Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Rainy and muggy
Thank you, Jackie, you’re absolutely right – the chocolate did the trick! Hope the ginger helped you!
Two parts to today’s post, politics and writing, clearly marked in case you’re only interested in one.
Today is a sad anniversary – the anniversary when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and the world saw our so-called President and his cohorts perform acts of economic discrimination on a scale that lost over a thousand lives and destroyed thousands more.
Let me remind you that I spoke directly with the United Nations when I called them to rip them a new one, to find out they had teams qualified to handle evacuation, relief efforts, and rescue, who were standing by here in New York to fly down. And Bush wouldn’t let them come in. (The United Nations is considered “international territory” even though it is technically within the boundaries of Manhattan; therefore, had they simply flown into the Gulf, it would have been considered an invasion).
We must never forget not only the natural disaster, but the ignorance and lack of response on behalf of our elected officials. And here, a year later, the agencies run by Bush’s friends are sitting on the relief money – money that came out of our earned income as taxes and gifts – sitting on that money, making sure it makes more money, while there is still a lack of running water, electricity and basics, not to mention what individuals desperately need if this region is to recover. Meanwhile, you have at least one company with direct connections to the VP making a profit. While people suffer.
Instead of blindly believing the White House’s spin and lies, how about doing a little of your own research, people, using your eyes and ears? And hearts, if you’ve got them.
Apathy = condonement.
By doing nothing, you are telling the elected officials that how they handled Katrina is okay.
Remember, the next time, it WILL be you.
Back to writing:
Final comment on the Emmys: Denis Leary was robbed. Rescue Me is one of the best pieces of work, ever done in ANY media. It panders to no one, which is why it didn’t win.
If I was going to stay in New York, I’d bug them silly to hire me on Season Four until they’d give in just to get me to shut the hell up. Okay, so my reputation in the field would count for something . . .
I’ve been mulling over Tapestry for the past week. It’s in “resting” mode. It’s the only one of the four serials I managed to wrap up before KIC went under, although I’d had another short story arc and a novel-length arc outlined. Originally, I planned to put it back into edit once Clear the Slot was done and on submission. But now – Nina is one of my personal favorite and publicly most popular characters. But I just don’t think Tapestry is that strong a piece. I needed to write it in order to write what will become Finding Jake. But what if I put Tapestry away, do the short story arc – the one set in Edinburgh during the Fringe – and then, at some point in the future, write Finding Jake? It might even be a contender for Nano, although part of me feels I ought to do Amadeus Doe. But I know Nina’s voice, and I have a very solid outline for Finding Jake.
Let’s face it, if I’m going to do Nano, I’ll compete with myself and strive to write the 50K in 30 days again. No matter how much I tell myself I’m doing this just because I like writing in community, if there’s a goal, I’m going to have to work to meet it, for my own satisfaction. So I need a piece that’s well thought out so I can sit down every morning at 5 AM and do my 2500 words. The Fight for Lilac Circle is also pretty tightly outlined, but I don’t know if I’m far enough removed from the Situation to write it well.
At some point, I might be able to go back to Tapestry and make it strong enough to stand on its own. It was a weak novel in its original inception, with strong characters and good dialogue. When I reworked it as a serial, I took what I learned in the interim and made it much stronger. Yet, I still don’t think it’s strong enough to stand on its own as is, and make it into print.
So, I’m going to continue to bring out Nina stories, and probably even the novella set in Saratoga, because I think it would be fun. And then go on with Finding Jake. It may be that Nina isn’t a series character for ten or twelve mysteries. It might be that she’s just three or four books (I want to write the book about her much older brother who died in Vietnam). Originally, I wanted to show the evolution of Manhattan (especially the East Village) from run down, funky artist community in the early 1990s to Developers’ Heaven now and her growth from starting out in theatre to Broadway, film, and television work – but maybe that’s not the point of these books. I have to think about it.
Working on one of my articles for the 08 Almanacs the past few weeks, I reconnected with Angel Hunt. Angel Hunt was only a few episodes (I think about 12) away from being a finished piece. Plus, I had another novella arc planned, and then the novel-length arc set in Paris. It’s conceivable that I could finish the remaining episodes of the first big arc of Angel Hunt, then let it rest, then go back and transform it into novel format. I have three or four potential publishers in mind for it. I re-read about 30 episodes of it, and I like it, although there are a few places where I went off the rails because, well, it was a serial, and I was under time pressure and taking tangents to draw it out.
The Widow’s Chamber, the western, needed about 40-50 more episodes to finish it off and then major reworking. I really took far too many unnecessary tangents with that one. But then, it ran for two years, twice a week. Also, towards the end, I’d gotten sloppy with my research. In transforming it back into a novel, I’d have to make huge changes, which I’m more than happy to do. I just need the time and the resources in which to work on it. It needs an enormous overhaul if it’s ever going to be publishable as an historical novel (and it’s more of that than a Western). Plus, I want to investigate the stories of some of Nora’s family members, especially her brother Charlie who ran away to sea, and Dudley who works building railroads with the Chinese immigrant workers.
Cutthroat Charlotte, the action/adventure/pirate serial was early enough in its run (around 100 episodes, if I remember correctly), so I wouldn’t have to see it through as a serial, like I do with the others before conversion, but could start cutting it down in order to transform it into a novel.
In other words, eventually, I want to get back to the stories that were serials and transform them into regular novels. I pitched them because they forced me to stretch beyond my comfort zone, and that’s a good thing. But to turn them into professional, publishable material is going to take a lot of work.
And that has to be slotted in with all the other work I’m doing.
I have some pieces that need to be finished, so they can be shopped. And then, there are a handful of novels I have in outline that I want to work on – and that I need to prioritize, so I’m not going off in ten directions, every time I get a new idea. These are ideas, like Amadeus Doe and Redemption Trail that have been patiently waiting in the wings, percolating. They’re well outlined, I know the characters, I think about them often, but they’re not yet ripe enough to write.
All of that has to be sorted and scheduled. Several other possible novels have notes and starts and bits and bobs to them, but those like Amadeus Doe, Redemption Trail and also Intricacies of a Labyrinth are the priority and the most interesting both in content and in challenge.
Why do it if it’s easy, right?
Wrote Wednesday’s Dog Blog, which I’ll get to post before I leave. Managed two loads of laundry, the cat food shopping, and cleaning the bathroom. The kitchen floor wanted washing, but it had to wait while I did my day’s quota. My writing is more important than housework.
I don’t think it’s “cute” when a husband/boyfriend expects the woman to do the housework. Nor am I willing to shrug and say, “oh, that’s just the way he is.” That’s not my deal. I once lived with a guy who couldn’t seem to find the hamper. I let his clothes pile up on the floor and rot. For six months. He was mad. I said, “Well, I guess you’re just going to have to learn where the hamper is, won’t you?” He didn’t understand why, if I was doing laundry anyway, I wasn’t willing to walk around the place gathering his clothes. “Because I’m not your mother and I’m not the maid. You’re an adult. You want a maid, hire one.” After he had to throw out a bunch of stuff, he started putting it in the hamper. Which was right next to where he got undressed anyway. Yes, he’d get undressed next to the hamper and then bring his clothes out into the other room and dump them on the floor.
Needless to say, we were dealing with passive aggressive control issues as much as anything else.
If you want to respect, hold your boundaries.
The reason I insist on doing the laundry wherever I live is that I’ve worked in wardrobe in theatre/television/film for so long and I can’t stand the way anyone else does laundry. It’s just not fair for me to judge anyone else’s laundry habits to my own eccentricities. So I’m perfectly happy to do it – I find doing the laundry soothing, in a weird way -- but you damn well better have it in the hamper.
If ten godchildren could find the hamper for an entire summer, certainly one adult male should be able to do so.
The books arrived from Strand, and I’m thrilled:
The Story of Old Nantucket by William F. Macy – and published in 1915!
The Women of Provincetown: 1915-1922 by Cheryl Black
After Green Gables: LM Montgomery’s Letters to Ephraim Weber, 1916-1941
The Fourteenth Chronicle: Letters and Diaries of John Dos Passos
The letters of LM Montgomery are especially exciting for me – I am enamored of her work. My special treat to myself when I get the check from my publishers at the end of October hopefully will be all five volumes of her diaries, ordered from Canada. They’re expensive – but it should be a nice, fat check, and I’ve wanted the diaries for years.
The work on Real was a disaster and I’m going to throw it out. Can’t even put it in the word meter update. Ick!
I was going to only take “Ris an Abrar” to Philly – that October deadline is looming – but I’m wondering if I should take Real. I’ve done nowhere near the work I need to on it this month – it should have been finished – I only need to write about 50 more pages – but the new plot twist has twisted me all up. It’s better for the book in the long run, but figuring out how to make the rest of the book work with it in it is a challenge.
Like I said, why do it if it’s easy?
The Universe has presented me with an interesting challenge in poise. Several years ago, I crossed paths professional with someone to whom I took an instinctive, gut-wrenching dislike. I tried to talk myself out of it, because of the person’s professional reputation, but my gut insisted. As I got to know the individual better, I discovered that my opinion of the person as someone who is a paranoid, self-involved drama queen, taking an almost sexual pleasure in presenting herself as a victim all the time was correct.
And, now, professionally, our paths cross again.
It’s important that I maintain manners, a professional cordiality without being a hypocrite.
The two important questions:
How much importance does this person have in my life? Answer: not much, unless I allow it.
Will anyone care a hundred years from now? I seriously doubt it.
Now, if I can only maintain that perspective when I’m standing there, grinding my teeth firmly enough to break them . . .
I’m going to try to write my way through this muddle in Real, at least for a few pages, and then --
Off to the theatre.