Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 8: First Week/Inspiration for the Weary

This is the one-week point. You’ve survived an entire week! Woo-hoo! Congratulations! Have I told you recently how proud I am of you? I am – very, very proud.

The second week is difficult because that’s when you tend to hit a wall. The fresh bloom of love sometimes passes in the project, and it becomes hard work. And sometimes that’s what writing is – work. You push through the tough parts until you reach another place where it flows and you get that inky high again.

Here are some of my favorite books that I read over and over again when I start having trouble putting words on the page. I don’t use any of them as the be-all and end-all, but I use bits and pieces to help fuel me:

MAKING A LITERARY LIFE by Carolyn See
ESCAPING INTO THE OPEN by Elizabeth Berg
SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS by Terry Brooks
WRITE AWAY by Elizabeth George (my process is soooo different, but she has some good ideas)
THE RIGHT TO WRITE by Julia Cameron (the only one of her books I like)
THUNDER AND LIGHTNING by Natalie Goldberg (the best of her writing books, in my opinion)
Any of the Paris Review interviews edited by George Plimpton

There are plenty of other writing books worth reading, but these are the ones I go back to, time and time again, when I get tired.

Come Write In! Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4, Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills, MA

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and beautiful

Sent off the assignment to Confidential Job #1. Worked on the first act of MRS. TILLER’S (DEADLY) STORYTIME, and realized, partway through, I had to change the identity of the victim, because there was no way the death of the first choice could be funny. Since this is comic noir mystery, it can be satirical, but it can’t be creepy. So I pulled back from creepy and made the adjustment. I didn’t finish the first act, as I’d hoped, but I made good progress on it.

In spite of some of the venting I did during the conference the past week, overall, I’m very proud of them. I pushed them very hard — I am a terribly hard taskmaster, and I don’t accept excuses for not getting the work done. You committed to the week — do the work. And, basically, we did a semester’s worth of work on a week. I didn’t let up on them at all. Those who took both workshops were a puddle on the floor by the end of it, but they had the bones of at least one short story/section of a novel AND a flash fiction piece by the end of it if they kept up with the work. Those who let go of the whole, “I see it this way” and “this is the way I always work” and just went for it learned a lot.

I’m re-reading Terry Brooks’s wonderful book on the writing life, SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS. It’s one of the best books out there on the writing life, and it’s a great inspiration when I feel like I’m not quite on track.

Took a walk on the beach at at the Boardwalk near the Amusement Park. It was beautiful out, and so many happy, playful dogs who were grateful to finally be outside after all the bad weather. It was really cute. A new restaurant will open on the Boardwalk next month, behind the ice rink — a tiki bar, no less. That should be interesting.

Figured out how I need to restructure the bridge chapters for ANGEL HUNT. As soon as I get the first two plays out to my producer, I can get back to that. I made some notes — it means restructuring the two chapters almost entirely into one, as I planned, and adding a few scenes. One scene, between Lianna and Zeke, where she initiates the contact instead of Zeke initiating contact, may have to be pushed later. I don’t want to get sucked back into ANGEL HUNT when I’m on deadline, because once I work on ANGEL HUNT, literally nothing else exists for the time I spend within the book. I simply don’t care if everything around me goes to hell in a hand basket. I care about the book and only the book. So I have to find a few days when I can give it my undivided attention with no distractions in order to work on it.

Started work on the next assignment for Confidential Job #1, which is far more complex and high profile than I expected. While I’m pleased they chose me and not someone else on their staff to do it, I also wish I wasn’t under such time pressure. But I’ll get it done, and I’m determined to do it well. Today and most of tomorrow will focus on it, with breaks to work on MRS. TILLER.

I do plan to take another walk on the beach this afternoon, taking advantage of the wonderful weather.

And ABC pulled their station from Cablevision customers — so no Oscars or Oscar viewing party for me! That’s okay — I need to work, and it’s not like we won’t hear about it on all the other channels all day tomorrow anyway.

Back to work.

Devon

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Grey and gloomy

The headache is back, gosh darn it. And I can’t even take a hot shower or bath, because there’s no hot water. The scumbag landlords turned off the water again yesterday, without proper notice, claiming an “emergency” and saying it would be down from 9 AM – 1PM. It didn’t come back on until well after 6. And this morning, the water coming out of the hot water tap is colder than the water coming out of the cold water tap. Yes, they know it’s illegal. They don’t care. And I don’t buy that every time they’re doing renovations, it’s an “emergency”. It’s bad planning and poor workmanship.

Still can’t get into my webhost so I can take down the auto responder. 1and1 gets worse every day. But I can’t dump them until I can pull off my materials, contracts, etc., and they’re holding them hostage.

Ran errands in White Plains yesterday. Didn’t find everything I wanted, but it was a pleasant time anyway. Found lots of things I liked, but can’t use right now, so that was that!

Did conference work, worked on Confidential Job #1. Struggled with the play, but will have to get back to that today.

I’ve been very strict, this conference, that each exercise must fit all the criteria set out or I won’t accept it, and that they must create new material for each day’s work, not pull something from a WIP and slap it up in their post. Yesterday’s exercise had to fit a list of points, and contain two characters. So what does someone do? Posts an exercise with four characters and said she hoped it was okay. It wasn’t, and, if you have to ask, it means you know it doesn’t fit the criteria, so don’t waste all our time by putting it there! It also makes me suspect that the student’s been posting scenes from previously written material instead of creating fresh scenes every day.

As I stated at the top of the week to the class,, part of getting published means following guidelines. And following guidelines in an exercise is good practice for following submission guidelines.

For the most part, the students have been pretty conscientious, other than that and then the person who submitted the same piece in both workshops. It’s been good to have smaller class sizes and be able to spend more time on each exercise. The group in the One Story, Many Voices Workshop is small, but they’ve done some terrific work, and the way they let themselves go as they move from genre to genre is really great.

I need a dose of inspiration to get back on track with my own work, so I think I will re-read Terry Brooks’s SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS.

Today’s about wrapping up the conference and finishing up some deadlined work. I’ll be out of town for part of next week, and can’t have any of it hanging over my head — I’ll just be working on the plays while I’m gone. I wanted to do laundry today, but with the water situation, it’s doubtful I can. Sigh.

Now that Violet’s forgiven me for going to Philly, she’s Velcro-Kitty. She’ll be mad at me again next week for the next voyage!

The weekend’s supposed to be nice – -hope I can get out and walk on the beach a bit. Have a good one.

Devon