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.

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Sat. June 11, 2016: The Delightfully Clever Film PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES

Saturday, June 11, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was busy – lots of processing/receiving/scheduling, et al.

Wrote on my lunch break, which was good, because it lessened the tension of the scenes that built up over the morning.

Home exhausted. Got a bit of writing done after dinner, but not much; had to do the baking for today’s program.

Watched PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES. I did not expect to like it at all, and I liked it A LOT. It was clever, it was funny, it was deeply rooted in the source material. I’d wanted to see it because Matt Smith and Lena Headey were in it, and I always like their work. But everyone was great – the details were so sharp and so fluid, and it was so well done! Lily James and Sam Riley were exceptional. Riley found a way to inhabit Darcy that was neither an imitation of Colin Firth’s interpretation nor a fight against it – he found his own way, he was rooted in what he was doing, and he WAS. The argument/fight scene between Lizzie and Darcy was both funny and brilliant—choreography, writing, execution. What a wonderful surprise!

Didn’t get much writing done this morning. I’m approaching a difficult sequence in INITIATE, where I’m based in some known mythology, but I’ve spun it out to fit the world I’ve built. It’s so bizarre to hold the whole series in my head, and create each scene knowing not only how it drives the specific volume, but the overall series arc.

I have a long day today – it wouldn’t be my Saturday “on”, but I’m covering, and there are two events, plus more books arrived after I’d done the processing yesterday.

Over the weekend, of course, I have to tackle mowing the meadow. But I’ll also be juggling the CHARISMA rewrites, the next sequence in the play set in 17th Century Italy, and this next sequence in INITIATE.

I’ve got an NMLC Board meeting Monday, and something scheduled for almost every night next week. Somehow, I have to hold back enough energy to stay on track with the writing.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on June 11, 2016 at 9:07 am  Comments Off on Sat. June 11, 2016: The Delightfully Clever Film PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES  
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010
Waning Moon
Sunny and warm

Woke up at four, but that was too early to get up. Went back to sleep, slept through the alarm, and was late going for the run. It was so light, and I felt so exposed. But I did my double circuit anyway. I prefer to go just as dawn breaks, experiencing the changeover from dark to morning. And there are fewer people and cars out, too. Although the guy running with his golden retriever on my last circuit was pretty funny. The dog. The guy was fine, but the dog, in typical golden retriever fashion, came over and was all, “You wanna run, right, right, right? Play? Play? Pet me, pet me, pet me? ‘Cause you wanna play, right, right, right?”

One of the struggles I have with POWER OF WORDS is that, no matter how strongly its story wants to be told, I don’t see where it will slot once it’s completed and polished. It’s going to be a damned hard sell, and I worry about spending time on it when there are other projects in the queue that are more likely to sell. Since this is how I make my living, I don’t just get to write whatever I feel like writing. I have to balance it with what brings in the money in a timely fashion. It’s finding a way to juggle the multiple projects without anything getting dropped that’s always the challenge, charting out the individual day to get it all in, and make sure there are enough short turn-around, quick-pay projects to keep the bills paid. If I try to ignore the project that’s calling loudest in order to work on something that’s ahead of it in line, the creativity freezes, the muse turns her back, and that’s it. NOTHING gets done. But unfinished projects drain creative energy, so putting something aside to work on something else is also counter-productive. They have to be worked on in tandem, and that becomes a challenge. Someday, I hope to get advances large enough to cover a few months’ bills and royalties coming in that are large enough and regular enough so I don’t have to worry about short-turn-around, quick-pay projects. If I want to take on something like that, I can. Frankly, working on a short story in the middle of a novel gives me energy, because I’ve got the momentum of completion on my side and I can funnel that back into the novel.

So I hear Matt Smith is awesome as the new Dr. Who. I loved David Tennant’s work — but then, I love most of his work. When we get the new DW episodes over here, I look forward to seeing what they do with it. Those of you in the UK, what do you think?

All kinds of technical difficulties on the workshop forum made the weekend particularly frustrating.

I need to take a breath this week and really think about whether or not I want to teach another workshop for this group again. I truly appreciate the students. I pushed them very hard, didn’t cut slack, and most of them rose to the challenge; but, overall, it has not been a positive experience, and cost me far too much in time, lost income, and creativity. Because the lost income influences the other two enormously, that’s been the biggest issue. What I was paid was out of proportion to the amount of time and energy necessary to make the workshop valuable. I’m not going to punish the students because of the situation and give them less than they signed up for because I made a mistake in the negotiation. Live and learn, right? Honestly, at this point, I’m ready to say I’m done with teaching ANYWHERE, but that’s not a rational decision, it’s coming out of a huge place of frustration and anger, much of which is my own fault. So, I’ll take a breath, try to negotiate some more safeguards, and make choices from there.

This past week in general was a test on several fronts. On two occasions, I chose to be gracious instead of confrontational. Not because I wanted to be a hypocrite, but because I felt erring on the side of politeness would get us all farther in the long run. I nearly bit my tongue bloody, but I got through it. Hopefully, the gamble will pay off.

I am just tired, tired, tired. It doesn’t matter how many hours I sleep, I’m still exhausted, because it’s about so much more than actual sleep.

I read Book 3 of CE Murphy’s Walker Papers series, COYOTE DREAMS. Again, I really liked it. Normally, the amount of narration she uses would drive me away from the books and make me cross my eyes and put it down. But she uses narration actively and specifically, even when there’s a lot of it. And, let’s face it, it’s the best way to communicate the shamanic journeys. She’s chosen the best and clearest way to tell her very interesting stories, and it works. I’m learning as much about craft as I am enjoying the books just to enjoy them. I also recommended them to the class. I want to track down books 2 & 4 now, and her other series.

The writing has not gone well these past two weeks, and that has to change. I’ve got deadlines coming up, and if the work I submit is crap, it won’t matter that I met the deadline. If I miss the deadline, I miss my shot. So, not only do I have to hit the deadline, it has to be GOOD.

On an up note, I got a request for a partial from an agent. I’m pleased, and I’d like to find a partner in the business aspect of all of this, but agents have to be so specialized nowadays that I despair on finding someone who will represent the whole package of the writing, not just a piece of it. I’m simply not going to stop writing in different genres. I’ll write in whatever genre serves a particular set of characters best. Nor do I want to stop writing plays — I love them too much. The theatre is my home, on many levels. I don’t want multiple agents — I want one person who believes in my work and my worth. That’s why, to this point, I’ve only worked with a lawyer. But I’ve got too much going on to deal with every nut and bolt myself — I need someone used to kicking in the doors and doing the negotiations so that I can get my work done.

Can I just say this is all way too much like dating until you find The One?

Because, really, I’d rather not be a Literary Polygamist (which is what I call having multiple agents). And, as in dating, there are plenty of agents with whom I interact regularly whom I really like and respect, and yet who I know are not the right match.

This week, I’ve got to deal with the scumbag landlords.

AND, my new play opens this week, which I kind of keep forgetting, because of everything else that comes up. I know, how could I possibly forget something like that? Just shows how much is going on. I hear it’s going well, although they had to cancel a preview because they “weren’t ready”, which concerns me. Yes, that’s common in production, to push back a preview, but it still always worries me.

Elsa felt well enough to play with the Easter eggs I brought back from Prague (those intricately decorated ones), so that’s a good sign. Of course, then I had to dig Easter eggs out from under all the furniture. But, if she’s getting better, it’s all worth it.

A batch of ideas hit me all at once, and I scribbled some notes. A few of them are, I think, short projects, and I can get them out relatively quickly. One of them is longer, and I’ve started a notebook for the research and the situations and the details I need to figure out before I can even start a Writer’s Rough, much less any pages. Gotta love Strand Books — they get something in that ties in with a current project, they get it out to me. I love them madly, and they are the Bookstore O’ My Dreams. I’m so lucky that I can spend time there, or, at the very least, order from them when I can’t get there in person!

Finished the material for Confidential Job #1. Will send off the notes today.

I am so looking forward to having tomorrow and Wednesday off!

I had a GREAT writing session this morning, set in Jain Lazarus’s world, but with a different set of characters (not Hillary, from the story that moved from San Antonio to Bath, ME, but really wants to be set in San Antonio). Obviously, I’m missing Jain’s world, but this book, although there’s a loose tie to the same organization, definitely stands on its own. The entire story came to me yesterday, after I overheard a remark spoken in an interview by an actor whose work I admire. I was going to write an article in response, supporting the information in the interview and going further, but It got me thinking. Instead of treating it in its original realm of non-fiction, why not push the possibilities into fiction? I did some research, Edwina started kicking my ass and telling me I damn well better pay attention, and the whole structure of the piece revealed itself. I made a lot of notes, and the first 1600 or so words flowed easily this morning.

I’ll go back to finish the work for Confidential Job #1 and then do some work on the novella. I’ve also got to finish prepping an interview that goes up on BIBLIO PARADISE tomorrow. And wind up the workshop.

It’s the first really good day of writing I’ve had in far too long. If I get everything done that I need to (which includes some errands), I’ll treat myself with another session on the Edwina piece.

Back to the page.

Devon