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!

Fri. March 31, 2017: Musing on Writing Dilemmas

Friday, March 31, 2017
Waxing Moon
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and foggy and cold

Morning was filled with errands. Errands always irritate me, because I feel like I should use the time to write, especially since morning is my prime writing time. But, around here, it makes so much more sense to get errands done early. So I write even EARLIER, and then run errands, and then come back and try to write some more.

Worked mostly on POWER OF WORDS. I got a research book I need on corporate espionage for NOT BY THE BOOK that I hope to devour this weekend, which will help me get back on track for that.

On POWER OF WORDS, I added some inserts — I’m honing the world building of the created world that the characters are filming.

I’m starting to wonder if it makes more sense to release the piece as a full-out serial, instead of as a serial novel. Chapters run between 20-30 pages. There’s no way, that I can see, of making it financially feasible. The contents of each book really need to be somewhere between $4.99 and $7.99 for it to make sense for readers. The mechanics of setting it up as a serial, releasing a chapter a week, seem overwhelming at the moment. For the shorter “sections” (what I’m calling the books, should they be so released), someone would pay for the whole thing, and then receive a chapter per week. At the end of each “book”, the individual would have the option to renew the subscription for the next one or not. One would hope it would build in popularity, but with people wanting to binge-watch and binge-stream and people bitching and moaning that they want the entire series finished before they read a first book — it may no longer be feasible.

There’s too much “I want it now!” rather than enjoying a piece and then looking forward to the next piece. People are greedy rather than grateful. It’s a gluttony of the spirit, not just of the flesh, as pretentious as that sounds.

While I love to binge read a whole series, there’s also something lovely about the anticipation. Although, I get just as frustrated as anyone else when the next book isn’t ready on time. I’m wrestling with that right now from one of my favorite series — her release date has changed several times over the years (instead of being consistent, which, to me, is important in a series). Her next book is going to be three or four months late. I’m sure she has a good reason. But, the greedy part of me DOESN’T CARE. I feel let down (and it’s more likely to be the fault of the publisher than the author, in this particular case, because she’s good about deadlines, et al).

In other words, I am not immune to this phenomenon.

Where does that leave POWER OF WORDS (or whatever I finally decide to call it)? I’m not sure. So why do I keep working on it, when it’s gotten so unwieldy and out of control?

Because it’s my creative utopia. The central characters know they’re creating something new and different. It’s difficult and exhausting, but the exhilaration exceeds the exhaustion. As they find the right creative home, and as they expand to the other creative possibilities, there are more conflicts (both in scheduling, creative approaches, and personal lives) and more opportunities.

There’s an ever-expanding cast of characters, although there is a core group on whose creativity things are focused. As I rewrite and hone sections, I spread out the balance a bit better. First drafting, certain sections tend to tilt one way or the other.

On a professional, financial, business sense, this project makes no sense at all. It is definitely a project of the heart, and I have to keep the more financially feasible projects on their burners, and keep all these plates spinning (while mixing metaphors) in order to have a career.

But there is SOMETHING here. I think I can find it, if I keep at it. I have no idea how long it will eventually be (too long). I have no idea into how many volumes I will eventually break it down. I do know that one of the central relationships, that I thought would be able to endure, won’t. Making it endure would be too much of a fairy tale, and not organic to the characters. They love each other, but there are certain drives in each of them that won’t allow them to stay together as romantic partners in an HEA, although for a good portion of the central part of the books, they will.

The balancing act, however, with this project and others, is difficult, and I often spend more of the workday on this than the other projects which also require attention.

I tried forcing myself to work on the other un-contracted (but with a better chance of moving into the “contracted” category) projects first and letting the work on POWER be my “reward”, but then all I wind up doing is staring at a blank page for something else, while my mind spins with what should be going on in POWER.

It could be considered a lack of discipline, or an over-abundance of passion. Take your pick.

However, when there’s a contracted, deadlined piece in the mix, no matter what I “want” to work on, the contracted, deadlined piece comes first. He who pays the most and has the tightest deadline gets the first attention. That’s what you have to do as a professional.

While inside, I’m wild to get back to POWER. This is a case where I need to trust in its process and led it lead me where it will. Meanwhile, I will also play with different business models for its eventual release, and see where the two converge. It’s not possible to use a traditional model — there’s no way it could keep what makes it special, and still be feasible for a traditional publisher to take a chance on it. It’s not even fair to ask/pitch/submit, because the necessary changes would destroy what I’m trying to do.

So I have to figure out something else. I don’t know if I’m clever enough to create a new model, but we will see what happens.

Sometimes, just to relieve some of the creative pressure, I adapt some of it to teleplay format, and that shows me places to tighten, cut, keep the text moving better. Although I can’t see this succeeding as a television show, either, due to the enormous cast. Still, a strong pilot would be useful in the portfolio as a writing sample. Not as something I’m actually trying to get done, but a sample.

I’ve been re-reading William Goldman’s ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE. I always learn something from that book. It also shows how much has changed in the business since the early 1980s — the advent of “reality” television, even some of the formatting techniques for a screenplay, the shortening of the screenplay, et al. Some things, such as endless, usually useless meetings, and the adage to “protect the star” in vehicles are the same, perhaps even more emphasized. But “No one really knows anything” is still true, as, I think, it is in any creative venture. You don’t know if something will hit until it hits, until it resonates with people, for whatever reason. And it may resonate for awhile, and then stop.

Great art — Shakespeare, Austen, the art of Michelangelo, the performances of Olivier — they sustain.

I wonder who will be considered our great artists? We certainly lack great statesmen.

At any rate, I have more errands to run today. We’re supposed to get yet another snowstorm tonight.

Tomorrow is April Fool’s Day. I loathe April Fool’s day. Far too many of the “jokes” come out of cruelty, not a joyful comedy.

Have a great weekend. I have a wrap-up over on the GDR site –– I did not live up to my own expectations as far as my “To Do” list there.

Onward.

Fri. March 24, 2017: Creative Productivity

Friday, March 24, 2017
Waning Moon
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

We’re supposed to get a mix of rain and wet snow today. Ick.

Yesterday was fairly productive. Got some admin done, did some promotion for the Topic Workbooks. I’ve set up a page on the Devon Ellington website that’s dedicated to the Topic Workbooks here, and I’ll keep adding information on all of them until it’s all there.

I revised about a third of a new Topic Workbook, one that I hope to release in April. I’m updating it and adding new material. I want to deepen what’s there and give some really detailed, useful information.

I also did just over 1K on NOT BY THE BOOK. I’m not really back into its groove yet, but I’m confident if I keep showing up at the page every day, I’ll get there. I’ve got just over 10K on this first draft, and I need another 44K. For the target market, I need to keep it around 55K, which , since I’m holding the book in my head and keeping it active and lean, I ought to be able to do.

I did some research on an upcoming section of POWER OF WORDS. I might have to write the section set in Venice ahead of where it comes in the order of the story, simply because the research materials I ordered are here NOW, and I need to use them while I have them. I rarely like writing out of order (although I’m doing so more than usual on INITIATE), but here, it’s a case of making the best use of the research materials from the library while I have them.

I’m also figuring out the fashion stuff I need for the rest of THE FIX-IT GIRL, I hope to dig back into that early in April. I’d like to finish the first draft sometime in June, let it percolate, then go into serious revisions over late summer, getting it out on submission in early fall.

Reading an excellent contest entry. Not quite as good as the one that got a perfect score (this has to be docked a couple of points for mis-use of words, grammar errors, and length — it could use about 75 pages cut), but it’s a strong contender as one of the finalists in its category. I’m enjoying it, but, because it’s so darned long, it’s putting me behind where I want to be in my entry pace.

I’m starting a promotion for the digital short comic mystery “”Plot Bunnies” under the Ava Dunne name, since it’s Easter-themed and Easter’s coming up. Seems like a good time to promote! It’s available digitally on Smashwords here.

I have paperwork and other admin to deal with this weekend, along with, I hope, a lot of writing, and maybe even getting some yard work done. I’m feeling emotionally exhausted and stressed by several things right now, so I’m counting on showing up at the page every day, my yoga and medication practices to keep me balanced and able to move forward and deal with what needs to be dealt with.

I have several choice words for other things going on in the world, but I’ll save them until after the weekend. I want to see how a few things play out first! 😉

Have a great weekend.

It would be so nice if we actually moved into spring by next week!

Published in: on March 24, 2017 at 9:04 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 24, 2017: Creative Productivity  
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Thurs. March 23, 2017: Processing (and Activating) Process

Thursday, March 23, 2017
Waning Moon
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy day yesterday. I had lots of admin work to do and situations to handle, so I did.

I wrote about six pages. That’s not bad, but since there were so many days when I wrote so much more each these last few months, it felt like I was behind.

Re-read and did some editing on several projects, and I’m getting back into NOT BY THE BOOK, which is good, because that needs to get back on track.

Worked on contest entries — reading another darn good one, which is always invigorating. Truly, each time I pick up a new entry, I want to fall in love with it. I WANT them to be good, I WANT them to succeed on every level. It’s not possible to have too many good books out there.

Working on promotions for the Topic Workbooks, mostly on social media. I’m trying timed promotions on specific outlets one at a time, to see which are the most successful. I’m sure “what works” will regularly change up!

Discouraged about a few things, and trying to keep my spirits up. I’m trying to gear up to work on some short stories, but not feeling inspired in that direction. If I’m not excited by a piece, there’s no way I can infuse it with enough passion to engage a reader, so I’ve put aside several potential short stories I planned to work on.

It’s important to get NOT BY THE BOOK back on track, because it’s a fun piece and I’ve also got a target market in my sights; same with SONGBOUND SISTERS (which will need more time and careful attention), and HEART THIEF.

While, of course, working on the never-ending POWER OF WORDS, which is how I blow off steam and keep steady. I’m figuring POWER OF WORDS (and the actual books it eventually breaks down into) needs about another three years before it’s ready for publication. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. It’s not going to be earning its keep for awhile — but I think, once it does get out there, it will intrigue people who are interested in the process of creating, and how it’s done collaboratively (and sometimes combatively), and how one goes off to create alone, and then brings it forward to meld it with other collaborators, to make it work better.

The never-ending first draft is the skeleton, and not active enough. As I rework sections (which often happens as I’m moving forward — it’s a process unlike any other I’ve ever used for a book or series), it gets more active, more invigorating, more engaging. The process about making process active is interesting.

Have to take my mom for a medical check, and then run some errands. This afternoon, I have a meeting a few towns over, and then, it’s back to the page.

I had to cancel my weekend plans, which is disappointing, but that’s life.

Onward, with pen in hand.

Published in: on March 23, 2017 at 9:19 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 23, 2017: Processing (and Activating) Process  
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Wed. March 1, 2017: Whuppity Scourry

Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Waxing Moon
Rainy and mild

Today is Whuppity Scourry — go through the house banging a pot with a wooden spoon to get out the stuck energy in preparation for spring!

It’s also Ash Wednesday, for those who mark it.

Check out my To Do list for March on the GDR site.

My hope is that the renewal of creativity I’ve felt with POWER OF WORDS will translate to the other projects that also need some attention. I’m going to try to spread the attention around a little bit more.

Yesterday, I wrote a lot on POWER. Yes, the series and the books in the series are in the process of a new name; but, for this massive first draft that encompasses all of them, I’m calling them by the original working title. I envision four books at first, with the potential for more. I want all four books to be ready to launch at once, so readers can move from one to the other, and read these years in these characters’ journeys together as a piece.

I also wrote a few pages on a new screenplay. A couple of characters started talking to me, and I wanted to make sure that I got down what they had to say. It’s a contemporary piece, an action/comedy with a bit of romance in it. It’s kind of fun.

Ran some errands. Tried to work at the library, but it was too noisy to get anything done. Having a migraine didn’t help.

Came home, wrote some more, did some edits, and then headed off to the monthly HobNob meeting at Kelly’s on Main in Hyannis. We had a good group — it was nice to see some regulars I hadn’t seen in a long time. There were some new people, there too, with interesting stories, but one or two of them kept trying to make the whole event about them personally, talking while others had the floor, interrupting, taking the conversation away from the quieter people back to themselves, where the point of the group is to support each other collaboratively. It could just be initial nerves at being part of a new group. We’ll see.

Woke up around 1 AM with a terrible pain in my foot. It was swollen and inflamed — no idea why. I got up, put witch hazel on, and took some Echinacea, which kicked in about 20 minutes later. The swelling went down and I could get back to sleep. It’s better this morning, but still have no idea what brought that on.

Today, I go back to NOT BY THE BOOK, and try to get back on track with that. Whereas POWER is a long term project — I’m figuring another year, maybe two before it can successfully launch and start earning its keep — NOT BY THE BOOK is an easier, more traditional sell. I need to hunker down, get the first draft done, put it aside for a few weeks, get revisions done, and get it off to my agent.

I’ve got a couple of plays to get out into the world; hopefully, I can do that today and didn’t miss the deadlines.

I have little to say about the speech to Congress last night. The fact that Swamp Thing didn’t froth at the mouth the way he usually does doesn’t make him “presidential.” Also, our arguments aren’t “trivial” — fighting for civil rights, basic human decency, and the Constitution is not “trivial.”

For those who don’t see the big deal about Kellyanne Conway lounging with her feet up on the couch in the Oval office — it’s not her dorm room, and she’s not there to hang out. She’s supposed to be a professional (of course, she’s not, but she pretends), and she’s in a place that deserves classy behavior (something of which she repeatedly proved incapable). The gesture, in itself, isn’t a “big deal” other than it is yet another demonstration of her disrespect of the Office and the Constitution. She shouldn’t be anywhere near that building.

Always, always, back to the page.

Published in: on March 1, 2017 at 10:13 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 1, 2017: Whuppity Scourry  
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Tues. Feb. 28, 2017: Creative Leaps

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was about a lot of writing, and not much else, although I had a few errands and a meeting.

Hop on over to the GDR site for the February wrap-up. I totaled how much I’ve written this month, and, between the work on POWER OF WORDS and the adaptations, it’s about 100K. Not bad at all.

I have to turn my focus, in March, more evenly to SONGBOUND SISTERS and to NOT BY THE BOOK, since they will be quicker sale than what POWER has evolved into, but, after several months of struggling creatively, I’m glad to be getting back on track.

I had a horrible migraine yesterday, which slowed me down. It was better when I woke up, but it’s coming back.

I wrote a few pages this morning on a contemporary action comedy screenplay. The characters started talking to me yesterday, and I just want to get enough down not to lose it.

Errands, writing, research, and HobNob tonight.

And then it’s March. Wow. This year’s speeding by. It will be ever so much better when we remove sociopaths from the administration.

Onward.

Published in: on February 28, 2017 at 10:13 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb. 28, 2017: Creative Leaps  
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Thurs. Feb. 16, 2017: Getting Back to the Creative Groove

Thursday, February 16, 2017
Waning Moon
Snowy and cold

Not much to stay about yesterday. I wrote, I studied, I researched.

I’m in negotiations for several interesting projects; we’ll see how they go. I think I’m going to withdraw from consideration for one — it’s intriguing, but when I weigh in all the factors, I don’t think we’re the right fit for each other. Rather than finding that out when we’re committed, I think I should trust my instincts.

I also have two plays to get out this week — they’re written and polished, but there’s an opportunity, and I’m going to see if these particular plays are right for it.

Happy that the nominee for Labor Secretary withdrew his nomination. We don’t need someone accused of domestic abuse who doesn’t believe in minimum wage heading the Department of Labor.

You want to look back at a great Labor Secretary? Research Frances Perkins. She witnessed the Triangle Factory Fire (those of you who know me know why that tragedy is so important to me), and then, later, when she became Labor Secretary, she actually cared about people who work for a living and implemented policies for them, not just for the employers who are more interested in personal profit than a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

All of these Republicans who are blocking fair and independent investigations into the Russia connections and other security breaches — after relentless investigations into Clinton THAT FOUND NOTHING BECAUSE THERE WAS NOTHING TO FIND — all they’re doing is raising suspicion that they’re in on the fix and that they, too, are treasonous and need to be investigated. A lot of people need to be removed from their jobs in DC, and a lot of indictments need to be handed down.

I have to work on writing a paper for Constitutional Law in the next few days. It’s short — 500-750 words. But it has to be not just good, but great.

Never short of challenges, which is a good thing.

At least I’m getting my creative groove back. I think I’m ready to tackle the next chapter of SONGBOUND SISTERS later today (after I do some work on WORDS) and maybe even can get back to NOT BY THE BOOK this weekend.

Fingers crossed.

Monday is a holiday, so maybe it’ll be quiet and I can get a lot done.

Published in: on February 16, 2017 at 9:54 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Feb. 16, 2017: Getting Back to the Creative Groove  
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Wed. Feb. 15, 2017: Of Words and Firemen

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Waning Moon
Rainy and cold

Yesterday was an odd day. Dump run in the morning, to get rid of the trash. Errands. Library.

Had a huge craving for fish and chips. My characters ate it in a recent scene, while they were having a production meeting, and suddenly, all I could think of was how badly I wanted fish and chips.

There’s a place just down the street from me, a chain restaurant I usually avoid, but they were close and reasonably price.

As I pull up and get out of the car, three fire trucks pull up. And the guys, my firemen, are busting my chops, because here we all are again. Together.

Turns out the power outages caused problems in the sprinkler system for the whole plaza, and they had to check each pressure point. The fire alarms were going off all over the place, including in the restaurant. They couldn’t cook, but people could stay. Most didn’t.

I hung out, nursing a beer, and about a half hour later, it was all settled, and I got my fish and chips. Worth the wait. The manager knocked 50% off, but I left the waitress a huge tip, because three tables had walked out on her, and she was having a rough day.

So it was all good.

But I didn’t get started on my writing day until nearly 3 PM, and only got 14 pages in. Which is still decent.

I figured, as I was doing my mid-month GDR evaluation, that I’ve written 177 pages so far this month, a little over 44K words. Even though it’s not on the projects I planned, it’s a good pace.

I’m rethinking some of the plot points of SONGBOUND SISTERS, and I hope to get back into that this weekend. I’m not quite sure how I can get back on track with NOT BY THE BOOK, but I’d like to, because it’s high energy, fun, and romantic, and I think readers would enjoy it.

I’m hoping to have a solid writing and research day today, and later, spend some time on Constitutional Law. I’ve also got some material to work on for FIX-IT GIRL.

Back to the page, which is my favorite place to be.

Published in: on February 15, 2017 at 10:11 am  Comments Off on Wed. Feb. 15, 2017: Of Words and Firemen  
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Sat. Feb. 11, 2017: Peeking Out from the Snowbank

Saturday, February 11, 2017
Last Day of Full Moon
Day after Lunar Eclipse
Snowy and cold

I don’t often post on a Saturday; let’s see if I can today, or if nothing’s working.

We had a blizzard on Thursday. Basically, the Cape shut down. The Governor told people to stay home. Although it didn’t hit the Cape until around noon, people paid attention — schools, libraries, lots of businesses closed. Most things were closed yesterday, although it wasn’t as bad as predicted.

During the blizzard, I looked out of the window, and there was something flapping in one of the snow banks. It looked like a person in distress. I bundled up and dashed out, wondering if I was going to have to call my lovely firemen. But it wasn’t a person — it was my neighbor’s flag, whose line had snapped. The way it landed in the snow bank looked like a body (it’s a big flag). I managed to grab it before it ever technically hit the ground (it was above the ground on the snow bank) and took it in. I hung it in the bathroom to let it dry off, then folded it up and gave it back yesterday, when he came over to help us dig out the bottom of the driveway. He was glad to get it back — and glad it hadn’t touched the ground.

I wrote, although not on what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m back working on what was originally called POWER OF WORDS. Now that I know what I want to do with it, once it’s all done and goes through a massive editing process, I’m inspired again. Yesterday, I finished what will eventually be Book 2 of the series and started Book 3. Yesterday I got about 40 pages done. I’m first-drafting right now, so it’s fast. It’s the basic plot and character drives, and then, in the second draft, I fill it out and deepen it. I’d already done the second draft for book 1 and part of book 2. The tandem drafting is a little odd, but every project requires its own process.

I studied Constitutional Law. It’s depressing to see how the GOP have turned into such oathbreakers. The level of corruption in the current administration is appalling. The courts are our last line of defense, and the administration is bound and determined to shred them, too. But I’m learning a lot in the class. My professor is terrific, and the course is very well done. My professor is much more optimistic than I am, that’s for sure!

I’ve been researching the Italian Renaissance, which is such a pleasure. It’s also relevant — in terms of the development of humanism and the need for art. It’s interesting how the wealthy of that time were determined to make the world better, not just for themselves, but for everyone, becoming patrons of the arts to create things that were both beautiful and challenging. The present-day rich only want to take more from themselves and hurt others. They want to shut down beauty, challenge, and, especially, education.

That is why art is always political and always important. It can also be entertaining and a relief from the strife of daily life, but, for it to connect to people, there’s got to be something meaningful there. Otherwise, it’s just empty calories. Sometimes one needs that as a stress relief valve, but genuine art always challenges and always makes the world better, even when it’s uncomfortable.

I’ve got a stack of books out of the various libraries in the network, and I’ve also checked out “Great Courses” in both art and in history. The lectures are interesting, although dense, and it’s interesting to see how connected everything is. Both professors are committed to context, and that is so important.

In other words, I’m making good use of my snowed-in time!

I have to venture out today to return some books, send off some material, and run some errands. We had more snow overnight — which means more shoveling — and expect another storm tomorrow into Monday, which could wipe out most of Monday.

Last year, the wood lasted all winter. I’m already running low. Might have to restock the wood next week.

Back to the page — things are rolling with this piece, and I want to keep up the momentum. SONGBOUND SISTERS also is starting to pull again, as is NOT BY THE BOOK, so I’m hoping I can give them some attention soon, too.

However, the bulk of the day and tomorrow morning must be about studying for the Constitutional Law quiz. If I can even take it, depending on the power situation.

Power issues all week have put me behind in getting stuff out.

At least I can write in longhand by candlelight, if necessary! 😉

Published in: on February 11, 2017 at 10:46 am  Comments Off on Sat. Feb. 11, 2017: Peeking Out from the Snowbank  
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Tues. Jan. 17, 2017: Reading, Figuring, Negotiation

Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise and take a look at “The Joy of Re-Reading.” Maybe it will inspire you to re-read some of your favorites.

Well, the weekend wasn’t as relaxing or productive as I hoped.

There was news happening, such as Swamp Thing Elect’s attack on John Lewis — right before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Typical of a self-centered Swamp Thing to attack someone vital to this country’s civil rights.

Not to mention that Biloxi, MS is now calling it “Great Americans Day”. That is not the name of the holiday, and you don’t get to change its name just because you’re a racist representing other racists.

Ringling Brothers’ Circus is closing after 146 years. Feld blames animal rights activists, and I call bullslhit on that. There are circuses without animal acts (such as Big Apple) who are doing fine without them. As someone who pitched to them several years ago to be part of their marketing department, I had a plan that would have brought them into the 21st Century while still paying tribute to their history and the history of “circus.” (Regular readers know I have several circus-themed projects in development — I have a good handle on the history). They weren’t interested. To their credit, they also didn’t start hiring third-rate reality celebutards to get them more attention. Am I saying that if they’d hired me they’d still be viable? No, because I’m sure other people pitched even better plans. But they weren’t willing to take big enough risks.

Sent off some material to a theatre that seems interested in working with me. We’ll see.

Did some more research for a pitch to a different theatre. I’d like to do the particular project I’ve been researching, so I sent off the pitch. Fingers crossed. It would mean six months of immersion in a period of time I’m interested in, but don’t know much about except peripherally. It would mean six months of immersion in beauty (as well as drama), which I could use right now.

I also re-thought another long-term project, which means one of my deadlines that was at the end of this month is now at the beginning of March, and then the next at the beginning of June, and so forth, every 12 weeks for the next two years, instead of every 6 weeks for a year. That will allow each of those pieces to be more in depth and more polished.

Because the point of honing one’s craft is that every piece one writes is better than the earlier ones.

Read Gail Godwin’s PUBLISHING: A MEMOIR, and recommended it to a friend who’s been going through a rough time. I didn’t realize how many publishers and editors she had — although she found the right agent early on and they stuck by each other. The right agent is so important. And difficult to find.

I used to read a lot of Godwin’s work, and really liked it. Until the religion overshadowed things like plot, character, and story, and then she lost me. I haven’t read the last few books, but I think I will try them. I also want to find the early ones, the ones I liked so much, that are packed away somewhere downstairs, and re-read them.

I don’t trust people who say they never re-read. A good book gives you fresh gifts every time you enter it. The “don’t have time” argument is just another bullshit excuse. There’s no such thing as “having” time for anything. You make the time for things that matter, and you ignore the rest.

Playing with a few things writing-wise, but it wasn’t anywhere near the productive writing weekend I needed it to be. I’m way, way behind where I need to be and frustrated.

I managed to write 14 pages on a piece on Saturday, but it wasn’t one of the pieces I should be working on. However, it was important in its own way, and I learned from it.

Read Miles Morland’s MILES AWAY: A WALK ACROSS FRANCE, which was fun.

There was an absolutely amazing event on Sunday at the New York Public Library, hosted by PEN America. It was the Louder Together Event, for writers to express the importance of protecting and fighting for free speech. There were people I knew there; people I didn’t know before but admired; new-to-me people who I now know. Writers of all kinds: novelists, poets, short story writers, essayists, translators, journalists (I’m talking REAL journalists who work stories, not news readers), and, most importantly to me, perhaps: playwrights. Because live theatre is a huge arena of change, because it is experiential rather than theoretical. Heroines of mine such as Anna Devere Smith and Eve Ensler spoke. I have always felt a great honor and a great responsibility as a member of PEN — it was strengthened on Sunday.

I was disappointed not to see any familiar faces from where I now live — Cape Cod. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and think they went to the sister rally held in Boston. However, I seriously doubt it. May I be proven wrong!

Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr., day, and a holiday. I took it as such. A contract offer came through — why it was sent to me instead of to my agent puzzles me. Negotiations will start this week, and it will be settled one way or the other.

I have a lot of lost ground to make up on both NOT BY THE BOOK and SONGBOUND SISTERS, although I’m feeling more confident in SONGBOUND SISTERS. Its natural rhythm is a bit slower than I’m used to; since it is yet to be contracted, I have the luxury of working with the book’s natural rhythm.

I started reading ITALIAN WAYS: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo by Tim Parks. He says something that resonates even more strongly in 2017 than in 2013, when the book was written: “In America the lack of investment in train travel speaks eloquently of a country always ready to appear righteous but pathologically averse to surrendering car and plane for a more eco-friendly, community-conscious form of mobility.” (p. viii, Preface).

Today, in addition to catching up on writing, I have a Very Long List of administrative tasks. Gotta keep up with them or they become overwhelming.

If the contract negotiations end positively later this week or early next week, there will be press releases to get out. Ditto if the play set in the Renaissance I pitched is commissioned. So, I have to be ready to jump on either of those instantly, should they come to pass.

I’m also working on a new marketing plan for the Topic Workbooks.

It’s always feast or famine; if even a handful of the opportunism work out, I’m entering a feast cycle, which will be good. I’ll need to step up to the plate and deliver. And adjust the uncontracted work so it still moves forward (because today’s uncontracted work is tomorrow’s contracted work) without sabotaging the contracted work.

It’s all about protecting the work while keeping one’s commitments, and knowing how to shift. And being able to work on more than one thing. Very few writers have the luxury any more, of being able to work on one project at a time. They should honor their agents and editors when they do.

Have a great week!

Wed. Jan. 11, 2017: Steady Writing

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Day Before Full Moon
Sunny and mild

I finally had a better writing day yesterday, although I wouldn’t call it a “good” one. I did a good day’s work on SONGBOUND SISTERS, though. I’m getting back into the protagonist’s soul. It’s slow, but it’s getting there.

I’m still struggling with NOT BY THE BOOK. I did some research for a potential play I’m debating on whether or not I should do; I’m interested, but I’m a little commitment-shy right now. I looked at what I’d written so far on the new pilot, and it’s solid. I have to decide the direction I want for the rest of it. Looked back at another pilot I wrote last year; wondering if it needs a little tweaking.

So it was a decent, if not a brilliant, writing day.

Kept track of the Senate hearings on Jeff Sessions, who is I believe is unfit to be Attorney General. My elected officials know how I feel; all I can do is trust them to do the right thing. Some of the others involved in the decision? Not so much.

Started re-watching THE WEST WING last night, because I’ll take a fictional president who has intelligence, heart, courage, and ethics over a reality celebutard any day.

On a creative level, I love ensemble casts. Shows that are nothing more than a “vehicle” for one particular actor usually bore me. Especially if the show is named for the actor in the lead role, who is playing a character with the same name. Ick. To me, it shows a lack of imagination.

I’m not even going to comment on the latest disgusting rumors surrounding Swamp Thing Elect. But if there’s actual treason at the root of it, something better be done about it, instead of this constant shrugging and turning the other way on the part of Congress and law enforcement.

The genuine President’s Farewell Address last night was a reminder of what we’re losing: a man with dignity, ethics, intelligent, heart, and class. Have I agreed with all his positions over the past eight years? Absolutely not. In fact, I’ve been frustrated because I felt he was too conciliatory most of the time. But he was always someone I could respect.

Errands to run today, trying to get things done between the storms. Last night’s rain got rid of a good portion of the snow pack. We have more rain coming. It’s supposed to be in the 50s today and tomorrow — far too warm for this time of year. I have a feeling there will be a lot of illness with the fluctuating temperatures.

I’m hoping for another good day on SONGBOUND SISTERS, and maybe NOT BY THE BOOK. I’m way behind on the latter.

The first batch of books for contest judging arrived last night. I have to sort them (I’m doing mystery, fantasy, and novella again), and then get down to it. It’s much better to have them come in batches, because then I can give each one more attention.

I’m reading THINGS I LEARNED WHILE TALKING TO MYSELF by Alan Alda. What a terrific book, especially in these dark times. He reminds me of issues I’d forgotten in the 80s and 90s, things that upset us then. I wish there were young actors coming up with the commitment to both art and justice that people like Alan Alda and Meryl Streep have. Emma Watson is really the only one I can think of.

Off to try and have a creative, productive, positive day.

Published in: on January 11, 2017 at 11:56 am  Comments Off on Wed. Jan. 11, 2017: Steady Writing  
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Mon. Jan. 9, 2017: Blizzard, Alan Alda, Meryl Streep & The Power of Art

Monday, January 9, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Direct
Sunny and cold

Mercury is finally direct, thank goodness! This was a tough one.

It started snowing on Friday; I’d planned ahead, so I didn’t go out. We got about 4-6 inches of heavy, wet snow on Friday, which was a pain in the butt to shovel, but knowing another storm was on the way, we did it anyway.

Saturday, the snow started in the morning, and it snowed until well into the evening. Blizzard conditions, white-outs, instructions to stay off the road.

I had to give up my reading slot in the MOBY DICK MARATHON at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, because I couldn’t get there. Disappointing, but not worth risking my life over.

Instead, I stayed home and read and we took down the holiday decorations. It took most of the day Friday and most of the day Saturday. We’d taken in the outdoor decorations on Thursday, before the first storm hit.

I still have to fluff bows before packing them, switch out and wash/iron/fold fabric. I shouldn’t be surprised it took several days to take down — after all, it took a month to put up!

I had a lousy writing week. Last week started like gangbusters, with about half the short story due at the end of the month, and getting back to NOT BY THE BOOK, and some other stuff. But every word, later in the week, was a fight, and the ones I wrestled, I don’t like very much.

I’m hoping for a better writing week this week. I NEED a better writing week this week.

It’s tough, because I have no energy. At all.

I had some promising news from my agent over the weekend, which is nice, but nothing is settled until contracts are signed, so I’m not jumping up and down yet. If negotiations work out, great; if not, on to the next.

I also have to do some negotiating on a potential freelance job. We’ll see how that works. Again, until there’s a signed contract and the deposit clears, I’m not counting on anything.

I’ve been re-watching all of M*A*S*H lately, and I’m reminded how wonderful Alan Alda’s work is. I remember, during my theatre days, when he was the ultimate intelligent woman’s sex symbol: in addition to looks, he has intelligence, wit, humor, compassion, and courage. Then, I was lucky to work with him on some benefits, and he’s even better in person — interested and engaged, and KIND. His wife, Arlene, is amazing, too, and they’re wonderful together. He continues to be active, writing and advocating for science. We need more Alan Alda and less reality celebutard.

Adding to that, was Meryl Streep’s beautiful speech last night at the Golden Globes. As usual, she was intelligent, thoughtful, precise, insightful, and truthful.

Narcissistic Sociopath is having a hissy fit, but there again, you see the contrast between a genuine talent and a reality celebutard.

And hey, if the Duck Dynasty Dickheads have a right to spout politics — and they do, no matter how much I might disagree with them — then intelligent, talented artists have that same right.

For those who say actors/artists don’t have the right to speak about politics — ALL art is political. Some is overt, some is not. Great art makes the audience better, even for a few moments. Great art inspires us not to stand by and let people stomp on us. The incoming fascist regime is counting on squashing our spirit, by taking away everything that makes it possible to have a dignified life. We have to fight that, and one of the most effective ways so to do is through art.

You want to write narrow-minded formula pieces just to make money? Go ahead. That is your right. Even in those, though, isn’t there a happy ending? Doesn’t LOVE triumph over scheming and hate? That’s a form of political discourse. The most popular YA books in recent years — Hunger Games, Testing, et al — are political. Harry Potter is about overcoming a dictator. In Nora Roberts’s books, love and good overcome evil and destruction. That is political. Instead of just burrowing into these books (and we all need that escape), it’s time to take the principles that touch our souls in art and bring them forward into life. It is time for US to overcome those who want to break our spirits, take away love and hope, and control every aspect of OUR lives for THEIR profit.

We need to start creating the reality we want, both in our art, and then take it forward to turn it into our reality. It is time to defeat those who would crush our hearts, so they can line their own pockets.

Published in: on January 9, 2017 at 11:01 am  Comments Off on Mon. Jan. 9, 2017: Blizzard, Alan Alda, Meryl Streep & The Power of Art  
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Tues. Jan. 3, 2017: Writing and Books

Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Ninth Day of Christmas
Rainy and cool

If you want to see my To Do List for January, visit the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site here.

I also have an article up about my favorite “Comfort Books” — books I re-read regularly — up on A Biblio Paradise here.

Yesterday, I wrote nearly 2300 words on the 5K short story that’s due at the end of the month, so that’s well on its way. It’s surprising me in a good way; I just hope it’s what they want.

I also wrote an article (the one on comfort books), and started rehearsing for this weekend’s MOBY DICK marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

I should have worked on NOT BY THE BOOK, but I didn’t. I’ll have to make up for that today.

I read a book called SKIN LIKE SILVER by Chris Nickson, and I really liked it. I definitely want to read more of his work. I ordered a bunch from the library. Once I read some more, I will decide which ones I’ll buy. Important to support living writers and all that.

I have more admin work to do today, and then it’s back to the page — both the short story, and NOT BY THE BOOK. Then, it’s more rehearsal for MOBY DICK.

Started a new training regimen of strength & cardio work to go along with the yoga and mediation. Yesterday was strength training. The circuit was challenging without being disheartening, and I felt much better once I did it. Today is cardio — I’m supposed to walk in this bad weather. Too bad for me, right? The only way I’m going to achieve what I want and need to is to get back in shape and stay healthy.

So the House of Representatives wants to gut the Congressional Ethics Panel, does it? The House GOP isn’t even pretending to have any ethics any more. Then it’s up to the few ethical Congress members left to hire private investigators and prosecute the unethical Congressional members through the court. Don’t make our entire system a mockery.

As of January 20, our government WILL be a mockery.

Onward.

Devon

Published in: on January 3, 2017 at 10:33 am  Comments Off on Tues. Jan. 3, 2017: Writing and Books  
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