Wednesday, March 20, 2019: Full Moon on the Equinox During Mercury Retrograde. Yeah.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Full Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Spring Equinox

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for a post about balance. Because, you know, Equinox, and why not make connections?

Client work was fine on Monday. We got a lot done. I learned I didn’t land a gig that I wanted, although I knew it was a stretch. But they were gracious and I’m going to keep in touch. I also got out a couple more LOIs. There was a third place to which I wanted to pitch, but their online process was insulting to anyone who has ever held a professional position, to I passed.

Meditation group was great. We have so much fun together, and make actual progress together.

When I got home, there was an email from someone “checking” something with me — only because that individual knew I’d find out about it, and if they hadn’t believed they’d get caught out and I would be angry, the individual would have tried to get away with it. Not amused. At all.

I’m going over the material today, either signing off or not, and will be gracious until the end of this project, and then I’m done with them, at least until there’s a major staff turnover.

The Women Write Change group helped me brainstorm the ending for “Smile” which wasn’t working. They had great ideas. I tried each one of them in a run-through. I thought I’d found what I wanted, a variation on a suggestion; yesterday morning, I made one little tweak and now it’s right.

“Quicksand” wound up being much weaker when I spoke it than it looked on the page. It needed major, major reworking.

But that’s why it’s so important to rehearse a reading, and not just stand up there and mumble.

When I was finished with rehearsal, I found an email from the director of the piece opening next Monday. She directed my last piece with this company, and she’s great. She had a question about an Elvis song and rights. I was really confused, because my piece is set in the 1920s, so Elvis isn’t appropriate. I gently pointed this out, and said I had no problem cutting the song, since I didn’t think it fit anyway. She then realized she’d contacted the wrong writer! (She’s juggling multiple projects). We had a good laugh over it.

Tuesday I tweaked the monologues in the morning, did some more work on GAMBIT, worked with a client, got out some more LOIs, and rehearsed. The stopwatch is going in these rehearsals, since I have only 5 minutes for both monologues, and I can’t rush through them or the beats and laughs won’t land. I had to finalize where to take a breath, where to let a beat land, etc.

Equinox ceremony as the sun came up. Great way to start the new cycle.

Today I’m with a client, and then I have some prep time before I go and read. I’m nervous, because I’m always nervous. I write words actors speak, not for me to speak. But, especially for the monologues, for anything that’s a script, I have to embody actorish techniques in order for the pieces to work.

And reading from WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST in this part of the Cape, which is pathetically conservative, will be a challenge. On a full moon during Mercury Retrograde on the Equinox?

Challenge is an understatement.

Back to the page.

Tues. March 19, 2019: Aftermath of an Intense Writing Weekend

Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to see what I read for this month’s Reader Expansion Challenge.

Busy, intense weekend.

Worked on contest entries and books for review on Friday.

Saturday, I wrote 20 pages on GAMBIT. I planned to keep going, or to switch to one of the other novels, but then I got an email.

The radio theatre company in Florida, where I pitched “Horace House Hauntings” a couple of weeks ago wants to perform/produce it. On March 25th.

Now that’s quick!

So, on March 25, “Horace House Hauntings” will be performed in Florida. The first two weekends in April, “Confidence Confidant” will be performed in Boston. On May 10, “Light Behind the Eyes” will be performed in Minnesota.

That’s a pretty good run of productions.

The company in Florida wants more with Frieda and Lazarus, my protagonists from “Horace House Hauntings.”

So, on Saturday afternoon, I wrote the half of the first draft of “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” which puts them on an ocean liner headed for England.

Page total for Saturday: 35.

I was wiped out.

Watched some of Season 3 of THE WEST WING. Worked on the books for review.

Fell into bed, exhausted.

Sunday, I sort of slept in. I was back at my desk by 8 AM (late for me). I wrote 21 pages on GAMBIT. I wrote a couple of blog posts. I wrote a 7-page letter to an old friend. I finessed two monologues: “Smile” and “Quicksand” from WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST and rehearsed them for Wednesday night.

I’m still not happy with the last beat on “Smile.” It’s not there, and I have to have something better by tomorrow night. I tossed it to Women Write Change, and hope they can help.

“Quicksand” takes a nice turn and ends on a gut punch.

“Emotional Labor” isn’t quite ready to test. I’ll do it next month. And I’ll have to decide which other piece to write and prepare.

Exhausted Sunday night, and behind where I want to be in the books for review (although I’m well within deadline).

Monday, I was with a client, and then to meditation group. Today I’ll be with a client and, if the weather holds, I’ll have to get started on yard work later in the afternoon.

I can’t believe tomorrow is the Spring Equinox. And the full moon. And Mercury Retrograde. And a reading.

Overwhelmed much?

I’d say yes!

Thurs. Feb. 21, 2019: Developing the Monologues

Thursday, February 21, 2019
Waning Moon
Sleeting and cold

Hop over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest post.

Had a decent writing day yesterday, and a good session onsite with a client.

Got out the comic ghost story radio play (numbered draft), along with some other paperwork for them. Waiting to hear back from that company on a few different things, including my contract.

The weather was turning, so I came home after the client session, and worked on contest entries.

SCRATCH, the book about writers and money, is really wonderful. And the experiences can be applied across disciplines in the arts. Someone on social media couldn’t understand how a book about writing could apply to any other art. If everything has to be spelled out directly in your own reference, how can you possibly create art? Art is about going beyond the expected, and knowing how to make connections beyond the obvious.

Also reading A PARIS ALL YOUR OWN, edited by Eleanor Brown, which is a wonderful anthology of writers and their experiences in Paris. It also lists their books. Some of them I’ve read; many I haven’t.

I’m also determined to track down a book by Jeannie Moon. She was disparaged by a person calling herself an author who said that a romance novel where the woman is ten years older than the man is “gross.” How sexist and ageist is that? So now I’m determined to read the book.

Between the lists of Parisian books and Jeannie Moon’s book and recommendations from the post on A Biblio Paradise’s Reader Expansion Challenge, I have a wealth of choices for the next challenge!

Did some work on Gambit Colony.

Watched HIDDEN FIGURES. What a beautiful, beautiful movie! Made me both laugh and cry. I can’t believe it took me so long to sit down and watch it.

Worked on the monologues.

I planned to test one or two of them last night, but decided not to because of the weather. Of course, then the weather didn’t get bad until later, but it would have been a challenge to get home.

Public reading is not something I can do off the cuff. I write for performers; I am not one. But, of course, a professional writer has to give readings. It’s even more layered when it’s from a stage piece that I have no intention of professionally performing — the actors cast will perform it.

However, the monologues from WOMEN WITH AN EDGE have served me well over the years — both in the professional productions where actors have performed the monologues, and in readings all over the world, both live and on radio. Those monologues have been around and performed since the mid 1990’s. The evergreen ones can be called up and spoken/read at the drop of a hat.

I need to test the monologues I’m creating for WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST. At some point, when I have a batch of them, I might call upon some local actors to come over for a session and read. Or hire a rehearsal studio for a few hours, where we can read. Maybe hire a space over at Cape Space.

But right now, it’s too early in the process. I need to speak them myself and gauge a reaction. I need to feel the rhythm in my body in order to revise properly.

When there’s a script with multiple parts, it works better for me to bring in actors and listen to them read. That way, I can feel how individual rhythms develop and make adjustments. (And yes, I’ve often paid actors to come in, sit around a table, and read an early draft of a script).

But with monologues, unless I’m developing a piece with a specific group of actors (which needs time, access to the talent pool, and money), I need to read aloud the initial drafts myself. I need to feel the rhythms in my own body.

After a few drafts of the monologues, then I’ll bring in some actresses, and we’ll work in the room. But I need to test the initial drafts with an audience, once I’ve read them aloud myself a few times. Whenever possible, I also tape the reading, and listen to it for objectivity. I do this when I rehearse readings from my books as well.

By listening, I can figure out rhythm. Where do I need to take a breath? Where can I speed up? Where should I slow down? Is there anything that needs to be cut, because it doesn’t work in the piece?

Anything that is spoken needs to be heard. Simply looking at words on the page isn’t enough. Even when I have enough experience to feel the beats as I write them, I also need to hear them. That’s true of radio, stage, or screenplay. Having actual actors (not just random people) read the words out loud during the development/drafting process makes a huge difference.

Obviously, it was easier to do that in NY than it is here. First, the talent pool is smaller here. Second, even though there are some wildly talented people here, theatre is a “side” not a “priority” and getting people to commit and fulfill that commitment — even for a one-shot reading — is not easy. Anything shiny dangled in front of them will take priority.

It gets frustrating. But it is also vital to the process.

But I can’t just decide at the last minute whether or not I’ll read. I have to feel confident that the draft I have is ready for comment. In other words, it will have gone through several drafts, and I will feel it’s solid enough to have feedback.

Then, I have to rehearse it, so it feels natural when I speak it, and I’ve found its innate rhythm and show it off as best as I, a non-performer, can.

Had I gone last night, I would have read “Smile!” and possible “Emotional Lifting.”
“My Life in Quicksand” is still an unfinished first draft; while I’m having fun with it, it’s nowhere near ready to be read yet. Most likely, I would have just read “Smile!”

I’d rehearsed, to the point where I felt as comfortable as I can feel when reading. Which is “never very.”

But then, I have to gear up myself emotionally. I need the focus of my emotional energy to be set aside for that reading. For several days leading up to a reading date, I pace myself differently, and I store up the necessary energy, so I can tap into it during the reading. I do this when I teach in person, too, or attend a conference.

Even though I wrote during the day. Even though I did client work during the day. I had to pace myself and save myself.

So add in a storm to the mix, snow and sleet, and bad road conditions at night, in an area where people are lousy drivers on a good day — I made the decision the night before, based on the weather forecast that said it would start getting nasty in the late afternoon, not to go.

In other words, that saved emotional energy was then released and dissipated into other projects.

I kept waiting for the storm to start. It didn’t.

Part of me was tempted to just drive to the open mic and read.

Only I’d used up the emotional energy I needed in order to read well on other projects during the day, because I’d made the decision not to read that night. Could I have read?

It would have been flat. It wouldn’t have given the audience something worthy of response, which meant I wouldn’t have gotten what I needed for the next draft.

It was snowing a little after eight, so it was a moot point anyway. I wouldn’t have gotten home until nearly ten (I don’t read and run — I stay for everyone’s work, and then we usually chat).

Have I ever just stepped in and stepped up to an unexpected opportunity? Or a request to fill in for someone who backed out at the last minute?

Of course I have. I’ve done well. Because I dig deeper, making like a hockey player, and use the adrenaline rush. I’m wiped out after, but I can do it.

I can do it not with new material, but because, after all these years, I have a wealth of material and experiences I can use to draw from in a spontaneous talk. It’s been hard-won, but it’s there.

So that was my Wednesday night.

Today, I have lots of admin and LOIs to do, then yoga, then, hopefully, a good afternoon writing and working on contest entries and the book I’m reviewing. I also am prepping for my client meeting tomorrow.

Which means that tomorrow’s post will go up late, probably in the early afternoon.

We have more storms this weekend, so I’ll tuck in to read and write.

 

Thurs. Jan. 24, 2019: More Writing Opportunities

Thursday, January 24, 2019
Waning Moon
Rainy and milder

The fluctuating temperatures are rough on my body. I dress in layers, so I can adjust. But zooming back and forth between the 50s and the 20s every few hours is taking a toll.

Have had some steadily good writing sessions in the past few days, and I intend to keep that up, even though I have company coming in for the weekend.

Got another acceptance for a radio play last night, for one of my comic noir mysteries, by a company in the Midwest. They’ve also asked for more scripts. So that makes me happy.

I love writing for radio. It’s my favorite format.

Still sick; can’t seem to shake this. It’s been hanging on for most of January, and it’s slowing me down.

Working with my editor and publisher to recalibrate the release schedule for this year, because it’s more important for the books to be good than just spit them out. And, because of the problems the WH is causing with international trade deals, we’re having problems with the print editions. But it will all sort out. Patience, communication, and showing up to do the work will get it done.

I’ve been researching both Canaletto and the Algonquin Round Table for plays, and working on the monologues for WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST. So I’m juggling a lot. I have four plays to write this year, along with three-four novels for the end of this year into next year, and a couple of radio scripts. Plus adaptations. Plus getting some of my film and television scripts into contests.

So it’s a lot. It’s the good kind of busy, but it’s busy. At the same time, I have to keep up constantly pitching to clients and for article assignments. No wonder my brain is tired. I will have to build in some vacation time this year where I do absolutely NOTHING. Or my brain will break.

In the meantime, we have lousy weather, and I’m trying to get everything done before the worst of it. I will be alternating this afternoon between writing, reading, and cleaning the house in advance of company.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful, creative time.

Published in: on January 24, 2019 at 10:12 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 24, 2019: More Writing Opportunities  
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Wednesday, January 2, 2019: Hit The Ground Running and Hitting Back at Those Who Denigrate Artists

Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde

Time to hit the ground running. I have a few thoughts on that, over on Ink-Dipped Advice.

Friday wore me out. I had to take the car in (which wasn’t as bad as I feared). I spent time with a client, then had some running around to do.

I was also still spinning ideas for the online brainstorming session I had with Jackie Kessler, Deanna Rayburn, and Erin Cronican on new material for WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST.

WOMEN WITH AN EDGE is a show with legs. Some of the material is evergreen; some is dated. It’s time for another show along the same lines that deal with topics relevant now. I have a few places I can test material, although there’s not a theatre on Cape who’d have the guts to produce the piece. Too right-wing around here.

But we brainstormed pages of notes, and I’ve taken it further. I threw some ideas into the Women Write Change forum as well on Monday, so I’m sure that will generate more ideas.

I want to write the first couple of monologues this week.

Saturday was unseasonably warm. I had another run to the store (because there’s always one more thing). We got the garbage to the dump (and the guys got their cookies).

I started playing with some more ideas. Because ideas come in batches. So it’s important to take notes, date the notes, and then figure what’s pulling hardest and where to put what.

Sunday I managed fourteen pages on an idea with which I’m playing — I think it will work. My two main protagonists are deliciously more complicated and manipulative than I originally envisioned. It will be interesting to see how they play off each other. A missing music composition is a big part of the story, too.

Worked on the proposal for the play set in Renaissance Venice. With that, and the anti-gun violence play, and the two women authors play, and WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST, that’s four stage plays and three novels releasing this year. Minimum.

We’re pushing the Jain Lazarus re-release back to 2020. It doesn’t make sense to do it this year. That way, in 2020, the third Gwen-Justin book releases, the third Nautical Namaste releases, the fifth Coventina Circle releases — along with the first three Jain Lazarus. Those are all outlined — it’s a case of writing/revising.

This year, I’m scrambling to get BALTHAZAAR and DHARMA out on schedule — last year was just too much. GRAVE REACH will be in good shape in a few months, and ready for edits. And we’re still trying to figure out if the Justice by Harpy trilogy can come out this year.

Plus, I want to make room to have at least one stand-alone a year.

I’m posting this on Monday, so I have no idea what my Eve and Day will be. I’m determined to make them good. I’m determined not to teeter at the edge of the abyss I usually find myself on every New Year’s Eve.

I have worlds to build.

Social media has just been depressing lately. I know I need it for the books and the writing. I enjoy genuine interaction, and I’ve met some great people.

But there’s too much viciousness. And too much whining.

You want to be a full time artist? Then you have to rearrange your life and put the work first. You can’t do it all and have it all. If you want to be a part-time artist in order to have a more balanced life, fine, go ahead. But don’t whine at those of us who made the choices and put in the work about “not having time to write.” You are CHOOSING not to write. You are CHOOSING other elements in your life over the writing. And they are your choices. So own them.

I’m also tired of being attacked for earning money from my work. Loving my work does not forfeit my right to earn a living at it — provided I’m willing to put in the work. I am. I do.

Those who aren’t willing to put in the work or believe getting paid for art and craft is “selling out” can go to hell. Because I have stuff to do and can’t be bothered.

And all these attacks on artists as not being smart or who shouldn’t have opinions or participate in political activism? Those who make their living in the arts tend to be smarter and more committed than those around them, or they couldn’t do it.

If you think artists are stupid, if you attack them for being intelligent, articulate, and committed to building a better world, yeah, you can go to hell, too.

I have no time for these jealous, petty morons. People who attack artists generally do so out of spite, because they hate that artists have the talent and the skills and the work ethic, and, most importantly, the COURAGE to put it all on the line.

I’m not arguing with them. I’m not “debating” with them. Let those who are only in it to cause trouble and spread spite twist in the wind.

I have art to create. I have work to do. I have a world to change, one story at a time.

 

Published in: on January 2, 2019 at 6:15 am  Comments Off on Wednesday, January 2, 2019: Hit The Ground Running and Hitting Back at Those Who Denigrate Artists  
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