Sunday, December 19, 2004

Dec. 19 Part III

First off, let me thank the Renaissance Man who read one of Saturday’s entries and e-mailed me in great distress: Don’t worry – I’m not just going to go off and burn the poems in a fit of pique. I’m struggling with some decisions right now – perhaps I’m having a bit of a Dark Night of the Soul. The work is a part of me, even if I choose not to expose it publicly. Even though on an artistic level, most of it is truly awful. And yes, I am familiar with some of the many aspects your art embodies. Should I choose to purge myself of the work, it will be a long-mulled over and deliberate decision. I give you my word that if I ever hit that point of distaste with my work, the poems will be sent to you for safekeeping. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to a stranger.

Any other readers, feel free to skip down to the writing update beginning with Charlotte. The next few paragraphs are a tangent from the working journal.

By the time Mercury goes direct, I am so battered that I just want to lie there for awhile and let the blood seep into the carpet (figuratively – don’t worry). There has got to be a better way to get through these retrogrades that I do.

Part of it, this year anyway, is that, underneath all this holiday cheer is underlying despair for me. I’d love to blame it on the election, and my horror at the path this country is choosing to take grows daily – especially as I see lives around me casually destroyed day by day. It would be very easy to blame it on Them and then not have to do anything about it for another four years.

But that’s not the entire matter. Any person with both a brain and a heart has to be concerned at what’s happening all over the world, no matter for whom that person voted.

The real root of it is that this life transition is much harder and more painful than I’d like to be. Because I’m putting in the planning instead of simply jumping in the abyss as I usually do, I want to be rewarded for my forethought by a smooth transition. And that is simply not going to happen.

I’m dealing with many intersecting agendas, my own and others, on many different levels. I’ve never fit in – I grew up in a conformist Eastern suburb as someone odd and different. While it wasn’t always pleasant, it bothered me less than it bothered others who were different because I didn’t care much for the people who fit in and didn’t want to be like them. There were moments, here and there, where it would have been nice. But the desire to belong was never a driving force in my life.

I followed my own path through college and in carving out a career in the theatre. In theatre, I felt more a part of something bigger than myself, although I was never in any of the cliques. That saddened me over one period of my life, where I worked heart and soul for a small off-Broadway company who never saw me for me, just as someone who could get things done. But I learned a lot there that has served me well since, so, while I had some painful times then, I have no regrets now.

I’ve certain made some messes in my life, but I attempted to live with integrity. Sometimes I failed. I made amends when and where I could, once I realized where the wounds were.

It’s certainly taken a toll on relationships. I am simply never going to “settle down” and be a housewife. I adore men, and I’ve had some wonderful men in my life (and, unfortunately, one or two who weren’t so wonderful). But I don’t understand why, once I’ve been coaxed into a relationship, I’m supposed to sit home while the man goes out and has the adventures. I’ll travel along as a partner, or I’ll go off on my own – but I won’t sit home. The world is too fascinating a place for me not to experience it first hand. There are plenty of those who like to sit home and wait – more power to them. But if I don’t start out that way, why would anyone think suddenly I’m going to turn into someone else if there’s a commitment involved? It doesn’t make sense. Partially, it’s the fairy tales and various fictions we’re fed – the whole “happily ever after”. You can live happily ever after and still be yourself.

How many talented, fascinating people have I watched (of both genders) “give it all up” for the partner? Why does being in a relationship mean only one person gets to live up to his/her potential? I don’t agree with that at all. And I won’t live that way.

So this transition is tougher than I want it to be. Working on the Goals, Dreams and Resolutions – realizing that there’s little more than a week before I have to solidify my decisions and cough them up – is making me feel even more pressured to choose paths at several crossroads I now face. I’d hoped I could handle them one by one.

You know, like in a quest story, where the challenges might pile up, but at least they come up one after the other? Only in my case, they are multi-dimensional.

I’ve met Hecate at the crossroads and I’m not asking the right questions. Maybe because deep down I know some of the answers and I want them to be different.

Sometimes free will really sucks. And personal responsibility’s no joyride, either

Cutthroat Charlotte update.
The interaction with the Spanish mercenaries isn’t working properly. The technical information, as far as I can tell, is correct. But the spirit isn’t quite there. I’m going to let the episodes sit some more today while I send out a Cosmic Yoo-hoo and hope somebody appropriate answers. Oh, yeah, and do some more research. A lot more research. I’m going to crack those translations of the material in Spanish no matter what! I just don’t think I can do it by the deadline for this month’s episodes. So I will scoot Sebastian Alarico off until I’ve gotten a better handle on his frame of reference – Sebastian himself is going to do some horrible stuff to Charlotte in the future – and then bring him back when I know what I’m talking about.

And it doesn’t help that I still haven’t caught up with The Widow’s Chamber.

But Tapestry calls and I’m going to fly on that for a few episodes today. The next few Tuesdays I won’t be able to write at all on the serials, because I’ll be leaving the house by 8 AM and getting back around 8 PM, so . . .I’ll be fried.

And I’ve got to work on the Lindisfarne article this week, too.

Links, etc.
If you’ve managed to survive the post thus far, I have some interesting links to recommend:

My friend Angela, who writes the Roses and Brambles blog, has a new serial available on Keep it Coming:

Another colleague of mine, from a freelancers’ forum, also has a new serial with Keep It Coming:

While doing some surfing as part of Blog Explosion (thanks, Zarina), I found a terrific blog called “Greener Pastures” – I’ve also added it to my links because I plan to read it every day:

And, last but not least, a poet friend started a blog:

Goals, Dreams and Resolutions
We’re coming down to the wire on this. While most of it has been worked and reworked, some of it is still in flux, and I have to make decisions.

Clear the Slot must be a priority. I think I’ve gone far off course with the way I’ve handled one character’s personal demon and I need to do some more research before I do another draft. But another draft must be written and it must start making the rounds again. It’s been far too many months since I’ve actively marketed it.

An agent is the wrong path for this book. It’s unique. It can’t be pigeonholed. And it’s the first of five books about this particular group of characters. Sweep Check has had three false starts and has foundered for a year now. Both of these books need to get back on track.

I have to research the markets very carefully. My gut tells me that a smaller press is the way to go. But small presses tend to want work that’s darker in shock value. While the five books definitely darken as they evolve, Slot is a valentine to those who play hockey and those who love it. It’s not all hearts and flowers, but there’s a lot of affection within it. I’m not willing to compromise on that. Nor am I willing to compromise on telling the stories, in-depth, of the entire team rather than just focusing on two or three members. Each team member is equally important, just like it works on the ice.

I have my work cut out for me.

Ransagh and Intricacies of the Labyrinth must be priorities, again because they are unique. Periwinkle and Change on the Fly must be priorities because they’ll sell.

And what about Curse of the Moon-Faced Clock, Oath of the Amber Tiger, and The Other Project? Not to mention the Congress Corners stories.

And the serials.

And the columns.

And the articles.

And the teaching.

And the plays.

And the business writing, which I need to bring in the money.

How do I come up with a SANE plan to get it all done? If I’m too tightly scheduled, I resent it and act out. If I don’t stay organized, projects will fall through the cracks.

And I need to squeeze enough theatre work in there both so that I remain in contact with the outside world – I won’t say “reality” because theatre is about creating illusion -- and so I can keep my insurance.

Who thought being in theatre could be a good practical decision?

And it can’t be all work and no play. I know how I am – if I work too hard, I play way too hard, and that’s when I get myself into trouble.

Anyway, these are some of the questions with which I’m wrestling and will continue to do so between now and the first of January.

I’m also printing out the 2004 blog entries so that I can read them over and use them to see where I’ve come – who knows, maybe I’m just running in place – and maybe that will help guide me where I’m going.

The New Project
I promised I’d share the new project and I will. Yes, after the above rant, it sounds like I shouldn’t take on anything except maybe three weeks on Bora Bora.

However, I’ve been gathering recipes from my grandmothers and great-grandmothers. I want to work on them – many of them don’t have measurements – things like “one sifter of flour” or “a handful” of something.

A recipe a week is too much; a recipe a month is too little. So I’m going to attempt to try a new recipe every three weeks or so, and write about the process of working on the recipe. I hope that blog readers or friends in various writing forums, cooking forums, etc. will also give some of the recipes a try and let me know what sort of adjustments they find useful.

Will this be a book?

Honestly, I don’t know. I suspect it will – and then feel guilty to ask for friends to volunteer their time to help test recipes. However, I won’t mention anyone or include anyone else’s comments, adjustment, et al, without the proper permission. I want to try it for a few months and see how it goes. It might just be something for us to talk about when we’re not talking about writing or blogging or politics or whatever. Sometimes trying to figure out whether it’s a half a cup of sugar or three quarters of a cup of sugar can be soothing.

What I’ll do is post on the blog when it’s time to start a new recipe and ask if anyone wants to help try it out. Any volunteers can e-mail me and let me know. I’ll e-mail the original recipe and off we go. And I’ll write about what works and doesn’t work in the recipe, and what kind of changes/mutations/etc. the piece goes through.

No one has to sign up for the duration. I just figured I’d let whoever was interested in the particular recipe respond, and keep careful notes. I’ve done a bit of work on the project before, but it’s fallen by the wayside, so I figure if I put it on the schedule, it has a better chance of actually happening.

I wanted to come up with a pithy title, but I'm fresh out of pith.

Movies, TV, Etc.
Answers to some questions I received:
Actually, I don’t watch a lot of television. It used to be because I worked nights in theatre. Now, it’s because there are so many commercials that the minute I get pulled in to anyone’s world, I’m jolted out by an ad for hemorrhoid cream or something.

I try to catch The West Wing and Lost, and NCIS is my guilty pleasure, but that’s all I watch regularly.

I hate so-called Reality shows –and whenever I get into a debate with someone, I make sure to watch an episode or two of a particular show so I have a frame of reference – because I’m sick of seeing people rewarded with large sums of money for being their worst selves.

Art is supposed to help us become our best selves in life – so Reality Television, in my mind, should use some form of art to make people better selves.

Video games: Nothing against them. I just don’t play them. And why? Because I get distracted. The three or four times I’ve tried to play a video game, I thought about stories for the characters and started writing and let go of the –whatever the stick’s called –and that was it.

Movies: A friend who read the blog told me I should go see National Treasure because, although the movie’s not very good and the script would make me throw things, Sean Bean is worth the $10.50. Glad to hear it. I’ll probably wait until it comes out on video, no offense meant to the actor, whose work I enjoy.

The last movie I saw in the theatre was Seabiscuit. And that’s because I’m acquainted with some of the jockeys in it – although I loved the book and hopefully would have seen the movie anyway.

First, I go see movies or plays my friends are in or have worked on.

Second, I see movies or plays acquaintances/colleagues are in or have worked on.

Then I’ll go see things with no one in them I know. By then, they’re usually on video. And I’d rather watch them at home, without the other annoying people talking on their cell phones all around me.

On that happy note, back to Charlotte and The Widow’s Chamber. Technically, I don’t have to start Tapestry until after midnight.

Guess I had to get a lot off my chest tonight, didn’t I?



At 11:38 PM, Blogger Pandora Nicollet said...

Hey, kiddo, sounds like you're going through some tough times. You don't give specifics, but you sound like I did a few months ago. Not that things are perfect now, but the first 6 months of 2004 were truly the Dark Night of the Soul. So many things up in the air, so much that I had to decide for me, and indirectly for other people. After I got past the worst of it, I took "a couple of months" off to let the dust settle and see how things look on the other side.

I'm still looking! But now I can see the path that I have either chosen or been thrust upon -- I'm not always sure which is which, it's actually a combination of the two. And I can follow that path pretty well because I've gone through the worst and chopped through all the dead wood in the process, leaving me a clean, but interesting trail to follow.

Take Care,


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