Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

Here’s my essay, from the Anita Blake anthology.

Of course, I hope you buy the whole book and enjoy everyone’s essays, but my essay’s on offer for just a couple of days on the SmartPop web site.

I got some work done on the urban fantasy yesterday, and I also started adapting BEHIND THE MAN from a three-act interactive play to a two-act proscenium piece. I have to add a few more pages — it’s too short for traditional stage time, but it gives me a chance to add some scenes and some business that had to be cut from the original vision because of the production needs. BEHIND THE MAN, THE MATILDA MURDERS, and FEMME FATALE are all solidly constructed, fast-moving, and witty. There’s no reason they can’t have lives in traditional, small/regional venues.

So, I’m adapting it to two act format, prepping proposal packages (most theatres want a synopsis and the first ten pages), and then starting the theatre query process. I’ve researched some of my favorite small and regional theatres around the country, and found several I think would be a good match.

Speaking of the plays, the first royalty check for FEMME FATALE arrived, and I’m happy with it. I will miss those checks when the company closes up shop in the summer and moves to Florida! I hope the producer launches a company down there, but, we’ll see.

Struggled with the Derby wrap article, but got it to my editor. I’m not happy with it. It’s long on workmanship and short on sparkle.

It was so hot and sticky, I had to keep turning off the computer yesterday so it wouldn’t overheat. I put in the fans this morning. I’ve hesitated on the air conditioner, because Elsa seems to do better in humidity. Which really sucks, because the rest of us wilt in it.

Hopefully, the vet will have some information from the test results, and hopefully, it will be good.

In the meantime, back to the page. I’ve got to push through this section and get to the next bit. What i have to do is sit down and plot the whole rest of the novel. Flying blind isn’t working for me.

Must back and haul boxes to storage today, and get some groceries in.

Colin, the foiled car bomb reminded me of Glasgow, too, and the more information we get as the investigation progresses, the more disturbing it all is.

Devon

Published in: on May 4, 2010 at 6:22 am  Comments (5)  
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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010
Waxing Moon
Sunny and pleasant
Ostara

I adapted my tipsheet as an article. When it goes up, I’ll post the link. I also researched, wrote, and sent the questions for my next Biblio Paradise guest. That should be fun. I did some email admin, cleaning up accounts, catching up on old mail that fell through the cracks or needed follow-up, and making sure that things were properly entered into the Submission and Pitch Logs. I wrote a guest blog post as promised.

I had problems with a client trying to pull a manipulative power play. I dug in, although it stressed me out and pretty much ruined the afternoon’s work. I had a lousy session on POWER OF WORDS, I beat back the Doubt Demons with the Karma Fairy Wand (a prop from a show I co-wrote a few years ago — it’s out of foam, one end spiked, the other end with a star and glitter), and I did a dream analysis as a favor for an acquaintance of a colleague.

No wonder I’ve been feeling resistance on finishing the plays! My producer contacted me and told me that, after FEMME FATALE closes, she and her husband and closing up shop and moving to Florida. They hope to start another company there. If it happens, and she wants more from me, great. If not, that’s life. But somehow, somewhere, I knew, and that’s why I was struggling. At least she told me before I nearly killed myself trying to finish two plays for her next week while I’m teaching. It’s a big hit to my income as of next season — but it also gives me time to find something that hopefully pays better to replace them. I can put aside these partial plays for the moment, concentrate on other work, and even the drama, VINDICATION. I can still market the plays whose rights reverted back to me — and now I can market them in this area as well, since there won’t be any conflict of interest. In the short term, it’s a disappointment; in the long-term, it will all be good. After a few months, I can go back to the partials and write them with more freedom, since I”m not bound by the interactive and flexible staging elements I’ve had to use when writing for her.

I’m starting to get into CAPRICA and enjoy it more. I love the way they’ve built the world. Tamara and Sam are my favorite characters (and actors) in it. However, if Zoe actually killed the dog in last night’s episode, I would have turned it off permanently. I don’t care how many people are killed in a piece, but you start murdering pets and I’m gone. That’s my line, and once it’s crossed, that’s it for me.

I came up with some good ideas for POWER OF WORDS in the shower this morning, had a great morning’s work on the short story, and am eager to get back to the steampunk, since I can now put aside the stress of the plays.

Today, it’s about getting out some queries, working on POWER OF WORDS and the steampunk, and doing some more admin work. Already this morning, I wrote about 1500 words on the short story, tweaked an author bio for a friend, and answered some questions about the workshop that starts on Monday.

Today will be a GOOD day.

And happy Ostara!

Devon

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and beautiful

Sent off the assignment to Confidential Job #1. Worked on the first act of MRS. TILLER’S (DEADLY) STORYTIME, and realized, partway through, I had to change the identity of the victim, because there was no way the death of the first choice could be funny. Since this is comic noir mystery, it can be satirical, but it can’t be creepy. So I pulled back from creepy and made the adjustment. I didn’t finish the first act, as I’d hoped, but I made good progress on it.

In spite of some of the venting I did during the conference the past week, overall, I’m very proud of them. I pushed them very hard — I am a terribly hard taskmaster, and I don’t accept excuses for not getting the work done. You committed to the week — do the work. And, basically, we did a semester’s worth of work on a week. I didn’t let up on them at all. Those who took both workshops were a puddle on the floor by the end of it, but they had the bones of at least one short story/section of a novel AND a flash fiction piece by the end of it if they kept up with the work. Those who let go of the whole, “I see it this way” and “this is the way I always work” and just went for it learned a lot.

I’m re-reading Terry Brooks’s wonderful book on the writing life, SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS. It’s one of the best books out there on the writing life, and it’s a great inspiration when I feel like I’m not quite on track.

Took a walk on the beach at at the Boardwalk near the Amusement Park. It was beautiful out, and so many happy, playful dogs who were grateful to finally be outside after all the bad weather. It was really cute. A new restaurant will open on the Boardwalk next month, behind the ice rink — a tiki bar, no less. That should be interesting.

Figured out how I need to restructure the bridge chapters for ANGEL HUNT. As soon as I get the first two plays out to my producer, I can get back to that. I made some notes — it means restructuring the two chapters almost entirely into one, as I planned, and adding a few scenes. One scene, between Lianna and Zeke, where she initiates the contact instead of Zeke initiating contact, may have to be pushed later. I don’t want to get sucked back into ANGEL HUNT when I’m on deadline, because once I work on ANGEL HUNT, literally nothing else exists for the time I spend within the book. I simply don’t care if everything around me goes to hell in a hand basket. I care about the book and only the book. So I have to find a few days when I can give it my undivided attention with no distractions in order to work on it.

Started work on the next assignment for Confidential Job #1, which is far more complex and high profile than I expected. While I’m pleased they chose me and not someone else on their staff to do it, I also wish I wasn’t under such time pressure. But I’ll get it done, and I’m determined to do it well. Today and most of tomorrow will focus on it, with breaks to work on MRS. TILLER.

I do plan to take another walk on the beach this afternoon, taking advantage of the wonderful weather.

And ABC pulled their station from Cablevision customers — so no Oscars or Oscar viewing party for me! That’s okay — I need to work, and it’s not like we won’t hear about it on all the other channels all day tomorrow anyway.

Back to work.

Devon

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny (finally) and mild)

So, today is the last day I get ABC-TV. ABC and Cablevision are acting like two year olds, and ABC is pulling the plug on Cablevision customers. I don’t get to see the Oscars — ABC timed it purposely for this. The only show I’m sorry to miss is CASTLE. LOST is back to jerking around the audience again, I know how it’s going to end, and I just don’t care any more. I don’t watch that much TV anyway, so I’ll just watch other channels. I’m not willing to pay higher cable fees because ABC-Disney packed their toys and went home. Having worked on an ABC soap, back when I was first in the union, they nickel and dime and pay less than the other networks to their employees anyway. I mean, on an ABC soap, I earned the same for an 8-hour call what I earned on Broadway for a 4-hour call. The CBS soap paid much better, and so did the scripted NBC dramas. On the latter, I could earn in one day what I earned on Broadway in a week. Granted, it was a Very Long 16+ hour day and I was a babbling idiot by the end of it, but it paid well enough to be worth it.

Got some new Apps for the iPod: YOGA JOURNAL has an app with 15 classes, and I also got a Tibetan singing bowl app that’s really cool. Gives me more to play with when I travel.

The same student who disregarded earlier exercise specifications did the same in a subsequent exercise, and also did not rework the exercise I refused. And then argued with me when I called her on it. And I’m talking simple requirements, like number of characters required for the scene. That’s not misunderstanding the guidelines, that’s ignoring them. Granted, revised exercises have been set up as optional, but when I say what you’re submitted doesn’t fit the specifications, common sense dictates that you fix it before doing the exact same thing in another exercise. It reinforces my belief that previously written scenes are being posted instead of fresh material. So, for the next workshop, I’ll have to add more specifics in the welcome stating if I reject an exercise as not fitting the guidelines, it must be redone before moving on.

On the flip side, another student asked if she could skip an exercise, because she never intended to write anything like it. I said no, I wanted her to try it. She did, and, to her surprise, did a good job. Even if she chooses never to work in that genre, she at least knows she has the tools so she can, and if it leaks into anything else she tries, again, she’s developed a skill set.

I finally caught up on the humor exercises. I’m tired and cranky, and not feeling funny or even wry, but I think I got the basics. It was good to push myself. I’ve got the foundation for a couple of decent pieces that might turn into something down the road. The teacher’s given me great feedback, so I think, after a little more work, I can start sending some of them out into the world.

I finished the material for Confidential Job #1. I’m polishing it today, then sending it out, then starting on the next assignment for them. It’s got to go out before I leave Wednesday (it’s due Wednesday). I’d like to get it out on Monday, so I can go to the Greenwich LIbrary to invoice them through IE (they only accept invoices via IE). I’d like to get a few queries and submissions out this weekend, too.

So, today’s about Confidential Job #1 and getting back to MRS. TILLER. I’d like to write an act per day today, tomorrow, and Monday, then write the next play next week, then revise them and get them off to my producer by the 15th. Then I’ll go back to BLOOD SOUP and the three-hander and get them out in early April, with the sequel to TILL DEATH DO THEY PART out in May.

Of course, VALIDATION, the serious play, is tugging at me, so I’ll work on that in and around the others. That’s going to be shopped to an entirely different producer.

Seriously, if this headache doesn’t stop soon, I’ll have to cut off my own head just to feel better.

Back to the page.

Devon

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Day Before Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Yet another gray day. Ick.

A segment on yesterday’s CBS THE EARLY SHOW enraged me. They interviewed a Twinkie writing “by the pool” for $1/article and calling herself a “freelance writer”. Unfortunately, I can’t find the clip on the site and I want to review it and fact check before I go into full rant mode. I can say it was irresponsible on their part and a slap in the face to all of us who stand firm on earning a living wage BECAUSE WE ARE WORTH IT.

In spite of a migraine and the wonky space bar AND McAfee doing everything in its power to ruin my day, I managed to finish the first draft of FEMME FATALE. It’s much darker than I expected. I’m going to let it marinate for a bit while I work on the next play, and then go back and revise it.

Got an idea for a 3-character farce during the day. Jotted down some notes and it takes its place in the queue.

Splattered anchovies all over myself while cooking dinner. Cats didn’t mind; I did.

Hung out with friends; tried to finalize the plans for tomorrow.

Basically, it was a quiet, productive day. Much needed.

DAUGHTER OF BOSTON arrived. Of course, I should finish the book I’m being paid to review first, but I couldn’t resist dipping into it just a little.

Anxiety dream last night: I dreamed I couldn’t find Elsa, and had to leave, but wouldn’t leave until I found her, and, in the dream, got more and more frantic. She woke me up and was, of course, fine and right there. And then figured, since I was awake anyway, I should get up and feed her. It was 5:37 in the morning. Sigh. She’s very persistent.

Decent morning’s writing, still in longhand. My hand is sore from yesterday’s typing.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 22, 2009 at 7:08 am  Comments (6)  
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Okay, it’s the middle of April and there’s still frost on the car windows in the mornings. That’s just wrong!

Yesterday was another odd, interesting day. On the positive side, I spent most of the day working on the play, FEMME FATALE. Act I was hard – I don’t know why, but I had a terrible time with it. I realized I had to introduce the faux villain earlier for it to make sense – the actual villain’s intro still works. I planted a few red herrings, worked in a few surprises, but it took me all morning to finish the act. I started working on Act II in the afternoon, which is much easier. I have a clearer idea of what I want, the dialogue sparkles, the layers are mostly there, it’s chugging along quite nicely.

On the negative side, in the afternoon, I started having computer problems again. I wound up with seven computer crashes. SEVEN. Some of them were caused by McAfee. Some of them were simply because Microsoft and Dell suck.

On the odd/interesting side, I’d downloaded TweetDeck the day before. There are things I like about it and things I don’t. I still need to use the old version sometimes, especially first thing in the morning, when I’ve been off the computer all night; TweetDeck only allows me to scroll down for a finite period & I can’t catch up on everything I’ve missed. But it’s easier to send a message, shorten an URL, track incoming messages, all that. So, using both works.

However, I was Tweeted approximately every 14 seconds. That gets a little distracting. I had the Deck open most of the day, and it pings when a new message comes in. I can see where that can be a time suck. I didn’t mind during Act I, because it was such a struggle, but it got annoying during Act II. Today, I’ll go back to just checking in occasionally.

And, McAfee HATES TweetDeck. The McAfee kept hijacking the Deck and the entire computer and bringing it down. For awhile there, after all the Conficker updates, McAfee was behaving itself, but this week, it’s back to the same old crap. And, of course, neither their Customer Disservice Department nor the Executive Office can be bothered to even respond to the complaints. However, the BBB has, and I appreciate it. The complaints will continue (as will the invoices for lost work time) until it is resolved to my satisfaction.

I made a pitch to an Australian magazine. I’d come across it a few days ago and sent an introductory email. They responded, so I responded back, and we’ll see from there where it goes. I really like the magazine, the pay rate’s decent, and I’d like to be involved with them. We’ll see how it goes.

The sci-fi book surprised me yesterday, in a good way. I’m getting a better idea of the overall structure and plot for this particular novel. The subplots were clear before the plot, which is weird, but hey, one of the things I’ve tried to strengthen in my work over the past few months is the use of subplot. This is where scriptwriting is useful – you need to weave in at least one “B” storyline succinctly into a finite number of pages (especially for a television script). Learning how to do that and then apply it to a novel helps.

I realized this morning that I shut off my phone a few days ago when I went to the library and left it off. Oops.

Some errands, and it looks like a nice day. I think I can walk to all of them, so I will alternate writing sessions with errands and split up my day a bit.

I had a reasonably pleasant exchange with building management yesterday and the hot water was back a little before noon.

DAUGHTER OF BOSTON shipped yesterday. I can’t wait to receive it and read it!

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 16, 2009 at 6:09 am  Comments (3)  
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

I started work on the anthology story to replace the anthology story that didn’t fit the guidelines. I checked the website, and nearly had a fit at first – it looked like they’d changed the guidelines since last week for something due before April 1. Reading the site more closely, I realized that they now list calls for two very similar anthologies with dates very close together.

However, I’m not sure I want to participate. Something feels off. So I think I’ll pass. What a relief! If all of these characters call strongly to me, I will probably write their stories anyway at some point, but I just don’t feel that now is the right time for them. And something about this particular anthology set off warning bells, although I can’t put my finger on it.

I immediately felt better. It’s not under contract, so I’m not breaking any promises. Sometimes one focuses so much on getting work out there when one needs to prioritize what that work consists of.

I made solid progress on the first act of FEMME FATALE. It’s much darker than I expected, and I have to go back and brighten it a bit. This is supposed to be COMIC noir mystery, after all. I’m making it happen with five characters instead of six, which creates an interesting dynamic.

Ran some errands. Picked up a stack of books at a library sale – nothing like walking off with 8 books, some of them hardcovers, for only $2 to make you feel like a smart shopper! Read one of them, another Donna Leon, SUFFER THE SMALL CHILDREN, last night. I love her books. If you like well-crafted mysteries and/or are interested in contemporary Venice, these books are fabulous.

Got some work done on Chapter 13 of CRAVE THE HUNT this morning. I don’t want to get too far back into it, since I won’t be able to work on it all weekend. But I set up a few things that will be supported later. Just a few tight pages, but necessary. Now, I can move on to Chapter 14, with Jain and Wyatt in Iceland, while things start to spin out of control for Billy in Scotland.

I’m packed. I’ve got a couple of things to do this morning, a few bits to clear off and maybe get a bit done on FEMME FATALE. After lunch, I head to the site job. I’ll be offline probably until Monday. I may get back online at some point on Sunday, but I doubt I’ll post anything new until Monday.

In addition to the work I’m paid to do on site, I hope to have time to work on The Lucy Gothic a bit, sort out the dream from the other night into a viable outline, and figure out a couple of other pieces. Of course, I’m taking the yoga mat with me. And the assignment for Confidential Job #1.

I’ve sorted out the article in my head, so I may start it this morning and then polish it when I get back, so it can go off first thing Monday. It’s supposed to be a lovely weekend, so I hope to spend a little time outside as well.

McAfee, is, of course, out of control again this morning, so I don’t know how much I’ll actually get done. I loathe McAfee, Dell, and Microsoft. They’re all hateful, and, in my experience, committed to wringing as much money out of their customers as possible without providing the services for which they are paid.

Have a good one, everybody!

Devon

Published in: on March 27, 2009 at 6:38 am  Comments (9)  
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009
New Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I am ready for a new moon, baby! 😉

I was in “gastric distress” yesterday for most of the day, the aftermath of the previous evening. And, I was tired. So I wasn’t particularly productive. However, I found that radishes helped enormously. Unfortunately, I then baked cookies and ate raw dough, so we were back to square one. By dinnertime, the sight/smell of food didn’t make me want to curl up into a fetal position and wail. An improvement.

Managed to get the grocery shopping done – that rocked, I shopped very well on my budget, including the food I need to bring with me on the site job this weekend.

Several people asked me what it feels like to see my work on stage. There’s always a bit of strangeness to the process, because you’re seeing something that ran two-dimensionally in your head (even if you see actual people speak your words as you imagine them) and then it’s three dimensional in front of you. Also, because I was not part of the rehearsal process in this particular case (I often am part of it – I love being in the rehearsal room with actors), there’s a lot that’s out of my control, and you just have to roll with it, as far as beats, rhythm, choices, etc. Mostly, when it’s a good production, it feels good. Good actors and good direction will take it to heights you couldn’t imagine when you wrote it.

You also have to put aside your own ego and accept it for what it is – it’s live, and sometimes an actor will go up on a line or paraphrase or whatever. Mistakes happen. When they’ve simply miscast, that’s when it becomes an issue. When I’m more closely involved in the day-to-day process of a show, I try to get in on the casting, and in theatre, it’s far more likely to include the playwright than in film (the screenwriter is rarely involved in casting unless the screenwriter is also directing and/or producing). Most actors pull from the same pool of monologues, material that most of us on the other side of the table have heard a zillion times – and, after the 15th time you’ve heard it in the same day’s casting session, you’re ready to tear your hair out. One of the reasons that actors who use my monologues usually land a callback and the role is that the material is fresh and that alone makes the casting folks perk up. That and the fact that the monologues roll easily off the tongue. Anyway, when you know the material the actor performs, you know if the actor paraphrases. It’s a warning bell. If you bring him back for a cold reading (he’s handed pages from the script and has to read them with a reader provided in the casting session – I always pay an actual actor to sit and read in the casting sessions, it’s only fair to those auditioning). Some actors are awful at cold readings, some are great at them, and you have to hope that being good in a cold reading isn’t their best, or it will be a long road ahead. Because it’s a cold reading, the words won’t be spoken exactly as written. But, again, if there’s too much paraphrasing, the actor is not going to respect the script in the rehearsal or performance process, and my vote is “no.” Also, in a callback, you get a chance to work the actor in a scene and then give direction – if the actor can’t take direction, it’s a “no.”

Of course, there are some actors who do their best work in auditions and go steadily downhill during rehearsal, and then you have to make the decision to fire them.

As a writer, I love being in the rehearsal room with the actors (provided the director isn’t a control freak). Yes, the director is in charge, but there are some directors who don’t want the writer to talk to the actor AT ALL, which is ridiculous. It’s something the director, writer, and producer need to thrash out before starting rehearsals. What’s the protocol? Who says what? When I have a good relationship with the director, we discuss the day’s work ahead of time, go in to the rehearsal on the same page, and we can both interact easily without contradicting each other. We check in with each other, but we don’t defy each other. I think it makes everyone in the room uncomfortable when the writer and director debate a point in front of the actors, or, every time the writer has an idea, the writer pulls the director into the corner and there’s a lot of whispering. I find that very counterproductive. It’s one thing to turn to the director and say, “Hey, I have an idea! Wanna hear it?” And then the director either takes you out of the room or says, “yeah, sure” and you present it (best scenario, when there’s a real collaboration). Again, there has to be a lot of communication before the production starts. You want to provide a creative and stable environment in the rehearsal room so that the actors can fly and contribute to the creation process.

You still discuss notes ahead of time with the director, and the director’s the one who gives the notes (although I’ve been in a room where suddenly the director turned to me and said, “Do you have any comments?” – I prefer to discuss them with the director ahead of time, and, if it’s something controversial, I’ll say that’s what I want to do, but if it’s little tweaks, I’ll say them). Also, I’m big on cutting in rehearsal – when you have a three-dimensional actor, you can cut out the unnecessary words. So there are often sessions at the top of the rehearsal, after I’ve discussed it with the director, I’ll sit and give cuts. And usually terrify the actors, because the act of cutting often frightens them, although once they run it on its feet, they love it. Or, if a scene doesn’t work, I either rewrite it that night, or go off during the rehearsal for an hour, re-write it, hand it to the director. The director and I talk about it, I make some tweaks, the production stage manager runs a clean copy and makes copies for everyone in the company who needs it, and off we go.

I wasn’t involved with the day-to-day of this particular play, but we’d discussed it ahead of time and I was fine with it. I knew the circumstances, I knew the nomadic nature of the company, all of that. If the circumstances were different, I would have written into the contract provisions for casting and rehearsals. So, things that might have bothered me had I had a different relationship to the day-to-day running of the show simply weren’t an issue here. As I watched it, I saw a couple of places I would have cut a line here and there to even tighten the rhythms further (although it was hard to tell with two new people ad-libbing whenever they got insecure, which was a lot).

As a stage manager and production manager, I’ve worked with playwrights so in love with every syllable that they refuse to cut anything, and it’s detrimental to a production. You’ve got to be willing to cut anything you don’t need.

I had a strange dream last night. I dreamed I was reading a book. What was strange about it was that, in the dream, I was reading the actual text of the book, the story, and simultaneously seeing it unfurl behind my eyes the way one does when one reads. And I suddenly knew that the book hadn’t yet been written. So I wonder if I’m supposed to write it? Well, if so, take a number!

I have some client projects to work on today, the two anthology stories, the plays, and an article. I’ve also got some errands to run (in the rain) and I have to pack for the weekend’s site job.

Busy day; better get going.

Devon

Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 7:33 am  Comments (6)  
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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT (thank goodness, but it could mean today’s a rollercoaster)
Cloudy and cold

I worked the short play over and over and over again, because, especially in something that runs only ten minutes, every word has to lift more than its weight. And I sent it off. Either it fits the needs of this festival or it doesn’t. If it does, great, and you’ll get all the details to come see it. If not, well, it was a good exercise, I’ll look at it again in a few months, do some tweaks if necessary, and send it off somewhere else.

Received a contract from a potential employer, but can’t open the document, so I had to ask for a re-send. In typical Merc Ret fashion, I also tried a test run on the conference site, in preparation for next week – and couldn’t get in. So that had to be sorted out. It was, and I did some posting and spent far too much time between my poor photo editing program and BannerMaker Pro in order to create an avatar for the site.

Walked down the street to the small market to buy an onion. All I needed was a single onion, and I wasn’t about to skate across the ice to the car and drive to the next town for one onion.

Finished reading the MacLeish interview in WRITERS AT WORK. I disagree with him on many things, but I agree with him on his views on approaching the writing as work, with commitment and discipline. I also started the interview with Pablo Neruda. He quotes Robert Graves, at one point, about Graves’s belief that, in order to think, one needs to be around handmade objects (referring to the preference for first drafts in longhand versus the typewriter – this was in the 1970s). Honestly, when I’m not under the tightest of deadlines, I prefer to write the first draft in longhand. The slower pace of the hand, the connection to the page makes me more thoughtful as I write, and it needs less editing. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never actually read any of Neruda’s work, although I’ve heard of him ever since I started reading. That’s something that should be remedied.

Join me on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site for the February To-Do List.

I wanted something fun and frothy to read yesterday, so I pulled off TWICE OVER LIGHTLY, a book by Helen Hayes (yes, the actress) and Anita Loos (who was a marvelous, witty writer for print, theatre, and film, including GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES). I had high hopes. I’ve read the book before, years ago, when I first bought it. It was published in 1972, which means they did their adventuring through Manhattan around 1970. The Twin Towers weren’t finished yet, although the structure was up – that reference actually shook me. One would think that, eight years after 9/11, eyewitness accounts of its creation would no longer have such an impact. But it did. The Circle Line was still new. Even Port Authority was considered clean and wonderful. What surprised and saddened me was the amount of sexism and racism in the book, most of it casual. I’m not talking about it in terms of political correctness, I’m talking about it in human terms. Some things are the same – even back in the 1970s, New York was thinking in terms of bombs – in fact, the bombings were by homegrown groups who would now be labeled terrorists – they visit a site in Greenwich Village where only the shell of a bombed building sits. I’d forgotten about that. There was also an undercurrent of meanness in some of the writing that was meant to come off as witty repartee from writer to reader, and, for me, it didn’t work. Which is a shame, because I remember, as a teenager, looking up to Anita Loos and all she accomplished as a magazine writer, playwright, scenario writer, and screenwriter.

I don’t find cruelty funny – which is way a lot of what’s classified as humor, both past and present, doesn’t work for me. Witty repartee and a sharp comeback is one thing, but deliberate cruelty simply isn’t, in my opinion, funny.

I’m going to do a few pages on The Lucy Gothic, but it’s not going to be a big writing day.

As for the rest of today, I’m taking it off to do as I please, and enjoy flipping back and forth between the Super Bowl and the Puppy Bowl (with the Kitty half-time). Even though I’m not particularly a football fan, I enjoy the excitement and pleasure the game gives to so many.

Devon