Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and warm

My column, The Literary Athlete, is up in the new issue of THE SCRUFFY DOG REVIEW. It’s the last of a three part series on workshops, conferences, and groups, and this installment talks about groups, loops, and crit partners. The link will take you to the main page — click current issue, then click the Lit Athlete. Hopefully, you’ll stick around to read the whole mag!

Yesterday just sucked, every possible way for the majority of it. The tank was empty, but there were still things that had to get done. Sometimes you have to sit there and get it done, no matter what.

It was a challenge to write witty and engaging copy when I felt weepy and listless. I got some work done on a brochure. I’m sure I’ll tweak it, but if something’s not there in the first place, and I’m staring at a blank panel, there’s nothing with which to work. I did a little research. I tried to work on an essay, based on some notes I previously took. The notes are pretty good, and the essay is one of those pieces that needs to cook over time. Do a bit of work on it, put it away, let it percolate, then come back and do a little more work.

Tried to tackle the next section of SETTLING THE SCORE,using yesterday’s comments from the blog readers (which are very helpful, by the way). Unfortunately, the scene was as light and as graceful as a dropped anvil, so I chucked it. I’ll have to attack it from another angle.

In the next draft, I may cut out three characters and a subplot. Two of the characters, in the diner, I may keep for a pair of comic scenes, but the third — love him to pieces, but I think he belongs in a different piece. I was thinking in terms of actors, creating roles for the “perfect ensemble” I’d like to work with, instead of putting story first, and that’s one reason I’m running into trouble. I may very well have a “Max-full” version and a “Max-less” version, send them both to my readers and let them pick.

I did about 3K of work on POWER OF WORDS. I’m restructuring the chapters in this second section quite a bit, and weaving in some of the stuff set up as I’ve worked on the first section. I got the comments back last night — very helpful. Because I’m in the world and the jargon has to come naturally to these characters, I forget that not all of the readers will know what the terms mean. So I have to clarify and integrate that information without making it presentational or preachy. And I’m going to rearrange a bunch of information and let it trickle over several scenes instead of sticking it all in one. I’ve either got to cut one character or give him more to do, because he’s at a bit of a loss right now, and it’s more than because he’s at a life-changing crossroads, poor guy. He’s likable, and I’m not doing him justice. The notes got me really excited about the piece and how to make it more engaging, while still keeping the whole premise of it takes a boatload of people to pull something like this off, and the interpersonal relationships, both personal and professional, get very tricky! 😉 Because I’m worried about length, the internal editor is tripping me up and I’m skimming some things that need fleshing out. I need to work each section in as much detail as is necessary and then worry about cuts later. It’s really detrimental for me to write with an eye towards “this is too long, I have to telescope it” when it’s not on the page yet for me to work with. Internal Editress needs to take a vacation to Tahiti and not return until the draft is done (which I anticipate will take about a year, if I’m lucky).

Also, because POWER OF WORDS is about the making of a minii-series that then gets picked up as a series, I had to outline the mini-series and the first couple of seasons. That’s been fun, but it’s kind of like writing two pieces side-by side! I’m writing a set of arcs for the characters in the piece, and a set of arcs for the characters that the characters play!

I’m re-reading Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD, which I enjoy more this time around — I’m getting different things from it in this reading, which is good. I’m also re-reading Joyce Carol Oates’s published journals from 1973-1982. I usually re-read them once or twice a year as fuel. The remind me to step back and look at the whole creation of a piece, and then step forward to do more detailed work,without losing sight of it.

I’ve got some errands to run today, some bills to pay, some paperwork to file with authorities, and then figure out which writing projects to take with me this weekend. I don’t want to take too much — I need a lot of this to be about not doing a whole hell of a lot, and playing the time moment-by-moment to rejuvenate a bit. In fact, I may well make this a retreat weekend — the job itself is more my physical presence than anything else to oversee things, so I can do what I want as long as I’m there. A little reading, a little writing, a lot of yoga. I don’t HAVE to dash around the city, although if it’s pretty out, I may go to the park.

So, I watched THE GOOD GUYS last night, because I love Bradley Whitford’s work. There’s some good stuff on it, some clever work, and Whtiford is fantastic in it — the detail, the sense of comic timing, the knowledge of when to drop the comic mask to see what’s under it — absolutely great. They pack about two hours’ worth of stuff into a single 47 minute script, which, at times, felt like it was a bit much. Hopefully, that was because it’s the pilot and we needed the set up. It sounds like they’re keeping the character of Julian in there, which is great, because his timing, too, is impeccable. Some of the camera work annoyed me — jerky jump cuts — and the device of overlapping a few seconds from the previous scene when it comes back from commercial break sets my teeth on edge. I’m not a moron — I remember where you stopped before the commercial break, in spite of the fact that there are far too many commercials in proportion to shows now. This stylistic choice that’s in vogue now among the action shows — I find it condescending, and it insults my intelligence. If you insult my intelligence like that, you’re going to lose me. HUMAN TARGET only used it once or twice, thank goodness. I nearly threw shoes at the screen those times (and said many bad words), and, had that been the weekly style choice, I would have had to stop watching the show, Jackie Earle Haley or not. It has the same effect on me that a mirror ball has on an epileptic. Anyway, back to THE GOOD GUYS — there was a lot of clever, fun stuff in it, and I’d definitely watch the show if I was around. I don’t Tivo or DVR, so if I’m not around to watch the show or the re-run, too bad for me.

Back to the page, and I’m feeling a little more optimistic today.

Devon

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snowy and cold

We had about four inches of snow overnight. The roads look pretty clear, so I think I can hold on to my original intent to go to Greenwich Library after lunch to do some research.

Linkage stuff to share: My SDR blog is up “The Intersection of Life and Fiction.” The new issue of THE SCRUFFY DOG REVIEW is out, with my Literary Athlete column on workshops. Kim Smith kindly awarded me a “Prolific Blogger” award last week, and I haven’t had the chance to pay it forward, although I plan to in the next few days.

Acupuncture was great yesterday, and I felt so much better once I was done. Driving to and from Long Island wasn’t all that bad, either.

The writing went very well, so that was a relief. Switching between the long WIP I’ve been working on (tentatively titled POWER OF WORDS) and the dark piece (REDEMPTION KILL) works because they’re very different, and yet, they feed off each other in a weird way. Hey, I’m not going to argue, I’m just going to roll with it.

Two very interesting and different conversations yesterday re: scriptwriting jobs for which I’d pitched. The first really liked my samples, but they need someone local (in LA) to be on-site doing topical revisions — it’s the monologue for a small, daily show. They hired someone to fit that, but wanted to talk to me anyway about future projects. They’re in negotiations for a development deal for some scripted web projects, and wanted to know if they could keep me on file and contact me if and when they had funding for something like that. That project could be done mostly remotely, but, if and when they needed me present, they’d also have the funds to bring me out west as needed, whereas this project doesn’t have the budget. Everything’s an “if”, but they came across as having integrity, and should the opportunity come up, I think we’d work together well. If the opportunity doesn’t come up, at least we had a good talk! 😉

The second conversation was more typical. They like the samples, but wanted me to write a project-specific script for them to “help them make their decision.” Without pay. I refused. I said I’d write a partial at a specially-negotiated rate, but I don’t do free project-specific samples. I know that road — the “employer” sends out different “samples” to different individuals, tells everyone they’ve hired someone else and gets the whole project for free, not paying anyone. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. They also said that, although, in the ad, they’d listed a per-script rate (which I found acceptable but not brilliant), they’d decided that was the rate they were paying for ALL the scripts, not just one. I said no, thank you. These are NOT people I’d want to work with in the future.

So, I watched the premiere of LOST’s final season. I didn’t watch the narrated pre-show explanation — I stand by my belief that if you have to keep explaining things, you’re not telling the story well. I enjoyed seeing old, familiar faces from the first season, the season I liked. I enjoyed the scenes from “the plane didn’t crash” section. I see where they’re going with the rest of it, and I’m just sighing and shaking my head. As I’ve said frequently when I’ve dipped into it once I stopped watching regularly, I enjoy the scene work, but not the overall arc, and I don’t trust the creators to lead me on a fulfilling journey. I’m glad the show gets the support it does, it is truly innovative on so many levels, and I’m glad so many people are fanatically loyal to it — that helps everyone creatively, the show’s creators, the writers, the actors — and, once the knock-offs run out of steam, will hopefully open the door to more innovation. But LOST lost me at the top of Season 3 and never won me back. It’s really well done, and, in spite of it, I feel like they’re over-manipulating the audience. To me, that’s a turn-off. I’ll probably watch it here and there over the coming weeks, and I want to see the series finale to see if my speculations are correct. But I’m certainly not planning my week around it.

Imbolc ritual was lovely, honoring the stirring of what is to come.

Good first writing session this morning. The word count is low, but I’m writing a scene that’s both physically and emotionally complex and I’d rather take my time with it than rush through it. It’s pivotal to the rest of the book, so I’d rather get it mostly right (there’s always room for improvements during revision) than rush through it, blow it, and then not have built a strong foundation for the rest of the piece.

Back to the page for a bit, and then I’m headed off to the library.

Devon

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Museum of American History, Smithsonian, Washington, DC

Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Zero degrees in my neck of the woods today. At least I don’t have the 52 inches of snow they have upstate, or the 3 feet of snow the family in Maine’s dealing with.

I’m going to swaddle Elsa’s carrier in a blanket when I carry her to the car.

The webhost problems with 1and1.com had me in tears. Basically, with the inability to do my work and the billable hours I lose trying to salvage what I can quickly to do a host move — since everything has to be done by hand, nothing can be copied or moved electronically — I lose my entire income for January. Because of a fucking webhost who refuses to fix the problems they created with an “upgrade” that’s made it impossible to do anything.

Believe me, there will be consequences.

If you are looking for a reliable webhost, 1and1.com is not it. I’ve had almost daily problems with them for over a year. Not only is the lack of service appalling, the refusal to fix the problems is even more so. They know they’ve got me trapped. What’s involved in moving three domains, two subdomains, and tens of thousands of emails is massive. It can’t be done in an instant. They can just sit there and laugh at me and keep taking my money. And send me the same instructions, time and time again, that I’ve already told them DO NOT WORK.

I was in tears for a good part of the day yesterday. I shouldn’t pay to be upset.

I finally have a reliable computer, but I have an unreliable web host, and, since I’m a freelancer, I need BOTH to be reliable. I understand the occasional problem, but almost every day for over a year? Outrageous.

I need to keep track of the time spent on this, and then invoice them for it. At my normal rate.

I still managed to get my column polished and out to my editor, and write, polish, and schedule the SDR blog post for Wednesday. I wrote, polished, and uploaded the post for Jan. 20, too. I updated my software. I backed everything up on Time Machine. I set up the Submission and Pitch Logs for 2010. I followed up on some pitches from 2009, and did some check-ins with maybe-someday potential clients with whom I promised to keep in touch. I got to storage and brought back the ornament boxes, so I can pack up the decorations on Wednesday (in our family, it’s bad luck to take down the decorations before the Twelfth Day of Christmas. It’s considered a sign of disrespect).

Planning to spend some time at the page this morning, before bundling Elsa off to the vet. It’s at least an hour’s drive each way and who knows how long we wait before we’re seen, and probably 30-45 minutes in the office, so I’ve pretty much lost the whole day.

I planned for it, so I’m not behind in the writing. But I hate being away from the steampunk when it’s going so well. I don’t want to lose momentum.

I think I’m getting headaches because I need to get new glasses. Won’t be able to get to the eye doctor for at least two weeks. Sigh.

Tired, tired, tired. Would like to spend a day in bed, but don’t have that option for awhile.

Off to the vet.

Devon