Wed. July 10, 2019: Daily Pages Add Up

Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

 

 

There are plenty of things that are worrying me and infuriating me on several fronts. However, I am grateful for some of the small, but important pleasures.

One of the biggest of those is my first writing session of the morning out on the deck. I take my coffee, Tessa usually comes with me, and I write my first 1K or so outside, enjoying the yard.

It’s not always 1K on this particular project. Sometimes it’s only 500 words. Sometimes it’s more than 1K. But it’s in longhand, in a series of notebooks, and it’s uncontracted and not on deadline.

Which is one reason I’m having such fun with it. There’s no pressure. I can just let it rip.

I recently started my second notebook on this project. The first notebook contains the first 10 chapters, a little over 130 pages, approximately 1/3 of the book for this first draft. I love seeing the tangible evidence of these past few months’ work.

I’ve done some research for this book, but as I continue, I keep finding more things I’ll have to look up, and I’m using more placeholders than usual to keep the momentum. I’ll regret that when I hit the next draft, but it’s working for me in this first one.

After my yoga/meditation and my shower, I go to the computer, and I work on the next book that’s contracted. I do at least 1K, although at this point, it’s more like 1.5K, and with a deadline looming, I have to up my game to closer to 2.5K a day. That’s the reality of deadlines. But the steady, daily work, even on days I don’t feel like showing up to the page, builds momentum, keeps me in the world of the book, and makes this book better than the previous books in the series (which is my goal).

I print out my pages every day, both because I’m paranoid about losing work (even backed up work has been corrupted) and because it’s easier for me to edit on the page still. It’s easier for me to make the tracking sheets I need and the notes I need for the Series Bible when I can physically flip between the pages.

I print material on 3-hole punch paper and keep each draft in a 3-ring binder. I do refer back and forth between different drafts in the editing process, especially when my editor and/or copyeditor find discrepancies. Or when I cut characters or subplots, and decide to re-introduce them in other books, where they fit better, further down the line in the series. I use the final galleys to update the Series Bible.

(If you want more information on how I create and maintain a Series Bible, I have a workbook available, based on my workshops).

Again, I have (and need) the tangible evidence of the pages adding up.

While this contracted novel is with my editor, a few weeks down the line, I’ll switch to the next book in the next series that has to be torn apart and rewritten, because the last few drafts I wrote haven’t hit the mark. It has to get fixed and get in the publication queue — we already pushed back the dates for it, and for another book, and now we’re playing catch-up. But I’d rather push the release date back a reasonable amount of time than release a bad book.

At the same time, in the evenings, I’m playing with pieces inspired by #31Prompts.

Again, there’s not pressure on these pieces. They’re not contracted. They’re taking all kinds of different formats. I’m stretching and having fun.

By the end of the month, I have to write a short radio play set on Brighton Pier in the 1920s, and I have to start writing the play about Canaletto’s sisters, which is due in NYC by the end of the year.

Showing up at the page every day for whatever project I’m working on is vital to me. I can’t write in spurts and then go away for stretches. I lose the innate rhythm, the heartbeat of the piece.

I need to see it through.

I need the dailiness of the writing. It keeps the rest of my day in perspective, and makes me feel better and clearer about the entire day.

I change my writing process every few months. I make adjustments as to the where and when I write.

But I show up.

What is your process?

Published in: on July 10, 2019 at 6:20 am  Comments Off on Wed. July 10, 2019: Daily Pages Add Up  
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Tues. May 28, 2019: Hit The Stress Running

Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

So much for having five days off. When the best laid plans go awry, and all that.

Wednesday morning, I’d had a brief conversation with a potential new client. This would be a big deal. Good money. The conference went well, and the person with whom I spoke wanted the next steps up the food chain to happen on Thursday morning, via Skype, and Friday, in person in Boston.

Only I never got the necessary information by end of day on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, I let her know that I hadn’t had any information, and I would not cancel my Friday and go into Boston, on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. That’s just nuts. I said I could arrange to go up next Thursday or Friday, but I needed to know by next Wednesday noon. I’m getting a little tired of this attitude that I’m supposed to be at their beck and call when they’re not paying me.

I got a message back stating that the Thursday morning conference couldn’t happen, could we do it in the afternoon?

Good thing I hadn’t booked office space at Cape Space, as I originally planned. Or I would have had to pay for it, even if I canceled. They seem to have difficulty understanding that I actually work for a living; I’m not lounging around the house in pajamas waiting for their summons.

The Skype meeting went well, although it was 45 minutes, longer than I expected. I haven’t heard anything about whether or not the meeting in Boston is on for next week. If I don’t hear by my deadline, it won’t be.

They requested writing samples, which I provided from my portfolios. On top of it, they want me to do a project-specific “assessment” — which, if they weren’t such an established company with a good reputation, I would refuse to do without pay. But again, I’m losing billable hours for AN INTERVIEW. Red flags going up.

In the meantime, I had a very, very busy Wednesday with a client, and was exhausted by the time I got home in the afternoon. But glad that I had five days away from clients. We have a big project coming up that’s more difficult than it needs to be, because the other party responsible for organizing it is clueless.

I was supposed to have five full days off. However, once the Thursday Skype meeting was moved, I got some other work out of the way in the morning, and then mowed the front yard in the afternoon before my meeting. It looks pretty darn good. The push mower does a far better job than the gas mower ever did.

I finished the final polish on “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” and sent it off to the producer.

Started plotting the next Frieda/Lazarus radio play, which will take place on the Brighton Pier — provided I can get the research in. I’ve been in Brighton, but I need to do some of the historical research. It’s hard to find books in the MA library system on historical Brighton, England.

Working on the stage play that’s due next week.

Friday, I ran some errands, including stopping by the mechanic to make arrangements for the rest of the car repairs, which are happening today. Downloaded the materials for the “writing assessment” and did a couple of other things.

Managed to get some decent work done on ELLA BY THE BAY throughout the weekend. I find it relaxing to do a few pages with my morning coffee, even before I do yoga and start the rest of the day.

Finished a chunk of research on forensic psychology, so I can draft Sam’s professional scenes in GRAVE REACH.

Mowed the side yard.

I’m taking as much time as possible to enjoy being on the deck. I rubbed the wooden furniture with teak oil; I’m starting to put out the garden ornaments.

I managed to get a lot of reading done: MURDER AT OCHRE COURT and A MURDEROUS MARRIAGE, both by Alyssa Maxwell, although each is from a different series; THE LOST CAROUSEL OF PROVENCE and LETTERS FROM PARIS, both by Juliet Blackwell. Started reading a serial killer novel, but the cat was murdered, so I’m done. I’m tired of pets and women constantly brutalized in fiction (not to mention real life).

Saturday, I ran some books back to the library, and got out a pitch for an opportunity that landed on my desk late Friday night.

The stage play I was writing took a turn to the more dramatic; I started another, more comic play that I think will work better for the piece I have to submit at the end of the week.

Mowed No Man’s Land and about half of the terrace back part of the yard. An enormous tree limb crashed down in the meadow, and I’m not sure if I should be worried about the rest of the tree. Not to mention that I don’t think I can move the tree limb by myself.

Cooked a lot and ate too much on Saturday. Complete indulgence. A Spanish-style tuna with relish, olive, and tomato along with an Italian anti-pasto plate, French bread, and French wine for lunch (and a sponge cake with whipped cream and strawberries). A French bistro recipe for chicken, shallots, tomato, and tarragon for dinner.

The hordes of tourists have descended and Cape Cod is a nightmare. They are rude, they are arrogant, they drive on the wrong side of the road while texting on their phones. They are sloppy and they litter.

Sitting on the deck on Saturday afternoon, it smelled like Cape Cod, but with the noise of traffic and sirens, it sounded like New York City, and I felt claustrophobic.

A thunder storm woke me overnight Saturday into Sunday, but it passed quickly. It was the first night we left the plants out, and they seem to have survived.

Up early on Sunday, reading and writing. Especially on ELLA BY THE BAY. It’s got a nice, steady pace. I need to transfer some of that pace to GRAVE REACH, and up it a bit.

I should have mowed, but I didn’t. Instead, I tried to enjoy the day.

I am, however, worried about a tree in the backyard that’s leaning. Only I’m not sure if it’s on my property or my neighbor’s. So I will have to ask the landlord. But I’m worried that it will come down and hurt someone or something.

Wrote and polished an article which will go out today. Worked on the “assessment” assignment for the potential new client. Read Tami Hoag’s DUST TO DUST, which was quite good.

Noodled with some ideas for stories and for plays (different ideas). We will see which ones work and which ones don’t.

Got an idea for a short play, which I think will work better for the play on deadline than either of the ideas with which I’ve been playing.

Monday, morning, up early. Worked on ELLA BY THE BAY. Worked on the new play, called “Qualified Personnel.” Got the first draft done. Will let it simmer for a day or two before I revise it and then I want to get it out by Thursday, if possible.

Got more stuff out on the deck, to build our enchanted garden there. Put in the solar stakes. Started mowing the meadow, which is a nightmare, because it’s uneven. Wondering if I’ll have to get in someone to do it for me, at least mow it down the first time.

Reading about the history of Havana. Fretting about the “writing assessment.” I should have simply stated I was away for the weekend, and had the initial interview, etc. this week. It’s my own fault, but I didn’t get the rest I needed, and am still feeling cooked, instead of revived and ready to face the hell that is summer on Cape Cod. It should be wonderful because it’s so beautiful, but it’s not.

Just when I hit a low point, a friend sent me a link to his new song, which is quite beautiful. That cheered me up.

Thought I’d bought ground lamb for dinner, but it was beef. Made burgers for dinner. They were very good, but the last few times I’ve eaten beef, I’ve felt awful, and this wasn’t much different.

Up early today, stressed, and off to get the car fixed. Hope it stays within the estimate and can all get done.

Exhausted and out of sorts, when I should be renewed and ready to face what’s coming. Not a good way to start the coming months.

Fri. May 25, 2018: Respite & New Creative Challenges

Friday, May 25, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Sorry this is up late; I had errands to run this morning before the tourons descend on Cape Cod and make our lives hell for the next three months.

The relief I feel at getting out both requested partials to the interested editors ahead of deadline leaves me exhausted. HEART THEFT went out nine days before deadline; NOT BY THE BOOK went out four days before deadline. Neither one were dumped on the editor during a holiday weekend (although I cut it close with NBTB). I lived up to my own expectations for myself AND I’m happy with the quality of work I turned in.

I tried mowing yesterday. The reel mower doesn’t really mow much. It massages, and the grass snaps right back up. I bought a rolling blade. It should damn well cut whatever vegetation over which I roll it. Not happy AT ALL. When it cuts, it does a decent job of it, but there’s too much it’s not cutting.

I’m getting annoyed by the part-time writers who have non-writing day jobs to pay the bills attacking full-time writers who earn our living at it for “writing every day.” This is my profession, not my hobby. If I don’t show up and do the work every day, I can’t pay the bills. Getting paid for my writing doesn’t make me love it any less or make me any less of a writer. Stop attacking people who achieve what you can’t.

And, you know what? Go ahead and DON’T write regularly. Only write “when the muse strikes.” You’ll still be a cubicle slave. I’ll still be earning my living doing what I love — because I show up and do the work.

Spent some time outside, both reading and working on the maps for THREE ROADS OF STRANGERS. I’m moving forward as though my first choice market passed, and not writing it with an eye to their parameters. I’m back to writing it because I really love the piece and want to create this world. It will have to be done in and around other projects, but not having a deadline means less pressure. I’m getting more and more ideas about the world, and making more and more notes. The chapters I’ve written so far have a strong energy and drive, and I like the sprawl. I like weaving the characters, situations, and storylines together, to see where they converge and where they part.

This morning, I worked out a plot and character arc involving one of my five central protagonists with one of the minor characters who’s more complex than I expected. In my first putterings with this arc, it would have derailed the main drive of the piece. But now, I’ve figured out a way to adjust it so it supports the central plot instead of serving as a tangent. It will drive plot, illuminate character, enrich the world. In other words, serve its purpose.

However, this morning, I’m going back to work on MYTH & INTERPRETATION, whose deadline is coming up quickly. I’ll be looking at cover choices next week from my publisher and cover designer — hopefully, there will be a cover reveal soon.

I’d also like to sit down with the market list this weekend and come up with some more article pitches to go out next week.

I finished reading Marshall Ryan Maresca’s AN IMPORT OF INTRIGUE. I like this series a lot. A MURDER OF MAGES remains as one of my Top Twelve Books across genre. The choices made as the series develops surprise me. I often think, “I wouldn’t do it that way — but I’m really glad HE did!” I enjoy his world building, and I enjoy the way he breaks genre clichés.

There’s such a big difference between turning a trope (I hate that word) inside out and ignoring it. Tropes set up expectations. A talented writer (like Maresca) knows them intimately and knows how to use them beyond the expectations and take the reader somewhere new and exciting. A careless writer would toss it in and not follow through or defy it without providing expansion and payoff.

I admit it, I read Maresca as much for craft as for story and character. I learn a lot about the way he structures his books, about the paths his characters take. There’s always the sense of discovery there, but he’s got such good craft, I’m willing to leap with him wherever he goes, because I know it will be a satisfying, exciting experience. He was also kind enough to point me in the right direction when I had questions about mapping that have been useful.

I heard the radio play went well earlier this week. The cast, crew, and audience had fun with it — that’s music to a playwright’s ears! I’m looking forward to hearing it.

I’m playing with ideas for the new gun violence play that came out of the conversation I had with an actress friend. I’d set out a cast of characters, but they started feeling too much like representations than individuals. So I stripped it back and narrowed the focus. Now, I have something to work with, something to develop. I usually don’t mention the physical characteristics or race of characters in a cast breakdown. With my work, I find that when the actor who connects best with the work is cast, we have an array of physical types, races, ethnicities.

However, in this case, race is part of what the play deals with. Which means I need to specify which characters are black, white, etc. We’re dealing with things people don’t want to talk about or acknowledge, but which have to be acknowledged. This will be a challenging piece to work on, and I’m pulling in advice from all kinds of actors and creatives with whom I’ve worked on Broadway, to make sure it’s not just a banal “I’m presenting a message” piece, but a piece that digs deep in search of the cause of the problem, and also offers more than one solution. The development process will take a looong time. But it will be worth it, if something valuable comes out of it, for those of us in the creation and the experience of the final piece. Flippant responses out of emotion, fear, anger, aren’t necessarily ones that will help. Yet they will also need to be a part of this, as they are a step on the journey to a solution, and sometimes a tangent.

I hope I’m up to the challenge.

In the meantime, I have to tackle the challenge of the Lawn that Refused to Bow to the Mower.

Have a great weekend!

 

Published in: on May 25, 2018 at 9:58 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 25, 2018: Respite & New Creative Challenges  
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