Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool
Boston Marathon
Patriots Day

I got my second round of revisions done and off to my editor on Saturday morning, along with the front matter. She’s going over it again early this week, and then, it’s off to the copy editor! From there, I await the final galleys — shiver, shiver! Whenever I hit the “send” on final galleys, I always want to throw up, because I’m sure I’ve missed something Really Important.

Did a library run, some errands, etc. The box of irises arrived from White Flower Farm (Wednesday’s Gratitude and Growth will have more on that).

Wound up the workshop. Two weeks of shouting into the abyss complete. I have to accept my portion of the responsibility in what didn’t work. Hopefully, I learned from my mistakes this time around and can apply it moving forward. I was the wrong teacher and it was the wrong format for this particular group. It happens. Fortunately, I am the right teacher in the right environment for a lot of people. I know I should focus on that, but it always takes awhile to get over something like this. Holding onto the anger, frustration, and disappointment doesn’t do anyone any good, and it goes beyond just a simple “oh, it’s Mercury Retrograde.” Let’s face it, if you can’t commit to two weeks of making writing a priority, how are you going to have a career?

The bulk of my teaching experiences are positive, but a trusted friend is right — I need to adjust certain things, especially the amount of time I put in as equated with the money. If these classes were being taught in person, they would be $425 and up. Online, they are considerably less, but I’m putting in the same, or even more time and energy, than I would in person. For instance, this last class took between four and six hours per day, plus the additional admin work the formatting problems brought up and trying to keep track of who still had material due. So I spent more than 84 hours on this class. I’m not being paid even a fraction of my hourly rate when you break it down like that. Turning around 15K or more in exercises with relevant comments takes time, and I’d even cut the word count on most of the exercises. Usually, classes take two hours or a little over per day, which is reasonable. I look at classes taught by some of the others, where material is posted (sometimes the entire course is posted the first day) and there’s only about 20 minutes of interaction a day. As a student in a class like that, I don’t get a whole lot out of it. I want my students to walk away from my classes with a short story that’s close to submission ready or a chunk of a novel that is in good shape. I want them to have something tangible they honed in class AND a set of skills they can apply to most of their writing moving forward. All of our time is valuable, and when students are willing to put in the time to hone the work, they leave the class with a feeling of accomplishment and more confidence, along with a piece of actual, almost submission-ready work. Students who do not put in the time or make excuses or ignore the notes do not. I want the students who do the work to have the best and most complete experience possible, while not getting drained by the small percentage one winds up with in class who suck the life out of everyone. I don’t want the students to have less of an experience because of the time factor on my part. There’s an imbalance there, and it’s up to me to address it and get back in balance in a way that’s positive for both myself and my students.

I enjoy teaching, especially when my students go on and publish and succeed, but I need to re-think where and how I accept bookings, factor in price more than I have, and, where appropriate (such as for advanced classes), institute an application process. Also, after the current teaching commitments expire at the end of Summer 2012, I may take a break and not teach for awhile.

Read the manuscript I promised my friend I’d read, and sent back comments. Enjoyed it very, very much, and was honored to be a Trusted Reader. Had to catch up with my Senators and my Rep, who actually represented my interests in a recent Congressional vote. Wanted to thank them and brainstorm a few more ideas. Before 9 AM on Saturday, 15 minutes after I’d sent off the email, one of the offices got back to me, wanting the proposal, so had to work on that.

Dealt with someone trying to stir shit to both get attention and cause trouble. I have a very low tolerance for the self-involved and manipulative. I just don’t have the time and patience for it.

In other words, it was a rough weekend! 😉

I have a few days before the next workshop starts, the Setting as Character one. I’m going to tweak the exercises a bit. But most of these next few days will be spent writing SPIRIT REPOSITORY, working on edits for ANGEL HUNT, and figuring out what I want to say in my new freelance brochure. The sooner I get that done and start that mailing, the sooner I pick up new clients.

My preferred clients are always small historical societies and non-profits. Again, I have to make sure I keep in balance the money and the work. A lot of these places can’t pay much, and, again, if I take them on, I have to make sure the ratios stay in balance for both sides.

I wrote a query and sent off the pitch for an article to a well-paying publication; let’s hope they pick it up. If they don’t, I have a half a dozen other pubs that pay just as well to whom I can pitch it. I may actually write some of it while the idea is still fresh. I got another idea for a different topic in the same field of interest that I will write up and pitch today to another publication in the field. And I’ve got to finish and polish the proposal package for my Senators. It’s a relationship, not a monologue for either side. That’s the only way one can effectively practice democracy. I was fortunate in New York to be represented, in both houses of Congress, by people who welcomed my ideas, listened to me, took my views under advisement, and sometimes even used my material in their legislative battles. It seems I am in a similar situation here, which is good.

I bet you dollars to doughnuts I get called in for jury duty this summer here! I get called regularly, and I’ve been put on a case every single time I’ve been called. Which is fine.

Watched GAME OF THRONES last night. I have mixed feelings about it. I adore the production design. It is gorgeous. They use Ireland and Malta to create alternate worlds in a beautiful way. The costume design is exquisite. However, I am so happy that I am not a wardrobe person on that show — continuity must be a nightmare. The crew is outstanding, because the continuity in last night’s episode was very, very good. My problem with the show is the direction (as in, the director’s work, not the way the story is headed). It. Feels. Very. Heavy. Every. Word. And. Scene. Is. Important. They’re very aware they’re Making an Epic, instead of just living the piece and letting it BE epic. That falls on the director.

The exception, and the actor who absolutely blazes through the piece with dynamics and layers is Peter Dinklage. I really like his work anyway — if I see his name in the credits, I know I can count on a complex and nuanced performance. He’s got a surprise for the audience in every scene and delivers it, and moves through the piece with an ease and a fluidity that the other actors haven’t yet mastered. Even Sean Bean’s a bit stodgy in this (and I’m a big fan of his work) — although, to be fair, that costume probably weights about forty pounds, and that’ll slow you down. Some of the camera angle choices also left me with a “what the hell are they thinking?” feeling. Other choices were gorgeous.

By the way, I’m fully expecting Sean Bean’s character to get killed off this season, since he’s already cast in the new Ashley Judd series. Although, given the size of the cast and the screen time given to each story, something might be worked out schedule-wise. I haven’t read the books, and I don’t know how closely the series plans to follow the books. If the director lets the actors stop taking everything so seriously and encourages dynamics instead of the current monotone, it could be good. Also, HBO lived up to its reputation for a particular style of sex scene, and I’m wondering if the scenes in the pilot were kept true to what was in the book or where written by a man who’s bad at writing sex scenes and that’s why they were all the same, no matter who participated, or were demanded in that position by HBO. I understand the choice not to make any of them about love or romance, but at least have a little variety, the way actual humans do! There was one scene with a hint of something else, but again — obviously written by a man in a way insulting to women. If you’re going to claim you have strong female characters, it needs to follow through in ALL aspects of their lives. Jane Espenson, whose work I adore, wrote one of this season’s upcoming episodes, and I have high hopes for it.

Of course, so far, all the reviews I’ve read so far, written by men, love it.

Mixed feelings. May watch the second episode, if it fits into my schedule. If I can find out which episode is Espenson’s ahead of time, I’ll make sure I watch that one.

Back to the page today.

And I really, really, REALLY want to spend some time in the yard today! A shrub to the left of the house has burst into deep magenta blooms. I have no idea what it is, but it’s pretty!

It’s Patriots Day AND the Boston Marathon today, both of which are a really big deal here.

Devon