Fri. Jan. 21, 2022: Creative Stretching

image courtesy of Caoha via pixabay.com

Friday, January 21, 2022

Waning Moon

Venus and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and very cold

Meditation was fine yesterday, with Charlotte sitting on my lap for most of it, participating. She then went back to the rocking chair in my reading corner to go to sleep. I rarely get to use my reading corner anymore, because Charlotte is usually in it.

I signed up for a Zoom reading next week, with a group with whom I’m interested in getting involved. I’m on the wait list to actually read, and I drafted two short poems to read. One needs more work. I need to replace a couple of words with those that sharpen the image while fitting the rhythm. The second poem came out, in word and rhythm, better than I hoped. I might still polish, but it does what I want it to do.

I was surprised that I managed to write either, since I don’t consider myself a poet. I love poetry, but I never felt I could ride that tiger properly as a writer. I wanted to stretch, and I am. You learn how to write in different formats by writing in those formats. Should I even attempt to read them? Who knows? Chances are I’m too far down on the list and won’t get to read them anyway. I’ll learn from the other poets reading. I’ll learn from my own reading, even if it doesn’t go well.

I’d have a three minute slot, allowed one poem, and either poem takes up less than two minutes, even read in what I call “Dramatic Reading Voice.” (Which is different from Pretentious Sonorous Voice).

I can still always decide to only read none, or take myself off the list. But pushing myself, taking the risk, will be valuable.

I’ll work on and rehearse the poems for the next week, and be ready, whichever way the chips land.

I drafted a series of activist letters to the appropriate organizations and individuals. My weapons are words, and rather than social media-ing everything to death, I’d rather write specific, actionable proposals that will get results.

The way I did before social media.

I finished the first draft of the short story for the anthology. It was disquieting to write, so hopefully it will create strong emotions in the reader. It’s just under 1200 words, which gives me room to do some cutting and also layer in more sensory detail. I’m going to let it sit a few days before I approach it again. It has to go out next week, so I have a little bit of breathing room.

I picked up Cynthia Kuhn’s HOW TO BOOK A MURDER (a book recommended by Ellen Byron) “just to take a look.” Yeah, right. I read the whole thing straight through in the afternoon, instead of doing other things. It was a lot of fun. Now, I want to read her other series. My local library had one book, but I had to get three more through Commonwealth Catalog. Ironically, two of those three will come in from Sandwich. I can’t find the last one.

The Mystic Mondays Tarot arrived, and I am in love with it. I love the weight of the cards, their size, the way the sides are iridescent. I love the artwork on the deck – very different from any of my other decks, and in colors that really speak to me. I’m excited to start working with it. I think I will use it mostly in relation to creative work: spurring myself on creatively, finding ways around blocks and obstacles, etc.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. The kids are working hard, they’re thriving in a virtual learning environment, and they’re doing well. One of the things we started when we first launched this homework group was to keep a journal. Of course, when we started, we thought the group would only be for the spring 2020 semester. Now, we’re starting into 2022. But the kids have kept up their journals. Not all of them write every day, and some of them are sketch journals rather than word journals (which is perfectly valid), But, after keeping it as a practice now for two years, they find it a useful tool. Even the ones who have no intention of becoming writers! As someone who has kept a journal for going on 50 years now, I’m glad it helps others; I know it has often been a lifeline for me.

In the evening, I attended a virtual author event for an acquaintance and fellow Sister in Crime. It was a lot of fun. She currently writes three series, plus short stories, which is the kind of schedule I really need to keep. The questions in the Q & A were the typical ones that are asked. The thing we all remind ourselves of is that, even though we’ve answered these questions dozens of times, it’s still new information to this person asking (unless it’s someone who attends events always asking the same question, There were a couple of those on Cape. They’d even ask the same question to the same person at event after event). Of course there was That One Person, who didn’t have a question, but a “comment” and made it all about herself. There’s always one self-involved audience member, who tries to turn every event into a personal platform. We learn how to be polite and gracious and move on. Good moderators shut that individual down; too many just look uncomfortable and expect the guest artist to deal with it, which is unfair.

Anyway, I was glad I was there, and could support my acquaintance. I also realized I’m behind reading one of her series!

After the event, I had to stay up and get out a script coverage that was due this morning. I’m behind in the script coverages (but still ahead of deadline) and will spend most of today working on those. It will need to be a long day, if I expect to have a weekend.

But I have no regrets about sitting and reading Cynthia’s book all afternoon!

I had a perfectly productive day, and yet, by the end of it, I still beat myself up for not doing enough. I need to stop that.

A couple more ideas are percolating for short stories; hopefully I can rough them out this weekend.

I had trouble getting to sleep last night; it was after midnight. Then the cats woke me up at three. I am not a happy camper today. I am a grumpy pants.

It’s been a frustrating, up and down week. Let’s hope next week is better.

Catch you on the other side.

Published in: on January 21, 2022 at 9:17 am  Comments Off on Fri. Jan. 21, 2022: Creative Stretching  
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Wed. Sept. 8, 2021: I Have a Lovely Postman

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Partly cloudy and pleasant

Yesterday was busy, but it was a good busy, not a nasty busy.

I had a good first writing session, I got out some LOIs. Still have a lot of email to catch up on which came in over the weekend. Got some administrative work done.

It was a pleasant day, so I walked to the post office to mail bills. More people are wearing masks even outside again, and the laundromat, which was busy, was full of the masked. Which is a good thing, not a complaint. But I’m a little sad we’re back that. However, I’m grateful that people are being considerate, and not fussing.

Mailed the bills, dropped off/picked up books at the library. Found some books on the free cart which looked kind of fun, and also found a bunch of information on local farms/growers/markets and local, independent newspapers, including one that has a lot of arts information and bookstore information for upstate New York, Vermont, and the Berkshires. I am relieved to see how many arts organizations are requiring proof of vaccination AND masking to attend events.

Walked back along Church Street, which is always a joy, because of the beautiful architecture and yards. Ran into my lovely postman, who introduced me to the woman who lives in one of my favorite houses on the street. She is as lovely as her house.

I’m reading the published journals of an actor with whom I was acquainted, back years ago in New York. He died, quite a few years ago now (although it seems recent). I was shaken by his death, because I had respected his work and enjoyed our conversations when we crossed paths. I kind of wish I wasn’t reading his journals, because, bluntly, he’s a selfish shit who treated people (especially the women in his life) badly. He was a parasite in his relationships, finding a woman to be the “backbone” of his career, at the detriment to her own. Yes, it was her choice, but still, that’s not my idea of a partnership. Goodness knows, enough have tried to drain me that way, having me “handle” their careers and their work at the detriment to my own. They got kicked to the curb pretty quickly, because that is not the kind of partnership in which I want to participate.

I think far less of him than I did, and yet, I can’t stop reading. Which shows what a compelling person/writer he was, in spite of it all.

It gave me the idea for a short story, for which I jotted some notes, so I wouldn’t lose it.

Got out some script coverage, read some more scripts.

I have a day out and about today, and will catch up tomorrow. Hopefully, I will be back in time to attend the Straw Dog Authors’ Showcase via Zoom tonight. I’m looking forward to hearing local authors read, although I’m sad I’ll miss Remote Chat.

Have a good one, people. We’re supposed to have some yucky weather tomorrow.

Published in: on September 8, 2021 at 6:21 am  Comments Off on Wed. Sept. 8, 2021: I Have a Lovely Postman  
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Thurs. Nov. 15, 2018: Passion, Creativity, and a Dark Night of the Soul

Thursday, November 15, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde

 

It never ceases to amaze me how often people criticize others in order to feel more powerful themselves, or because they feel threatened by others’ talents.

That’s kind of the entire GOP platform at this point — dehumanize anyone they deem “different.” Only give basic human rights to those who do as they’re told.

Which is a conversation for another day, but an ongoing one we need to have here in the U.S.

Again, if you haven’t read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, do so now.

I’ve been called “difficult” often over the years because I walk my talk, I’m passionate about my work, and I’m ruthless about protecting my creative time. I’ve grown to embrace the “difficult” moniker because these are things I’m not willing to change about myself. The toll is too high. And, frankly, I’m old enough not to really give a damn what most people think.

I recently came across some old journals, as I’m cleaning out the basement. That younger me who was in so much pain with this man or that man in my life tried to demean or demoralize me for being creative and passionate, telling me I was “too much” or had to “tone it down.” Or the one who said I “didn’t give him enough to complain about” and he felt left out when his friends bitched about their wives and girlfriends.

They were all kicked to the curb, and it was the right decision. I stayed true to my core. Had I stayed with any of them, I would be miserable now.

Hell, I might not even be alive.

There have been some wonderful men in my life, even though we’ve chosen not to stay together forever. I tend to have long stretches of being single rather than going from relationship to relationship, because I learned the hard way that it’s lonelier to be with the wrong person that to be alone.

I’ve been told I’m not a “real” writer (even though that’s how I earn my living) because I write more than one thing, because I do marketing writing as well as novels and plays and radio drama, because I write in genre instead of “literary” fiction, because I’m not published by one of the Big Five, because I worked in theatre, because I worked in a library — it just goes on and on and on.

You know what? Go ahead and define me. I’ll just keep working and cash my checks.

Am I rich? No. But I’m building the life and career I want.

Am I famous? No, and with luck and careful strategy, I never will be. I spent many years working with actors and directors, many of them big names. I don’t want what comes with fame.

A little more financial security that buys me freedom? Yeah. I’ll take it. Fame? No. Let those who like it have it.

When I was nervous about reading at the festival in Provincetown this year, an actor friend in the UK (for whom I’ve written) asked, “Do you trust the work?”

I said, “Yes.”

He said, “Then get out of the way and let the work breathe. Trust the work.”

He was right, and it was a good experience. It’s also one of the reasons he’s getting to be a known name (and no, I’m not going to name drop here).

None of that created the dark night of the soul of this title.

As many of you know, it’s been a tough year for me. A year of loss. Deaths in the family, deaths of friends, of my elderly cat, health issues in the family, other pressures, a tight contract schedule, intense political activism (which has brought me into contact and sometimes friendship with people I might never have crossed paths with otherwise). I have had a lot of demands on me physically, emotionally, creatively.

There have also been plenty of friends, family members, colleagues, and others in my life who have needed my love and support, and to whom I gave and continue to give it willingly. They are not a burden. They are my heart.

In October, I received a disappointment that shook my confidence in my work. Had nothing to do with publication or production, and I’m not going into detail about it publicly. But it devastated me, and I’m still trying to recover and get my creative feet back under me. Intellectually, I should be able to shrug and move on; emotionally, it’s much more difficult.

Trying to create in this political atmosphere is, anyway, like swimming through molasses. Says the chick who never learned how to swim. But you get the idea.

It’s necessary, and yes, I do take the position that all art is political. Even art that claims not to be supports the status quo.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be light and entertaining and fun.

Chuck Wendig had a terrific thread on Twitter the other day about the importance of creating, of “making stuff” — both because we as artists need to do so, and the world needs it.

I re-read HEART SNATCHER, the draft of the ass-kicking novel I wrote several years ago. It’s filled with rage I felt as a woman at unchecked violence against women and people who can’t defend themselves. It’s urban fantasy, not “literary” and its protagonist is charged with fulfilling justice, especially when the law moves away from justice. The writing was praised, but I was told to tone it down, that “women’s rage makes readers uncomfortable.” I put it away, but I think its time has come.

I started Women Write Change to create a place where women can develop creative projects sparked by what’s going on in the world. That’s been a great help.

Also, ideas come in batches. I got ideas for several new short stories. I’m doing research and will write a play about gun violence and possible solutions. That was inspired by a conversation I had with an actress friend on Twitter, when we felt so angry and helpless after Stoneman Douglas. I started PREVENTATIVE MEASURES, a novel that also deals with gun violence (among other things) when I was so uncomfortable about a gun vendor being part of that awful shopping/liquor event I did with my client a few weeks back.

Veterans’ Day weekend brought a batch of new/old ideas and inspirations, growing out of conversations with vets I’ve worked with on various projects over the years, vets I’ve gotten to know on social media as we fight to save our country in our various ways, and my experience working/talking/caring over the years.

Mixed into that is the book on the tightest deadline just isn’t working. I can’t fill it with the effervescence it needs right now. Everything is forced. The darker piece due next is doing better, but this one, I’m struggling, and I feel like I’m failing — myself, my editor, my readers.

I’m looking at some huge, huge changes in my life in the coming year (and I’m sure there will be plenty of unplanned stuff). I’m trying to prepare for those on every level.

And I’m tired of being tired, angry, and sad all the time — again, that’s mostly due to the state of the country.

Tuesday going into Wednesday was pretty rocky for me, and Tuesday night was basically a Dark Night of the Soul. I’ve had these periodically, and some are darker than others. I’ve learned how to create a container of ritual for these now, which supports the experience and makes it a tool to get somewhere instead of a downward spiral into the abyss.

Once the emotion was burned away (and there was plenty of that), there was clarity. I won’t go so far as to say “peace” — but there was clarity on several things. I’m now taking steps to make some adjustments.

There was also a fresh surge of creative energy, which is always welcome, and when I make the adjustments I need to make, I will be able to shape it into something that might help someone else get through a bad day.

One of the comments that mattered most to me about my work came in a letter that arrived about a year after one of my plays was produced in Australia. The writer had come to the play at a particularly low point in her life. Low enough to consider suicide. She came to the play (which also touched on the topic), and it made her see things in a new way. It made her feel that she mattered and SHE could instigate her own changes. A year later, she had a job she liked, working her way to a job she loved; her own apartment; and was in the early stages of a relationship she felt was the first healthy one in a long time.

During that production in Australia, I hit a particularly low point, my own danger zone. I attended someone else’s production, which got me down another train of thought, and I would up staying up for a couple of days and writing a play about a suicidal woman stalked by a serial killer. Both want her dead, but who gets to control it? Which became one of my signature works.

When I hit a particularly bad patch, I remember that, and it helps get things into perspective.

I’m feeling like I have more perspective, and that I can make some positive decisions.

And please, please remember that you matter, your creativity matters, your contribution to the world matters.

Published in: on November 15, 2018 at 5:44 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Nov. 15, 2018: Passion, Creativity, and a Dark Night of the Soul  
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