Mon. May 8, 2017: The Reading Groove Leads to the Writing Groove

Monday, May 8, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I gave myself the weekend off from writing, after revising another three chapters on THE FIX-IT GIRL. I’ve got just over 15K done on the second draft. I’m going along more slowly than I would like, but, at least, it’s going. It’s necessary, in order for the piece to be the best it can be.

Worked on outlines for the pseudo-Gothic and for the literary fiction novels.

But, for the most part, this weekend, I went on a reading marathon, reading only what I wanted to, nothing that I had to. I re-read TC Boyle’s EAST IS EAST. I forgot how brutal it was, especially the ending. I read the first Veronica Speedwell mystery by Deanna Rayburn, A CURIOUS BEGINNING, which I loved. That is quickly becoming one of my favorite series. Read two of Shelley Freydont’s Newport Gilded Age mysteries, A GILDED GRAVE and a GILDED CAGE. I like them, and I like her writing. They’re very different from Alyssa Maxwell’s mysteries set around the same time, also in Newport, and both series are well worth it.

On the non-fiction side, I read GHOSTING by Jennie Erdal, a memoir of her twenty plus years as a ghost writer for a particular individual. Interesting and somewhat depressing. I also re-read A BOOK AND A LOVE AFFAIR, by Helen Bevington. I’d read four of Bevington’s volumes of diaries/memoirs back in Rye. At some point, I bought a copy of this. I wanted to order the other three from the CLAMS libraries here and re-read them, too, but none of them are in the system, which is frustrating. I’ll have to go on Commonwealth Catalog, or, if that doesn’t work, go on ILL to get them.

Was berated by a so-called “publisher” who advertised for freelance contributors, but didn’t list rates. When I queried the rate, I was told that they don’t discuss money with new contributors; they want proof of “commitment” and “passion” first. Well, honey, I have a commitment and a passion for keeping a roof over my head, and I do so with my writing. If you aren’t up front about your rates, I can only assume that you either don’t pay at all, or you pay a pittance; professionals aren’t squeamish about stating what they pay. Cross that one off the list and move on. Another publication wants me to be a contributor –at 1/20th of my normal rate. I don’t think so. Next!

On a more positive note, I got a lovely letter from a company interested in one of my radio plays. The reader (who is also one of the company’s actors) loved the piece and will recommend it for next season. So, fingers crossed. There are still plenty of steps between interest and production, but it’s one of the nicest letters about my work I’ve ever received.

I have some pitches to write and send out this morning (to publications who pay appropriately and are open about their rates). Bills to pay — never fun, but always a relief when paid.

I hope I can get the mowing working again, because there’s grass that needs to be cut, and I can’t afford to buy a new mower if this one has bitten the dust permanently. I’ve gone back to using my Melita filter pot because my coffee pot died! A lawn mower is much more expensive.

Later on, I have to revise the next chapters of FIX-IT GIRL. WINNER TAKE ALL has had its percolation week; I’ll re-read that this afternoon and start my 20 pages-per-day revision on it tomorrow.

Working on an outline for an idea for a piece set in the 1890s that could be kind of fun, and hoping to write my way a bit into the literary fiction. I’m still trying to make some structural decisions on it; I hope that by writing my way into it for a bit, that will give me some answers.

I’d like to get back to NOT BY THE BOOK one of these days. I’m still on the fence about the radio adaptations — I’m not sure the time necessary to do the adaptation properly balances the money. Maybe it’s because I’m not excited enough about the material. Still debating.

Trying to get a few other things into motion, hoping they pay off (in every sense of the word) in the next few months.

Never a dull moment, which is a good thing.

May 1, 2017: Process and Planning

Monday, May 1, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Beltane
Rainy and cool

Busy weekend, but good one.

Finished the first draft of the screenplay WINNER TAKES ALL. It took me 19 days to write it from concept through first draft. It flowed well. I’ll have it marinate for about a week, and then hit revisions. The 6 pages/day schedule was good (although I usually averaged 10-13). I like the leaps of craft I’ve made in this. The storytelling is better, and that’s the point.

I had an idea for a new mystery on Friday and started playing with it. We’ll see if it goes anywhere. I wrote a few pages and it seemed distant. This morning, I woke up with the protagonist’s voice very strong in my head, and the realization it needs to be first person. However, I’m worried about yet another mystery of mine in the first person, although I feel Anna’s voice is quite distinct from either Sophie’s or Gin’s. We’ll see.

Disappointing response to a pitch that requested samples. Part of it was my misunderstanding the request, which is entirely on me; the rest of it is the person in charge not wanting/being able to evaluate a writing sample that wasn’t project specific. In my mind, if you look at a writer’s portfolio, you should be able to evaluate voice, style, craft, even if the sample wasn’t written specifically for you — that’s the point of a writing sample. To show breadth and depth, not to provide something for free to the publication. An editor should be able to read a piece and tell if the writer fits the publication. If said individual “can’t” because it’s not specific to that publication, the warning bells go off. It had potential to be a steady gig that could have been fun, but if the editor’s ability to evaluate is so narrow, I’m not a good fit for the publication. Next. I was going to try to fix the misunderstanding, but the more I consider it, the more my gut tells me that I’ve dodged (yet another) bullet.

Did some yard work, and planted some bee-friendly patches on the side of the house and in the stone circle. Arranged the deck, turning it into the Enchanted Garden for summer. There’s still a lot to do, but I’m out of shape, and only have the stamina to do a little bit every nice day. I’m going to have to start mowing this week.

Have an idea for a literary fiction/historical novel. Not sure if it will go anywhere. Again, the protagonist’s voice is strong, and quite different from the other voices. I will play with the ideas.

Made some research notes for FIX-IT GIRL — I start revisions on it today. I need to finish the Venice section on POWER OF WORDS, because I need to get those research books back, since I have oh-so-many other research books on the way out.

Rewatched THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR and liked it. I appreciate Matt Smith’s work more with some distance. When he first started, I missed David Tennant’s work so much, it was hard to connect to Matt Smith’s. They’re very different, but very good, and they were excellent together.

Watching the AGATHA RAISIN series. I am not a fan of the books, and the series doesn’t do it for me, either. There’s a mean-spiritedness in so much of it, and a lack of logic that thinks it’s funny, but just comes across as stupid. I like most of the actors, I love the locations, but I don’t like the tone.

Finished re-reading the Anthony Trollope biography. I’ve always admired his professional approach to his writing. He got up early every morning and wrote five pages, no matter what or where he was. 250 words per page, 1250 words a day. If he finished a novel within those five pages, he pulled out a fresh sheet of paper and started the next one. He got things done, without a lot of fuss and bother, or moaning.

The April wrap-up is on the GDR site, and May’s To Do list will be up tomorrow. The view on May looks very stressful from here — I hope I can get things sorted out to relieve some of the pressure. Otherwise, it will be a very difficult month.

I have some errands to run this morning, and then, this afternoon, I hope to dig back in to the writing. My To-Do list includes NOT BY THE BOOK, THE FIX-IT GIRL, POWER OF WORDS, “Seven of Swords”, and “Axe to Grind”, but I seriously doubt I can get work done on all of them today.

I’m worried I may have missed the window of opportunity for “Seven of Swords.” At the same time, I can’t send out a piece I know is sub-par. I have to try to fix it. I thought I had the key to fixing it, but it’s not quite working. I want to retain some of the ambiguity, but clean up the parts that are a hot mess. I haven’t hit that balance yet. I either over-explain or it’s overly ambiguous. I just have to keep at it until I get it right.

Like so many things.

Onward.