Saturday, October 16, 2004
Sunny and pleasant
I hit a milestone yesterday with The Widow’s Chamber. I wrote issue 102. That’s a full year’s worth of issues.
At this time last year, I was in tech for a Broadway play called Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. Tech is when you put all the elements together, and the hours are long and grueling. Although it was only a two character play, there was still a great deal to do.
A colleague sent me the ad for a new venture called Keep It Coming, that planned to revitalize serialized fiction.
I love serials and I always wanted to write one. I also love westerns and always wanted to write one. “Those who Know” insisted, for years, that there was no market for either.
And here was the ad.
The deadline for submissions was immediate. Late, late at night (or early morning, depending upon how you look at it), I wrote a proposal and e-mailed it off. “I’ll never get hired,” I said to myself. “I haven’t done enough research in the time period. The proposal’s off the top of my head. I’ll file away the idea and someday turn it into a novel.”
The Civil War is not my time period. The Revolutionary War is. The Revolutionary War always intrigued me, mostly because of the group of people brought together at that time, in that place, to write the Declaration of Independence.
I had once told documentary filmmaker Ken Burns how much I admired his work, especially since the Civil War wasn’t my time period. And I wasn’t pursuing it because so many people wrote about the Civil War that I didn’t have to. “Don’t worry, we’ll get you someday,” he joked.
Little did either one of us realize at the time what would come to pass.
So I sent off my proposal and did my zillion hours of tech and tried to keep my mind off it and prepare myself for the disappointment of rejection.
Only it wasn’t rejected. And then I had to actually sit down and start writing it.
As someone who was inspired by both Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to honor them both in this piece. And explore the different views on slavery, despite my own strong views that there is no justification for it. I found it interesting how both sides felt they proved their position by invoking the Constitution. I also found it interesting the span of time leading from the Declaration of Independence to the Civil War and then on to women receiving the right to vote, African-Americans receiving the right to vote, and the Civil Rights movement. It all incubated back before the American Revolution and exploded during the Civil War. But the Civil War didn’t resolve it. Sometimes I think it’s still not resolved. In fact, in the current political climate, we are heading back to pre Civil War mentality.
The Widow’s Chamber was accepted. I had a massive insecurity attack. Fortunately, the actor in the show was enthusiastic and interested and gave me the encouragement to go for it. And now it’s a year and 102 episodes later and still going strong.
I’m going to write the actor a long thank you note for his support and belief in me when I wasn’t sure I believed in myself. It meant a lot to me. He went from being a person whose work I always respected to someone I genuinely like and feel a life-long loyalty towards.
So here we are, with a year’s worth of The Widow’s Chamber under our belts and still going strong.
And Tapestry, Cutthroat Charlotte, and Angel Hunt.
And working with Kelli Ballard, who is a wonderful editor, publisher, and person. I feel so lucky that the work has caused our paths to cross.
One of the joys of Cutthroat Charlotte is that I’ll be able to parlay some of the pre-Revolutionary tidbits into it as well.
So work continues on WC, although I’m not as caught up as I’d like to be. Did some work on The Other Project. Caught up on e-mail. Researched some potential job and marketing sources.
My desk was such a pit that I cleared it off completely and reset it. Now it’s a good working space. And all the piles are on the floor.
So I have to discipline myself to spend a half hour or so going through piles every day, and eventually everything will be filed.
Got called in to cover for someone’s sick day tomorrow on the show. Not a problem. A few days per week works well.
The MTA plans to raise fares 14% without improving service or anything else. I can’t afford to work in Manhattan anymore. The fares are so out of control – and it’s not like we get service. Tens of thousands of people pay into the train network every day. The money isn’t going to the union workers (in spite of the spin the MTA puts on it). It’s not going in to service or cleanliness or efficiency. I want to know into whose pocket all those $$$ are going. And I want the executives removed and some competent people put in instead.
Three loads of laundry and two episodes of Cutthroat Charlotte so far today. The arc where they vote on Charlotte’s fate is going well. The pirate crew are revealing themselves to be true characters. I was afraid I’d fall into caricature, but I’m listening to these men and as long as I stay true to them and their motivations, I’ll be fine. It’s definitely fiction; it’s definitely not strictly sticking to the facts. But I’m hoping I’ll be able to communicate some emotional truths within a cracking good story.
Time to break for lunch and do some more work on Widow’s Chamber, Angel Hunt and a short-short story that’s niggled at me for a few days.