Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Cloudy and cool
We received some terrible news at the theatre yesterday. For the past few days, we’ve been rejoicing that a colleague who’d taken maternity leave had her baby. Tragically, the day after she brought the baby home, it died. We don’t know why yet. Everyone is in shock. We all want to do something, but what can we do? We can’t bring the baby back. We can’t replace him. We can’t fix it. We can’t make it better. We feel helpless.
Day work ran smoothly, other than all of us walking around in shock. I ran some errands on the way to the theatre, while I still thought it would be a happy day. I managed to write the press release for GCE which has to go out today, and start the press release for Charlotte. I wrote about two pages on Amber Tiger during my break.
I raced out of the theatre at the end of the call. The train, of course, got stuck, so I got home later than I wanted to. I missed Michelle’s radio show.
My new printer arrived, and my neighbor was kind enough to take it in. The box is enormous. Since I’ve just put new cartridges in my old printer, I want to run them out before I set up the new printer. But I’m so excited. My friend Lori has one and swoons over it. I do believe this is the printer of my dreams. It looks powerful enough that maybe I can stop going to Kinko’s and do my own bulk copying. I’ll have to price out the cost of ink and paper and labor and compare doing it at home to sending it out.
My photo cartridges also arrived, so I could print out the photos from Newport and the flood, and I still have another set of Playland photos to print for “Curly Sue”.
I watched the World Cup Final last night, Finland versus Canada. Because I’m such an enormous Miikka Kiprusoff fan, I wanted Finland to win, but Canada did, by one goal. Mario Lemieux was amazing, as always. I remember the first time I saw him play live. The second he put a skate on the ice, the whole arena was electrified. He has enormous personal charisma and vitality. The only person with similar energy is Arthur Miller. It sounds strange to compare a hockey player to a playwright, but they both have a tremendous life force and don’t confuse confidence with ego.
Jeremy Roenick was again a commentator. I think I learned more listening to him during that one game than I’ve learned in the past year of watching hockey. I’m eager to sit down with him at some point and toss situations from the books at him so he can tell me where I’m right and where I’m being ridiculous. Since he pulls no punches, I know I’d get straight answers.
Actually, I don’t think any player’s ever given me an evasive answer. I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate in the players I’ve interviewed – a combination of talent, intelligence, humour, and a generosity of spirit that you find in few walks of life.
That’s why the lock out is so frustrating. It may be a long, long time before we have hockey again. And the players have to stand firm.
A salary cap is ridiculous. How would any working person feel, going into a performance review for a raise and being told that there won’t be one because of a salary cap in the industry? It’s ridiculous.
It was owner greed that caused the problems in hockey. The owners threw millions of dollars at players in order to get what they felt were the best players, without regard to the other teams. Why should they? They’re in competition with the other teams. Now, because they refuse to police themselves and set up, amongst themselves, a way to make hockey work financially for EVERYONE involved, they want to put it into a CBA so they can take it out of the players’ hides. It’s ridiculous.
Of course, although money is the situation that’s being publicized, in any contract negotiation, there are many other issues as well. But they’re not even talking.
And they’re not bringing in a mediator, because they know a mediator will make the owners act reasonably, and that’s not something the owners are willing to do. They want to break the union.
Too bad the Players’ union isn’t part of the AFL-CIO. Then, no one who worked at an arena would cross a picket line and ALL arenas in North America would be shut down for every event (sports, concerts, etc.) until they went back to the table.
Hey owners! You don’t want to “have” to raise ticket prices so no one can afford to come to games? Then don’t throw around $45 million dollar contracts. Because guess what? If someone offered me $45 mil to do what I do, I’d take it. I’d be a fool not to. It’s not the players’ faults that they accept strong offers.
Again, I say: Put the rulers down, get your dicks off the table and start negotiating with your brains.
To switch the topic:
One on of the writers’ boards, someone asked a question about writing for serials. I gave a rather long response, but it explains the way I approach each of my four serials, so I’m copying it here:
“I do each of my four differently.
THE WIDOW'S CHAMBER, the western -- I wrote out a basic plot that I call a "story arc" -- I know where I want the portion dealing with the secret of the widow's chamber to stop, and, if there's still interest in the serial, I'll continue with the characters' next adventures. As I write the serial, I keep finding interesting tidbits and tangents and stories and subplots to add in, which expands the story.
Since we are contracted with the understanding that what we write is OPEN-ENDED -- in other words, we're not supposed to say, "I'm only doing x issues", by working in large arcs, I can keep it going indefinitely.
Eventually, when the serials run their courses and rights revert back to me, I might then break them down into separate books in a series and do some serious re-writing. Because the piece isn't written in one period of time, but broken down and inter-written with other pieces, there's a certain unevenness that needs to be smoothed down if big chunks of it were to work as a book.
For TAPESTRY, the mystery, I wrote it as a novel several years ago, and there were some major problems. I wasn't happy with the finished product and I was trying to sell it anyway. Big mistake. I had my reasons and they were stupid ones that had nothing to do with the writing. Yet everyone who's ever read it or excerpts of it is in love with the protagonist. I'm reworking the novel into a serial format. It allows me to expand and explore characters and situations that had to be cut when I tried to keep it a lean mystery novel. For this piece, it works much better. TAPESTRY was originally envisioned as the first of a six or seven book series, all of which I'd outlined when I was marketing the novel, so I have plenty of material from which to work, as long as that one holds interest.
ANGEL HUNT -- the first chapter came to me in the shower one day, of all things, and I simply took dictation. I am completely flying by the seat of my pants, and have no idea where I'm going. I have some basic points I plan to hit, but each issue is a complete mystery to me. And yet, it's the one selling the best!
CUTTHROAT CHARLOTTE -- I played with the idea and the characters for about three or four months, and did some research on the period. I have certain historical events I want to hit over the course of it, so I have "islands" at which I'm aiming in the story, and using the episodes to find my way there. It's a combination of planning and flying by the seat of my pants.
Some of my episodes end in a cliff-hanger. Some end in a button. I found that ending every episode in a cliff hanger got too exhausting as a reader as well as a writer. Sometimes, you just need to take a breath.
I try to make each episode a scene or a part of a scene that stands strongly as an individual piece of reading, even though it doesn't wind up all the loose ends. I try to make it come out of what's happened before and naturally draw the reader towards what will happen next. I also create numerous subplots and wind up a subplot every thirty or forty issues so that the reader does get a sense of completion along the way and isn't held in suspense about everything indefinitely.
That's my current experience, anyway!”
Okay, I’ve rambled enough for one morning. I have one more issue of Angel Hunt to do and then I’m turning my attention to Cutthroat Charlotte for the rest of the day. Widow’s Chamber will have to wait until tomorrow, which means this weekend, I’ll have to do a huge push to get all those episodes done.
And there are articles that need my attention and . . .if I look at all of it, I’ll get overwhelmed. So I’ll concentrate on everything one page at a time.