Thurs. Oct. 6, 2016: Creativity Flow & Opportunity

Thursday, October 6, 2016
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cool

Busy day yesterday. Lots of research, some admin work.

Had an interesting meeting in the early afternoon that could open some new doors for me, which needs some thought. Is that the direction in which I want to go? Will it build skills that will serve me beyond the projects themselves?

Also had to deal with some frustrating stuff, some obstacles that were created by someone either because that individual is incompetent or that individual is being nasty. The reason could be either of those two, or a combination.

After my meeting, headed up to Sturgis Library. I’d been trying to find particular research books, and I was pretty sure they were in the library system, but they weren’t coming up in the search engine. So I went into the building itself, and there they were. Got the stack out and got a good section of research done in the afternoon and evening, too.

Several characters came to me with demands to tell their stories. I took some notes.

I’m developing a couple of projects that could be good for me. They’re in that delicate stage where if I talk about them too much, they won’t get done. But I got 1798 words done on one this morning, and the energy’s good and lively there, and 1207 words done on another, and that’s got a great vibe, too. So we’ll see. I don’t know how much I can juggle, but I will do my best.

I didn’t get any yard work done yesterday, which wound up being okay, because it rained in the afternoon anyway. But, in spite of a late start today, I hope to make up for it.

Finished a manuscript evaluation for a contest yesterday. Another disappointing one. So far, nothing I’ve evaluated for this contest has been publication ready. And yet, they’re published. The problems have been all the same — supposed to be suspense, but there’s no tension, unresearched situations and locations, pages and pages of info dump narration, undeveloped characters.

Creatively, I’m happy right now, but I need to get a few other things aligned before I can feel secure.

Devon

Published in: on October 6, 2016 at 11:15 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Oct. 6, 2016: Creativity Flow & Opportunity  
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Wed. Jan. 14, 2015: The Joy of the Process

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy few days. Most of it was spent writing. I wrote nearly three chapters and did a rough outline of a book so the characters would stop yapping at me; now, that book has to find a place in the queue. There are other books which take precedence.

Most of the weekend was spent on the Burns/Woolf tribute. I tore it apart and re-structured it, and I’m finally content with it. There are piles of books with bookmarks and papers in them, marking quotes I wanted to use, and pages of notes scattered around. It was very satisfying. I love to research and find connections and put things together. Finding the connection from Burns to Emerson and then from Emerson to Woolf delighted me.

I had to cut a lot of material — it simply can’t all fit into a single, short presentation. It’s structured like a conversation; hopefully, I’ve now gotten the flow right.

I got cranky on Friday because someone nagged me. I’m writing a piece — for free — for the site. I was booked months ago. I’m working on the piece. It’s due next week. No problem. Getting an email whining that you haven’t heard from me and you need the materials is not going to get them to you faster. Instead, it puts you at the bottom of the list. I have the deadline. You’ll have the material by the deadline. I’d planned to get it in a few days earlier, but guess what? Not happening now, because you treated me like an incompetent flake. I’m a professional and a grown up. (Even though digging in my heels is an adolescent response — yes, I’m aware of the irony). I don’t need babysitting. Don’t call it “follow up” when it’s nagging. If you wanted it before the deadline, you should have given me an earlier deadline. BACK OFF. Especially since I’m not being paid. Last time I’ll be dealing with those people.

It snowed yesterday. The forecast was for flurries. It flurried all day. I had to rush out to Sturgis library to pick up two Virginia Woolf books. I know I’ve got them packed away somewhere, but couldn’t easily put my hands on them. I figured Sturgis was the most likely to have them on the shelf, and they did, exactly where I needed them. In and out in a few minutes. Love that!

In spite of not having those two particular books, I managed to use quite a few books I’ve picked up over the years — the ones that people always say, “Why did you buy those? You’ll never use them!” Well, I used 17 of them. So there! The fact that I didn’t need them for a dozen years is beside the point.

The whole concept of “if you haven’t used it in a year, throw it out” is a bullshit promotion advertisers and “life coaches” use to get people to get rid of things so that they have to buy more. Yes, you should clean out clutter, stuff that’s broken, that you’re SURE you’ll never use again. But when you’re a writer and you accumulate a lot of books — especially non-fiction — almost every nonfiction book I’ve ever bought has served more than one project. It may be years between those projects — and no, you CAN’T find “everything” on the internet or even in libraries. My personal library is worthwhile.

I have to go back and finish the edits on KILLER QUINTET today and tomorrow and get that back to my editor. I have to rewrite a few passages, and I’ve been percolating on them as I do things like dishes and laundry.

Then, I start the radio drama, while I’m researching the historical play and getting back into the groove on BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

I’ve started the research on the historical. I read what I could about my main character — not much information. I found out she’s buried in her former employer’s family plot near Chicago, and that the base of operations for the company was in Chicago. The email I sent to the cemetery bounced back, so I’ll have to try again. Maybe I’ll do an old-fashioned letter!

But, I found out that the company’s papers were donated to the Library of Congress. So I dug around on the Library’s website, and found the catalog of what I need. I contacted the reference librarian to see if I could get permission to come down and access the files on site. I can (which means a trip down there in the near future); however, some of what I need can be accessed through Interlibrary Loan and some of the micofiche has copies at Harvard Library. I don’t know if any of the Cape libraries even HAVE microfiche readers any more, but if they do, I can get the materials through ILL and use them here. That will make my time in the actual Library of Congress more efficient.

Additionally, I found some books that might be helpful, and the Circulation Director and I are using them to test out the state’s updated interlibrary loan system. AND I found some books on the subject at my beloved Strand Bookstore, ordered them, and they’ve shipped. I’ m very excited!!!

I’ll detail the experience of discovering and gathering the information and how I’m using it in the play over the next few months. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I’m looking forward to it.

Devon

Tues. Jan. 28, 2014: Percolating Play

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

The car is very, very happy with its oil change.

Worked at Sturgis yesterday, catching up on things. It’s a good place to work. Came back, and did some research/reading in the afternoon, and worked on ideas for the play and for BALTHAZAAR TREASURE. Decided not to head back out to a library in the afternoon. There was (and is) plenty to do off-line.

This morning, I was up early and out the door by 8 AM, heading to the Marine Life Center. I’m working from there today — already followed rounds and asked a lot of questions. The play percolates.

Published in: on January 28, 2014 at 10:26 am  Comments Off on Tues. Jan. 28, 2014: Percolating Play  
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Thurs. Jan. 23, 2014: Post-Storm Writing

Thursday, January 23, 2014
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy few days. Comcast is back to their old, extortionist tricks. They truly believe they are above the law. They are not.

In any case, on Monday, I got some good writing done, including a nice section at night on TRUE HOME. Tuesday, I wrote more on TRUE HOME before discovering that Comcast fucked me. Again.

Then, it was off to Centerville Library, to deal with what I had to deal with online — checking email, working with students, sorting out answers to interview questions for the test article that this new market and I are working on together. I’m actually pretty efficient with limited online time.

I knew that the storm would start early, no matter what the weather folk said. By the time I left the library, a little after noon, it was already snowing (they said it would start around seven p.m.). I picked up more batteries, and headed home.

In the afternoon, I worked on the big editing project for my client, and read some more of the Ben Franklin biography. I think I would have liked him. He was interested in just about everything, which made him interesting.

Also worked adapting some prose to script format.

Wrote more on TRUE HOME, finishing up Chapter Six, from Garrett’s point of view, and starting Chapter Seven, from Jem’s. I love writing from Jem’s point of view. I feel very connected to him.

I also unpacked a box from the many boxes still waiting to be unpacked in the basement and found a lot of really cool and useful stuff. I also found things I could purge. The purging feels good.

We had a blizzard all night, and it continued well into Wednesday. I already knew the libraries would be closed, and I’d be cut off, so I could prepare. I wrote ten pages in longhand on TRUE HOME, first thing in the morning, finishing Jem’s chapter, and getting ready to start Chapter Eight, from Antoinette’s point of view.

Still trying to decide how to get THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE back into the queue, and if I should buckle down and write the whole book, or if I should dig out the outline, polish it up, and submit the outline and the first few chapters. I could also ask the publisher — he said he wanted to see more from me. The question is, would I be able to make the deadlines set if I sold it on outline, with the new play coming up, the screenplay packets prepped, and the edits on both books coming out this spring? I need to think about it for a few days.

Wednesday, I completed the big editing project for my client, wrote four press releases, finished Jem’s Chapter Seven of TRUE HOME and made solid progress on the next Antoinette chapter, Chapter Eight.

I hunted for my outline notes for BALTHAZAAR and can’t find them, so I’ll have to re-read the fifty or so pages I wrote on the book and go from there. However, I found a lot of other useful material. Now, I have to decide what to do with it — it needs to get out into the world and earn its keep.

Took about two hours to dig out from the storm. Not as much as the storm early in the year — about 12 inches instead of two feet. It was fluffy, so easy to shovel.

I used the electric snowblower, which is a major pain in the ass and doesn’t work well. I bought it to be more eco-friendly than using a gas-powered one. If “they” want us to be eco-minded and give up fossil-fuel-powered tools, then design alternate energy tools that both work and are affordable. Without both of those factors, people cannot and will not change.

This morning, I polished up some exercises for my students and roughed out an article. I’m at the library, catching up. I also had to shovel out the driveway again, since the plow for the street just shoved all the snow back into the driveway.

And then, it’s back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on January 23, 2014 at 10:52 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 23, 2014: Post-Storm Writing  
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Mon. Dec. 30, 2013: How I Develop Material & Juggle Projects

Monday, December 30, 2013
Day before Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Friday was busy, busy, busy. Took the leaves and the recycling to the dump. The place was so busy! But it’s heartwarming to see how dedicated people are to recycling in this area.

Picked up a few groceries, ran some books back to Wheldon Library (and, of course, got out some more), picked up something waiting for me at Sturgis Library, and then headed back. Got out some job pitches, worked with students.

Set up the development notebook for the Stowe-Eliot-Bronte project, even though I’m not really sure what it is yet. Ordered some books for it via the library network. Wrote up the passage that got the wheels turning in the first place, sourced it, and copied out the bibliographic notes.

Dug out the Hedrick biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Using the index, I tried to cross-check the info from the Eliot bio, and didn’t find confirmation. So I’ll be re-reading the entire biography — which will give me plenty of background for the piece in general. Asked a friend who knows a lot about the Brontes if she’d ever heard the reference. Found the Rugoff biography of the Beecher clan, and there’s a reference to the same incident, but not enough to hang my hat on. I hope getting my hands on the volumes of letters will give me what I need!

My friend and colleague Nancy Rubin Stuart’s wonderful book DEFIANT BRIDES was named a Best Book of 2013! I’m so thrilled for her. It’s an amazing book, and well-deserved recognition.

Saturday, I finished and printed out the pilot episode of a one-hour drama. It’s in the editing queue. I started the third teleplay for this packet, an adaptation of one of my novels. Got some good work done on it and fell in love with my characters all over again.

Unfortunately, I was also under the weather, sneezing and coughing, although I didn’t feel that bad. I felt much worse by Sunday, where I ended up fighting some sort of stomach upset. Don’t know why — I’ve been the least self-indulgent during this holiday season that I’ve been in years. Irritating.

Read Donna Leon’s THE GOLDEN EGG, one of her Venetian mysteries, which I love. Also started Kim Edwards’s THE LAKE OF DREAMS, which is quite good, and got some reading done on the Stowe bio. Treated myself to a chapter in an excellent art history tome as background for a different project.

Got some good work done on TRUE HOME, the initial novel in the Sparkle & Tarnish series. I love the way it’s developing. I’m working very differently with this project — developing a section, writing a few chapters, typing them, adapting them to script. The amount of research is enormous, and I’m looking forward to layering in a lot more detail.

I spent hours with Gilded Age Mansion house plans over the weekend, and am about to design their NYC mansion, remembering that they’ve taken over a mansion that was originally built several years earlier by an eccentric, and then having their architect modify it for the Gilded Age. As always the librarians at the New York Historical Society, the New York Public Library, and the JP Morgan Library have gone out of their way to be helpful, and will all be thanked in the Acknowledgements.

Speaking of Acknowledgements, I start keeping a list as soon as I need to ask someone for something when I’m researching a book. Every time someone is helpful, I add that individual to the list, so by the time the book is ready to go through the production process, it’s all there, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting anyone. Again, something I learned the hard way by not keeping track during the writing and then screwing up and forgetting people when the manuscript went to press.

Hey, if you can learn from my mistakes, they’ll have been worth it!

Still a little queasy this morning, but have a lot to do. I have an editing intensive workshop starting on the 6th, and I need to polish up the exercises. Those students are getting a lot for their money, but they’ll also have to put in a lot of work!

I want to wait and run my errands tomorrow, but I will have to run down to Centerville Library later today to drop off/pick up some books. Yes, I go to one of the local libraries ALMOST every day.

I want to get some work done on the novellas, the teleplay, and the airship steampunk piece. I need to get back into the latter — I’ve lost my momentum in it, and that’s a shame. I need to find those threads again and get back on track.

Day before the dark moon is always my lowest-energy day of the month. I’d like to crawl back into bed, but that is not an option.

I can’t believe 2013 is nearly over. It’s been challenging, and I’m ready for a better year next go-round!

Devon

Fri. Dec. 13, 2013: Friday the 13th!! Yay!

Friday, December 13, 2013
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy day yesterday. Wheldon library in the morning, lots to do online. But worked through the list and got it done.

Home, quick bite to eat, and then it was my turn to help out at the Spectacle of Trees in Hyannis, at the JFK Museum. Every participating organization gets a shift, and today was NMLC’s. There were four of us staffing the place, which was fun.

I was amazed by how many people came through. 17 non-profits have trees up. People buy tickets, see what’s on the trees and by which organizations, and place tickets in the boxes. Each organization gets the $ amount from the tickets in that box, and one person wins the entire tree and all the prizes with it. You can win $10,000 of stuff for a $10 ticket. And everyone’s decorating designs are very creative.

I met a woman who’s a first grade teacher in Chicago. Her class just did a project on marine life, so I’m sending her the NMLC link, so that her class can follow the Center for the rest of the year.

Most people were lovely. Some were grabby, and had to be spoken to. And one group had a toddler who was very grabby and they would only watch him if one of us stood right there and made sure he didn’t touch anything. It wasn’t fair to the kid, either — he doesn’t understand why he can’t play with everything. Some people just don’t think.

Went over to work at Hyannis library after my shift, but there was no room for me, so I had to dash to Sturgis and grab a few minutes there.

Home, chicken with gravy and rice for dinner, baked a chocolate sour cream cake, and then read, before going to bed early.

Busy day to day — storm’s coming in this weekend, so we have to batten down. I plan to get a LOT of writing done.

Packed up some gifts that have to go out today. I’m so far behind on cards, I may send them out for Valentine’s Day instead.

So happy with the work on the Sparkle and Tarnish series – both the novel (and the prose series development) and the television pilot.

Off to work.

Devon

Thurs. Dec. 12, 2013: Writing and Timing

Thursday, December 12, 2013
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Good writing day yesterday on the novella, one of the screenplays, TRUE HEART, and the television pilot. Also got some correspondence done. Still struggling with the climactic sequence of the other screenplay, but I think I’ve got it now.

I HATE working in Courier font, but for screenplays and teleplays, that’s the standard, so that’s what I’m working in. The same way one should draft the novel or short story in Standard Manuscript Format, because it’s easier to change OUT of it than INTO it per submission guidelines, it’s easier to work from the first draft in Courier for scripts.

The morning look-for-internet-because-Comcast-continues-to-behave-like-a-douche was at Sturgis Library, which was a zoo. Kids running around unsupervised, screaming. Excuse me, this is a library, you have a children’s room. KEEP them there. But I managed to work with students, send out a short story and a requested manuscript, get out some interview questions, pitch for jobs, and catch up on email.

The editor with whom I thought I’d straightened things out is back to random payment dates again, and I am not amused. I only have one more set of articles due at the beginning of January, and then I’m done.

Got some more writing and research done at home in the afternoon, then headed over to Wheldon Library for a quiet hour on the internet. A few things to catch up on, but mostly, under control.

Having to go elsewhere for a connection certainly makes me realize how much time I WASTE jumping on and off the internet all day. The mileage and drive time are annoying, and I have to keep running lists going in both directions of what needs to be done before I go in the other direction, but I am being productive, for the most part.

Iris has decided that it’s too cold to sleep outside the covers, so now she’s sleeping curled against my lower back. I have to be careful when I roll over in the night not to squish her.

Watched the BBC remake of THE 39 STEPS last night. Wow, was the continuity a mess. He’s got a briefcase in one shot; it’s gone in the next. He’s running down a lane without anything in one shot; he has a lantern in the next. He’s in his pajamas in one shot; he’s wearing a fisherman’s sweater (miles away from civilization or anyone who could have lent it to him) in the next. Drove me nuts. The leads were pretty good, the locations and camera work were great, but the continuity and the overly-melodramatic music took away from the piece.

Reading Danny Danziger’s book on behind the scenes at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fantastic book, and makes me miss the museum terribly. During this season, I always visited the Angel Tree in the Medieval Hall. I have the calendar and the book about the tree, which is a comfort, but it’s not the same as making the yearly pilgrimage to SEE it.

The only thing I miss about New York are ethnic food delivery at odd hours and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Devon