I haven’t read any, but writing this piece makes me want to hunt it down, if it exists.

However, I’ve come up with a couple of techniques on my own.

Have Your Character Do Some Feng Shui
See what happens if you write a scene or sequence where your character does some Feng Shui on their own space. Sometimes rearranging the character’s space helps the writer push through. That doesn’t mean you have to leave the sequence in the piece, unless it works. You can always cut it.

Remember that nothing written is ever wasted, even if it’s cut from the final draft. You needed to write it to GET to the final draft.

Use the Bagua on Your Plot
Take a look at the nine areas of the bagua. How do they relate to your protagonist’s journey? What pieces are missing, and how do they serve as a catalyst to the protagonist’s journey? Are any of them healed during the course of the book?

Conversely, when you look at the bagua, is there any area you can think of making more difficult for your character, and upping the stakes on the story? Is anything going a little too well in the character’s life, and needs more complications for a more engaging plot?

The act of cleaning and rearranging gets you out of torpor and into motion. As your body moves, your brain starts to re-engage, and that helps get your creativity flowing. Plus, a beautiful space is a much more welcoming space for your work!

Change Where You Work on the Project
Where does your workspace fall into the bagua of your home? Is there another place that would work better? Perhaps the Creativity & Children sector, or the Career Sector? The Prosperity or the Fame and Reputation Sector? Trying working in a different spot, and see if that rattles the creativity loose again.

This Week’s Task
Read a book on Feng Shui (libraries usually have several). Compare different styles. Pick one area of your home to Feng Shui and work on it.

Have you used Feng Shui in your home or your work? What style do you use? What were the results? Let me know in the comments.

Also, in the comments, talk about your Artist Date, and what kind of paintings or other art you experienced, and how it helped.

Mon. Aug. 12, 2019: Paintings as Inspiration – #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Monday, August 12, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter DIRECT (as of yesterday)
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Last Week:
Last week , we talked about Still Lifes and taking an object in your home to use as inspiration.

What did you use? What kind of piece came out of it? A story? A play? A song? A painting? A dance? Something else? Leave your answer in the comments (mine will be there as well). I’ll also post the title of the book I looked at with Still Lifes in it. I tend to gravitate to the Dutch painters for that.

Paintings as Inspiration
I love to use paintings as a jumping off point for a new piece. If I’m feeling stuck or un-creative or like any of the various fragments and outlines and Ideas I’ve jotted down are worthless, I go to a museum and look at paintings (I always prefer to do it in person) or I get a book out of the library and look, or a DVD on a great museum.

I find Edward Hopper’s work particularly inspiring. New York Movie is one of my favorite pieces, and it inspired what may wind up as a long short story or a novella (I’ve been working on it, on and off, around other projects, for several years).

I love wandering into a museum and letting the pictures and sculptures “speak” to me. I may not get the story the painter intended to tell; but I always come away with something. I always come away feeling brighter and fuller and excited.

Details
One of the things I like to do in paintings is to look closely at what is not central to the action. For instance, in Canaletto’s “Rio dei Mendicanti: looking South” (1723?), I’m less interested in the men on the sunny side of the canal in conversation than in the darker, right side of the painting, with the laundry lines hanging out of the window, the woman shaking her broom, and the man perched on the edge of the building, nearly in the canal, cleaning the side of the building. To me, there’s something furtive about the man. Is he observing the place in order to rob it? Although it’s a not a rich area, filled with working people. Are the acoustics in that position good, allowing him to eavesdrop on the conversation of the burghers across the water from him? That’s a possibility. Or does he not want them to recognize him? Does he have a dispute with one of them? Or is he simply going about his day, doing his work, and has to adjust his position so as not to get hit with the debris from the broom shaken out above him? (Aside: I’m writing a play about Canaletto’s sisters, so I’m looking at a lot of his paintings these past months).

This painting could inspire an historical piece (probably a mystery) tying those three elements together. Or a short radio play. Or I could take the ideas and sensations it provokes and set them somewhere completely different: A New York tenement or a created world in a fantasy novel.

In Poussin’s “Summer”, the woman with the bowls beside the tree and the man in the background handling the horses are more interesting to me than the central figure of a man kneeling before the other man. Is the woman going about her business, ignoring what is going on? I don’t think so. She may be related to the kneeling man, or perhaps he is her lover. Or perhaps her lover is the man on the other side of the tree, drinking, out of the sight line of the man in charge. What’s going on in the woman’s mind? There are so many wonderful possibilities.

Even a portrait can inspire. Several years ago, I wrote a play about Lavinia Fontana, the first woman painter in the Renaissance who took in commissions like the men. One of my favorites of her paintings is the portrait “Portrait of a Lady of the Court.” This woman looks like she has a secret. She and Lavinia share it. But we must guess. My research into the extensive network of powerful Bolognese women at the time reinforces that idea, and the research helps me look at the painting with more knowledge.

This Week’s Challenge:
This week, give yourself an Artist’s Date (thanks to Julia Cameron for encouraging us to do that) to go to a museum or a gallery and look at paintings. Pick one that inspires you and write something about it.

You can leave information about it in the comments below, or wait until next week.

Monday, Aug. 5, 2019: Inspiration Starts at Home — #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of Jill Wellington via Pixabay.com

Monday, August 5, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

 

We’re down from five retrogrades to only four, so some of the pressure’s easing off.

The month of August is about inspiration, which is one of my favorite topics. I’ll share some of the ways I find inspiration. I always find that I have far more stories to tell than I have time in which to tell them. I have to pick and choose.

Let’s get something straight right from the start: I don’t understand boredom or people who claim they’re bored. I have zero patience with them.

The world is a fascinating place. There’s always something interesting around, and there’s always something that needs doing.

My dad used to say, “Only boring people are bored. People who don’t have the capacity for critical thought or motivation or interest.”

The older I get, the more I realize he’s right.

When someone whines about boredom, it sends up a red flag, and I use one of the tools of gentle disengagement we discussed last month.

People who are bored suck the energy out of a room and the life out of inspired people. They feed off the energy, without reciprocating anything.

Inspiration is all around us. We have to look at things with fresh eyes. This is where the mindfulness techniques of yoga and meditation pay off. If you are in the moment, that means you are paying attention. Your powers of observation are fine-tuned.

As writers, we MUST be observant to the small, unusual detail in order to bring characters and stories to life.

As I discussed in our topics on kindness and tolerance, start finding inspiration at home.

Look at things in your space, the things you take for granted, differently. You probably have photos or small objects that give you pleasure. You put them out on a shelf on a desk because they have meaning. You’re so used to looking at them every day that you don’t SEE them anymore.

Change that.

There’s a visualization technique where you pick three objects and stare at them. You pretend you’re an ant crawling over them and look at every tiny detail. You pretend you’re a bird flying over it and look at details from that perspective. Then you close your eyes and recreate the objects in your mind’s eye.

Think of it as “Still Life for the Mind.”

Go online or get a book out of the library on still lifes, and see how those powers of observation inspired painters.

We are going to talk more about paintings next week, but still lifes in art tie in both to this week and next week’s discussion.

Being able to recreate the object in your mind’s eye might not happen the first time you try this, but if you do this every day for ten minutes or so, it gets easier and easier.

Look, really look at the objects in your home with fresh eyes. There might be things that are tired, and need to rest for awhile. Put them away. They will be new when you decide to take them out again. There might be things that you need to release — give away, throw away, remove from your life. We will talk more about this a couple of weeks down the road, how to use Feng Shui techniques to bump up your inspiration. But again, this entire month’s discussions are all of a piece. They build on each other.

Walk around your house. Pick one thing that you haven’t really, really looked at for awhile.

This week, spend time with it. Let it tell you a story. It might be “its” story. It might inspire a story about something or someone else.

In the comments, tell us which object you’ve picked. Next week, we will talk about this experience, while also trying something new.

 

Published in: on August 5, 2019 at 6:02 am  Comments (3)  
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Mon. Nov. 26, 2018: Can Writers Have Friends? #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, November 26, 2018
Waning Moon
Neptune DIRECT (as of Saturday)
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

On the surface, that looks like a ridiculous question. Of course writers have friends! There are famous (and infamous) literary friendships throughout the known canon of literature. Writers need friends — people they can trust, people who will tell them when they’ve gone off the rails.

But it’s difficult to be friends with a writer.

It’s difficult for writers to be friends with each other.

I’m not talking about competition. As far as I’m concerned, when one of us succeeds, it’s good for everyone. Agents, publishers, and those who make money off our work want us to feel competitive, because it helps THEIR bottom line. But really, the toughest competition is ourselves, meeting our own expectations.

So why is it difficult to be friends with a writer?

Because everything is material.

If you know a writer, something you inspired will turn up in their work.

Unless it’s a roman-à-clef, it won’t be you in a literal sense. When an individual inspires a character, when I do my job properly, that character evolves away from the inspiration into a distinct individuality of its own, even if they still share characteristics.

Strangely enough, some people who swear that this character or that character is “based” on them in my work were never part of the equation, as far as I was concerned, and certainly not for the characters in which they saw themselves reflected.

I do my best to “do no harm.” I don’t always succeed, but that is my objective. Unless you hurt someone I care about, and then I’ll hunt you to hell and back if that’s what’s needed. I am fully in touch with my Shadow Self, and know how to use it.

But if you know me, whether it’s virtually or in person, something or someone you inspired will eventually show up in the work. It might be twenty years after we’ve lost touch, but it will happen.

Because I’ve spent my working life in the arts, and, except for the years since I left New York, my circle was entirely artists in different disciplines, athletes (when I was a sports reporter), and either veterans (met through the arts) or soldiers (who found my letters nattering about life in the arts an interesting distraction), it wasn’t a big deal. Now that I live away from an art-centric, urban environment, where fewer people understand the process, it’s a trickier. People are quicker to hunt for offense.

Artists use each other creatively all the time. It’s usually healthy. Sometimes it’s not. I was part of a cabal of writers in the UK for awhile, when I was early in the writing part of my career, where we used each other in our books, often without much disguise. Sometimes it was flattering, sometimes it was painful. Now, I re-read it, shake my head and laugh at how we tried to impress each other and communicate what we really thought and felt by Mary-Sue-ing instead of just talking to each other. In many cases, the work suffered. So did our relationships.

Non-writers often make assumptions, especially when it comes to my characters’ romantic lives or sex lives, especially if the book is dedicated to a man. They assume I’ve either had sex with the man mentioned in the dedication, or I want to have sex with him. In either case, it’s assumed the male protagonist stands in for him. The former may be true (I’ve certainly dedicated books to current or ex lovers), the latter unlikely. I’m not Anaïs Nin and he’s not Henry Miller; we’re not dashing to the page, still naked and sweaty after our encounters, to write them down.

Okay, I admit it: I went through that phase, but I was in my early twenties. I outgrew it. My writing is better now than it was then for many reasons, and, most important of all, I write FICTION.

I used to write erotica, back when it paid well. People who knew I did (and knew the names under which it appeared) often assumed and commented on how I must go about my “research.” It served us both not to dissuade them, although I made some flippant comments that I realize were unfair to actual lovers in my life, and that I now regret. I have apologized to several people, all of whom were puzzled because they didn’t remember and/or hadn’t been hurt.

When I’m writing and revising, I can pinpoint where the real-world inspiration diverges from the fictional character; but often, after several years, drafts, and a good editor, I can’t any more. I know who it was, but the character stands firmly on its own.

Writers used to worry, before the age of over-sharing on social media, about hurting others in their writing. It’s less of an issue now that it was fifteen or twenty years ago, and it’s always been more of an issue in memoir than in fiction.

There’s the position of “write whatever you need to write, your own truth, and to hell with anyone who gets hurt” and “change enough so they can’t recognize themselves.”

As I mentioned above, I evolve the characters away from the inspiration, when I do my job properly, so I embody neither AND both of the above.

On the opposite side of protecting people in your life you care about, there’s dealing with hurt. Hurt is inevitable. We cause it, even when we don’t want to; we feel it.

I make a lot of jokes about killing off people who annoy me in my novels. But they’re not really jokes, and it’s a great way to blow off steam. And by the time I write it, and the piece is ready to go out into the world, again — the character has evolved away from the original inspiration into its unique identity.

But the process eases the hurt and gets it into perspective. I’m often less hurt after the process because I understand the other individual more. I could wallow in the hurt if I kept that person as a two-dimensional cipher of my pain and rage. But, again, if I do my job as a writer, and make it a fully developed character, there will be more to the person and the situation than my pain.

Yes, writers can and must have friends. But non-writers need to realize that everything, and every ONE — is material.

Published in: on November 26, 2018 at 6:39 am  Comments Off on Mon. Nov. 26, 2018: Can Writers Have Friends? #UpbeatAuthors  
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Tues. Nov. 13, 2018: Digging into the Inspiration

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde

Busy, intense weekend.

Friday, we went to the Cahoon Museum, to see the fiber arts exhibit. It was astonishing. My favorite pieces were the enormous scorpion made out of black lace doilies — it took up about a third of the floor space in the exhibit room — and a quilt called “Security Blanket” filled with charms and shells and artifacts from different belief systems.

There was also an amazing painting in the upstairs gallery by a painter named Jim Dowd. When you first look at it, it’s dark blue. As you continue to look at it, you start seeing the moonlight, the outline of the houses, the light in the windows. It was another piece I kept going back to. It filled me with delight and discovery.

Picked up some stuff at the Patisserie in Falmouth (still my favorite bakery), stocked up on cat food and cat litter, ran some other errands.

Saturday was a stormy, rainy day, but Sunday was lovely, and I got to see the matinee of a musical in which a former colleague had a role. Overall, the production was well-directed, well-designed, well-choreographed, well music-directed. My colleague and one of the young actresses were terrific vocally. But the score was beyond some of the other performers. It was better than most musical productions I’ve seen here, but still, there were too many sharps and flats and missed notes. I enjoyed it, though, and the overall sense was of a good production. The audience stood, although I did not. I have only stood at curtain call for three productions in my life, three productions where I felt blown away. I rarely stand, and this “standing for everything” dilutes the meaning of a standing ovation.

Worked on DAVY JONES DHARMA over the weekend, but still am not where I need to be. I’d hoped to have this draft done this weekend. I’m having trouble keeping the tone light enough.

Read an historical mystery where the period detail was exquisite, but the characters and plot didn’t quite do it. Read Michael Ovitz’s memoir, which was interesting. CAA was in its heydey as I transitioned from off-Broadway to Broadway. I liked (and continue to respect) the long-term career planning the agents did (rather than take the money and run). What I didn’t and don’t like is them putting together packages of all their personnel — writer, director, actors. Taking over that part of the creative process. I don’t think you can get the best person for each slot that way. Of course, one could argue that film and television production isn’t about the “best” but the most bankable. Sometimes they align, and sometimes they don’t. Anyway, it was interesting to learn that perspective. That will feed into the GAMBIT COLONY series.

I also wonder who his ghostwriter was. The tone sounds familiar.

Did some work on PREVENTATIVE MEASURES. Got over a point where I’d stalled. I’m writing some bits I’ll probably cut, but I need to write them so I have the information. Then I can cut it and seed in what’s necessary for the reader.

The Narcissistic Sociopath was an embarrassment on a global scale, yet again. Flying to France (on our $$$), then refusing to go to the Armistice Ceremony because it was raining. Berating California for its wildfires and refusing aid. Skipping the dinner of World leaders (or maybe he was 2 1/2 hours late — I’ve heard conflicting stories). Wagging his tail like an eager puppy when Putin arrived. Refusing to walk down the Champs Elysee with 70 other world leaders. He’s a disgrace, on every level.

The California wildfires are heartbreaking. The loss of life, home — not just belongings, but home. At least one actor with whom I’m acquainted has lost his home, and I’m worried about others. The animals dying, people burned alive in their cars as they try to flee.

And the federal government doing NOTHING. The Red Cross telling them there’s nothing coming in. Well, Red Cross, you have a HUGE bank account — crack it open and help these people. The Red Cross has been a major disappointment in my lifetime. The one time I personally needed help from them, where there was a fire in my apartment building and I was traumatized and frightened and didn’t know what to do? They were useless.

Re-connected with veterans, with Armistice Day and Veterans Day and all these important events this weekend. I’ve worked with a variety of them on different projects — theatre pieces, writing, listening to them. Every year, I’m saddened to see how many move from the Veterans’ Day list (alive) to the Memorial Day list (dead).

But from it, I got seeds of inspiration for several pieces. I’m taking notes, and will try to steal time here and there to work on them, while the inspiration burns hot. There’s so much pain going on, and in this percolation process, when I write from the inside out, it can be overwhelming. Actor friends tease me about “method writing.”

The process isn’t easy, but always worth it. Right now, I have no one to buffer between me and the world, which makes it more difficult. I have to build my own shells, my own walls, to protect myself and my process.

I really need a break, time off from the world, for a few days, but I can’t see how I’m going to get it.

I’d hoped to go on an adventure to Boston later this week, but I don’t think it will work. And, honestly, I don’t think I have the emotional energy for it right now.

Worked with my client onsite yesterday, and will do so today.

Focusing on DHARMA, since that deadline is looming, and on the pieces inspired this weekend, which fall into the category of development I can do in the Women Write Change project.

I got a little bit of yard work done, trying to get the leaves done and bagged. I’m getting a little sick of the neighbors, with their constant leaf blowing. But they only blow the leaves into piles, which then blow into my yard, and I’m the one who ends up having to rake and bag everyone’s leaves. Bag what you blow, people!

I’m tired, tired on so many levels.

But I need to get back to the page. That always helps.

Published in: on November 13, 2018 at 6:16 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 13, 2018: Digging into the Inspiration  
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Tues. Nov. 21, 2017: So Much Going On!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise and get to know my guest for the week, Patsy Collins.

Friday afternoon, I raked and bagged 180 gallons of leaves. And that was only half of the front yard! But I wouldn’t trade my trees for anything.

Also, Friday, I was irritated by trolls. At this point, one expects them regarding politics. But now there’s a cadre of people attacking writers who write regularly (every day or most days), claiming “most” writers don’t write every day, they’re living their lives, and people in the industry should stop talking about writing every day. Oh, and if you’re writing that much, you’re a hack and can’t possibly care about quality.

I have no idea if the attackers consider themselves writers or not. I sure as heck couldn’t find any published credits. But most professional writers I know write on most days. I couldn’t keep a roof over my head if I didn’t. That doesn’t mean I don’t love it or that I don’t care about quality.

But it my job. It is my business, not my hobby. I don’t do it on the side. It’s how I pay the bills, how I keep a roof over my head. No matter how much I do write in any given day, there’s still more that needs to be written.

I don’t wait for inspiration. I hunt it down.

Some whiny wanna-be who wants to be praised for not writing isn’t going to get cut a break from me. Do it. Don’t do it. Your choice. But stay out of my way. And don’t attack me because I love my job, I’m good at it, and I earn a living at it.

And guess what? I have a pretty terrific life along WITH the writing.

Hey, if you’ve got a high-powered agent who gets you six figure advances and CAN take five years to write a book, more power to you. But I need to show up every day and do the work.

Speaking of inspiration, another conversation on Twitter about a powerful medieval woman, inspired an idea for a new play, which I will pitch to 365 Women in January. Here, I’d decided four plays in three years were enough with them, but I’ll pitch one more. The person who extolled this particular woman was shot down — she’d gotten her people mixed up — but there were enough sources for me to start my research. I will reveal the name of the woman and a bit about her if the pitch is accepted.

Saturday, I finished a guest blog article for someone kind enough to host me, and sent it off with various information. I went to the post office to find out what happened to the package that was supposedly delivered on Thursday. Turns out it was delivered in another state. When I went on the site to rate the seller, it turns out that five other people have had the same issue THIS WEEK. There were no such reviews when I placed the order. I contacted Amazon. They are opening and investigation, and the lovely customer service rep filed an A-Z refund request on my behalf. Hopefully, I’ll get my money back. I can’t just cancel the card before that happens, or I won’t get the refund. But, as soon as I have it, I need to cancel that bankcard and get it replaced. I’m worried. I don’t want this person to make false charges on my account.

In the interim, I’ve cancelled my outstanding orders on Amazon, and I don’t plan on doing any of my holiday shopping through them. I wasn’t planning to do much anyway — I prefer local businesses with unique items. But there were a few things where Amazon seemed like the best deal. But now, I don’t trust the transactions. If things are resolved quickly and to my satisfaction, I may re-order; at this point, I doubt it.

I raked another 240 gallons of leaves. The front yard is now done. It took two trips to the dump to get them out.

Read a little, wrote a little in the afternoon. Watched travel documentaries in the evening, and did some plotting on some outlines.

It looks like I’m going to have to move all my websites soon. Not to a different host, but because the host “upgraded,” I am basically fucked. Because heaven forbid THEY take care of it when they’re the ones who make changes. What am I paying for again? I really need to start auditioning new webhosts. I have to go back to the questionnaire I started a few months ago.

Sunday was a day to dig in and write. Worked on the aging novel. I’m rewriting what I’ve got so far in third person to first person. The protag is talking in first person, and I need to go with it.

It was pouring with rain, so I couldn’t do any yard work. I did some housework, but I’ll do the big scrub right before the holiday.

I wrote about 1K of new material on the aging novel and then went to type up he first handwritten chapter. When I rewrote it in first and actually got into what I was trying to say and how to say it, it wound up being two chapters. Massive rewrite — not the way I usually work, rewriting as I go. But every book needs its individual process, and you have to honor the work.

Anyway, I wound up writing 29 pages on the book.

Then, I switched over to the play, SERENE AND DETERMINED. It seemed like I’d done massive amounts of work on that, but it turned out to be only 12 pages. Frustrating, since that deadline looms. But those pages are good pages, so I should be happy. Even if I wish I’d managed 29 pages on the play and would have been content with only 12 pages on the novel.

It means I have to dig deeper this week, and will probably add late night writing sessions in, along with the early morning sessions.

I worked on site with one client for a few hours, got some work done at the library, and did some writing for another client, which I added to this morning, and which goes off this afternoon, in advance of our next meeting after the holiday.

Started raking the side front lawn, but didn’t get very far. In yesterday’s storm, a bunch of the leaves from the side blew back onto my newly-cleaned front. Of course, it doesn’t help that the neighbors use leaf blowers to blow their leaves into the street, which then blow into my yard. So I’m basically raking leaves for the entire neighborhood.

In addition to digging down on both the play and “Miss Winston Apologizes” over the holiday weekend, I have a book to read for review, and I need to finish the TRACKING MEDUSA edits, which have to go out next week.

Somewhere in there, I’ll be doing the cooking for Thanksgiving and starting to put up the holiday decorations. The tree will make it into the stand and the Advent Table will go up, if nothing else. Plus, the overseas cards need to be written — they have to go out next week if I want them to arrive before February. For some reason, from the Cape it takes for damn ever for an airmail card to actually take air.

We’re still changing the dressings on my mother’s foot regularly, adn she goes back to her regular doctor tomorrow morning.

Onward.

Published in: on November 21, 2017 at 2:41 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 21, 2017: So Much Going On!  
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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!

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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