Fri. Jan. 15, 2016: Early Morning Writing

Friday, January 15, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy day at work yesterday. I’m still on a different computer; mine isn’t fixed enough for me to trust it. Got a lot of PR done, notes typed up from meetings, that type of thing. Also putting together some programs for the spring.

I got a friend some contacts for research information she needed in London. I’ve gathered enough research on the immediate characters for the first historical play to get a start on it soon. The research books coming in will help me add ambiance and social/historical detail.

I’m booked to talk about scriptwriting for the March Writers Night Out. That should be fun. I’m already working on the handout.

A friend gave me a draft of her novel to read, before it goes out on submission. I’m excited about it, and plan to get started on it this weekend.

I’m enjoying the first entries for the contest. Working my way through them. I really like getting them in batches, rather than one huge batch at the end, with a more compressed time frame. This way, I feel I can really give each entry extra attention. I always review all the entries when I’ve read everything — to make sure the “yes” pile is still my “yes” pile, re-reading the “maybe” pile to see if they move into “yes” or “no”, and checking the “no” pile to make sure they are a firm “no”.

I woke up early this morning. Rather than tossing and turning, I got up and went to the desk. I have some ideas for the next section of TIE-CUTTER, and I have a new story starting to percolate that could well evolve into one of the stories I need for an end of April deadline. I think I’ve figured out how to fix the short radio play, and will tackle that this weekend, and, hopefully finish the draft.

But what I spent my time on, during my early morning writing session, was fixing the problems in the funeral chapter in DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. It’s got a lot more dynamic now, and makes more sense. That will help me get out of the corner I wrote myself into in the next chapter.

We’re getting to the meat of it now, although I see a few places where I have to go back in the next draft to salt in a few clues and red herrings. But, after a few days of frustration on CHOLERIC, I’m back on track. That feels good.

Today will be a long day. Tomorrow is my Saturday “on”, and then I have to get in another load of firewood. It’s a holiday weekend — not sure what the weather is going to be like, so I might push some errands back into next week.

I always feel better when the writing is going well.

Hop on over to Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions, and see how I’m doing for the mid-month check-in.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on January 15, 2016 at 9:50 am  Comments Off on Fri. Jan. 15, 2016: Early Morning Writing  
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Wed. April 8: Lost Weekend — Writing, Not Liquor!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Waning Moon
Jupiter DIRECT
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy few days. Thursday and Friday were rough at work. Less said, the better. Really frustrated with the group that bought the CAPE COD TIMES newspaper. Not only did they dump all the calendar entries for April’s programs that took me several hours to load — and they dumped them AFTER they’d confirmed them — now, every calendar entry has to be approved by someone sitting in an office in Tennessee. That is simply not acceptable. Someone in Tennessee should not have the authority to approve or refuse a calendar entry about a local event on Cape Cod. Who ever is sitting there probably has never even visited, much less has any idea what’s important to residents. It’s WRONG on so many levels. Local calendar entries for the newspaper need to be handled LOCALLY.

So, I had to lose more hours re-entering everything into a new system, and now I have to wait for approval. From Tennessee. Especially with these crap “religious freedom” laws (which are, in actuality, laws to allow bigotry and discrimination to anyone the passers deem they want to discriminate against), it makes even less sense. If someone in the TN office decides a Cape Cod program is “against” his so-called “religious beliefs”, does that give him the right to refuse publication?

Finished watching the second season of MISS FISHER over the weekend. The energy and pace were off in a few of the early episodes, and then it picked up steam again as the season progressed. Read the first three books, too. Very different from the series. Since each is a completely different format, each works in its own way. The Phryne-Jack relationship is vital to the series, as is the Dot-Hugh relationship, in a way that isn’t in the books (Hugh isn’t even in the three I’ve read so far). Those relationships are what connect the viewer and make the episodes work within the time framework of each one, whereas the prose canvas is broader, and there’s more room for the other elements. Very interesting to see the differences, and how each works in its own format.

Scriptwriting isn’t “just dialogue” as so many prose writers who want to adapt their novels think. Scriptwriting is visual storytelling. Yes, dialogue is important, but so is choosing what the audience sees, and putting it on the page in such a way that the director and the creative team can fulfill the vision, without dictating every detail.
It’s a completely different way of telling the story.

Worked through quite a few contest entries. The disparity between what works and what doesn’t is far larger this year than in previous years. I finished all the print entries in one of the categories (I still have a few on Kindle), and I’m diving into the second category. The third category has only a few entries, so that won’t take long.

Watched THE IMITATION GAME over the weekend. It was well done, but Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance was a little too mannered for me. I like his intensity, I like his work, but he rarely surprises me any more. Keira Knightley was terrific. Also watched INTO THE WOODS. I’m a big Sondheim fan, and I loved the Broadway production. This one was clever, but I still think it works better on stage than on screen. Meryl Streep was wonderful. The actors playing Jack and Red Riding Hood reminded me of typical Broadway belter kids. There were lots of great moments by everyone throughout, although I thought Johnny Depp’s work was too close to his work in both ALICE IN WONDERLAND and WILLIE WONKA.

We got news of the death of a family member in Europe. It wasn’t someone I knew well, but it still leaves a hole, and there’s paperwork, and lots of other things to take care of.

Sunday was Easter. Since it didn’t rain, I did quite a bit of yard work. Not that it’s visible yet. There’s still plenty more to do. Monday it was supposed to rain, but didn’t, so I did even more yard work, including starting to clean out the front beds. There’s a little progress there, but I still have a lot more work to do, and I can’t do any of it until next weekend. Took a carload full of leaf bags to the dump. Replanted all eighteen heads of lettuce and six Brussels sprout plants. Started two kinds of tomato seeds, borage, feverfew, basil, parsley, and bok choy. Moved some of the potted trees and shrubs out of the garage and back onto the deck.

Tuesday, I was supposed to do taxes and finish the microfilm reels. Instead, I wrote a 5691 draft of a new short story. I have two short stories due at the end of the month. I’d been thinking, percolating, on some ideas, and this one burst forth. I thought I was only going to write 1 or 2K, but I was on a roll, and just kept going. Wrote the whole first draft in one day (practically one sitting, although I got up to pace and mutter fairly frequently).

It felt good, I got to figure out some stuff that was bothering me, and push it to its ridiculous limits and enjoy it. I like the characters, I like the premise. It’s 691 words above the limit, so there’s some serious cutting in its future. Either that, or I need to expand it by about 2K for a different market, and that leaves me still having to write two stories by the end of the month. So I’ll try to cut first. There’s a little too much of my Freudian slip showing in this one, so I’ll have to smooth this out. Great to have catharsis in writing, but therapy is not interesting to readers. Time to cut the navel-gazing and layer in the craft.

Far too many “writers”, when faced with a word count limit (especially in class assignments), ignore it. When called out about it, they go, “ha, ha, ha, I had too much story to fit.” Well, bunny boo, the limit is the limit. Either cut it down to fit, OR WRITE ANOTHER DAMN STORY THAT DOES. It’s called “craft.”

I was exhausted and out of words by the end of the day, although the next story is poking up from the subconscious to the conscious. I’m worried that, if I start it, I’ll lose all track of everything again.

Because, last night, I screwed up. I was supposed to attend a town meeting having to do with changes in parking and sidewalks that will adversely affect the library. I looked at the clock and had plenty of time. I started to do “one more thing.” The next time I looked at the clock, it was 9 PM, and I’m sure the meeting was winding up. I tried to justify it by reminding myself that it was my day off, and I put in far too many hours above and beyond my scheduled work time, but I still felt badly. There’s no excuse, no matter how I try to make myself feel better. I should have been there, and I wasn’t.

I had odd dreams all weekend. One night, I dreamed I moved back to San Francisco. Another night, I dreamed about genealogy. I don’t know WHOSE genealogy I was working on — it sure wasn’t my own family’s.

The upcoming week will be stressful, as will next week. Today is a basic, long workday. Tomorrow is pretty basic, with tango at night. Friday, I have a Chamber breakfast in Hyannis before work, then the work day, then a program that will probably last until 10 PM. I have to be in first thing on Saturday, and then there’s another program on Saturday afternoon, so I’m pulling a 10-5 day instead of a 10-2 day. I have Sunday and Monday to finish taxes and microfilm. Tuesday, I have a meeting in the afternoon (where I’m there for two different organizations), and then a program at the library at night. A week from today is another big program at the library, and so on and so forth.

I was up at 5:30 this morning, because I have so much to do before I go to work, including paperwork that has to go off to Germany. Somewhere in all this, I have to figure out where I’m going to bake and prepare “the light refreshments” we’re serving Saturday afternoon.

Thirty-two days until my vacation. I desperately need it. BEFORE that, I have to finish the contest entries, two stories, do the final edit on the radio play, and get it out. Plus all the programs at work. Plus put together some materials for the Marine Life Center.

It’s a busy month.

Devon

Published in: on April 8, 2015 at 9:37 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 8: Lost Weekend — Writing, Not Liquor!  
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

My post-Derby article is up on FemmeFan here. My editor loved it, even though I felt it lacked sparkle. Motivates me to make the Preakness article this week twice as good!

Exceptionally cold all weekend, frost on the ground this morning, and the scumbag landlords had the heat off until 6 AM today. Typical.

The alarm didn’t go off this morning, but Elsa is better than any alarm clock, so I went out for my run by 5:15. It’s quite light out, with just a sliver of waning moon, singing birds, corporate types scurrying to the train station . . .

So, where do I start? Didn’t write on Saturday at all — on purpose. Needed to refill creative well. Did my errands, sorted, purged a bunch of junk, took stuff to storage. Read. Cooked.

Got some good ideas for the next section of the urban fantasy.

Was about to order a great futon couch. It looks good, the price is good, and it will fit through the doorway — since they put in the new doors, I can’t bring in my sofabed. the doorway is now too narrow. Not to mention the doors suck. Anyway, I was trying to figure out the shipping costs, and, when I read the fine print, it clearly states that they don’t deliver the couch to the house. They deliver it TO THE CURB. If you want it taken into the house (or, in my case, the third floor apartment), you negotiate with the delivery guy when he arrives and you pay him cash on the spot. Sounds like extortion to me — no price quotes, no regulations. So I’m not ordering the futon. Bite me, assholes. You think I’m really that stupid? I wonder how many people were stuck with furniture left on the curb and wound up paying a couple of times more than they paid for the pieces themselves just to get them inside the house?

Elsa was up and down on Saturday — much better than she was on Friday, but still not doing as well as last week. I got up early on Sunday to give her the medicine, went back to bed, and had a weird dream.

In the dream, I was brought in to script doctor some piece or other rehearsing in Greenwich Village. I’m assuming it was a film, but maybe it was a play. That was unclear. It starred an actor who tops the list of people I still want to work with. He looked completely dazed at the disorganized chaos. No one seemed to be in charge. There were far too many producers floating around (as usual), saying, “I’ll take care of it” when something was brought to their attention and then doing nothing (as usual). We had to fill out huge packets of information we were told were “for tax purposes” but read like psych evaluations. I told the actor I was excited to work with him, just not sure it should be on this. He laughed. Some other guy asked me to watch his stuff because “You’re the amateur.” I said, “No, I’m the writer” and he replied, “Same thing.” I did NOT watch his stuff. I knew a lot of the actors in the project in the dream and had worked with them before, although in life, I’d only worked with one actress in a big musical. She kept trying to match-make me with this one and that one, whether I was interested or not (which she tried when we worked together). I was about to pitch a fit and either take over or walk out (in spite of the actor I really, really wanted to work with) when Elsa sneezed in my face and woke me up.

Obviously, I’ve been thinking about production a lot lately, since POWER OF WORDS takes place behind-the-scenes on one. This dream is a warning, the the specific actor representing not just himself, but everyone that’s still on that list of people I hope to work with (poor guy). Knowing how my dreams work, it may also be a caution– an opportunity may present itself and it may not be what it initially seems. I shouldn’t accept simply because there’s someone involved who’s on my list. So I stand warned. The nasty comment from the guy who wanted me to do PA duties represents the way writers are often treated in this business.

Made some cuts in SETTLING THE SCORE on Sunday, wrote twenty more pages, made more cuts, wrote eight more pages. Printed it all out (now that I have ink and paper again) and saw a huge, huge, HUGE logistics gap. There’s no way that character could have that piece of information vital to the plot machinations at that point in time the way I’ve got it laid out. I wrote some notes — I want to complete the draft before making any more fixes and running any more copies — and will move forward. Also, in the final draft, I’ll have to fix some formatting things. When I write scripts, I triple space between dialogue bits instead of double space. And the default font on this machine is Helvetica, which is fabulous to work in, but for script purposes, I have to change it to Courier (I loathe Courier). That will also drop the page count, which is good, because I’m up there now, and there’s still another good third of the movie to go. My goal is to have it run just over 2 hours, but feel like about 85 minutes.

On today’s agenda: pack more stuff for storage, work on SETTLING THE SCORE, maybe work on the adaptation of BEHIND THE MAN. I need to get my scripts sorted and synopsised and loglined over the next few weeks for some upcoming meetings. I may take WOMEN WITH AN EDGE out of retirement briefly just for the meetings, even. I should also take a look at my spec TV scripts — I don’t even know what one is “supposed” to have in one’s portfolio this season. I don’t know if I can still even use the BUFFY sample or the STARGATE ATLANTIS sample. If I need to come up with new ones, it would make sense to do one for HUMAN TARGET, since I spent so much time dissecting the show, but I don’t think that’s on “the list.” Of course, I might do one anyway, just to prove to myself that I can.

I’ll check with some acquaintances and find out what this season’s “list” is, and then figure out if I should even do a set of specs, or just stick to the plays for the moment, and this next round of meetings. I’m not angling for a series slot anyway — there are, literally, thousands of scriptwriters more qualified, in line ahead of me, and in LA so to do. But sometimes, even if you’re not up for the job, that’s the kind of sample someone wants to see in a meeting.

I’ll pack extra Excedrin, too. The meetings aren’t for a few months, but it takes time to put everything together, write any new material necessary, and have it be good, so I’m looking ahead. That way, instead of scrambling, everything is ready, I can just pull what i need for that meeting out of the file, and it’s much less stressful.

I’d like to get back to the urban fantasy this week, since I figured out how to overcome it’s obstacle, and, of course, ANGEL HUNT. My worry with ANGEL HUNT is that, once I go down the rabbit hole with that, I won’t come out for weeks, because of the intensity of the project. With the Preakness AND a pottery workshop this week, AND paperwork to complete for next year’s teaching schedule (yes, I’ve already got some major bookings for 2011), I don’t know if I can go down that rabbit hole right now. However, I want to get the book out on submission by the end of the month, so I need to get cracking.

Hard to sort out when so much has equal value and equal importance. But, I’ll figure it out. And I have to talk to the vet. Elsa is steadying again, but it doesn’t look like we can wean her off the steroid just yet. So we need to discuss next steps.

Back to the page.

Devon