Friday, May 6, 2004
Hot and humid
I used Feng Shui as a reason to procrastinate today. I decided it was time to Feng Shui my desk. It’s much cleaner now, which should inspire me. Only now I trip over the papers that were on my desk but are now on the floor that I haven’t yet filed. Now I probably need to Feng Shui the rug.
This week was another roller roaster. The down was the series of articles on the Triple Crown. Although I’d repeatedly emphasized to the editor in our conversation that what we discussed was LONG (ah, yeah, let’s see, you want 130 years of Derby history, 132 years of Preakness history, tips on betting, tips on what to look for in a horse, specifics on the races -- that doesn’t happen in 500 words!) and he never gave me a word count, all of a sudden, when I submitted the article, he told me that he doesn’t run articles that long. And he conveniently “forgot” our initial conversation. I cut it down to his specifications, called him back as he asked and . . .nothing. Had I been given the space limitations at the beginning – as I asked – I would have suggested a different slant to suit the space. Without the process, the whole point of the article is lost, and any amateur who’s never been to a race before who thinks he can write about horse racing – and does, every year – could have coughed this up. Oh, well. All this for a crappy local paper which wouldn’t have paid me what I’m worth anyway. That’s what I get for feeling sentimental about the town. Not again. I’d write for the publication, sure . . .for a LOT of money.
Unfortunately, because the articles are timely and specific to the races, I can’t use them anywhere else. I can use some of the history and betting tips, but not the info specific to the race. And, had I thought like a business person and sold to one of my regular markets, I’d be on the receiving end of a check for a couple of thousand dollars by now.
My mistake. Let’s hope I learned.
On the upside, I did a polish on two feature articles for a new magazine. I think the issue will be put to bed this week, which means I should be paid in about two weeks. I’m eager to see the finished product. It seems like a class act, and they’d like me to write more. I hope this is the beginning of a long and mutually productive relationship.
I’m horribly behind on Periwinkle and need to use the weekend to catch up. I got everything done for Tapestry and Angel Hunt. I need to fact check The Widow’s Chamber and will go on to next week’s episodes and submit over the weekend.
I served as a judge for a short story contest. That was fascinating! The quality of the writing varied quite a bit, although most ideas were fresh and well-presented. One story in particular stood out (thank goodness – made my job easier). The others were good, but needed a few more drafts before they were really there. I wonder what the other judges thought. It will be interesting to see which story actually wins it. We all read the material separately, and there’s no group discussion. It’s good in that we can’t influence each other and it’s bad because debating over the pieces would be a terrific experience.
Although I got my course proposals in on time, the college pushed back their deadline because the printer was going on maternity leave!!!! Urgh. So I don’t get to teach until next spring. But they are interested in my courses, which is exciting, and in July we will sort out the schedule. I’m looking forward to it. One of the positive traits I inherited from my father is the ability to teach and get students excited about the work. My dad was one of the best teachers ever. He taught chemistry in Illinois, and everyone only wanted to be in his classes.
At the encouragement of several writer friends, I also decided to go into the coaching business. I wish I was coaching hockey, but that would be scary for everyone. Instead, I’ll be a writing coach. I designed a new business card and a brochure. Now I have to figure out where to advertise. I want to help people regain their confidence in their skills.
Why do epiphanies always happen at three a.m.? I received a long lecture from an old buddy on why I “couldn’t” be a writer. Uh, beg pardon, but I AM a writer. I may not be a famous writer, I may not be a rich writer, but I am a writer. This is someone who would put his life on the line for me, and I couldn’t understand what the heck was going on. Then, I realized (at 3 a.m., of course), that, although he genuinely wants what’s best for me, I am also doing what he wants to be doing. And it’s his problem, not mine. I went right back to sleep after that, and woke up the next morning without feeling gutted.
I accepted one day a week of work on a Broadway show, which will mean a bit of steady money coming in without taking too much time away from my writing. It also allows me time to hang out with friends in the city, since I avoid going in unless I absolutely have to.
I crossed paths with two very attractive men this week. Both times, it was as I staggered out in the morning to get the paper, which meant I was invisible to them. Well, not really, they were both friendly, but it was hardly the best impression I could make. Anyway, I’m going to write one short story about each of them –gentle comedies. Don’t quite know what the heck I’ll do with them once I’ve written them, but I’ll worry about that later.
Wrote an essay about traveling with a friend’s dog and submitted it to a dog-oriented paper in Oregon.
There are too many horrible things happening in the world right now, and I wish I could do something about it. I can’t watch the news before bed or I have trouble sleeping. In fact, the other night, I dreamed that I saw a man slit his own throat. There’s a story in there somewhere, or maybe I can use it in Angel Hunt. I don’t want to turn away because something is unpleasant, because who the hell am I to turn away when people are dying and suffering all over the world? It’s a question I cannot answer.
Does the writing help? I know it helps me. When I doubt the worth of my work, I remember the letter forwarded to me a year after we performed a play I wrote called Roadkill in Australia. It was a letter from a young woman. She planned to kill herself, and attending the play was part of her Last Night on Earth. She was so inspired by the play, with its message directly stated: “If you don’t like your life, go out and change it. Don’t come whining to me. I’m too busy trying to change my own life” that she sought the help she needed, and here she was, a year later, living the life she’d always wanted.
I may not be able to do much, but at least the work mattered, when it counted, to one person.