Fri. April 8, 2022: Listening and Learning

image courtesy of El Caminante via pixabay..com

Friday, April 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

Rainy and chilly

I managed to get my email Inbox down to something manageable, dealing with over 500 emails yesterday. I also wrote three pages on the psychological ghost story radio play. I have to figure out a “why” for one of the characters, and then the rest will fall into place.

I attended the first day of the Buddhist summit. The sessions were interesting, and I learned a lot. I learned some new meditation techniques, very different from the way I’ve worked before. Because I’m not tied to one particular school of meditation, I think it’s easier for me to flow between techniques and try new things than for some others who have had years of intensive training in a single, particular school. There was a session of Tonglen training, a technique completely new to me, and that kind of turns some of the other techniques inside out. Always good to expand one’s practice. There’s a lot to think about, and to wrestle with in terms of taking the practice out into the world. I think many of the tenets are naïve, when we are in a situation of fighting the evil we currently face.

The sessions were short talks, followed by practice. I liked that the workshop leaders led us into the practice, and then let us sit in silence. Too often, in group meditations, the teacher talks all the time. I like to be led into the silence and then left there for the remainder of the session.

Choreographer Arawana Hayashi’s session resonated the most strongly with me, and I look forward to exploring and experiencing more of her work, both as a choreographer, and in meditation. Pema Chödrön’s talk was both funny and gave me a lot to think about.

I’m looking forward to today’s sessions.

I still turned around a script coverage. I grabbed two more to read today, which gets me where I need to be, money-wise this week. I hope I can grab a script or two to read tomorrow, since I’m taking Monday off, post-vaccine. I’ll have to read on Tuesday no matter what, once I get back from the mechanic. I got out 4 LOIs, although one responded immediately with a demand for unpaid labor. So they are off my list of potential clients and on The List I’m keeping of red flag companies.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We spent a lot of time discussing the Supreme Court.

I am absolutely over the moon that we now have Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson on the Supreme Court. I was terrified during the entire vote, worried that the racist GQP would somehow derail it. I was surprised that Susan Collins kept her word and voted for her. I’m glad Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney did, making Kirsten Sinema’s drama queen bid for attention irrelevant. It’s about time Sinema and Manchin were both made irrelevant. I cried with happiness when the confirmation went through. Kagan, Sotomayor, and Jackson give me hope.

Now, we need to get the seditionist’s husband, the beer-swilling rapist, and the handmaiden off the Court.

Read the latest issue of THE NEW YORKER as my treat at the end of the workday. I’m glad I’ve resubscribed.

I have writing, script coverage, and the summit on today’s agenda. The summit continues through the weekend and through Monday. I hope I’m feeling well enough after Shot 4 to at least listen. I also want to get ahead on next week’s work today and tomorrow, so I don’t have to stress about taking Monday off post-vaccine, and needing to take at least a half day on Tuesday at the mechanic’s.

We had an intense storm last night, with driving rain and high wind. The power flickered, so I turned off the laptop. Took 25 minutes to boot it back up, which makes me miss the Macbook all the more. But it’s working, and that’s what matters.

Got a lovely email from the place where I pitched for the summer radio gig, and I look forward to more conversations with them.

Made cinnamon rolls for breakfast this morning. Just the Pillsbury ones, not from scratch. I want to make a batch from scratch, and I want to compare them. I remember the first time I learned to make cinnamon rolls, in either 7th or 8th grade Home Ec. I also sewed my first skirt in that class, and discovered I liked making my own clothes.

Anyway, breakfast and then back to the page. I need to do a library run and swing by the fishmonger to see what’s fresh today. Have a good weekend, and we’ll catch up next week!

Wed. March 30, 2022: This & That

image courtesy of Bongkarn Thankyakij via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

Partly cloudy and milder

I spend a good portion of each day fussing over the seedlings. It’s a little much, but I enjoy it. It was too cold to put them out on the porch yesterday, even with the sun. Hopefully, it will be warm enough today.

Once I got the laundry back and settled yesterday, I did another section of The Big Project, about 1400 words, which was good. I did a bunch of admin. Now that the 4th vaccination shots have been approved, I have to get that sorted out, and hope our insurance covers them.

I covered a script in the afternoon, which took longer than I expected. Some people are already submitting their Monthology stories (the deadline isn’t until the end of June), which means they probably started writing them during the brainstorming. Good for them, and I can’t let what works for them put me under more pressure.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. They’re already looking forward to Easter break. They’re working hard, and deserve to play.

I have no idea what I’ll write about for the play I’m signed up to write in April. I have a character and an idea tickling at me, but I have no idea if they will work. Well, I can always start and then switch course. Or, I could do another Kate Warne play. I have at least two more one-acts planned (that will then be adapted with some of the other one acts to make a full-length) and one more full-length, although I have to do more research for that one. Frankly, I don’t think I have the time for the research.

Didn’t manage to get in any work on the CAST IRON MURDER revisions, but I hope to do so today.

I need to buy a sketchbook so that I can draw maps of various areas in The Big Project, and keep things consistent.

I fell down a retro research rabbit hole trying to find the banking information I need. I finally contacted a local bank and the MA Bankers’ Association, so see if they know of any banking historians who could answer the specific questions. Everything I’m finding online is too vague. There’s a law library in Pittsfield. Once the car is fixed, I can set up a day and time to go and research in there, if needed.

I was worried about not having enough scripts, but I have two in today’s queue and two for tomorrow. I’m still under what I’d hoped to earn this pay period, but I’m climbing toward where I need to be again.

I’ve been invited to two local art happenings over the next couple of weeks. On the one hand, I want to go, because I’m interested in the work, and I want to get more involved in the local arts community. On the other hand, the very thought of being around other people, especially if they are unmasked indoors, is overwhelming and exhausting. I don’t know if I’m ever going to feel like I can safely socialize again. When I think of how often I was out and about in the NYC years, even working full-time in theatre, taking advantage of everything on offer, it’s quite the contrast. I wonder if we, as introverts, only have a certain amount of energy available for social situations, and when it’s used up, that’s it? There isn’t any more social energy left? Would I have rationed it out, had I known? I doubt it. And I’ve never been that social anyway. Part of it, I think, is because so often I felt forced into social situations on Cape that I didn’t want and that made me miserable, and part of my current exhaustion is backlash from that.

Or maybe it’s because the social contract of trust and community care has been so broken during the pandemic.

Anyway, I haven’t committed to any of the invitations. I will make the decision closer to the events themselves. If I decide to go, yes, I will mask.

I caught up on this week’s issue of THE NEW YORKER (I started up my subscription again). There was an interesting article by Nick Paumgarten about the Margaritaville retirement communities in Florida that serves as additional color to my research on things up here for the retro mystery. The sheer sociability of these communities is exhausting. But it does give me ideas on how to structure social activities in the fictional community. He admitted to running around down there without a mask and then caught COVID. Um, what did he think would happen? I also didn’t find mention of diversity in the communities, which makes me figure there isn’t much. I could be wrong about that, and I’ll go through the article again with a research eye instead of a reading-for-pleasure eye to make sure. But if the claim is they don’t “pay attention” to politics, it indicates they lean right and uphold the white supremacy status quo, so I doubt there’d be much diversity within the community. Again, this echoes the research for the retro mystery; it is highly unlikely that the fictional community would have been diverse. I came across a report on diversity in the area earlier in the research process; I have to look at it again. It was part of a bigger study. I might get in touch with those who created the study to see if there was any way I could have some sort of diversity in my fictional community, or if that just wouldn’t happen in the area in 1957.

The Big Project, revisions on CAST IRON MURDER, a final polish on the newsletter to send it out the door, and a final polish on the grant proposal to send it out the door. Then, it’ll be time to cover two scripts. That’s today’s agenda.

I also have to update my website, and work on new business cards. And do the quarterly postcard, although I might put that off until next week.

Have a good one, friends.

Tues. March 15, 2022: Don’t Get All Stabby On Me

Image courtesy of Thomas B via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

If you’re familiar with Julius Caesar and The Ides of March, you’ll get the reference.

The March mid-month check-in post is over on the GDR site.

Anyway, on Thursday, I got some work done in the morning. I then did the rounds of the library, picking up my birthday cake, post office, liquor store. I participated in Freelance Chat. As I did, I realized that everything I HAD to do before Monday was. . .done.

I’d expected to be working until well into the evening to “justify” taking a three-day weekend. But there wasn’t anything in my script reading queue, I was waiting to hear back on a few things, I’d written my reviews. I could have started the next book for review, or worked on contest entries.

But I didn’t want to.

So I started my weekend on Thursday afternoon. I read books I wanted to read, including THE LOFT GENERATION by Edith Schloss, about abstract and modern artists who started living and working in lofts in NYC in the 1940’s. Excellent book.

Friday morning, we had smoked salmon Benedict as my birthday breakfast, which was excellent. We got into the car to head out for the birthday adventures. One of the windshield wiper blades snapped off, and the check engine light came back on. Really? The car only worked for four days?

I was not a happy camper.

We decided to truncate the day’s plans. We only went to Pittsfield, to the big book sale at the Atheneum. People were still masked, thank goodness, but it was very crowded, and I was uncomfortable. We didn’t stay very long. I bought some jazz and world music CDs, and a couple of books. My mom bought a few books. I couldn’t get near the older, interesting books, because a triad of dealers were there, scooping them up and blocking regular buyers from them.

On the way back, we stopped to get some cleaning supplies, more pots, potting soil, and some groceries to get us through the stormy weekend. People were talking about this storm with more concern than any of the storms so far this winter.

Home and settled in with the new books. I started reading a mystery, didn’t like it after 50 pages, read the ending; liked it less. It was everything that doesn’t work for me in a mystery: a dumb, nasty protagonist; smarmy, vicious ensemble of characters who don’t support the protagonist nor deserve the protagonist’s help; used “witch” as a slur against women; and an undercurrent of racism that I found sickening, like how dare the few black characters encroach on this safe white world. The book goes into a bag of donations I’m putting together for another book sale, and someone else can have it. It is not staying in this house, and I will not read something by this author again.

I had to wash my hands after putting it in the box, to get the stench off me.

I read the other book I’d bought, a paranormal urban fantasy with romantic elements. It worked better. It was a several books into a series I haven’t read, but it was clear about the story (without info dumping on the past). I read the blurbs for the next several in the series; not sure I’ll read them, because I don’t really like the overall series arc. But at least this was a few hours of reading pleasure.

Then, I started THE DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS by Sue Lynn Tan. Wow. Just wow. I read it Friday and finished it Saturday, even though it’s a pretty big book. But the writing is gorgeous. So beautiful. The worldbuilding, the characters, the storytelling. All wonderful. It’s a completely unique fantasy novel. The copy I read is from the library, but I think I will buy my own copy, because this is a book I will re-read.

I’d been stressing out about what to order for dinner on Friday night, worried I’d be disappointed in it. The restaurant I’d planned to order didn’t have anything on its changing menu that I really craved. So, instead, we ordered from the Freight Yard Pub, which isn’t far from us at all, and a couple of people have recommended it to me. My mom ordered her favorite fish & chips. I had stuffed chicken breast, mashed potatoes w/gravy, and roasted vegetables. The portions were huge, and it was quite good. Not a brilliant, life-changing meal, but good. I had prosecco with it, because it’s my birthday and I will damn well drink prosecco.

Although I’m seriously considering making like a Venetian and drinking prosecco regularly when the lunch is fancy enough.

I got so many lovely and loving birthday wishes via social media and email. It really made the day special.

Tessa got me up around 6 on Saturday. It was raining, but quickly changed over to snow. I thanked people for their good wishes, and answered birthday emails.

I spent the day going through books. Reading or rereading some, when I’d finished DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS. Going through some research books I’d gotten out of the library; I extracted what I needed, and they’re in the pile to go back.

I went through some of the art books that are here (I will have to retrieve others from storage, if and when the car is fixed so we can do a storage run). I’m looking for pieces that will inspire the short pieces under the three categories I’ve set aside for them. I looked at some terrific work – I’d forgotten how much impact Judy Chicago’s work has – but nothing that was a catalyst for any of those pieces. I’ll get some books from the college library this week, and see.

The snow kept pounding down, a heavy, wet snow. One of the books I’m assigned for review arrived, and it looks wonderful. I’m eager to dig into it this week.

I rested a lot. It’s a combination of birthday blues, stress about the car, worry about work, and general burnout.

I got a rejection on a short story, which was not unexpected, because it was a stretch market for me, and they were very nice in the letter. I’m going to take a look at it, see what needs to be tweaked, and find another market for it. Because I like it (or I wouldn’t have submitted it anywhere in the first place). It’s a combination of speculative fiction & mystery, with a dose of humor. But not a flash piece, it’s too long for that. And most of the paying markets now seem to want flash.

Had to change all the clocks before bedtime on Saturday, which made me grumble. I hate springing forward. When we fall back, I have extra energy for weeks. When we spring forward, I drag for days.

Up around 6 on Sunday, regular morning routine. Traditional eggs Benedict for breakfast, since it was still birthday weekend.

I rewrote a short story which had been rejected a few weeks back for being “too genre.” Hmm, when the submission call says they read regardless of genre as long as it fits the theme, then say something is too genre, gives me important information.

Anyway, I like the story, it’s a ghost story set in a theatre. I rewrote it a bit, to move it away from the submission call’s theme, and changed the protagonist’s name (which was part of the guidelines, and it didn’t suit her). I was looking for another market for it, but it seems ghost stories are now considered horror. This is more of a traditional ghost story, more paranormal with touches of mystery, than horror. I don’t think it’s dark enough for the horror markets I researched. I could go a little darker, but going too much darker would go in a direction I don’t really want.

However, there’s a middle section that’s set outside of the theatre (the beginning and end happen in the theatre). It underlines a theme and places a red herring. But maybe if I change that and keep all of it in the theatre, it might work better, and skew dark enough to fit some of the horror submission calls without going darker than I want for this particular piece.

I have to percolate on that a bit.

A friend sent me a list of markets, and, researching through those, that might be the way to go, so that it’s still within my vision, but still suited to one of these paying markets.

There’s no deadline on this, so I can let it simmer for a bit.

Did a little bit of work on Gambit Colony. If I get pulled down into that rabbit hole again, it will throw too much other work off track, but, as is typical, when I’m under stress, that’s the piece that soothes me best to work on. I’m writing a section set in Venice right now, which makes me happy.

Started work on a short piece that’s been rolling around my brain for a bit, inspired by a submission call. Not sure where it’s going yet. I want it to be short, no more than 1500 words, but it’s hitting the right 1500 words that’s the trick. 1000 words would be even better. The deadline’s not for a couple of months, so we’ll see.

I put together chicken and vegetables in the crockpot. I’d forgotten to start it right after breakfast; it was late morning before I remembered, but that’s what the “high” cooking speed is for, right?

I planted the cherry tomatoes and the mini cucumbers directly into their final pots. No need to transplant. I’m going to have to get more potting soil, because I still have hollyhocks, four o’clocks, nasturtiums, tansy, sweet peas, and mallow to plant. And the night-blooming jasmine coming in at the end of the month or early April, which will need repotting. I also planted more cat grass, since Charlotte and Willa only have a few stalks left. I put them in a different pot; I will alternate between the two pots, but I need to order more seeds for that. I’ll order the bigger batch this time.

There’s a new combination of plant center/art gallery opening up next month on Main Street, in walking distance. I am very excited.

The afternoon and evening were spent reading contest entries, with Norah Jones on the CD player. Finished the bottle of birthday prosecco, too, that I opened on Friday.

Charlotte started poking at me around 5, but Tessa was quiet until 6. Because it’s darker now in the morning, she’s staying quiet. Although that doesn’t explain why, so often, she woke me at 4 over the winter, because it was darned dark then.

Good yoga session. I’ve been hit and miss on the morning yoga the past few weeks, and need to get back into that routine. I feel better when I stick to it.

The side table to the left of my desk, in front of the large windows, has always been one of Charlotte’s favorite’s hangouts, but Tessa has discovered it. She can see more birds from it, and she is very excited.

I sent out some LOIs; got back some auto-responses for tests, which meant I shrugged off those companies and put them on The List. If they’re not going to read my cover letter, where I clearly state I don’t do unpaid labor as part of an interview or pre-interview process, and that I have a specific contract for it, then it’s not a company with whom I want to work.

Did some work on The Big Project, but not enough. I feel I’ve lost the tone of the piece, and I need to get that back.

It was warm enough on the front porch to move out the seedlings, to encourage them.

Took a big load of books back to the library; they only had one for me to pick up. It was bright out, and things are melting. We’re supposed to actually move into warmer weather this week, in the 50’s and 60’s, which would be nice.

Made my favorite comfort Chinese peanut butter noodles for lunch. I’m so grateful not to have nut allergies.

In the afternoon, I did some brainstorming on the Monthology piece, caught up on some emails, did some client work. Stepping back from interacting with someone online, because she continues to make harmful decisions, then whines about them, in spite of having a network of professionals around her giving advice on better decisions. I can’t participate anymore. She’s made her decisions; they are hers to make; I’m not spending time putting together ideas and resources that she won’t bother to use, but will whine about being exploited, because she went against advice and made those choices. It’s a never-ending circle of frustration, and I don’t need to participate. I no longer respect her, and I’m beginning to actively dislike her, which is not a relationship worth maintaining. “Oh, she’s young” is not an excuse, because one of my editors is several years younger than this individual, but several decades smarter.

 I re-subscribed to THE NEW YORKER, which I’ve missed since my subscription lapsed last July. They offered me a great rate, so I was delighted to accept it. Which means I need to get some more magazine holders.

Turned around a script coverage. I should have started the spring cleaning, but I did not. I’d hoped to put in about two or three hours each weekday, and then three or four on the weekends, but I don’t know how that will shake out. The Chewy food order arrived early, and the cats were happy to play in the box. A pair of Nine West flats I’d bought on sale also arrived, earlier than expected. They look much better in person than they did in the picture, thank goodness, and fit. I still need a good pair of cross trainers in which to run errands on foot, and walk in the various parks, but the flats will be good for going to museums, networking events, etc.

Read contest entries in the evening. It will take me several hours today to enter the scores.

Tessa woke me at 4:30 this morning. I moved to the couch, dreamed about some sort of undercover operation where I had to be a flower arranger (if you know how bad I am at that, you’ll see why there’s no way I could pull it off). I overslept until seven, which put back my day.

I might rearrange my day anyway today, to go off and do some research later this morning. I want to work on The Big Project first. Then, I ‘ll go do my research. I have another script to turn around this afternoon, and more contest entries. And I need to get in touch with the mechanic about the next appointment for the car. I’m dreading that, but it needs to be done.

Almost all the snow has melted, so let’s hope this is it for the winter. Yeah, we’ll move into mud season next, but that’s still better than snow.

Lots to do today, so I better get to it. Have a good one!

Tues. July 21, 2020: Die for Tourist Dollars Day 62 — Heat Wave

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image courtesy of klimkin via pixabay.com\

Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Hot and humid

Busy weekend.

Friday, I got some blogging and LOIs done. I dashed down to the library in the rain to drop off some books in the book drop and do a curbside pickup.

I did the update on SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM. I still have to do a few little tweaks in the script section, and I added information on radio and corporate scripting.

Unfortunately, the formatting on the examples doesn’t hold. I’m either going to have to save them as PNGs or JPGs and insert them, or provide a link for a downloadable PDF of the examples. I hope it’s not the latter, because that’s just more trouble for everyone all the way around.

Revised THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS. Will do one more proof, and then upload it to the system.

Starting updates on THE SERIES BIBLE this week. Again, that has example sheets, and I need to figure out how to do those so they hold the formatting. Otherwise, they’re useless.

Did some client work, but didn’t get what needed to be done finished, so had to put in some time over the weekend on it, and then do a test run yesterday, to make sure it works.

Saturday, I wrote 24 pages on Gambit Colony. Sunday I wrote more, finishing Book 4. Finally. Too bad it’s not the book I needed to finish. But it’s done. Book 5 is an Interlude book, much shorter, and I’ve written a bunch of material for it already, so that should go pretty fast.

Famous last words.

I cleaned the house, did three loads of laundry, caught up on the classwork for the Book of Kells class.

I got a negative response on an LOI. Kind of a rude email, actually. But I did what I always do: thanked them for getting back to me, saying I’d rather get a disappointing response than no response at all. I got an almost immediate note in response thanking me for being so gracious. Which surprised the hell out of me.

I was saddened by the death of John Lewis, and enraged by the Gestapo-like troops deployed to Portland. They must be stopped.

My Trusted Reader gave me her notes on the VISCERAL INVISIBLES script. They are the best notes I’ve ever gotten on a script, and that includes by producers. It was interesting that the two atonal things she picked up on had been added at the behest of a producer, and I’d felt they didn’t work. She sent two pages of single-spaced notes and I can use ALL of them. I see ways to integrate all of it, without completely having to break down and rebuild what I have.

I’m excited to get back to work on it, although I’m not sure when I can do so.

Up way too early on Sunday.

Wound up finishing the 4th Book of the Gambit Colony series. There’s always a high that follows (even though that wasn’t the book I should have been working on). I did the first chapter of the 5th book.

I should have done a bunch of other stuff. I didn’t.

Instead, I sat outside on the deck with a Very Strong Martini and read the latest issue of The New Yorker. Because I felt like my brain was rotting.

Monday, I went onsite to do work for a client. I got a lot done, and was on my own for most of it; when I overlapped with a colleague, we took precautions.

Swung by the library to drop off/pick up books. Came home, decontaminated, caught up on email, then worked on a website project. I’m trying to take it off line while I build it, because the stress of building live is hurting my ability to make good choices. I struggled with a lot of the templates, because they would not do what I wanted.

So the airlines are whining that they’re losing money. What did they think would happen? First of all, anyone with any sense is not travelling. Second, those who travel aren’t the people anyone wants to be around anyway. Third, the airlines aren’t paying attention to health and safety protocols, such as when they let Ted Cruz fly without a mask. So, again, anyone with any sense is going to stop flying for the moment, especially with the infection rate soaring. Fourth, the airlines got billions of dollars in bailout money. Instead of investing in their workforce and long-term protocols, they paid off executives and did stock buy backs.

The airlines have only themselves to blame. Several of them SHOULD go under. Airlines have made flying a nightmare ever since they monetized the 9/11 attacks. It’s not about security – it’s about finding ways to make people spend more money once they’re through security and on the place.

They deserve to go under.

New airlines need to start up that actually give a damn about the people paying the bills.

I’m headed out early this morning for blood work; later, I’ll have to do a Trader Joe’s run for basics like bread, milk, and eggs, and a few other things. Then it’s client work, writing, course work.

Wed. Sept. 5, 2018: Trying to Fuse the Past and Present Selves

Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Saturn goes direct tomorrow, thank goodness.

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice, where I have a post up about teachers.

Busy weekend, and, emotionally difficult.

The writing went well, although it wasn’t enough, it’s never enough. But Sunday, in particular, was strong on RELICS, writing two and a half chapters.

Cleaning out boxes from the basement. It’s slow going, because there are many, many boxes. And I want to deal with EACH ITEM in each box, and make a decision on it. I’m tossing a good deal; found a few things to sell or give away. Some of the books are dusty and damaged, and I’m trying to restore them and repack them so I know what I have and where it is.

I’m finding a lot of mysteries, especially those written by women, from the 1990s. Books when Sisters in Crime was just coming to prominence, when the writing was fast and fresh and determined. I really feel that women’s rights, in general, have gone backwards since 2001. There have been some writers that have managed to break out, but so many have been forced into an ever-tightening formula that dumbs down the characters to make the readers feel better about themselves. There were so many more books dealing with different approaches to real issues. Definitely not enough diversity in either the writers or the characters. But when I look at these books and I look at a lot of what’s out there now, we’ve definitely backslid. Formulas are more restrictive; where characters used to be non-conformists and were accepted by the community by the end of it because of what they brought to the table, too many now are conforming by the end of the books. I see a loss of the independence we strove so hard to gain.

I wonder where some of these authors, who were so important to me then, have gone. Are they still writing? Did they give up or move onto other things, when they said all they felt they had to say in this arena? We all move and change. But I’m wondering what happened and where they are.

Once I started working on Broadway, I wasn’t active in most writers’ organizations for a long, long time. They met in the evenings; I worked. Even though I wrote, and I wrote every day, the bulk of my life was caught up with the theatre. The saying “Theatre is a jealous mistress” is not just words.

I still read a lot and constantly bought books (hey, Broadway salary, I could afford it). But, as I go through these boxes of books, I see that particular authors fell off my radar. It was the days before social media; heck, re-reading my 1995 diary, I’d just started on CompuServe.

Speaking of which, I found and re-read my journal form 1995. I was making the transition from off-Broadway to Broadway (which is huge; don’t ever let anyone tell you that different types of theatre aren’t vastly different). I was getting into the habit of writing every day (or, at least, most days). I was working 8 shows/week. I was also out at least 5X week at museums, gallery openings, screenings, music, other shows, etc., etc. A very full NYC life. I had a lot of energy, although I lived in a perpetual state of exhaustion.

I’d forgotten how much I’d dated that year. And, looking back, I’m grateful I didn’t wind up long-term with any of them!

I cry for my younger self, who, depending on how you look at it, was either naive or stupid. But I’m grateful for those experiences.

The problem with finding so many books is that I want to sit down and re-read most of them! That slows things down, too.

This cleanout is a combination of wonderful and painful.

I’m so close to the end of this draft of RELICS. And it feels like the horror movie where you run down the hall and it keeps getting longer.

Sad to hear about the death of Carole Shelley. We worked together on WICKED. A talented, formidable woman both on and off stage who did not suffer fools a all.

There are so many other issues I want to discuss – THE NEW YORKER acting like idiots offering a headline slot to a white supremacist – cancelling didn’t solve the issue. The joke of SCOTUS hearings – Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley are an embarrassment to the Senate. If Kavanaugh was actually worthy of the slot, he would request the hearings postponed and all the records released. The fact that he’s not demanding transparency tells us all we need to know.

 

Published in: on September 5, 2018 at 2:50 am  Comments Off on Wed. Sept. 5, 2018: Trying to Fuse the Past and Present Selves  
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Tues. Dec. 19, 2017: Holiday Hamster Wheel

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy weekend, but not as productive, writing-wise, as I wanted.

I wasn’t able to get the rest of the cookie platter deliveries done on Friday, due to weather. I knew most people wouldn’t be around over the weekend, so they’ve been bumped to this week.

I was exhausted by the car repairs Friday, even though it went well. I find it stressful. But the car purrs like a tiger, and is happy.

I turned around the proofs for TRACKING MEDUSA, and have the next set to proof. Hopefully, we’ve caught everything. I should have done them this weekend, but I wanted to come back to the text with fresh eyes. Yeah, right. I needed a break and procrastinated!

Continued decorating Friday, Saturday, and it was Sunday by the time the decorations were all up and the boxes put away. Took me a month to decorate the house, but it looks great! It feels good, too, and that’s so important. For all I love to travel, I’m very much hearth and home.

Friday afternoon, I finished the gifts that had to be mailed and got them to the post office. We are so lucky — the people who work at Centerville Post Office are amazing!

Saturday, I sat my butt in the chair and wrote the holiday cards. Once I actually sit down, I enjoy the process. I love to reconnect with people; while I send cards to many of those with whom I interact regularly, there are also those where we only connect that once a year.

I realized I should do a direct mail piece, once the two novels move distributors and the new websites are up, about my books to this targeted list. They know I write, but I haven’t given them enough information.

Because my webhost, 1and1.com, is so slimy — I mean, have you ever heard of a webhost that won’t allow simple jpgs to go up on a site without additional charge? Anyway, it’s put the kybosh on the holiday promotions I’d planned. I lost the holiday market this year, because I couldn’t properly promote. Because of the distribution move, I need to be able to have the information, along with the covers and media kits, ON MY WEBSITES. And my host won’t allow it. The repeal of net neutrality early for their customers, I guess.

I didn’t expect to make a gazillion dollars on holiday sales, but I usually make a reasonable amount that helps push me through January and February. Not this year.

I’m going to demand my money back for this final quarter. They did not deliver the services promised in the contract.

Anyway, once everything is moved, I’m going to do a direct mail promotion to my holiday list, and then I’m also working on some other cool promotions winter going into spring, with a nice big one for the Coventina titles while THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY releases, joining PLAYING THE ANGLES on the shelf.

I ran out of stamps on Saturday — I’d miscalculated. Well, math has never been my best subject. The post office was open an extra hour and I ran down to re-stock. Well, the line was out both doors into the parking lot! I couldn’t believe how many people were mailing stacks and stacks of packages! Most people mailed at least five; many mailed at least ten! Everyone was in a good mood, though, and we were laughing and joking and talking about how great our post office is, and how we love supporting them.

Came back, finished the cards. One mail carrier took the first batch when he dropped off a package; our regular guy arrived just a few minutes after I finished the last card. All good!

Did some work on the aging novel. I’m going to add menopause into that. Too often, it’s depicted as cute and funny when, in reality, it’s miserable and interferes with life.

Sunday, we finished decorating and put things away –which took nearly all damn day.

In and around that, I wrote the first chapter and a half of a piece I’m playing with — it could be a valid novel in its own right, but it also serves a more personal purpose, as in trying to figure a few things out.

Yes, I SHOULD have worked on other things, but I needed the break.

Monday, was back to work on SERENE AND DETERMINED — I’ve figured out at least part of the second act, and where I want to go with it, but I need a good ending. I have to trust that, as I write, I’ll get there. This play has been quite a challenge. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s amazing how every play, every script, every novel, takes on its own life and demands its own process. If I tried to force everything into the same process (which I have tried — and it’s failed), it takes the life out of the work.

I needed an infusion of Janet Malcolm’s writing. I like her work. Over the weekend, I re-read THE JOURNALIST AND THE MURDERER, and am reading THE SILENT WOMAN. Both fascinating, and both bring up issues about journalist and subject that are more relevant today than ever.

I’m about two issues behind on my NEW YORKERS, but I’m hoping to catch up next weekend! (When I’ll be three issues behind).

One client meeting was cancelled yesterday, so I was on site with another client, and then has some other meetings.

I’m working on a proposal for a workshop — they might have their full roster, but just in case, I’m going to pitch to this organization.

This is a busy week, especially with the Solstice on Thursday, and Christmas next weekend into early next week!

 

Wed. Aug. 23, 2017: Ground To Cover, Books to Write

Wednesday, April 23, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Lots of ground to cover. Lots went on.

Friday was a prime example of Mercury Retrograde. The negotiations broke down with the gig I’d been offered and the offer was rescinded. It could have been worked out, but the other side’s position of not allowing disagreement or discussion made it impossible. Although the whole situation left me feeling bruised, better to know early on and not go on than be mired in it and have it worse later on. I also found out something, that, had I known it about the company, I wouldn’t have pitched to work there in the first place. That is totally on me — I did not do my due diligence on the company. I looked at the parts of the job that appealed to me, rather than looking at the whole thing.

Mercury Retrograde is a time when people are likely to mis-communicate and mis-understand each other. It is also a time when one is supposed to avoid signing a contract. I’d hoped I could circumvent the possibilities with it this go-round and it didn’t work out.

I did some research for another publication with whom I’m in discussions. Coming up with suitable pitches for them will be an intriguing challenge.

Worked on the proofs for PLAYING THE ANGLES. Grateful to the copy editor for the catches, and annoyed with myself that I didn’t catch them. But that’s why one puts another pair of eyes on it, isn’t it? Also, reading the digital proofs on the Kindle, and then looking at the manuscript/Track Changes made me realize more than just looking at the manuscript on the screen.

I’m learning a lot with this process, which is great. Each book should teach something. The craft in each book needs to build on the previous books.

The cover for “Labor Intensive” is done — finally, I think we’ve hit on the style and tone for these covers. The cover of “Plot Bunnies” was then re-worked, to fit the series.

Now I just have to finish the damned piece! I’m cutting it a little too close for comfort.

Friday night into Saturday morning, we were woken by the most intensive rainstorm we experienced since moving here. Torrential. By the time we got the windows closed, water was across half the room. Dried pretty quickly, thank goodness. But it was hard to get back to sleep.

Saturday was the counter protest to the so-called “Free Speech Rally” in Boston. After Charlottesville, and the Narcissistic Sociopath’s response on Tuesday, supporting the white supremacists, I was worried that the violence would be worse in Boston than it had been in VA. I was wrong, and glad to be so proven.

100 people showed up for the rally. 40,000 showed up in an anti-hate counter protest. The “rally” lasted a little less than an hour. There were some arrests — 33 was the last number I heard on the news — and protestors were afraid of people playing the tuba.

The counter-protest had music (tuba, drums, bagpipes), dancing, and anti-hate chants. Had the rally ACTUALLY been about “free speech” and not “hate speech” — the organizers would have welcomed the counter protestors and invited some of them to speak at the “rally”.

I felt the mood was much darker and more cynical than at the Women’s March in January — or maybe that’s because my mood is so much darker and more cynical. Still, I think we can all be proud of how Boston behaved — a mostly peaceful protest standing against hate.

The Narcissistic Sociopath tweeted against the march at first, calling it “anti-police”, and then somebody changed his tune, and he started praising Boston. There was a lot of discussion on social media about mis-spelling “heal” as “heel”. Yes, it could have been a Freudian slip; it could also have been Auto-Incorrect. I certainly struggle with that enough when I’m typing on my phone. Even when I check it before hitting send, Auto-Correct sometimes changes it just as I hit “send.” So the spelling is not an issue where I feel I have any right to criticize. Content, yes. Spelling — when I’m able to overcome Auto-Incorrect on a regular basis, then I can.

I read over the short story I’m not sure where to place, the one where a friend thinks it’s the germ of a novel. I see possibilities. At the same time, I wonder how I can possibly expand a piece intentionally tightly written to be under 8K to novel length. With a good plot and outline. Strengthen the supporting characters. Add a couple of subplots. The potential is there; it’s just making the time in the schedule to get it all done without dropping the ball on anything else. I’ve already pushed back several manuscripts that I fully believed I could have out the door this year.

I put in the changes to PLAYING THE ANGLES — it can go back out today. I still want to look at it again before it goes to publish.

Monday was my “day off” — just like in theatre days. I enjoyed myself, preparing for my trip, and reading E.J. Kahn’s memoir of his years at THE NEW YORKER, and having fun, both virtually and in real life, with the eclipse. We only had a partial here, but it was interesting — the birds upset, the cats restless, everything going quiet except for the crickets, the quality of light all wispy, shadowy, and textured. Eerie silence. Then, getting brighter — Bratty Bird, our resident nuthatch, was the first to start yelling. When I stepped onto the deck, the Murder of Crows who hangs out around here came right up to tell me all the news. They are so funny!

Things brightened up quickly, and, of course, the damn neighbor started right back up with their damned power tools. Could we have 24 hours without them once in awhile, please?

There was a passage of only a couple of paragraphs in Kahn’s memoir, but it sent me on a fun “what if?” for either a section of a piece I’m already outlining (mostly likely) or its own piece.

Making time for all of this is the key.

Tuesday, we were up at 4:30 AM and out of the house by 5:30. After a bit of parking lot kerflamma, we were on the 6:30 AM ferry to Nantucket. It was great — only about ten people and a dog on the whole big ferry. Mostly truck drivers, who settled themselves onto the benches and went to sleep. Beautiful and quiet.

I meant to write on the 2 hr. 45 minute ride — I got about a page written. But it was so beautiful that I just sat back and enjoyed it.

A friend met us at the dock. We went to breakfast at Met on Main, which was terrific. We sat outside and I had the enormous and delicious “Met Muffin”. We toured around the town — too many tourists, to which we helped contribute, I’m afraid. Library, Whaling Museum, Oldest House and its Kitchen Garden, etc. Drove around the island, seeing the sites. Spent the afternoon at the house the friends rented for their vacation, sitting out on the deck, looking at the water, and talking. It was fun.

Steven Axelrod’s books will make ever so much more sense now! 😉

5:30 PM ferry back — many more people this time, and lots of dogs. Among the passengers was a pack containing 5 standard poodles — one white (the King), one black and white, one black, and two brown. They were gorgeous and regal and beautifully behaved — better behaved than some of the children on that boat, that’s for sure.

It was still a decent ride back, although not as good as the ride out. The crew on the ferry is always terrific, and boy, they sure know their stuff.

Home a little after eight. The cats were upset, and relieved we were back. Although we had to grovel appropriately.

Hard to get back into the swing of things today. I liked having a couple of days off. I was disgusted by the rally in Phoenix last night. Others are articulating the event far better than I can, so I’ll leave them to it.

I’d really like a few more days off.

But, the manuscript needs to go back to the publisher with the accepted changes. That’s the most important.

I also have to withdraw from consideration for a gig. It sounded like a fun topic and steady work. I was asked for my rate, and gave them a range for the range of work they claim to want. They came back with an offer that’s 1/3 of the lowest number of my range, and said they assign articles to those with the lowest rate first, and higher-paid writers get assigned anything “left over”, while insisting they hired “fantastic writers.”

Um, no. First of all, I don’t know ANY “fantastic” writer who would work for the rate quoted. “Fantastic” writers are paid professional rates and have enough self-esteem not to work for rates that are barely above content mill level. Second, I don’t work for 1/3 of what I told you was my lowest rate. Third, if you’re going to put me on staff for “steady” work, I don’t wait around for the leftover crap assignments, simply because I get a decent rate.

Buh-bye.

On to other pitches.

I’d like to take a few more days off, but work (especially “Labor Intensive”) dictates otherwise.

Onward.

Published in: on August 23, 2017 at 8:43 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 23, 2017: Ground To Cover, Books to Write  
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