Wed. Oct. 4, 2017: Reasons I Should Not Do Nano

Playing The Angles Cover Sm
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Thank you to everyone who has purchased PLAYING THE ANGLES. I hope you’re loving it. I’m getting some wonderful feedback. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, a variety of digital links are here and the website is here.

Busy day — pitches, promo for PLAYING THE ANGLES, updating sites, research for articles, etc.

Finished writing a weird little short story — for me, very weird and out of my wheelhouse. But I like it. Have to type it up and polish it.

Got in the two reviews, and requested two more books to review.

Heard back from a pitch and have a meeting about it tomorrow afternoon, which will be fun. Looking forward to it.

Playing with an idea for a story, a way to channel current rage and frustrations. I started playing with it last night. Not only did I enjoy working the idea, but I felt better about things in general. It’s evolving away from the original inspiration into something much more complex and interesting, which is what a good bit of imagination partnered with craft does. I like even the unlikable characters, and it has a weird humor to it. It’s also out of my usual wheelhouse, which makes it an interesting challenge.

Added a challenging yoga sequence before last night’s meditation. I’m sore this morning, but slept better. Upped this morning’s yoga practice, too. Important to keep it fresh.

Of course, the Nano debate is coming up again, for me and for most writers I know. To Nano or not to Nano? Everyone, of course, has different reasons for doing or not doing Nano. I need to separate my ego at writing 50K in 30 days away from what’s on my schedule.

First and foremost, I know I can write 50K in 30 days. I proved that over 5 bouts of Nano, and, at this point, that’s basically a normal month, although usually spread over several projects.

Second, the Lavinia Fontana play has to take center stage as far as drafting, since it’s due to the producer by the end of the year.

Third, I’m promoting PLAYING THE ANGLES, and by November, will have to get back into finishing THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, so it can release in May.

Fourth, SAVASANA AT SEA releases on November 15, so I’ll be working on pre-release and release material for that WHILE still promoting PLAYING THE ANGLES.
Fifth, I’ll be working on the research and finishing the outline for DAVY JONES DHARMA, so I can start writing it after the first of the year, since it releases in November of 2018.

Sixth, “Miss Winston Apologizes”, the next Cornelia True/Roman Gray story is set to release in November. Which means writing the opening of the following story to go in the back matter.

Seventh, we still have to re-schedule the release of “Labor Intensive”, the next Twinkle Tavern short.

Eighth, the galleys for the re-release of TRACKING MEDUSA will be in full swing by then (since it releases in January) — which also means I’ll have to reshape the material for the opening of MYTH & INTERPRETATION (which drops next July) and the opening of THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE (which releases in January of 2019).

Ninth, I have article and review deadlines to keep the bills paid and a roof over my head.

Tenth, my mother will just have had surgery, and we don’t yet know the next steps.

Eleventh, FIX-IT GIRL has to go out on submission.

Twelfth, I have other original novels that got derailed with this new writing/release schedule that have to get back on track.

Those reasons are all in the “don’t do it this year” column.

In the “gosh I’m tempted column”:

I like riding the wave of creative energy. The air tingles with excitement;

The new novel I’m playing with wants attention; it would give me a chance to write a bit over 1600 words/day to see if it’s actually viable, or just a release valve for the moment;

I love the space where the local Nano group is meeting, and I’m tempted to go and write in community.

The Nano definition has gotten much looser in the last few years, but I still stick to the original definition.

“Doing” Nano means you start a new project on Nov. 1 and you write 50K in 30 days. If you’re not done with your first draft then, you keep going until you’re done, using the Nano momentum.

“Writing Along With” Nano means you’re working on something in progress. Some people use it to work on revisions. Personally, I find the first-draft energy generated by millions of people scribbling for a month too intense for anything but first-draft work.

So why not “Write With” on more than one project?

Technically, one isn’t supposed to work on a script — this NOVEL writing month. The Lavinia Fontana script must take priority. There used to be Script Frenzy in the spring, but I think that petered out. Plus, I can’t be held to a daily word count with Lavinia. She is bound and determined to do things her way, just like she did in life — serene and determined (which I’m seriously thinking of using as the title).

First-draft energy would mean either finishing THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY or using it to push DAVY JONES DHARMA (since I’m already immersed in the world of that series).

Or, it could be used to get NOT BY THE BOOK back on track. Since that’s only got a 55K word limit, it’s do-able.

Or I could use it to keep working on MARRIAGE GARDEN, but that’s developed a solid, innate rhythm, sometimes as much as 3K/day, and I don’t want to disrupt it.

Or, I could work on the first 50K of the new piece I’m noodling with — but DOING Nano would mean I can’t work on it between now and November 1, which just isn’t going to happen. I’m pretty sure this book will run to just under 100K.

Last time I “wrote along with” Nano, about two years ago, I was already working on TIE-CUTTER, but then I wanted to “do” Nano, too, so I started DEATH OF A CHOLERIC — and wrote the whole damn thing while writing daily on TIE-CUTTER, doing what I called “Tandem Nano.” CHOLERIC is out on submission; TIE-CUTTER was put aside to work on other projects, and will go back in the queue late next year.

On an emotional/ego level, I want to do it. On a practical level, it is going to work against me instead of for me. Which should make the decision easy.

We’ll see what happens come November 1.

Lots of fiddly things to do today, and then it’s back to the SAVASANA galleys, polishing the short story, and working on articles.

Back to the page.

I’m glad so many of you are loving PLAYING THE ANGLES! It means a lot to me.

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Mon. May 22, 2017: Getting Back into Gear

Monday, May 22, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Not the productive weekend I’d hoped for, unfortunately.

The stress of the personal issues I’m dealing with hit like a hammer, and it was difficult for me to get anything else done. I managed a little yard work, but not like the marathon hours that my neighbors did. Their lawns are pristine; my mower still isn’t working. I’m hoping the replacement of a simple part or two will do the trick.

I got a little work done on the play proposal, and some plotting work done on the radio play. I need to gear up and get those out the door this week.

On the upside, I re-read Arlene Kay’s Boston Uncommons mysteries, and enjoyed them. I drafted up some reviews I’ll leave for them. I also read a couple of her earlier books, one-offs, which were also fun.

STILL waiting for my first assignment from that editor who, weeks ago, said I was hired. I could have done THREE assignments (and been paid) in this time frame. I’m irritated. Perhaps it’s time to move on and take other work instead. IF I’m ever contacted, I’ll see what my schedule is, or I’ll bow out. If you’re “constantly” adding people to the team and promising “steady” work, it doesn’t take three weeks to make the first assignment.

Drafting a short article and an article pitch that need to go out today. Also want to tackle the short story — I’d like to get that out by the end of this week. I need to do some reformatting on the Topic Workbooks for an additional release venue, and get back to work on the next Topic Workbook. I’m going to try to release one every three months.

I re-read TIE CUTTER, which needs to get back into the writing mix in the next few months, and also did some more research for the next section of FIX IT GIRL revisions. The revision process on this novel is different than my usual, but it’s working for the particular novel, so I’m going with it.

Managed to get in a bit of yard work this morning before the rain started, although I was bitten several times. I hate ants. I’m in full out war with the ants. I know, I should appreciate them and all they stand for, but they’re not keeping their part of the bargain.

I have errands to run this morning, some things to do at the library, and then, hopefully, I can get back to the page. This week will be very stressful, on multiple fronts, and I’m trying to prepare myself, both mentally and physically.

Published in: on May 22, 2017 at 9:02 am  Comments Off on Mon. May 22, 2017: Getting Back into Gear  
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Mon. March 2, 2016: Art, Politics, and Flexibility

Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Busy few days. I was absolutely exhausted by the time I left the library on Saturday afternoon. But it was a beautiful day. I managed some studio time in the good light.

Friday night, I attended my HobNob colleague Leonore Lyons opening reception of her exhibit THE KEY IDEA at Centerville Historical Museum. It was wonderful – her project, a community art piece, is expanding exponentially, and the staff and volunteers at the Historical Museum were terrific. I’m glad I went.

I did a lot of work on notes for SONGBOUND SISTERS, which is pulling strongly at me. I may have to flip work on TIE-CUTTER with work on SONGBOUND, so I don’t lose momentum. I also got another submission out, and did some reformatting a radio play –halfway through, I realized I was doing the wrong formatting for that particular venue. So I’ve got to go back and fix it sometime this week.

Worked on two proposals — one is almost ready to go out, a co-teaching proposal with a friend that would happen locally. The other still needs some more work, and would be regional, not just local, and needs some more work on budgeting.

Sunday was about studio time, and also searching for one more object I needed for the piece. Couldn’t find it. Store after store after store.

Sunday afternoon, I went to a house party to meet a candidate for State Senate named Julian Cyr. One of the board members at the library had invited me, and he’s also an NYU alum, so I was interested. We hit it off immediately, talking like we’d known each other for years. The fact that he listens and responds to what is actually said to him will take him far, I think. He’s got great ideas, lots of energy, he’s smart in knowing how to get things done, and has integrity, the latter of which is very important to me. I’m glad he’s running for the seat that’s about to be vacant — I didn’t hate the current holder of said seat, but didn’t feel he was responsive enough to individuals, and he wouldn’t do things like take on Comcast when they broke the law (since Comcast believes they are above the law).

Cyr is about solutions for the lives people actually live here, not buzzwords and putting band-aids on amputations. The bulk of his work has been in public health, and he sees how what are often split into different issues are all connected. That’s important, especially on Cape Cod, where the fragile ecological balance affects absolutely everything else.

I also met some very interesting people at the house, who are involved in film production. One woman, a casting director, feels very much the way I felt when I left Broadway to come here. I’ve been through it — I offered to be a sounding board whenever she needs one.

Came home a little tired, but also energized by the prospects that, even if politics is going to the insane and incompetent on a national level, we might be able to do something positive here.

More studio time.

Monday morning, up early. Studio time. Finally found the final object for the project – in the 27th store I visited in three days. Times like this, I miss New York, where they actually HAVE what you need in the logical places. More studio time.

I’d rearranged my day for an afternoon appointment with a potential client. Never happened, never heard. Considering how much I needed both the studio time and the writing time, it told me all I needed to know. In the evening, I emailed, wishing them well. Heard back Tuesday morning for a re-schedule, but none of the times work for me, and I’m done. I realize things happen, but it was a “I don’t think you’re the right person but want to talk to you” kind of thing, so I’m not losing anything by not engaging.

Yesterday, sent off the information about the project. Either it will be accepted, or it won’t. If not, I’m still glad I did it — I learned a lot. People kept telling me it would be “cathartic”. It wasn’t. It was painful. But I’m still glad I did it.

Sending it off, and getting it out the door left me exhausted, though.

I got my hair cut — short, cute, a bit vintage. My mom and I went and voted — always a satisfying feeling, although I miss the big machines with the levers. Then, you REALLY feel like you accomplished something!

Our treat for getting out and voting was lunch at Crisp, in Osterville. I had a gift card from the holidays, and their food is excellent. So that was a good choice.

Roasted a chicken for dinner, read a bit, and watched election results until I was too tired.

Today, work turns back to DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I’m behind where I want to be on it, but I think I can catch up during the coming week. I want to get this draft done so it can marinate while I work on SONGBOUND SISTERS, and then, when SONGBOUND is done, I’ll go back to TIE-CUTTER. The creative balance, I think, will work, since there’s more of a difference lining up CHOLERIC, SONGBOUND, TIE-CUTTER, and then the 1947 aviation novel, rather than having CHOLERIC and TIE-CUTTER back to back.

I also want to get the first draft of the play about the 17th Century poisoner in Italy done this month. I want it out the door by June.

Long day at work, with lots of PR writing to get done. Onward.

Published in: on March 2, 2016 at 10:35 am  Comments Off on Mon. March 2, 2016: Art, Politics, and Flexibility  
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Fri. Feb. 26, 2016: Changes to the Freelance Work

Friday, February 26, 2016
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Yesterday seemed longer than it was, although that was mostly because I’m tired.

Over the past few days, I’ve updated both the Fearless Ink and the Devon Ellington Work websites. I decided that I’m no longer going to take on private editing clients, unless I’m hired by the publisher. I’m going to finish up the contracts I have, but enough already.

First and foremost, I need to spend that time on my own work. Every minute I work on something by someone else is time taken away from my own work that I can never get back. In my experience, the bulk of the editing clients: don’t want to pay a fair rate for the work they want done; have no interest in learning craft; don’t meet deadlines; book time and then don’t send in their material, which means I’ve turned down other paying work, and then I’m short. Not every editing client has been like that, and I’ve had some wonderful, exciting stuff to work on over the years, but the bulk of them have fitted into one or more of the above. When I accepted editing work from a publishing house, the work has already been vetted, so there’s at least some craft involved, they are as committed to the schedule as I am, they understand this is a business and not a hobby, and they pay on time. All around, it makes more sense.

Plus, I’m getting more script work and more marketing writing work, and I enjoy it more. So that’s what I’m focusing on. I’ll teach workshops if I’m brought in by an organization and paid in proportion to what I’m teaching, paid a deposit, paid the balance on the final day of the class (not this 30 days after crap), and, if necessary, paid a cancellation fee if they can’t fill the class. I’m happy to develop custom workshops for organizations, but there’s a fee involved.

And if you’re not going to pay an appropriate rate for my work – you don’t get it. I will take my work elsewhere.

Setting those boundaries has removed lots of stress from my life, and I feel much better moving forward. This is a business, not a hobby. I don’t have to accept any and every offer that comes down the pike.

The Freelancers Union motto: “Freelance isn’t free.”

Today will be another long day. I’m going to the opening of an acquaintance’s exhibit this evening, which will be fun. I’m in tomorrow, and then it’s heavy duty studio time. On Sunday, I’m going to a meet-and-greet of a fellow NYU alum who is running for state Senate. But the bulk of the weekend has to be studio time, to get this project in under deadline, and then back to DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, which won’t be finished by Monday, but I hope to finish by the following weekend, because TIE-CUTTER has to get back into the mix and finished, too. I’m very eager to get back to SONGBOUND SISTERS, and am taking notes. I also have to finish the first draft of the play.

And do things like my taxes.

Busy times ahead!

Have a great weekend.

Published in: on February 26, 2016 at 9:57 am  Comments Off on Fri. Feb. 26, 2016: Changes to the Freelance Work  
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Tues. Nov. 3, 2015: Grief & Writing

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Waning Moon
Sunny and mild

Friday was a very sad day for us. Violet died in the afternoon. At least she died at home, where she was loved, and she wasn’t in pain. But we are all heartbroken. We took her body to an emergency care facility in Dennis, where they will take care of the remains.

She was a small, quiet cat, but the house feels empty without her. Iris and Tessa are looking for her. They miss her, too.

There was a lot of cleaning and scrubbing and disinfecting to do, of course. We were already exhausted from the last few days, and there was just nothing left in the tank.

Samhain was sad. It was difficult to pull it together, and I kept the ritual very simple.

On the plus side, the costumes the Trick-or-Treaters wore were delightful. Brought us some joy for a sad time.

Turned back the clocks to standard time. The cats, however, were still on their time, so I was up early anyway.

Sunday was the first day of Nano. I seriously considered quitting before it began. I wasn’t sure I have the heart to do it this month. I’m also tired of Nano and death being so closely associated, year after year. I’m going to be sad for awhile, and I don’t know how I can dig deep enough to work on the books.

But I did it, and felt better for it. I started DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, the cozy mystery set on a fictional island off the coast of Cape Cod. Yup, I stuck in another island near Martha’s Vineyard. Gave the steamship authority a couple of extra routes, too. I wrote the whole first chapter, 2833 words, and felt better.

I then did some work on TIE-CUTTER, getting ready to close out the section set in Hollywood. So my day’s total was 4269. Not a bad start.

The rest of the day was about taking down the Samhain decorations, but leaving up the Day of the Dead items. Again, I kept the ceremonies simple, because I’m just wiped out.

I also baked for the week: cranberry muffins for Monday’s meeting, double chocolate chunk for Tuesday’s Come Write In! session, and oatmeal cookies for Thursday’s session.

I’ve been reading Ted Hughes’s WINTER POLLEN. I know very little of his work. I’m of the generation that fetishized Sylvia Plath, put her on a pedestal, and demonized Ted Hughes. Unfair, but that’s how it was presented — he destroyed her genius, forcing her to have children and subsume her poetry to his, while he catted around. Reality was, of course, far more complicated. The older I got, the less patience I had with Sylvia. But I’d still read very little of Ted’s work.

His essays on Shakespeare are wonderful. I’m not sure I agree with his theories, but they’re interesting, and they certainly give me additional perspectives, next time I go back to the plays. It makes me eager to re-read the plays. I grow wary when I read his writing on Sylvia Plath’s work. He was in an impossible situation. Who knew her work better? Yet who had more reason to protect himself, and, supposedly, the rest of her family? Destroying her final journal — under that same guise of “protection”– is something I don’t think the world will ever forgive. I agree with that. Even if she lashed out at her children and he didn’t want them to read those moments of anger — and it would make sense to resent her children in the moment and write about it in her journal, using that to cure her — that anger or depression or whatever she poured into those final journals is vital to understanding her work. At the same time, I understand the desire to protect self and family (I don’t agree with it, but I understand it), and he’s got a point, that, at the time, she wasn’t the iconic figure she grew into. The sad part is, no matter how good her poetry was, or how much she was likely to improve as an artist, she probably wouldn’t have become the icon she is without her suicide. It’s an impossible, complex situation.

I think I would trust his writing about her work more if it wasn’t in the third person; if he didn’t refer to “her husband” when he meant himself. Again, I can understand the choice in the moment — to keep it sounding more objective. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come across that way. It comes across as cold, and as though the writer has something to hide.

The only one who knows the truth is Sylvia herself, and she only knows her own truth. His truth is different. The children’s truths are different. The rest of her family’s truths are different. They are all parts of the puzzle, and some of those parts are irrevocably missing.

From the outside, though, it remains fascinating. Disturbing, but fascinating.

Yesterday morning, I was up at five. I wrote Chapter Two of CHOLERIC, 2554 words. Difficult words, but words.

I left a little before eight to go to Buzzards Bay for a strategic planning meeting at the Marine Life Center. There’s too much “committee” and “subcommittee’ and yakking in my opinion. Work is not done in meetings; work is done in the space between meetings. I feel like we’re going around in circles, instead of moving forward.

Home, another stint on TIE-CUTTER. Brought my day’s total to 3990 and my full total to 8259, which is decent for two days’ work.

Took down the spider web curtains, put up the winter curtains, did four loads of laundry. Another simple ceremony (these are the days of the ceremonies for the dead). The sadness weighs me down and I can’t shake it. But I also have to give myself time.

We will adopt another cat, but not right away. We all have to adjust to life without Violet. After Thanksgiving, or maybe even after Christmas.

Of course, people keep offering cats now. 😉

Watching the DCI BANKS series. Very well done, although sometimes the second half of each episode feels rushed.

Up early this morning. Wrote Chapter Three of CHOLERIC, 3322 words. I was raring to continue into Chapter Four, but afraid I’d push too far. There’s a COME WRITE IN session at the library this morning, and I want to work on TIE CUTTER there, and have something left in the tank for CHOLERIC tomorrow. We’re getting to a big confrontation scene.

Once CWI is over, we’re doing a test run of the tree for Spectacle at the Library. So, yes, once again I’m going in on what’s supposed to be my day off. 😉

Busy day today. Tomorrow and the rest of the week will be long days, and I imagine that my word count will drop drastically. That’s why I’ve been pushing so hard up front.

Devon

Published in: on November 3, 2015 at 10:53 am  Comments (4)  
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