Tues. August 18, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 90 — Grief To Art Launches

Grief to Art Logo

Tuesday, August 18, 2020
New Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cooler

Grief to Art
Today is the official launch of Grief to Art: A Site for Collective Mourning, which is my response to the grief from the thousands of deaths from the virus to which our government is indifferent. I hope you will take a look around, share the information, and submit a memory.

Life, Writing, and Other Stuff
Yup, another planet went retrograde. So we’re back in five retrogrades. Sigh.

I gave myself the weekend off. I felt pretty awful both Friday and Saturday, so I just cut off the pressure and let myself rest.

I got some work done on Friday, although I didn’t hit my goals. I didn’t make it to the dump.

Saturday, I had to do an early morning grocery run to Star Market. The staff is slacking off on the masking. I bought more than I planned, including the white cranberry peach juice. Since it’s the only place around here that carries it, occasionally, I will have to venture out for it, but other than that, I guess Star Market is now crossed off my list of places to shop.

Came home, full disinfectant protocols. Laundry, housework.

I made Portuguese Sweet Bread, which always takes at least half a day. But it’s worth it. One of our favorite breads. Also baked chocolate chip cookies.

Didn’t need to water Sunday morning, because it rained all day, a nice, gentle rain. Sat inside, read, wrote, made chocolate mousse.

Reading-wise, I read Patricia Hampl’s THE ART OF THE WASTED DAY. I got it because it talks about the need for leisure and for daydreaming. I liked most of it, although it was also an elegy to her deceased partner. I wish I’d know that going in to it – it would have made it more appropriate to the Grief to Art site than to the project for which I ordered it. I also got annoyed at her, multiple times – here, she has these amazing experiences traveling and meeting people rich with stories – and she complains of boredom. She’s a writer, for fuck’s sake! There is NO place for boredom in a writer’s life.

Read two other mysteries, in a series I had been thoroughly enjoying. Only, in this last one, the writer rants on and on, calling a despicable woman “a witch.” That’s a slur. It’s 2020, we should be better than that, in spite of the MAGATS. This person, who’s supposed to be an ally and inclusive, should know better.

I felt like I’d been slapped in the face by someone I trusted.

The book is several years old. I’m wiling to give the series one more book – if it happens again, she is crossed off my list.

I’m tired of cozy mysteries pandering to the right.

But then, so often, they are about maintaining the status quo, aren’t they?

Not anymore about the misfit recognized for her unique qualities and loved and accepted for who she is, but because she conforms to the status quo to fit in. Cozies that do the former are why I enjoy(ed) the genre. Cozies who do the latter — more and more prevalent since 9/11 – I loathe.

Started re-reading Louise Penny’s Gamache series. We are reading the whole series in order. I love so much about it, although the third person omniscient head-hopping bothers me sometimes. She does it better than most writers, but it’s still noticeable enough, at times, to bother me.

On a writing note, I did some more development. I understand what I want and need from the protagonist and her main love interest. I understand the themes I want to develop. I’m building the ensemble of secondary characters. I know who is murdered and why; I know who the murderer is and how this individual passes under the radar for most of the book. I even came up with a working title.

On Monday, I wrote the first 1200 words. The first 500 or so were difficult, and then I found the rhythm. This morning, I wrote another 750 words. It will be a slower creation process, not just because I’m doing the first draft in longhand, but I’m taking more time to develop every sentence, instead of spitting out the first draft quickly and then taking it apart to put it back together. It’s a different process, and what this particular book needs.

Good thing there’s no deadline.

But it shook things loose so I could go back to this draft of THE BARD’S LAMENT, which is very, very necessary.

I’ve been writing the article for Llewellyn in my head, and now it’s time to put it on paper. I want to get it done and out this week. Or early next week, latest.

I have to get going on the book I have to read for review. I want to get that done this week. I’d planned to do it over the weekend, but wanted to give myself time off from any “have to.”

Went on site to do some client work on Monday. I was on my own for most of it, which is as it should be.

Curbside pickup at the library, home, full disinfectant protocols, LOIs, and work on the Grief to Art site. But every time I have to go on site, it takes me most of the rest of the day to recover, because it’s so stressful. Even when protocols are followed.

Finished STILL LIFE, and went through some other books I used for research.

It’s still raining this morning, so I’m going to wait to go to the dump until Thursday; same with Trader Joe’s. I’m grateful for the rain. We need it. However, I don’t want to get soaked taking in the garbage and recycling, or standing in line waiting to get into the grocery store.

Michelle Obama’s speech last night was articulate, intelligent, direct, and sharp. We are so lucky she is a part of the world right now.

Today, there will be a lot of focus on the Grief to Art launch, some client work, LOIs, admin work, article work, work on THE BARD’S LAMENT, and, hopefully, cleaning out another box. The goldenrod is blooming, and I’m sneezing like crazy, my nose is running, and my eyes are swollen. Lovely. Yes, that was sarcasm.

So I better get going, hadn’t I? Have a great day.

Monday, Aug. 5, 2019: Inspiration Starts at Home — #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of Jill Wellington via Pixabay.com

Monday, August 5, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

 

We’re down from five retrogrades to only four, so some of the pressure’s easing off.

The month of August is about inspiration, which is one of my favorite topics. I’ll share some of the ways I find inspiration. I always find that I have far more stories to tell than I have time in which to tell them. I have to pick and choose.

Let’s get something straight right from the start: I don’t understand boredom or people who claim they’re bored. I have zero patience with them.

The world is a fascinating place. There’s always something interesting around, and there’s always something that needs doing.

My dad used to say, “Only boring people are bored. People who don’t have the capacity for critical thought or motivation or interest.”

The older I get, the more I realize he’s right.

When someone whines about boredom, it sends up a red flag, and I use one of the tools of gentle disengagement we discussed last month.

People who are bored suck the energy out of a room and the life out of inspired people. They feed off the energy, without reciprocating anything.

Inspiration is all around us. We have to look at things with fresh eyes. This is where the mindfulness techniques of yoga and meditation pay off. If you are in the moment, that means you are paying attention. Your powers of observation are fine-tuned.

As writers, we MUST be observant to the small, unusual detail in order to bring characters and stories to life.

As I discussed in our topics on kindness and tolerance, start finding inspiration at home.

Look at things in your space, the things you take for granted, differently. You probably have photos or small objects that give you pleasure. You put them out on a shelf on a desk because they have meaning. You’re so used to looking at them every day that you don’t SEE them anymore.

Change that.

There’s a visualization technique where you pick three objects and stare at them. You pretend you’re an ant crawling over them and look at every tiny detail. You pretend you’re a bird flying over it and look at details from that perspective. Then you close your eyes and recreate the objects in your mind’s eye.

Think of it as “Still Life for the Mind.”

Go online or get a book out of the library on still lifes, and see how those powers of observation inspired painters.

We are going to talk more about paintings next week, but still lifes in art tie in both to this week and next week’s discussion.

Being able to recreate the object in your mind’s eye might not happen the first time you try this, but if you do this every day for ten minutes or so, it gets easier and easier.

Look, really look at the objects in your home with fresh eyes. There might be things that are tired, and need to rest for awhile. Put them away. They will be new when you decide to take them out again. There might be things that you need to release — give away, throw away, remove from your life. We will talk more about this a couple of weeks down the road, how to use Feng Shui techniques to bump up your inspiration. But again, this entire month’s discussions are all of a piece. They build on each other.

Walk around your house. Pick one thing that you haven’t really, really looked at for awhile.

This week, spend time with it. Let it tell you a story. It might be “its” story. It might inspire a story about something or someone else.

In the comments, tell us which object you’ve picked. Next week, we will talk about this experience, while also trying something new.

 

Published in: on August 5, 2019 at 6:02 am  Comments (4)  
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Fri. Oct. 10, 2014: Character Juggles

Friday, October 10, 2014
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Cold

Yesterday was busy. Got in early, processed all the check-ins that couldn’t be handled the previous day due to the computer being down; got the holds and other books processed; hand-entered the manual checkouts into the system. Thank goodness we had volunteers at the desk to handle the patrons coming in and out that day needing check-ins and check-outs, so that I could catch up on the previous afternoon’s system work.

It all got done, and that’s what counts.

Home, tired. Dinner, some reading, worked on a student manuscript.

Watched STILL LIFE, the film version of Louise Penny’s book. Nathaniel Parker played Gamache; Kate Hewlett (whose work I really enjoy) was Clara. One of the biggest delights was Anthony Lemke as Jean-Guy. I knew his work from LOST GIRL – he was terrific in this. I like the character of Jean-Guy in the books, but this was definitely a case of the actor raising it to an even better, deeper level. I hope they film more of the books in the series. I can’t wait to see what he does with Jean-Guy’s journey. I was disappointed that they pushed the character of Myrna aside, and they didn’t start the development of the wonderful relationship between Jean-Guy and Ruth. To me, the odd affection between those two is one of the best cornerstones in the series, and I hope it develops in future films.

Bad dreams last night. Truly disturbing, and when I woke from them, I remembered that they’ve been progressive. I have to stop them before they progress any farther, or I will be in trouble, so that’s on my agenda for tonight.

I have two books and a novella screaming for writing time. I managed to untangle a problem in INITIATE that prevented me from moving forward in the fight sequence. Something that happens post-sequence needs to be set up properly here, and because I’d tried to force one of the characters in a wrong direction, it wasn’t working. But we’re back on track, so that sequence should start flowing. I have to do the opening of RED WIDOW (the novella), because the characters are getting very impatient, and BALTHAZAAR is starting to percolate properly again.

I was going to submit a couple of pieces, and then realized it’s Mercury Retrograde, so there’s no damned point. I will prep them, and then send them when everything goes direct.

Tomorrow is my Saturday “on”, and then I can write all day on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Wednesday, we have a staff day out in P-town, so, after tomorrow, I won’t be back on line until Thursday, which is great. I LOVE being offline at least half the week. The improvement to my work is tremendous.

I also have to do some yard work any time it’s not raining. Time to put the garden to bed for the winter.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on October 10, 2014 at 8:32 am  Comments Off on Fri. Oct. 10, 2014: Character Juggles  
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Mon. Jan. 28, 2013: Gearing Up for A Busy Week

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Iris enjoys a winter nap

Monday, January 28, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy weekend. Have to put the finishing touches on this draft of the play today.

Allowed myself to bask in the praise from a magazine editor who liked a submission (although she didn’t take this one, too many paranormal elements), but loved the writing, the pacing, the characters, etc., and asked to see whatever I do next in the genre. So I’m doing it! 😉 Also allowed myself to bask in the praise from a Major NY agent, who saw an article I wrote (the one for WOW) and shot me an email to tell me it was a well-written piece. Baby steps in the right direction!

I felt very burned out, so took a lot of time this weekend to refill the creative well, in this case, by reading.

Read Louise Penny’s STILL LIFE, her first Armand Gamache mystery. She is the only contemporary writer I can think of who can pull off third person omniscient, because she glides from head to head, giving you time in the neutral space between the characters, instead of head-hopping. There are plenty of writers — many in chick lit, romance, and cozy mystery — who try to do this and fail miserably. But Penny is such a beautifully nuanced writer that she can pull it off. Once I read STILL LIFE, I went back and re-read A TRICK OF THE LIGHT, the first of hers I read, released in 2011, and still one of my favorite books. Just beautifully done.

I also read THE BOOKMAN’S WAKE, by John Dunning, and liked it a lot. As someone who teeters on the edge of bibliophilia and could easily tip into bibliomania, the details about the book business in his series fascinates me.

I read a book I promised to review for a blog tour — liked it, will write it up today, and started re-reading both Julia Cameron’s THE SOUND OF PAPER and Starhawk’s THE SPIRAL DANCE. I have a lot of problems with many of Julia Cameron’s tenets, although I think her book THE RIGHT TO WRITE is her best. I agree with her Artist Dates — I think they’re vital. I disagree with the Morning Pages — for me, my first writing needs to be on my Primary Project, not whatever’s on my mind, because that is when my creative time is most fertile. If I do Morning Pages, I’ve used that time for something akin to journal-keeping, and lost my best creative time. But they work for a lot of people, and more power to them. And I’m glad she emphasizes the need to show up at the page every day, whether one feels like it or not.

It will be interesting to re-read Starhawk’s work from this perspective, rather than when I first read her books in the mid-1990s. I’m looking forward to it.

Worked with students. Finished up work with one editing client and have the rest who took advantage of the editing special to do this week. The special is over, and rates are back to normal. Doing some more prep work on the February classes. “Sensory Perceptions” finishes this week. I’ve got a couple of articles I want to pitch, two short stories to prep — one for release on February 1 (the next Samantha Wright piece) and one to send to a submission call.

I want to do some more work on the play before I send it to the actors already cast, and we have to set up auditions for the three remaining roles.

Lots to do, so I better get to work!

Devon

Don’t forget to breathe new life into old projects during “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects” Feb. 4-6, and transform journal entries into viable fiction in “Journal into Fiction” from Feb. 11-14. Information and registration here.