Thurs. Nov. 15, 2018: Passion, Creativity, and a Dark Night of the Soul

Thursday, November 15, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde

 

It never ceases to amaze me how often people criticize others in order to feel more powerful themselves, or because they feel threatened by others’ talents.

That’s kind of the entire GOP platform at this point — dehumanize anyone they deem “different.” Only give basic human rights to those who do as they’re told.

Which is a conversation for another day, but an ongoing one we need to have here in the U.S.

Again, if you haven’t read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, do so now.

I’ve been called “difficult” often over the years because I walk my talk, I’m passionate about my work, and I’m ruthless about protecting my creative time. I’ve grown to embrace the “difficult” moniker because these are things I’m not willing to change about myself. The toll is too high. And, frankly, I’m old enough not to really give a damn what most people think.

I recently came across some old journals, as I’m cleaning out the basement. That younger me who was in so much pain with this man or that man in my life tried to demean or demoralize me for being creative and passionate, telling me I was “too much” or had to “tone it down.” Or the one who said I “didn’t give him enough to complain about” and he felt left out when his friends bitched about their wives and girlfriends.

They were all kicked to the curb, and it was the right decision. I stayed true to my core. Had I stayed with any of them, I would be miserable now.

Hell, I might not even be alive.

There have been some wonderful men in my life, even though we’ve chosen not to stay together forever. I tend to have long stretches of being single rather than going from relationship to relationship, because I learned the hard way that it’s lonelier to be with the wrong person that to be alone.

I’ve been told I’m not a “real” writer (even though that’s how I earn my living) because I write more than one thing, because I do marketing writing as well as novels and plays and radio drama, because I write in genre instead of “literary” fiction, because I’m not published by one of the Big Five, because I worked in theatre, because I worked in a library — it just goes on and on and on.

You know what? Go ahead and define me. I’ll just keep working and cash my checks.

Am I rich? No. But I’m building the life and career I want.

Am I famous? No, and with luck and careful strategy, I never will be. I spent many years working with actors and directors, many of them big names. I don’t want what comes with fame.

A little more financial security that buys me freedom? Yeah. I’ll take it. Fame? No. Let those who like it have it.

When I was nervous about reading at the festival in Provincetown this year, an actor friend in the UK (for whom I’ve written) asked, “Do you trust the work?”

I said, “Yes.”

He said, “Then get out of the way and let the work breathe. Trust the work.”

He was right, and it was a good experience. It’s also one of the reasons he’s getting to be a known name (and no, I’m not going to name drop here).

None of that created the dark night of the soul of this title.

As many of you know, it’s been a tough year for me. A year of loss. Deaths in the family, deaths of friends, of my elderly cat, health issues in the family, other pressures, a tight contract schedule, intense political activism (which has brought me into contact and sometimes friendship with people I might never have crossed paths with otherwise). I have had a lot of demands on me physically, emotionally, creatively.

There have also been plenty of friends, family members, colleagues, and others in my life who have needed my love and support, and to whom I gave and continue to give it willingly. They are not a burden. They are my heart.

In October, I received a disappointment that shook my confidence in my work. Had nothing to do with publication or production, and I’m not going into detail about it publicly. But it devastated me, and I’m still trying to recover and get my creative feet back under me. Intellectually, I should be able to shrug and move on; emotionally, it’s much more difficult.

Trying to create in this political atmosphere is, anyway, like swimming through molasses. Says the chick who never learned how to swim. But you get the idea.

It’s necessary, and yes, I do take the position that all art is political. Even art that claims not to be supports the status quo.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be light and entertaining and fun.

Chuck Wendig had a terrific thread on Twitter the other day about the importance of creating, of “making stuff” — both because we as artists need to do so, and the world needs it.

I re-read HEART SNATCHER, the draft of the ass-kicking novel I wrote several years ago. It’s filled with rage I felt as a woman at unchecked violence against women and people who can’t defend themselves. It’s urban fantasy, not “literary” and its protagonist is charged with fulfilling justice, especially when the law moves away from justice. The writing was praised, but I was told to tone it down, that “women’s rage makes readers uncomfortable.” I put it away, but I think its time has come.

I started Women Write Change to create a place where women can develop creative projects sparked by what’s going on in the world. That’s been a great help.

Also, ideas come in batches. I got ideas for several new short stories. I’m doing research and will write a play about gun violence and possible solutions. That was inspired by a conversation I had with an actress friend on Twitter, when we felt so angry and helpless after Stoneman Douglas. I started PREVENTATIVE MEASURES, a novel that also deals with gun violence (among other things) when I was so uncomfortable about a gun vendor being part of that awful shopping/liquor event I did with my client a few weeks back.

Veterans’ Day weekend brought a batch of new/old ideas and inspirations, growing out of conversations with vets I’ve worked with on various projects over the years, vets I’ve gotten to know on social media as we fight to save our country in our various ways, and my experience working/talking/caring over the years.

Mixed into that is the book on the tightest deadline just isn’t working. I can’t fill it with the effervescence it needs right now. Everything is forced. The darker piece due next is doing better, but this one, I’m struggling, and I feel like I’m failing — myself, my editor, my readers.

I’m looking at some huge, huge changes in my life in the coming year (and I’m sure there will be plenty of unplanned stuff). I’m trying to prepare for those on every level.

And I’m tired of being tired, angry, and sad all the time — again, that’s mostly due to the state of the country.

Tuesday going into Wednesday was pretty rocky for me, and Tuesday night was basically a Dark Night of the Soul. I’ve had these periodically, and some are darker than others. I’ve learned how to create a container of ritual for these now, which supports the experience and makes it a tool to get somewhere instead of a downward spiral into the abyss.

Once the emotion was burned away (and there was plenty of that), there was clarity. I won’t go so far as to say “peace” — but there was clarity on several things. I’m now taking steps to make some adjustments.

There was also a fresh surge of creative energy, which is always welcome, and when I make the adjustments I need to make, I will be able to shape it into something that might help someone else get through a bad day.

One of the comments that mattered most to me about my work came in a letter that arrived about a year after one of my plays was produced in Australia. The writer had come to the play at a particularly low point in her life. Low enough to consider suicide. She came to the play (which also touched on the topic), and it made her see things in a new way. It made her feel that she mattered and SHE could instigate her own changes. A year later, she had a job she liked, working her way to a job she loved; her own apartment; and was in the early stages of a relationship she felt was the first healthy one in a long time.

During that production in Australia, I hit a particularly low point, my own danger zone. I attended someone else’s production, which got me down another train of thought, and I would up staying up for a couple of days and writing a play about a suicidal woman stalked by a serial killer. Both want her dead, but who gets to control it? Which became one of my signature works.

When I hit a particularly bad patch, I remember that, and it helps get things into perspective.

I’m feeling like I have more perspective, and that I can make some positive decisions.

And please, please remember that you matter, your creativity matters, your contribution to the world matters.

Published in: on November 15, 2018 at 5:44 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Nov. 15, 2018: Passion, Creativity, and a Dark Night of the Soul  
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Tues. Nov. 13, 2018: Digging into the Inspiration

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde

Busy, intense weekend.

Friday, we went to the Cahoon Museum, to see the fiber arts exhibit. It was astonishing. My favorite pieces were the enormous scorpion made out of black lace doilies — it took up about a third of the floor space in the exhibit room — and a quilt called “Security Blanket” filled with charms and shells and artifacts from different belief systems.

There was also an amazing painting in the upstairs gallery by a painter named Jim Dowd. When you first look at it, it’s dark blue. As you continue to look at it, you start seeing the moonlight, the outline of the houses, the light in the windows. It was another piece I kept going back to. It filled me with delight and discovery.

Picked up some stuff at the Patisserie in Falmouth (still my favorite bakery), stocked up on cat food and cat litter, ran some other errands.

Saturday was a stormy, rainy day, but Sunday was lovely, and I got to see the matinee of a musical in which a former colleague had a role. Overall, the production was well-directed, well-designed, well-choreographed, well music-directed. My colleague and one of the young actresses were terrific vocally. But the score was beyond some of the other performers. It was better than most musical productions I’ve seen here, but still, there were too many sharps and flats and missed notes. I enjoyed it, though, and the overall sense was of a good production. The audience stood, although I did not. I have only stood at curtain call for three productions in my life, three productions where I felt blown away. I rarely stand, and this “standing for everything” dilutes the meaning of a standing ovation.

Worked on DAVY JONES DHARMA over the weekend, but still am not where I need to be. I’d hoped to have this draft done this weekend. I’m having trouble keeping the tone light enough.

Read an historical mystery where the period detail was exquisite, but the characters and plot didn’t quite do it. Read Michael Ovitz’s memoir, which was interesting. CAA was in its heydey as I transitioned from off-Broadway to Broadway. I liked (and continue to respect) the long-term career planning the agents did (rather than take the money and run). What I didn’t and don’t like is them putting together packages of all their personnel — writer, director, actors. Taking over that part of the creative process. I don’t think you can get the best person for each slot that way. Of course, one could argue that film and television production isn’t about the “best” but the most bankable. Sometimes they align, and sometimes they don’t. Anyway, it was interesting to learn that perspective. That will feed into the GAMBIT COLONY series.

I also wonder who his ghostwriter was. The tone sounds familiar.

Did some work on PREVENTATIVE MEASURES. Got over a point where I’d stalled. I’m writing some bits I’ll probably cut, but I need to write them so I have the information. Then I can cut it and seed in what’s necessary for the reader.

The Narcissistic Sociopath was an embarrassment on a global scale, yet again. Flying to France (on our $$$), then refusing to go to the Armistice Ceremony because it was raining. Berating California for its wildfires and refusing aid. Skipping the dinner of World leaders (or maybe he was 2 1/2 hours late — I’ve heard conflicting stories). Wagging his tail like an eager puppy when Putin arrived. Refusing to walk down the Champs Elysee with 70 other world leaders. He’s a disgrace, on every level.

The California wildfires are heartbreaking. The loss of life, home — not just belongings, but home. At least one actor with whom I’m acquainted has lost his home, and I’m worried about others. The animals dying, people burned alive in their cars as they try to flee.

And the federal government doing NOTHING. The Red Cross telling them there’s nothing coming in. Well, Red Cross, you have a HUGE bank account — crack it open and help these people. The Red Cross has been a major disappointment in my lifetime. The one time I personally needed help from them, where there was a fire in my apartment building and I was traumatized and frightened and didn’t know what to do? They were useless.

Re-connected with veterans, with Armistice Day and Veterans Day and all these important events this weekend. I’ve worked with a variety of them on different projects — theatre pieces, writing, listening to them. Every year, I’m saddened to see how many move from the Veterans’ Day list (alive) to the Memorial Day list (dead).

But from it, I got seeds of inspiration for several pieces. I’m taking notes, and will try to steal time here and there to work on them, while the inspiration burns hot. There’s so much pain going on, and in this percolation process, when I write from the inside out, it can be overwhelming. Actor friends tease me about “method writing.”

The process isn’t easy, but always worth it. Right now, I have no one to buffer between me and the world, which makes it more difficult. I have to build my own shells, my own walls, to protect myself and my process.

I really need a break, time off from the world, for a few days, but I can’t see how I’m going to get it.

I’d hoped to go on an adventure to Boston later this week, but I don’t think it will work. And, honestly, I don’t think I have the emotional energy for it right now.

Worked with my client onsite yesterday, and will do so today.

Focusing on DHARMA, since that deadline is looming, and on the pieces inspired this weekend, which fall into the category of development I can do in the Women Write Change project.

I got a little bit of yard work done, trying to get the leaves done and bagged. I’m getting a little sick of the neighbors, with their constant leaf blowing. But they only blow the leaves into piles, which then blow into my yard, and I’m the one who ends up having to rake and bag everyone’s leaves. Bag what you blow, people!

I’m tired, tired on so many levels.

But I need to get back to the page. That always helps.

Published in: on November 13, 2018 at 6:16 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 13, 2018: Digging into the Inspiration  
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Fri. Nov.9, 2018: Digging in for a Writing Weekend

Friday, November 9, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and lovely

Got a little bit of work done on PREVENTATIVE MEASURES this morning, but will have to dig back in to DAVY JONES DHARMA this afternoon.

30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS is up as a free book via Draft2Digital on various channels here. However, Amazon refuses to distribute it. That’s life.

But I am committed to keeping this book as a free download, since Nano is free.

Hopefully, when I switch over the Topic Workbooks, it won’t be a problem on Amazon. It probably will.

Overslept this morning, but it’s so cute to see Tessa and Lucy making friends. They are really getting along. Lucy loves having Tessa as her big sister cat, and being with a cat who doesn’t beat up on her.

Busy weekend coming up. I’m on my way to the Cahoon Museum to see their fiber art exhibit, then headed to Falmouth to PetCo to stock up on cat food and cat litter. Since I don’t want to shop at PetSmart anymore, because of their demand that customers supply phone numbers (and I don’t give out my phone number), I have to find a new place to buy cat food.

This afternoon, I’m going to try to get some raking in before the rain begins. The maple tree is naked, which means I’ll only have to rake around it once.

I want to concentrate on DAVY JONES DHARMA today and tomorrow (which is supposed to be a rainy, icky day. On Sunday, I’m going to see a friend in a show in Falmouth.

I’m hoping for a writing-centric, focused weekend.

Have a good one!

 

Published in: on November 9, 2018 at 9:49 am  Comments Off on Fri. Nov.9, 2018: Digging in for a Writing Weekend  
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Tues. Nov. 6, 2018: A Vital Election Day

Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Dark Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and mild
Election Day

This is the most important election of my lifetime. I’m worried. Worried, worried, worried.

Hop on over to the GDR site. I have the October wrap-up, November To-Do List, and the questions for 2019 up. The approach to the 2019 questions is different, hoping to create a different perspective on it, rather than running the same treadmill every year.

It was a busy weekend.

Had a lot of fun meeting a new colleague for coffee on Friday at Washashore Bakery in Mashpee. It was great to have a real, far-ranging conversation, and I hope we get to do it again.

The weekend’s work on DAVY JONES DHARMA was frustrating. I’m struggling, and I don’t have time to struggle, because I’m on deadline.

I worked on the revision of HEART SNATCHER, as part of the Women Write Change project. I restored the prologue. Fine, plenty of people don’t like prologues. In this case, the prologue works for the book. So I put it back in. Fixed it, but put it back in. Revised the first four chapters. The draft is tightening, which is a good thing. I’d cut a little too much before, and had to put some back, but I fixed and tightened it.

Did some work on the Gambit Colony website materials. As soon as BALTHAZAAR goes into galleys, I have to get the final drafts of those books ready to go to the editor.

The cover ideas we talked through for the Justice by Harpy trilogy are really cool. I’m excited to see the drafts.

Managed to get the outdoor decorations in before the bad weather, but it was Saturday before I got the indoor decorations down, everything packed away, and switched out the curtains. No more spiderweb curtains. We have the heavy winter drapes up in the living room. But, in my office, we hung the vintage 1940 green striped curtains that used to hang in the bedroom in Rye. They look good.

Damn neighbors spent most of the weekend leaf blowing. It was ridiculous on Saturday — it was raining and we had high winds. But heaven forbid the one dumbass at the top of the street not leafblow for at least an hour EVERY DAY. Granted, she does it so she can wander up and down the street spying on everyone.

And Sunday morning, the machines started before 9 AM. They should be banned on Sundays. Completely. And people should only be allowed to leaf blow for 20 minutes once a week.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, and it’s lovely. It’s such a great treat every month.

Drafting PREVENTATIVE MEASURES, the new novel dealing with gun violence and the opiod crisis, is going well. By Sunday lunchtime, I had 27 pages in longhand.

Read the book for review, and worked on the review, which went out yesterday.

The shooting at the yoga center in Tallahassee was upsetting. Both because it was a yoga studio, and because I lived in Tallahassee my first year of college. I need to somehow weave my response into PREVENTATIVE MEASURES.

Yesterday, worked with a client, did some grocery shopping, and then went to a meditation for peace at my yoga studio, which was their response to the shooting.

Voted early this morning. It’s always a good experience in this neck of the woods. The polling place was packed. I drove several people, and will drive some more from the neighborhood later this afternoon.

I’m invited to a party tonight to watch results. I’ll have to see if I feel like I can bear being around other people, or if I just want to hunker down at home.

Turned down a freelance gig because the way the client wants to work is so counter to the way I work that I’m not the right fit for her business. I can’t be productive or creative within her parameters; there are plenty who will.

Digging into DHARMA for a big push this week. I love the story, so it doesn’t make sense that I’m struggling. By next week, I have to start pushing again on BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, too.

At the same time, I don’t want to lose momentum on HEART SNATCHER or PREVENTATIVE MEASURES.

I just have to dig deeper and get it all done.

But worry about tonight’s results makes everything else pale.

Onward.