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. Nov. 13, 2015: Sad News and Rebel 2 Writing

Friday, Nov. 13, 2015
Waxing Moon
Sunny and windy

Busy day yesterday. We had computer issues at work, which put us in a muddle all day, and limited what we could do. We did a lot of work on the tree.

When the computers finally came back up, we were short-handed, I was trying to catch up, and it was a challenge. But we got a good bit done. I couldn’t get anything catalogued, though; even though the circ computers worked, I couldn’t get Sierra up on my computer to receive books. I couldn’t commandeer a circ computer, because it was busy and they needed them.

I got some sad news in the afternoon – a colleague at the Marine Life Center unexpectedly passed away overnight. He’d just been at the Board meeting on Monday. It’s a shock. We’re all reeling. He was committed, dedicated, funny, and kind, and will be very, very missed.

I was exhausted by the time I got home. Dinner, reading. A novel that was highly recommended, but didn’t do it for me, and another one where the heroine is supposed to be goofy and sweet, but is, in reality, an idiot. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a mystery, so I couldn’t even hope she’d be the next victim.

Overslept this morning, but managed a thousand words, on an outline for the piece that’s been niggling at me. Still, I wrote, so it’s going into Nano total as “Rebel 2”.

Weary and sad. The weekend will be busy, hopefully good busy. I need to run errands and do yard work and write.

I’m getting into my Nano Week 3 head a little early, where I resent anything that takes time from my writing. Oh, wait, I usually do that anyway. 😉

Have a great weekend.

Devon

Published in: on November 13, 2015 at 9:40 am  Comments (1)  
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Nano Prep: Oct. 28: Outline or Blank Page?

There are two traps here: one is to over-outline and use that as an excuse to not get down to writing. The other is to blank page (also called “pantsing”, an expression, which, to me, means “lazy amateur who doesn’t care”) and then not know what to do next.

There is nothing wrong with either technique, unless it prevents you from doing the actual writing.

If you have tight deadlines or juggle multiple projects, I suggest that you outline. That way, you can sit down each day and have an idea of the day’s work, thereby meeting your quota. When you Blank Page, it’s very easy to sit down, be overtired or unfocused, say “I can’t”, get up and walk away. Do that for a few days, and you’ve blown your goal.

You’re not in competition with any one except yourself, but unfinished projects drain creative energy. In fact, I teach a class called “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects”. Make the commitment to do this, fulfill the commitment during the month, go past it if you need to in order to finish, and THEN decide where you’ll take it.

Remember, you are under no obligation to ever publish this. So don’t look at it and think, “it sucks, no one will ever want it.” If you choose to keep working on future drafts, it will have a life beyond the first one. If you choose to stick it in a drawer and use what you learned on a different project, that’s fine. It’s your CHOICE. But make sure it’s a CHOICE and not a cop-out by not finishing.

If you decide to outline, it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. I do what I call a “Writer’s Rough”, which is basically a scene list with a sentence or two of description or dialogue about each scene. When I sit down to write, I fill it in. For me, that is the best of both worlds – I’ve got a framework, but I’ve got room to explore.

There’s also nothing wrong with keeping it all in your head, if you’re good at that. Sometimes, writing it down dilutes the creative pressure, and you need to build it in order to have the momentum to carry you through.

Don’t be afraid of tangents – the focus of a first draft is words on paper. You cut and shape in the next draft(s).

Published in: on October 28, 2015 at 5:00 am  Comments Off on Nano Prep: Oct. 28: Outline or Blank Page?  
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Thurs. Jan. 10: Time Wasted Due to Coporate BS

Thursday, January 10, 2013
Dark Moon
Sunny and cold

I actually had a positive experience with Comcast yesterday. I’ve bashed them frequently over the years here, especially with problems in the Philadelphia area, but yesterday, we were able to have positive contact, intelligent discussion, and able to SOLVE the problem in a way that benefit both of us. In other words, actual customer service and negotiation. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised. I thought it was worth a public mention, and I thanked the person who was so helpful.

Verizon, on the other hand — well, we won’t even get started there! They really need to be slapped around by the regulators, because they treat their customers like dog poo. I have a neighbor who works for them, and they pretty much treat their employees just as badly, but someone needs to get them in line. Hopefully, I can wrap everything up with them soon and not have to deal with them anymore. You’d think, after being a customer for a dozen years, they’d give a damn. But what do you expect from a company that funds crazy, right-wing political candidates and finds it acceptable for employees to THROW THE PHONE at customers who come in to ask questions?

Still feeling under the weather. Boston has declared a health emergency, due to the flu. I’m one of the small percentage allergic to the flu shot, so I can’t get it — the shot could kill me. The flu itself just makes me feel like crap for a week.

Worked with students, wrote a pitch, got some writing done, but not enough. Never enough, which is discouraging. I had to waste far too much time and energy fighting with Verizon when I should have been doing income-earning work.

Spent some time on school work, too. I’m trying to catch up in the Astronomy class — the sheer volume of lectures each week makes it tough. There are fewer lectures in the Galaxies and Cosmology class, which started this week, so I’m in pretty good shape on that. The math is far beyond me, but the quizzes on theory I’m doing quite well in (even though I don’t have the science background).

Struggling to finish the proposal for my agent. I haven’t hit quite the right tone for the sample. The proposal itself is very strong, but the writing that the proposal is ABOUT has to sing, and there’s a metaphorical frog in its throat right now.

Also, on MURDER’S INTOLERANCE, I’m over 80 pages in and have to stop and write the outline. I’m getting unfocused.

Have to put some material together for a meeting this afternoon at the Marine Life Center. Also have to remember to take my camera to do some promo shots of Townsend and Major Margaret. MM is healthy enough to be released this weekend!

It looks like the only class I’m teaching in February is going to be a three-day seminar called “The Graveyard of Unfinished Projects.” More details to follow. Should be fun.

So much to do, hard to focus. But, somehow, it will all get done.

Devon

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Tues. July 31, 2012: It’s Cooling Off . . .and not Even August

Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

It’s gosh-darned chilly here at night and in the mornings!

Yesterday, I got some work done, but not enough (familiar refrain lately). I’m finishing up an article today, and knocking out a couple of blog posts. I had a chat with the client for whom I’m ghostwriting, and the client is thrilled with the work we’re doing, which is nice.

Finished chapter-by-chapter outline for first book of trilogy and it vanished into the ether somewhere. That’ll teach me to skip printing out a day’s work!

Making plans with the students who are coming in for the conference, getting my materials together, finishing up what I have to do for the auction on the civic activity I’ll be missing, cutting back the faded blooms on the hostas, cutting back other things that are already dying back early.

Tessa is obsessed with Twitter now, because new tweets make noise and pop up!

Costume Imp got home safely. I picked up a new shower curtain liner and some more DampRid for the basement (because mine is all used up).

I’ve got two books to critique this week, so I need to get going, and am distracted by a fascinating novel called THE DEATH INSTINCT by Jed Rubenfeld, set against a terrorist attack/bombing on Wall Street in 1920.

It’s cooler, so the cats are all Very Busy.

My yoga article is up here. Check it out.

There are still a few openings in the three month intensive Tarot for Writers. Well, I was going to promote it, but I can’t get the link on the Savvy site. Sigh.

Back to work — at least I have more energy today and feel there’s a chance of some genuine creativity!

Devon

Published in: on July 31, 2012 at 9:01 am  Comments (2)  
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sleeting and cold

Quick check-in. I have to go to Trader Joe’s, Staples, and Mrs. Green’s as soon as they open. We weren’t supposed to get the sleet storm until tonight, according to the weather folk — so, of course, it’s started NOW.

Good day yesterday — got the laundry done, got a submission out, checked in with another editor who likes my work, revised a short story. Didn’t get any work done on the play, unfortunately. It’s still taking form. I’ve got the basic structure figured out, and it’s only got three characters, but the comedy isn’t yet flowing naturally.

Working on an outline of a piece based on the dream — whose intensity still sits with me — only I’m working the outline kind of backwards. I’ve got the ending; I’ve got the opening. And I’m working back from the ending to get to the opening, at least in the outline. Characters for another piece are also talking, a piece that started percolating last week. So it’s a little noisy internally right now. Fortunately, with the long weekend, there’s a decent amount of external quiet.

I may be working out of town towards the end of the upcoming week — I was asked on Friday night, supposed to get all the details by Saturday morning, and still don’t have them, but I’m getting the week sorted as though I’m going. If I go, then there won’t be a crunch at the end of the week; if I don’t, I have a bigger swatch of unscheduled time to devote to the writing. Either way, it’s a positive.

And I have clean clothes for the trip! 😉

Back to the page to get a little bit done before I head out on errands, then hunker down inside for the rest of the day.

Devon

Published in: on January 17, 2010 at 8:52 am  Comments (2)  
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Thursday, December 10, 2009


Elsa is in the doghouse, metaphorically speaking

Thursday, December 10
Waning Moon
Uranus Direct (oh, so many dates were given for this one)
Sunny and COLD!

I never got around to posting yesterday, but you had the Tuesday update, so I didn’t feel too guilty.

I’m really tired of feeling nauseous all the time. Wish the stomach bug would clear up. I still have an appetite — it’s just the consequences kind of suck. I’m a little better today, and hope that means I’m on the road to feeling like myself again.

Got the assignment for Confidential Job #1 finished and out the door. Phew! Now, I have to drive to the public library in Greenwich today so I can invoice them, since they only take invoices over IE, and I can’t run IE on this machine without major re-arranging. So I send the invoice from the library computer, which runs IE. Yippy Skippy.

Got quite a bit of writing done, although it always feels like it isn’t enough. I let the pressure build on the Apocalypse story so it would flow well this morning. There’s more of a fractured fairy tale feel to it than anything else. I suppose one could argue that the Apocalypse isn’t funny, but one has to find humor in tragedy, and sometimes, you get the point across better. That’s what I hope to pull off, anyway.

I got an idea for a thoroughbred-oriented tale for another anthology percolating, too. I was going to pass on that deadline (again, the end of the month), but this morning, the idea started going, so . . .if I can clear the Apocalypse tale off the desk by next week, I’ll go for it.

Did a lot of work on the outline I mentioned the other day. However, I don’t know how I want it to end. I may have to write my way into it in order to find out.

Had a good writing session this morning.

To answer some of the comments on the Tuesday update, no, telling the characters to shut up doesn’t work. But at least I feel like I’m being active, rather than just letting them muck around inside my head too much. I’m trying to prioritize projects for 2010,while still leaving room for the unexpected — the unexpected opportunities, for me, tend to be the ones that pay off both in financial and creative terms, so I don’t want to lock myself in to too much.

Sent out nearly two dozen pitches/queries for the plays whose rights are now coming available. They don’t do any good just sitting in the drawer — they need to get out in the world and earn their keep.

Perhaps I’ve simply gotten addicted to royalties! 😉

Longing for the days when there were so many magazines publishing fiction one could make a living at it,

Read some of the reviews for ALICE. I’m surprised that a lot of the reviewers think TIN MAN was better; I think ALICE was. It was tighter, more focused, and the chemistry between Scorsone and Potts worked really well, in my opinion. In particular, Potts is completely present and committed in every moment of every shot he’s in, whether the focus is on him or not, and that brings out more from those around him. You can tell he was trained in the theatre, and it serves him well.

Well, that’s what reviews are, aren’t they? Opinions. I’ve certainly read some reviews on my work and wondered what they hell they watched/read, because it had nothing to do with what I believe I wrote!

On the agenda for today: writing, baking, a few errands, working to get the decorations up. I feel a little better, but sill not great.

Annoyed at FedEx — they delivered a package, but not only did they contact a neighbor instead of me, they left the cardboard package out in the pouring rain. I am NOT amused, and I have let them know my lack of amusement.

Very tired. Was woken up by a disturbance at 3:30 this morning, and, after that, the cats didn’t let me go back to sleep. Ah, to live in a place where the doors actually close, and the little darlings can be locked out! All the doors in the apartment have so many coats of paint on them that only the front door actually shuts. In general, the cats were difficult anyway — running around squeaking all day, Elsa got out and had to be chased down the stairs before she could get out of the building (she was so proud of her adventure; she boasted to the others for the rest of the day); they were all rummaging all the time. It was like having a trio of two year olds in the full throes of “The Terrible Twos.”

Speaking of which, as I wrote the above, Elsa jumped on a table (where she shouldn’t) and knocked over a candleholder, breaking off the head of the figure and smashing the glass insert. That cat is in the doghouse today!

I cleaned it all up, I’m posting this, and then it’s back to the page. I put the figure’s head back on and fixed another ceramic piece Elsa knocked over and injured a few days ago. Sigh.

Devon

PS. I heard a shriek from the kitchen. Iris investigated the repaired ceramic figures. She’d someone managed to knock the head off one figure again, and it was stuck to her tail with the wet glue. I had to chase her through the apartment to get it off before the glue dried and repair the figure again and well, you can imagine . . .

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool
IMG_0500

The Adelphi Hotel, Saratoga Springs, NY.

I was in the Query Zone yesterday afternoon. I think I got out about a dozen queries. Hopefully, they all find their mark. I also got some pitches out to potential clients.

Got some client projects cleared off, have another to finish today. Got a lot of work done on the assignment for Confidential Job #1. I think I can finish it and submit it (and the invoice) by Monday. I’d like to get the check before I leave for Prague.

Spoke to my currency exchange person. Hard to get Czech kronas because they’re about to switch to Euros, only haven’t set a date. Some businesses take euros, some kronas. Oy.

With our luck and Merc retrograde, we’ll arrive on the Big Day. Whatever, right?

Sent off some photos I promised. Have to burn a CD of the Botanical Garden photos for my friend — I didn’t realize I took so many!
IMG_0530
Racetrack in the morning.

Dealt with some nasty emails from people who tried to censor my Twitters — the usual crap — attacking my values, my lifestyle, tarot, the desire for health care reform, etc. If you don’t like what I say and how I say it, unfollow me, don’t read the blog, whatever. If you want to enter into actual discussion, fine, but don’t demand that I change what I write to please you, because I’m not gonna. Even if you offered money — which, of course, you don’t, because you’re a bully, not an entrepreneur, who tries to force his own twisted beliefs on everyone else. I will not be censored.

Let me put it this way — if one of us is set for Eternal Damnation, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be YOU.

And if and when I’m up before a Big Kahuna of the Afterlife who wants some answers about my choices, I’ll give ‘em.

IMG_0503
National Museum of Dance, Saratoga Springs, NY

Had a great morning’s work on AMENDS. Slid right back into it as though I’d never been away from it, which is great. I know the premise and the ending, but I haven’t outlined this one. I’m discovering it as I go, which is a nice switch.

I find I don’t need outlines as much when I’m working with material set in contemporary, more realistic settings than in created worlds or historical fiction. Good to know. Of course, the next time around, I’ll probably have to outline. I needed an outline for the Helena Francis mystery — which still needs a title, by the way. But I don’t need an outline for this one. As I’ve often said, every novel is a bit like reinventing the wheel.

Paid some bills. Now I have to run some errands and then make sure the car is on higher ground before Tropical Storm Danny hits. We’re on flood watch. Again.

So I guess I’ll boil some water while I’m at it, just in case. We have plenty of supplies. I just have to get some more coffee!

Back to work.

Devon
IMG_0542
The grounds of the Gideon Putnam Hotel, Saratoga Springs, NY