Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool


Can I just say that the fatal Greyhound bus crash day before yesterday in upstate New York does not make me eager to hop on the bus at Port Authority this morning?

The newest sensory exercise, dealing with sound, is up on the Scruffy Dog Review blog.

Cried a lot yesterday about New Orleans, one of the cities of my heart. I feel guilty that The Situation prevented me from going down to build with Habitat for Humanity this past spring, but as they said, “We’ll need your help for years. Take care of the home front and then come and help us when you can.”

I still haven’t found some of the people with whom I regularly hung out on my trips. Some were relocated. And some, probably, died. It’s hard when so many people go by nicknames or you don’t know last names, or there’s only a meeting place, not a home address. I’ve spent a year trying to trace as many people as I can via search engines and mutual acquaintances and some of the hangouts that reopened. But I have to face the fact that I may never know about some of them.

So, I hope to go down for a bit next spring, once the home and hearth issues are settled.

I found a folder yesterday with a fun, snappy, unusual piece in it that I wrote several years ago. It needs a few tweaks, but, when I get back next week, I’m going to put the tweaks in and start sending it out. The humor is slightly on the brittle side, and it explores some opinions that interest me about the power of belief. It’s magical realism – which more and more of my work turns to lately – and I have to sit down with the new copies of WM and figure out who the heck will pay for it! Just over 5K – a good length, but so many publications want stories that run 1-1.5K.

I’ll just have to put a little research into it, shan’t I?

Three and a half good pages on Real. I think I’m back on track. Of course, now I won’t be able to work on it for a few days, but, for some reason, this novel is easier to drop in and out of for me than many others. Or maybe I’m just getting more professional in my work. I’m going to try to get out a few pages before I leave.

The show was fine yesterday. Caught up with everyone, especially a friend of mine who’s also in career transition. It was raining very hard most of the day – I had to do the up-and-over the tracks instead of the tunnel under when I returned, because the tunnel was flooded. Fortunately, the brook seems to have held – I couldn’t have moved the car to higher ground if I wanted, because the street I’d move it to was underwater.

I’ll be offline for a few days – I wish everyone a great last week of August. I’ll post my evaluation of August and my GDRs for September early next week.

And “Ris an Abrar” is all I’m taking with me to Philly. Along with a blank pad of paper and some extra pens, of course.

Devon


Real – 92,750 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
92 / 100
(92.0%)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
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.

Politics:
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.

Devon

Monday, August 28, 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and vile


Yesterday was a day of battling the blues. And for no good reason. Just a yelch day.

A writer friend of mine says he believes I’m having the equivalent of “growing pains”. My writing is about to make a leap, and I’m having the discomfort that goes with it. I just hope he’s right. Because I really don’t want to feel like this for long.

Started to read Alan Bennett’s Writing Home, which is fascinating, and continue to read Dawn Powell’s diaries. Also started Calvin Trillin’s Feeding a Yen, which had me laughing out loud.

Typed Chapter 12 of Shallid, which is probably my favorite chapter in the book. Upset because I lost the link to the online Manx dictionary in the “computer repair” and can’t track it down again. So much for a paperless office. I found something that will do, for now.

Found out that Strand shipped a bunch of books I’d ordered but assumed they wouldn’t have. I’ll be glad to have them, but it made me laugh – I couldn’t get some of the ones I longed for, and these – which I do want and need, but gave up on – should arrive tomorrow.

Today needs to be productive with things like laundry, getting more cat food in for the automatic feeders, etc. – but I had an idea on Real late last night that I think will break me out of the corner into which I’ve written myself. So I’m eager to get back to the page.

Skipped the Emmy party I was supposed to attend last night. I just didn’t feel like it. Wrapped up in bed instead. The show itself was so boring I kept switching channels. I ended up watching a chunk of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, which I’d never seen before. Can I just say that it includes some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen in my life? And I’ve worked off-off-off-off-off Broadway, so I’ve seen plenty of bad acting. The writing was mediocre, but not terrible, but I think they made some major casting mistakes. Natalie Portman pulled it off, and Ewan MacGregor got away with some of it – he commits to whatever he’s doing – but the rest of them? I couldn’t believe a production with that much muscle behind it could fall so short. I could even predict the fight choreography (now, he’s going to turn over and throw the chains over that one’s neck . . .). Big disappointment.

Eventually, I just shut off the TV and went back to Feeding a Yen, which made me laugh all over again.

Now – to work. Got annoyed by yet another set of newbies on a forum going on about how they only write when “they feel like it”. Glad you’ve got a nice little hobby there, kids. I don’t have that luxury. I need to make the time, because I’m a professional, and I’m going to show up at the page whether I want to or not. Fortunately, on most days, I want to, even if I think I don’t in the moment. But that doesn’t always mean it’s easy.

Devon


Shalld -- 30,060 words out of 82, 000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
30 / 82
(36.6%)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday, August 27, 2006
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

You might as well settle in with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine because this is going to be a looong post.

Friday, I managed to outrun a bad storm returning to CT – there were even tornado warnings in NYC! The clouds were clattering across the sky, visible in the rearview mirror, while I hit the gas to keep in the lighter portion of the sky – it was like something out of a fantasy novel. Made it back to CT. Power flickered, but did not go out, and I had a good day of reading and writing and thinking – very good refueling.

I reworked the last scene of Julia’s Legacy, and now I feel that I can say that the first draft is finished. It has to go into the typing queue and then rest for a few weeks before revisions. There’s a good deal of work still to do, but now, at least, I have something from which to work.

The last few days I read a brilliant book that writers must read, called Letters to a Fiction Writer edited by Frederick Busch. I jotted down so many quotes that I’m going to put it together as an article over on Biblio Paradise in the next few days.

Two important quotes:

Richard Bausch: “. . .the indulgences are what you give up to write.” (p. 24)

Charles Baxter: “If you can give up your life for your country, why shouldn’t you give it up for poetry?” (p. 35).

I roughed out some article ideas that I need to work on in the coming weeks.

I thought a lot about a PBS documentary I watched recently on PBS. I missed the beginning, so I don’t know what it was titled, but it focused on the relationship between Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan and how Kazan’s naming names during the McCarthy era hurt their friendship, but forced both into periods of deep creativity.

I was fortunate enough to work with Arthur Miller at Manhattan Theatre Club, years ago. In fact, I got to work with my two theatre gods, Arthur Miller and Athol Fugard, within the same six months. Miller snooped in my bags (which pissed me off) and found a story I worked on, and read it. He believed I should quit the theatre because I was never going to be a full-time writer until I gave it all up to be a full-time writer. And he believed I was good enough to do so. I told him that was flattering, but I also liked to eat. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I quit theatre then and tried to write full time. I wasn’t formed enough. I think the life experiences I’ve had since I met Miller is part of what makes me the writer I am now.

I’ve always loathed Kazan for naming names – I believe it’s inexcusable. And, of course, having known and worked with Miller, having the chance to talk with him about a wide variety of topics in the weeks we worked together, that loathing strengthened. Let me make it clear: Miller did not loathe Kazan – they were very fond of each other. But Miller had extremely high ethical standards, both for himself (which he admitted to falling short of, but always tried to reach) and others. One of the reasons we got along so well is that we had (and I hope I still have) similar requirements for loyalty.

I feel Kazan did some wonderful work (Streetcar, On the Waterfront), yet I do not believe it justifies the fact he destroyed people’s lives in order to save his own skin. Here’s a man who, literally, destroyed people – made sure they were unable to earn a living, took their lives away from them in a way that some committed suicide – yet he created works of social and moral outrage. The documentary makers felt this showed his was “complicated”. I feel it showed truly what a hypocrite he was.

I think those artists in the early part of the 20th Century who joined the Communist Party here in the US were naïve. They wanted social change, and rightly so, but they were unable to see that, no matter what “principles” party doctrine claimed, all one had to do was look at the countries run under Communist rule and see how it was still another way to separate a certain group of people and put them in charge, sucking wealth and life out of everyone below them, just called something else.

Most of the artists with any intelligence at all were, eventually, able to see the reality of that, and left the Communist Party (Kazan left after something similar to an “intervention” where he was put on a “mock trial” – I can see how disgusted that would make him. I would have flown into a rabid rage).

It still did not give him the right to destroy people’s lives the way he did.

But it was interesting to see the documentary and view the justifications for it. I understand them – I do not agree with them.

And I believe, especially under the Bush administration, that we are moving towards another time of blacklisting. Again, under the false guise of “patriotism”.

Patriotism is believing in your country, standing up for it, and reminding your elected officials – who, I might add are your EMPLOYEES – the principles on which the country was founded. And that often means profound disagreement.

Which brings me to PEN. I am now a member of PEN. Not a full voting member, just an associate. I’m still expecting the letter saying, “You poseur – who do you think you are, becoming part of PEN?” because I will never write a Rushdie-esque or an Atwood-esque novel. Nor do I want to. I will write what I want and need to write – which is why I was drawn to PEN, which works on an international platform to protect writers’ right to speak their truths. Rushdie and Atwood definitely influenced my decision to join PEN – their interviews and commitment to human rights/writers’ rights around the world. If writers don’t have the right to speak/write freely, human rights go down the toilet quickly, because the writer bears witness to the injustice performed by mere government officials – who, in my opinion, do not EVER have the right to censor writers. Writers are there to provoke thought and debate and point out injustice. Governments do not have the right to suppress that, although most must do so in order to ensure their own survival. Because if people recognized the truths, there would be many more revolutions than there are already.

I don’t give a damn about “celebrity” or hanging out with “celebrities”. I’ve spent my entire working life with them and I see how that label poisons the soul. What I do have is a set of writing skills – I am able to construct persuasive letters with strong, researched arguments and back-up. Those skills can be of use in PEN’s mission. That is why I – reluctantly – joined PEN. It is the organization where I believe that my skills can best work to help writers on a global level.

It’s the next step from making my own little patch of the earth the best it can be. Without drawing attention to myself. But speaking as a member of an organization committed to writers’ rights, which, on a larger scale, reflect human rights.

The first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches this week. I was saddened to find out that La Madeleine, one of my favorite restaurants just off Jackson Square, never reopened. And I’m horrified at how little has been done. Bush shrugs and says, “Well, we gave ‘em X billions of dollars.”

But they did not give it to “them”. The money has not reached the people, many of whom still do not have electricity or running water ONE YEAR later. The money was handed to agencies and companies who are sitting on it and not giving it to the people who need it. Even the local government is expected to fork out cash up front and then the agencies will decide how much they should be reimbursed.

That’s not giving them aid. It’s yet another political maneuver so that Bush can yap to the ignorant that he’s given aid while making sure his rich cronies sit on the actual cash and profit from it.

And now, Hurricane Ernesto has the Gulf Coast in its sights. And you know what? The government agencies have admitted that the levees probably can’t hold up if the storm hits.

In other words, the area is in worse shape that it was before Katrina hit, while Bush’s fat cat friends have gotten fatter on OUR money that was supposed to rebuild the area.

If you actually give a flying fuck about the Gulf region, start pressuring your senators and representatives about that money. Because one day, you could be the one drowning in a flood, and you better hope Bush isn’t the one in charge of the “relief” effort, or you’re going to die.

On a happier note, I re-read the 11 chapters of Shalid that are typed. I took notes, began my cheat sheets, charted through lines that need to happen through several books, searched for patterns in theme and story that need to be developed.

I’m having a tough time getting back to Real. I managed a few pages over the last few days. I’m thinking, mulling, percolating. The new plot twist deepens the book, but now I have to readjust everything around it.

In general, I need to go deeper in my revisions. I need to explore the layers of desires and demons, then cut it so it’s presented as succinctly as possible. I feel that much of my writing lately has been too glib, too surface. What’s behind it?

I made notes for something that might be a set of interlocking stories. I have characters, but I don’t know how they fit together.

Also made notes on something I’ve had percolating for years. A mix of Elizabethan theatre and my disagreement with Virginia Woolf’s assessment of “Shakespeare’s Sister.” I’m not sure if it will be magical realism, or, if to do what I want to do, I’ll need to create an alternate reality. After five or six years of false starts, I feel I finally have a handle on it, but it needs to percolate more.

One of my editors had a question on the article sent out Friday – dealt with that.

Was frustrated when I got a catalogue yesterday and saw that, not only have they put the wrong name in the catalogue copy, but they didn’t even spell that right! Breaks the contract.

I’ve had problems with carelessness on the part of this company before, and I have to seriously consider that maybe I no longer wish to write for them. Anyone can make an occasional mistake, but this is every time I work for them – whether it’s something rearranged in the text that makes it inaccurate, or a wrong name or a misspelling – I’m hitting a place where I don’t think the money is enough to justify the frustration. The money’s okay and steady – but not enough. So, perhaps, it’s time for me to move on from this particular company.

Lots of internal work these past few days. Now it’s time to translate that into words on the page.

Devon

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday, August 25, 2006
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and humid


So a bunch of guys with too much time on their hands got together and voted Pluto out as a planet? Have any of them ever been there? I don’t think so. Get over your egos, boys. Pluto stays.

Worked on the article yesterday; will finish it and send it off today.

CT is great – love the kitchen. Cooked chicken with alfredo noodles, white and sweet corn with thyme, and peas in butter sauce for dinner last night.

The house is wonderful and comfortable, and there are plenty of places to read and write. I have discovered, though, that when I set up my own house, I will need to set writing desks in several rooms. I like to Roam ‘N Write.

Still reading Dawn Powell’s diaries. I like her thoughts on her process.

Reworked the last scene of the play this morning (since the dog bounced me out of the bed at 6:02 AM). Still needs some work, but then I’ll put it in the “To Type” pile, and, once it’s typed, it will “rest” for a couple of weeks until I do revisions.

When I get the article off and head back to CT, I’m going to do a bit more work on the play, on Real, and then some housekeeping work on Shallid – I need to make some notes so that I can keep certain people and things consistent in Jioleagh. I’m upset that the original notes are still missing – where I’d worked out who was in which class and schedule notes and all of that. Plot and character arcs I can hold in my head, but the logistics of getting from A to B and the details – I need the notes. So I’ll have to recreate them from the draft.

Then, maybe, finally, I can turn my attention to “Ris an Abrar”. October’s not that far away.

Working on some short stories, too, from the SDR exercises. On Monday, when I’m back here, I need to print off some pieces so I can haul them to the post office and submit them.

Short entry today – I need to push to get that article done and get back to CT. I thought I had something interesting to say today, but, once I sat down at the computer, it’s all gone.

Guess I’m saving it for the article and the fiction.

Have a good weekend, all! Probably won’t blog again until Sunday night or Monday.

Devon

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday, August 24, 2006
Waxing Moon (yesterday was the New)
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

In between.

I got back from Saratoga yesterday and I go to CT in a bit. I am so tired I could hardly see.

Saratoga was a whirlwind – too much socializing, not enough solitude. I jotted some notes, but didn’t actually sit down and write, which made me cranky. Had I stayed even one more day, I would have had to turn into Boundary Bitch and carve out a few hours for my writing.

The traffic on the trip up was awful. Next time, I go back to leaving at 6 AM. I had to stop in Coxsackie (don’t go there) to call my friend J. and tell him I was running late. I also bought a pair of sunglasses there that match the Magic Shoes.

I took the photos I needed for Shallid and for the novella. I also realized that Winter Hills, the fictional town where I set the minor league hockey team for Clear the Slot, is stuffed right near Saratoga. I hadn’t realized how much I set in that area.

The Bed and Breakfast at which he stays is only 500 yards from the track gate, so I parked the car in the spot they’d put aside for me and headed to the races. I didn’t bet at all – wasn’t in the mood – but got to see some of the lovely horses. And the track is so delightful. It’s a graceful, beautiful place. It’s a shame that people no longer dress to go there, although the clubhouse and the restaurants still have a dress code. May they never get rid of it.

I grabbed a couple of Seabiscuit mugs (they were on sale for charity) – funny looking things, but grabbed one for myself and one for my friend B. We met some people J. knows – at this point, he knows just about everyone in town. It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day and lovely to be outside. I took some photos. We drank from one of the famed springs – it was awful! They are sulphur springs, so you can just imagine . . .

After the races were done, we went by a house J. is interested in buying. He’s in love with the carriage house on the property and that’s where he would live during the summer months, renting it for the rest of the year, and keeping the tenants in the main house. It’s a lovely property, but overpriced, especially considering that some work needs to be done and there’s a halfway house across the corner. Now, I have no problem with them being there, but I pointed out that there’s no way the owners can jack up the price (we found a listing at over $100K less somewhere else) when they’re across the street from that establishment. Especially not in a socially stratified town like Saratoga.

One of the reasons I couldn’t live there is it’s run via an economic caste system, with which I disagree.

For dinner, we went out to the Saratoga Hotel which houses a chic new restaurant called Chez Sophie. It used to be a retro diner, and now it’s an upscale French place in the conference center. In fact, a group of funeral directors held a conference there. And they were quite rude to the staff – but not as bad as the Republicans there for a fundraiser. The ego and entitlement they exuded made me want to slap them all silly. Their single goal – to get into office because “too many people who don’t deserve it live around here.” Direct quote that I overhead. Who the fuck are they to decide who “deserves” to live somewhere? They don’t “deserve” to make the decisions.

Some racing people came in while we waited for the other people joining us for dinner. One of them grabbed my ass when he met me and I just about took him out. “I’m not a horse and I’m not a hooker, so keep your hands off me.”

Fortunately, dinner was both delicious and lovely. Two friends of J’s joined us. One owns the B&B where we stay, and she is lovely. The other guy had invited himself at the track. He’s a rough, loud Boston guy. Good heart, but a little much sometimes. There were several times when I told him in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t answer his questions because they weren’t any of his business.

The food was wonderful; the wines exquisite. The owner came to talk to us (we were the sanest people in the room, isn’t that sad?) It was nice to chat with her, and I’d like to interview her for an article.

We got home well after midnight.

I had to get up at 6 the next morning, because my friend told me to be at the Gideon Putnam at 8 AM. I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast – including a very BIG cup of coffee.

Well, of course, no one was there by 8, and the staff though they overhead something about 9:30 or 10. Normally, I would have been a fit to be tied and stomped off. However, I was grateful for the gift of solitude. I took my coffee and the newspaper and my book and went out roaming the grounds of the park. I took a lot of pictures, which I’ll post. And I had some time to myself. I wrote a few notes; I read. I enjoyed the sunshine, the quiet, and the solitude.

By 10, people started wandering in. We unloaded auction items. I went back with F. to her house, where we loaded her truck and my car with more items, and came back. I had two young interns and we folded over 300 napkins like bandanas (western theme) and tied them with raffia. If I never seen another strip of raffia, it’ll be too soon. I was annoyed because “the committee” – which should have been sitting with us rolling napkins – was off discussing the event. First of all, the discussion they were having should have happened two weeks ago. Second, if you can’t talk and roll a napkin at the same time, you shouldn’t be in charge of anything.

The frustrating thing about the event is that I made my living doing benefits for non-profits, yet they never listen to me. So, a few years ago, I figured, well, you know, people are well paid to do benefits for non-profits. They’re paying people who aren’t anywhere near as good as I am, or organized. And that’s their choice. I don’t need to take any responsibility – I’ll just help with the set up and leave. And it’s much easier on me. They still get the stuff done that their committee ladies think they’re too “good” to do, I get to go to Saratoga for a couple of days “in season”, and, as long as I don’t listen to their silly talk, I’m fine.

I decided, after 300+ napkins and starch all over my hands, that I’d had enough. It was 4 PM by then, so I thanked the interns, changed into a nice green dress with the bronze shoes, asked what time I should return the next day . . .and left. Very pleasant, very cordial, very firm. If someone with a rich husband who’s never worked a day in her life can waft in, pick up a single stuffed animal, place it in a basket and call it a day (telling her friends how hard she’s working and it’s not a joke), I can leave after six hours of heavy lifting. I did go back to my friend’s house with her and load up her truck again.

I may have to kill five or six of that type off in the Nina Bell novella.

I went back into town, visited some of my favorite stores and did some shopping. Too much stuff is overpriced during the race meet because people will pay a high price for a mediocre product because they like to boast how much something costs. But, over the years, I’ve found some good, year-round artisans who create good work at a fair price. They are the ones from whom I buy. A friend reached me as I wandered through Borders and asked me what I was buying. When I said “Nothing”, he said, in all seriousness, “Do you need to go to the hospital?”

J. met me for a cocktail in the garden of the Adelphi Hotel, which is a lovely, graceful place with a long history. And, of course, he knew half the people in the garden. It’s on the market now, for a reputed 10 million. The place needs a lot of work. It’s got a wonderful history, but has fallen into some disrepair. I think part of it is because it now closes for the winter; if it was year-round, they could keep it up. I wish I had the money – I’d run it as a haven for writers. Still rent to tourists at high prices during “the season”, but off-season, turn it into “the” place to be in upstate New York for arts events. The back garden is lovely – a warren of patios and porches. It is a place where I could find a nook in which to write.

We planned to eat at Mouzon, which is supposed to be wonderful, but it’s closed on Tuesdays (dark day for racing). So we went to One Caroline instead. That was wonderful – good service, (although I’d heard quite a few complaints about service there before), excellent wines, and, again, wonderful food.

After a leisurely dinner, we wandered over to Lyrical Ballard, a wonderful second hand book shop, but they’d closed for the night. So we strolled a few doors further down to Twice Told . I went to town there – I should call my friend and tell him I don’t have to go to the hospital, after all. I bought:

Letters to a Fiction Writer edited by Frederick Busch
Goddess for Hire by Sonia Singh
Feeding a Yen by Calvin Trilling
Group Portrait (Joseph Conrad, Stephen Crane Ford Madox Ford, Henry James, HG Wells – a biographical study of writers in community) by Nicholas Delbanco
Small Wonders essays by Barbara Kingslover
Freelance Writer: Looking on the Bright Side by Jane Johngren
The Size of Thoughts essays by Nicholas Baker

And I played with the shop’s spoiled, bossy tabby cat.

Then we wandered over to The Parting Glass to have a quick drink. It was quiet in there, but a band was setting up. Unfortunately, during sound check, they seemed more like a construction squad than a band, so we decided not to stay. The pub itself is very nice, and they have Blue Moon on tap, which sets them pretty high up on my list.

We came back to the house, chatted with the owner. J. put in a bid on the house he wants, and we discussed negotiating strategy. I tend to play hardball much more than he does, and I hope he holds his ground. Of course, if he is completely in love with the house. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it works out in his best possible interest.

Up on Wednesday at 6 AM again, because I had a 7:30 AM call time. They were late, I expected it, and drank my coffee and read my book under the trees. If I had a clear idea of how late, I could have tried to write, but having to keep one eye on the event hall meant I couldn’t concentrate too deeply on anything.

When some people arrived, we started designing the tables, which is fun. Spread everything out, and make it look enticing, so that people will spend money. It’s fun and creative, and there’s a group of people who actually pitch in and work, while others just stand around and chat.

And, just before noon, I got back in the car and took off. I felt odd – headachy and weird. Not hung over (I hadn’t drunk that much), but feverish. The interview I was supposed to do on the way back was cancelled, thank goodness, so I could go straight home. I had a fever, cancelled out of last night’s gig, and I went to bed, after taking some feverfew and willow bark. I woke up later in the evening (the feverfew did its work) and had an omlette, then went back to sleep. The cats were thrilled I was home, and stuck to me like they were velcroed.

I feel better this morning, although still a bit achy. I wonder if I had a bad reaction to something that bit me – it was rather buggy up there. I took a bit of black cohosh, which should also cleanse my system.

I have about an hour to work on my article due tomorrow, and then I’m off to Connecticut.

The cats will have a fit.

I was offered a job to come tonight and baby-sit a Famous Band that’s playing locally and turned it down. I’d rather be writing.

Devon


PS Some of the 2007 Annuals arrived – I’m looking forward to seeing how my articles came out.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hazy and humid


I ran into a glitch with Julia’s Legacy. I’ve got the basics down, here in the first draft, but there’s no big dramatic conflagration before the end. I don’t want it to be overly dramatic – they’re spending most of their time discerning the mind games from the direct responses. But I need to raise the stakes of two of the four characters. One character already has those high stakes, but it’s not being dealt with clearly in the play. And the fourth character is very clear about her high stakes.

I’ll have my work cut out for me in the rewrite.

The article typing went much more slowly than expected and was frustrating. Especially since I caught myself in bad early draft habit – mostly using the passive too often. I hate reading passive passages, so I don’t understand why, in early drafts, I keep writing them. Urgh.

But all 25 short articles were typed, revised, and sent out. One of the long ones was also revised and sent out. I asked for a few days’ extension on the other big article because I’m still waiting for some interview answers to come in that I think will be really cool. But I promised to send it by the end of this week no matter what. I can finish it in CT. I definitely have enough material for it, but I want that one extra bit.

Once that article is out, later this week, I can focus completely on Real and on “Ris an Abrar.” I need to get the latter’s first draft done so I can do a few revisions before its October 1 deadline, and then I want to spend a good bit of October on “The Merry’s Dalliance”, since that is due in January, and November will be taken up with Nano.

Plus, in the best of all possible worlds, I’ll finish the first draft of The Fix-It Girl, last year’s Nano, before I start this year’s Nano.

I’m still struggling with whether or not to do Nano this year. The downside is that it’s purely about quantity. On the one hand, I know that’s useful. On the other hand, I think it is more useful for people who don’t have writing as their priority. It’s a way to shake people out of their excuses. Writing IS my priority, and I do live a writing life, so using November to make it a priority is not a stretch for me. But I do like the community of writers, for the most part, and it’s a good excuse to meet writers from all over the world and hang out with whomever is doing Nano locally.

I haven’t slept well for the past few nights, so the exhaustion is catching up. I have to be energetic and cheerful and busy for the next few days, but I ought to be able to relax and do things like sleep in during the second half of the week in CT.

A passel of errands, and then I hit the road. For once, I didn’t leave before 6 AM – I’m leaving later in the morning, and motoring upstate at a leisurely pace. Today is a play day, whereas tomorrow, I’ll have to literally roll up my sleeves and get to work, setting up the benefit.

I’m offline for a few days. Will catch up with everyone soon!

Devon

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and muggy


Dispatch from Elsewhere:

Finished Act II, Scene I of Julia’s Legacy yesterday. That means, with today’s scene that I’ll work on as soon as this is posted, I’m done with the first draft of the play.

Thanks to the folks of Villa in Tuscany, for creating a structure so I could write a play in a week.

Wrote Wednesday’s Dog Blog, and posted it here, since I won’t be in town on Wednesday. It’s the second week of the sensory exercises.

When I went back to feed the cats, I discovered that two ordered books arrived: Alan Bennett’s Writing Home, which I’ve wanted to read for ages, and The Age of Conversation by Benedetta Craveri, about the rise of French salons (presided over by women), beginning in the 1620s. I’ve wanted the latter book since it was published in the States in 2005, so I’m just thrilled to have it.

Finished up all 25 of the short articles. Will type and revise all of them , along with the big article and send those off today. Will work on the other big article (thank you, Diana Gabaldon, for taking the time to answer the interview questions) and get that off before I leave in the morning.

The person covering the CT job for the first half of the week ran into some problems, so I’m going over there for a few hours later today to get everything straightened out. Not only do I not want it to be a mess while I’m gone, I don’t want to walk into a mess when I get there on Thursday!

Short post, but I have to concentrate on my deadlines.

Devon
From Elsewhere

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Saturday, August 19, 2006
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde



Dispatch from Elsewhere:

Teary and bleary.

The computer guy was here for three hours. The system was wiped and had to be reconstructed. I HATE THAT. I’m sick of that being the ONLY thing any of them are willing to do. Get in and fix it, dammit!

Even though everything was supposedly backed up, ¾ of one of the backed up files vanished. That meant over 300 documents, including tax and legal stuff from The Situation, my entire Writing folder with my Submission Log for 2006 and all my professional samples, and my entire web address book for one particular account.

Next time, I do all the backing up myself. And if that was necessary, they should have TOLD me when the appointment was made. No one ever said anything about the possibility of wiping the computer – especially when I said I didn’t want that to be done.

Colin, bless him, from all the way in Scotland, talked me through some potential searches. We found most of the tax and legal documents stashed in a music file (????). But the Submissions Log and the samples seem lost. Most of the samples are on other disks – I’d put it together in a folder on the hard drive because it was easier to pull things for pitches – so I can reconstruct.

The only big loss is the Submission Log and . . .oh, well.

And the web address book. Some of the addresses are in my Yahoo accounts or my 1and1 account – but I lost all the links to the different sites – including some of my own – and it’ll take me weeks or months to reconstruct.

And every graphics file I ever managed to create with my business cards, bookmarks, flyers, etc. – all gone. I hope I can at least recreate the business cards.

On the positive side, it’s starting with a clean slate. Instead of having 500 emails in my inbox this evening, I have zero. All the ones that came in this evening have been responded to and properly filed. And the rest – well, if it’s important, I hope they email me again. My scanner works, for the first time ever. The CD burner works. I can download photos again – you can enjoy some from Mohonk if you scroll way down. The computer is running much better. I can get in to the web pages, so the instructions Colin sent me to help me get the DE site up and get the other sites designed – the computer actually responds when I ask it to open something. I even found the template for the Fearless Ink site, which, lately, the computer swore to me didn’t exist.

Even better, I can OPEN it.

And, all the templates I downloaded for Cerridwen’s Cottage and for the subdomain sites are intact.

I’m debating whether or not to download Open Office again, or if I should just wait until I purchase Nitro PDF, which I think makes more sense.

Plus, I know more than I did four years ago (thanks, mostly, to Colin, but also to Michelle and everyone else who has helped me out), so I now understand how to rearrange things.

Unfortunately, the guy told me that the system needs to be wiped and reconstructed twice a year. I don’t like that. To me, that seems the lazy choice. Remove what doesn’t work and fix what needs fixing. Don’t just DUMP shit. Bad pun intended. It’s the approach that makes me cranky. I’m paying. If I say “don’t wipe my drive” then don’t do it. Find another way. It’s my many-more-than-a-dime.

Also, the reconfigured system runs very differently than the other one, so I have to unlearn what I’ve done for four years and learn how to do this. And the improvements don’t seem logical to me. Do not make me follow a labyrinth when it should be a single click. So I pulled out my IDIOT’S GUIDE TO XP and I’m figuring out how to simplify some of it, hopefully without fucking it up.

Yes, I’m swearing today. And I mean it.

Writing-wise, yesterday was pretty much a bust. I managed to write 13 pages on Julia’s Legacy. I think it’s the first third of the first scene of Act II. The oddity that flared up towards the end of Act I was sorted nicely in this bit, and I’m satisfied I haven’t created a McGuffin.

But today I am Elsewhere, and I have every intention of making it a peaceful, productive writing day.

I will learn to cope with the updated computer.

On another positive note, my webhost has improved its anti-spam – I mean, really, in the Circadian Account, there were 1700 spam emails in the past week. That is NOT acceptable. I raised everything on all accounts ending in devonellingtnwork, fearlessink, and cerridwenscottage to the highest possible filter on all 39 accounts.

In other words, if you don’t hear back, try again, and I apologize in advance.

But today, it’s more important that I finish the deadlined work and continue on Julia’s Legacy. I’m worried that if I don’t finish the first draft before I head for Saratoga on Monday, I’ll lose it. Which means forty-eight hours to finish two thirds of Act II, Scene 1, and all of Act II, Scene 2. Plus revise the big article, finish and revise the other big article, and finish all those little ones.

I need a nap and the day hasn’t even started yet.

Dawn Powell’s diaries are wonderful. I’d forgotten how much she discusses process in them.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, especially to Colin, but also to Mik, Brenda, Lori, Barb, and Sagie, for pulling me through.

And can I just say I’m playing way to much with the Task and Calendar functions in the new email?

Devon
From Elsewhere

Friday, August 18, 2006


Mohonk House


Sky Top




Mohonk Lake (from the cliff)


The wonderful rocking chairs.



The desk I nearly bought.





Garden images from Mohonk House.

News Flash

My entire system had to be wiped and restored. It will take weeks to rebuild my address book (although the emails were saved) and figure out everything else.

Your patience is greatly appreciated.

But all the crap that doesn't work is now working -- including Notepad and the scanner.

But I've lost links to several places I frequent.

Friday, August 18, 2006
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and humid


Managed 21 pages yesterday on the play, Julia’s Legacy. Wrote all of Scene 3, finishing Act I. It took an interesting and odd turn in there; once I’ve got the whole first draft, I have to look back and see if and how I want to pursue it.

Too much exterior noise – trucks grinding whatever they’re grinding, a variety of people working outside with their music tuned to different stations, trying to out-loud each other. I’m trying to enjoy the liveliness of it all, but I’m in that deep writing/overwrought/over sensitive to noise place and it’s driving me nuts (yeah, short drive). Unfortunately, I’m not in an ivory tower, I’m in a brick apartment building in the midst of a town, so I have to fucking deal.

Bought crates at Staples because I have too many stacks of paperwork, and I have to clear room for the Geek Squad guy, who’s coming to cure my computer today.

Congrats to Chaz, who finished the draft of his new play yesterday – may I be close behind you.

And dammit, Chaz, feeding my addiction!

Those of you who’ve “known” me for awhile know that I’m addicted to juvenile fiction, especially the mystery series, from the turn of the last century onwards. Beverly Gray, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Penny Parker, Dana Girls, Ruth Fielding, Hardy Boys, Adventure Girls, Vicki Barr, Judy Bolton, Sue Barton, Cherry Ames . . .the list goes on and on. Even Marjorie Dean, although the sexism really sets my teeth on edge. As annoying as the racism and sexism are in these books, it gives a snapshot of the times in which they were published, and, if we’re going to write historical fiction (even if it’s not juvenile), reading these books can give a writer an awful lot of information – some of it not so pleasant. Beverly Gray is my special obsession – I think I’m missing only three books in the series. I know the rare one set at the World’s Fair is one of them. But I can’t remember the other two. Unfortunately, they’re all in storage right now. I picked up some by Enid Blyton just before everything went into storage, so I haven’t read them yet.

And one of Chaz’s pleasures is the series of the Chalet School books, by Elinor Brent-Dyer. There are 62 of them in the series. And he’s blogged about them a bit . . .and now I’m hunting them down. Because give me a series to collect, and off I go . . .

Of course, it’s not Chaz’s fault at all; it’s my choice. And I’m grateful that he’s shared his joy in the books with me.

I’ve got the deadline blues. I was very excited about all these articles when I pitched them; even more so when we went to contract. And now, I just don’t feel like it.

This is what separates the professionals from the wanna-bes. The professionals get it done no matter how they feel. Or even when their Muse has told them to stuff it and gone off to Tahiti . . .

Cleaned off my desk. Yes, I was procrastinating, but I also have to give my incoming Computer Guru room to work.

It looks so nice and unusual that I’m going to try and keep it that way, and work my way through everything that was on my desk and next to my desk and is now in crates.

Maybe I should take a crate or two Elsewhere.

Or maybe I should only take deadlined work.

Next week, I’m taking “Ris an Abrar” to Connecticut, because if I don’t get it together on that piece, I’ll blow my deadline.

Cooked chicken in a mustard-wine sauce last night. Haven’t yet decided if I’ll cook in Elsewhere, or just order in . . .

Finished the draft of one of the big articles. Will type it up tomorrow and do the revisions, so it can go off. Got an idea for a new tangent in the other big article, and sent off some quick emails to a couple of authors with questions – if they have the time and/or inclination to answer, I think it will give me just the interesting bit I need to make the article sparkle. And then, maybe, I won’t feel quite so stuck with it.

Didn’t do any work on the short articles, but they’re percolating. I may type up and edit what I have on them tomorrow, just to get their energy flowing again.

I feel I’ve written myself into a corner with Real. The latest plot twist packs a solid emotional punch, and Sam’s coming through with much more sensitivity and maturity than I could have ever hoped. But am I trying to cover too much in this one novel? Perhaps in the early draft, I should put in everything including the kitchen sink, the attic pipes, and the wet laundry in the basement. And cut them out later.

It’s a different process than my usual one, where the first draft is the skeleton, the second draft is overwritten, and the third draft is crafted with a machete.

But I’m always saying that one has to reinvent the wheel with each novel, so I might as well live it, right?

I do love writing when it’s dark, with just the crickets spreading the news . . .

Of to start the second act of Julia’s Legacy.

Devon

Thursday, August 17, 2006

August 17 Part II

Elsewhere.

I shall be writing in Elsewhere this weekend, once the Geek Squad fixes my computer (figures – the computer will be working with no one here to make use of it).

Why am I traveling Elsewhere?

Because far too many people are still under the mistaken impression that my working from home on deadline with phones turned off and Do Not Disturb signs clearly posted means that their inability to organize their own lives constitutes an emergency on my part.

Instead of ripping off various heads and having to clean up all the blood, I shall go . ..

Elsewhere.

And I’m not telling anyone where that is.

I will have some sort of internet connection, so I am told (could it be back to dial up? Shudder, shudder).

But I will meet my deadlines.

Thursday, August 17, 2006
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant


I gave myself the day off from writing yesterday.

Let me rephrase that: I gave myself the day off from writing what I was supposed to write.

The trip to Maine was cancelled; the original revamped plan was to visit a garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll for a possible article. However, the garden and house were open for such a short time, even in the summer, that I would have driven nearly two hours to be rushed around and then drive back, and I would have been cranky, thereby not doing justice to the place.

I simply wasn’t in the mood to be rushed, by anything or anyone.

Change of plan: spent the day at Mohonk House.

I took about one hundred photographs – once the computer’s been fixed on Friday, I can post some of them. The place is beautiful and amazing, built in the late 1860s by a pair of Quaker brothers originally from Vassalboro, Maine. (Every time I hear “Vassalboro”, I remember all those jokes from the comedy team “Bert & I” in the 1970s).

It was a stunningly gorgeous day. We walked the bluffs around Mohonk Lake, wandered the lovely gardens, walked some of the trails, sat for hours in the large Adirondack rocking chairs on the wide porch overlooking the water.

Lunch was a disappointment. The meal was a buffet in the main dining room. The food was good, but not brilliant, and, at $50/person, I wanted brilliant. Maison costs less and is better. I realize you can’t do much as far as brilliance when you’re doing a buffet for several hundred, but I would much rather have had the option to order a la carte. Unfortunately, in the summer, that option does not exist. I rather wish I’d gone to the barbecue instead.

And the other guests – the day trippers who come up by the busload – pushing and shoving, behaving badly – I expected them to stick their heads in the food troughs any second. This is not the $8.95 All You Can Eat at Lucky Bob’s. This is an elegant, Victorian dining room. In the evenings, women must wear dresses or skirts, and men (over age 12) must wear jackets. There’s plenty of food for everyone, and there’s no need to shove people out of the way and trample someone because you think they’re getting five slabs of pork to your four. You can always get more if you’re still hungry. However, these people weren’t hungry – they were greedy. There’s a difference.

The worst was a woman there with her church group (big surprise). When one of her fellow travelers suggested she was, perhaps, behaving rudely, her response was, “It don’t matter. These heathens is all goin’ to hell anyway. They ain’t saved like us. Jesus wounna bother with them.”

I was ready to break my plate over her head. Especially when she went on to make disparaging comments about the African Americans and Asians she saw in the room.

In spite of idiots like that, the staff was incredibly kind and polite, all day. I don’t know how they do it. This is why I am not in any sort of job that requires customer service – I have no patience with the General Public.

Once we got away from the dining room, however, all was good. The porches are beautiful, and we kept returning to various areas and rocking chairs and simply relaxing.

The staff really went out of their way. I missed the turnoff to the parking lot because I was looking at the view and not paying attention, and ended up with my own valet parker. I arrived at the greenhouse after it was closed, and the guy opened it up to show me around. And then, walking back up the hill, I took my shoes off (I’d worn the wrong shoes for that much walking) and was walking on the grass, because the backs of my heels had blistered and started bleeding. One of the workers in a golf cart stopped and drove me back up the hill. That was so sweet. I mean, it was my own damn fault, and it was only blisters. Uncomfortable, but hardly life threatening. With all the terrible things going on in the world, I’m not going to complain about a few blisters!

Very funny: A west coast vineyard had their sales meeting at the resort. If you’ve ever experienced a half a dozen wine salesmen trying to pick you up simultaneously, you know how funny it is. Highly, HIGHLY entertaining. If they don’t make it into a book, they might have to get their own story.

I have to say how impressed I was with the teenagers – much more together and much better behaved than their parents, all the way around. Gave me hope for the future!

We visited the Barn Museum, where I was ready to buy a hand-made writing desk and various other bits of furniture (in spite of having no place to put them), and got knocked over by one of the cart horses who decided I was paying too much attention to a mule. And then the littlest horse felt left out and stuck his nose in the water barrel and splashed water all over me. It was very funny. I took lots of pictures of sleighs and turn-of-the-century carriages.

I took lots of photos of everything. In addition to articles, some of the places on the grounds would work well in the Casherick Drualtys books. Next week, when I’m up in Saratoga, I have to photographs the boulevards leading down to the town from Skidmore, because, in Shallid, when Elise and Maddie walk to town to buy supplies, those are the streets that were the inspiration. Mix some of the universities I saw in the UK, and some of the grounds here on the mountain, and I’ve got my location.

Also, sitting on the porch, I did a rough outline for a new story. Not sure when I’ll get to write it, but it’s such a great location for either a mystery or a suspense or a romantic comedy with a little bit of mystery thrown in. I have the characters, the location, hints of story – but I have to weave it together into a plot. It’ll percolate for awhile. I’ll print up the pictures and put them up on a board and it will all evolve.

I even toyed with the idea of moving to the area. It’s relatively inexpensive; there’s a huge arts community; it’s beautiful; there are, literally, several thousand businesses in the area I could approach to pitch myself as a writer for the business. However, there’s also quite a large homeless population, and the unemployment rate is one of the highest in the state.

House-wise, I feel I can get more house for the money further up in New England, and also, more the type of house I want – something that’s been around for awhile, not new construction. The only home listing I saw that wasn’t new development construction was built in 1791, and needs more work than I could put into it at this time.

The world of the Mountain and the world of the town are in too much opposition, vibe-wise, for me to be comfortable with the area.

There’s also, in the main town, a sense of passivity and waiting rather than the positive type of atmosphere I seek. That sort of predatory “you owe me because I exist” with which I disagree.

One of the things I like about the area of Massachusetts I’m considering (and the New England coast, in general) is a sense of coping. That region is similar to New York City in that, when something needs to be done, the majority of people don’t whine about it. They assess what needs doing and they do it. No drama, no whining. Action. Even out here, in this suburb, where there are too many spoiled, over privileged housewives who don’t work for a living (i.e., they’re not raising their kids, their husbands pay someone else to take care of the kids and clean the house), there’s more of a sense of dealing with things than in many other areas of the country in which I’ve lived. I need to live in a place where life is approached with a certain work ethic and a dry humor that I find along the New England coast. Where people actively participate in their lives instead of waiting for someone else to handle it. A sense of “go get” rather than “gimme”.

I had to pull over while driving home because I got another idea for a piece. I used to the Ren Faire over at Stirling Forest for years – I even cast one of my play reading series almost entirely out of it. I haven’t been for years. But that, too, would be a great setting for a story. I could have some fun weaving in Shakespeare and pseudo-Shakespeare references – spice it up with some Marlowe, Kydd, and Jonson, if I really want to get fancy, and maybe a few stanzas of Spenser.

So it was a good day, a productive day on many levels, but nothing was done that “should” have been done.

And that’s just fine.

Because today is a new day, and I am refreshed.

Geek Squad is sending someone over on Friday. They think someone’s hacked into my system and either let a very sophisticated worm loose, or keeps coming in and messing with stuff. So they’re going to fix it and customize the system so it does what I want. I told them I have to tell them what I need in writer language and they have to translate it into computer language. And that they have to send someone who’s cat friendly, because my cats are very friendly and will be all over them after the first ten minutes, where they stare at the stranger from under the sofa or on top of the bookcase or something.

Elsa and I had to have a serious talk. The cats are allowed almost anywhere, but NOT on the kitchen counters or the kitchen table. However, Elsa has taken to sleeping on the kitchen table during the day and sitting there watching the neighbor-in-the-next-building’s obscenely large new flat screen television that faces my kitchen window at night. No means no, and she is simply not allowed on the table.

So sorry my own television screen is too small to please THE CAT.

The Diaries of Dawn Powell arrived from Strand today, but six other books I ordered are on wait list. So I’ll have to hunt them down elsewhere. Or I’ll be waiting for a very long time. These are obscure, out-of-print books. They are unlikely to wind up at the store again.

Some friends and I plan to go out of town on 9/11. We prefer to honor the dead in our own way, rather than under forced media scrutiny.

I’m putting up the link here again to help a fellow writer – if you haven’t “gotten around to it”, please do so now:

http://www.ejknapp.com/1500.htm


Devon


PS Um, Tim Burton is directing Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd? I’m definitely . . .interested to see what they come up with. I like them (their work) both a lot. But theatre people are highly proprietary and protective of Sweeney Todd. Sondheim is somewhat of a satirical god amongst us. So I’m . . .interested . . .to see how it comes out.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant


It was one of those days, yesterday, filled with errands, so, of course, it was pouring with rain. Out to the bank, caught a train for the city, over to pay the phone bill, all the way across the city to pick up the tickets for the Philly trip, back to halfway and uptown to another errand, and finally to the theatre.

Work was fine; caught up with people, listened to a friend’s pitch she’s honing for a new project, etc., etc.

But I was glad to get back home.

I’m all packed for the various trips these next two weeks: each trip has its own suitcase. The only things that have to shift from case to case are some shoes. I always have a toiletry bag packed, and that will migrate, too. I end up taking more clothes for half a week in Saratoga than for three weeks in Europe because I have to change clothes so many times per day for all the various activities. Ugh.

But I hate packing the night before, and I won’t have time to pack and repack in between these trips, and I do have a suitcase fetish, so I had the bags in which to pack everything. They’re lined up in the hallway, marked with the destination; all I have to do when I come back is pull the shoe bags and the toiletry bag out, put them in the next bag on the line, update the writing bag, and go back out the door.

The folders for each trip are also almost done – itineraries, tickets, phone numbers, etc., so I don’t have to hunt anything down at the last minute.

The articles due at the end of the month will go out this weekend, before I leave for Saratoga.

The Maine trip today was cancelled at the last minute, which means I have more time to write, and a bigger window to get in the computer people, but I’m taking a day trip instead today for an article I want to write for something else.

Two stories and some bills have to fly through the post office slot on the way to the highway.

The network’s doing a really cool promo campaign for the new show, which will debut in mid-September. If what makes it to the screen is anywhere near as good as the scripts I read, it’s going to be wonderful. Hardest thing I’ve ever worked on in my life, but if the good writing, good acting, and solid production values make it to screen, I’ll be proud of being a part of it.

One of the things I like about this show, and, in general, about shows based in New York, is that the actors cast (most of the time) are very individual – even if they’ve been cast out of LA. There are a bunch of young actors and actresses who flit around in different unmemorable projects out there who are, in my view, interchangeable. Because projects shot in New York tend to use the city as a character, and in New York you find so much uniqueness – walk down the street, and the first twenty people you see will be entirely different from each other – that spills over into production. This show, in particular, has an extremely large cast, with guest star character arcs. They’re so well written an individualized on the page that it gives even a halfway decent actor something to work with. And, so far, all the actors I’ve worked with on the show have been far above “halfway decent.” They’ve been damn good.

Some of the LA Mucky-mucks I’ve talked to, working on these various projects, also feel that crews in NY have a much better attitude than those in LA. They’re much more invested in the particular project. It’s not “just a job” – there’s a sense of commitment to the particular project that they don’t find in many other towns that do production.

I’ve learned an enormous amount from being on these sets that helps my writing. Both in structure of a television project, but also in terms of the business (much of which I don’t like), and how projects are put together.

Worked out some wrinkles in Real and unpuzzled a puzzle for Treasure’s Hunt. It still won’t be outlined tightly enough to be a contender for Nano, but maybe I can write it over the winter. It’s the kind of book that would be fun to write in the middle of a snowstorm. Figured out something or other for something else, but didn’t write it down and forgot it. Had a hell of an idea for Shallid, which would turn it into a controversial book – but it feels right and I just might have to go for it. It might raise the minimum age for its readers – but some of the best books I’ve read haven’t looked down at the younger readers who might be interested; if the topic is handled well and the crazy censors aren’t allowed complete control over individuals’ decisions . . .it would certain take the book to a better level. And, within the world of the book, it would make complete and utter sense and not be weird.

I’ll have to play with it in the rewrites.

This new twist would allow Meurig Fletcher to be his true self. He’d gotten so far from it that I’d named him something else three chapters later without even realizing it. But THIS, this new twist – this is who he is. Hmmm . . . .

Realized I’d missed a big chunk of plot in the scene I worked on yesterday and the day before on Julia’s Legacy. That’s what I get for writing the scene in two sittings instead of one. I’m not sure if I’ll go back and fix it, or if I’ll write the third scene –which niggled at me all day – and then go back before I start Act II.

I slept in longer than I planned today, so I don’t know if I’ll try to do a few pages on the play before I leave, or if I’ll work on the articles. Both need attention today. I want to knock out 6 more short articles, work on the two big articles, and do Scene 3 of the play, finishing Act I.

If you haven’t visited the site to help out a fellow writer, please do:

http://www.ejknapp.com/1500.htm


Devon


PS Hop on over to The Dog Blog – there’s a new exercise. We’re starting a cycle of sensory exercises for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and warm


If you haven’t visited this site to help out a fellow writer in trouble, please do so. Time is running out for him:

http://www.ejknapp.com/1500.htm

It’s important for us to take care of our own. Any one of us at any time could be the one who needs help.

I bought another handful of stories yesterday. Now I’ve spent the same on stories as I have on shoes, which assuages my conscience.

Yesterday’s writing haul:

6 short articles, bringing the total to 12 of the needed 25 by Sept. 1 (Aug. 20).

Just over 3 pages on one of the big articles due Sept. 1 (Aug. 20). It needs to be about 8 pages, so I’ll probably write 10 and then cut.

Typed Chapter 11 of Shallid. The first of the three notebooks containing the longhand first draft has been typed. This middle notebook has the messy part – I put in lots of “placeholders” where I sketched ideas instead of fully realized them. Instead of merely typing draft 1A, I may have to put in some fixes.

Another realization is that I need to start a Cheat Sheet to keep track of everyone, since many of these characters will be in all 13 books. And soon I need to write down all these character arcs, instead of thinking I can hold them all in my head indefinitely.

A few pages on Real. We’re getting there. Callie’s got post-traumatic stress disorder. Although Sam’s hopped to London to be with her, Crispin’s the one who’s around the most, and making himself indispensable. Crispin also made a decision that surprised me – one that came from genuine fairness and concern, not just his own agenda.

This man is going to have to get a book of his own at some point.

Did some work on the website buttons, but didn’t finish them. I’m confusing myself. I think I’m thinking too much. I need to do more with the physical maneuvering and then figure out how I did it. I’m so afraid I’ll forget how to do stuff that I stop to take notes and then I can’t remember what I’m trying to do.

Started Scene II of the first act of Julia’s Legacy. Ten more pages, until I couldn’t hold the pen or see straight any more last night. Got up early this morning and wrote another 8 pages on Scene 2, completing it. It’s the scene that will need the most work in the rewrites.

I’m not taking the play with me to work on on the train because of the weather, and the fact I know I won’t have uninterrupted time and it will frustrate me. I just have to hold tight until I get back tonight and try to tackle scene 3. That will finish the first act. I only plan to have two scenes in the second act.

I had to drive out to CT to orient for the job I’ll do out there the second half of next week. Should be fine, with plenty of time and room to get writing done while I’m there.

If one more wanna-be writer whines about “not having time to write”, I’m going to slap him/her silly. We all have the same amount of time. Twenty-four hours in each day. It’s how we choose to use it. It’s not that you don’t “have time” to write – you’ve chosen not to use the time in your day to write. There’s nothing wrong with that, but stop whining about it. You’re free to make choices in your life. If you really wanted to write, you would carve out fifteen to thirty minutes in your day as a start and write, whether it’s waiting in the car for the kids, or locking yourself in the bathroom or the potting shed, or giving up some stupid reality television show. Learn to manage your time, take responsibility for your choices, and stop whining.

Of course, there’s the colleague who says, “Who cares about those morons, anyway? Less competition for publication for us.”

Not sure I agree with that entirely, but it’s a different point of view. And I am heartily sick of those who lack time management skills, but blame those around them because they can’t get it together. Everyone’s got the right to make the choices best suited to one’s own life. But don’t blame someone else for your choices.

If you hate your life so much, change it.

Off to the theatre.

Devon

Real -- 91,375 words out of est. 100,000
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
91 / 100
(91.0%)


Shallid – 27,019 words out of 82,000
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
27 / 82
(32.9%)


Julia’s Legacy – 18 pages, finishing Act I, Scene 2. Total pages: 46.

Monday, August 14, 2006



My newest indulgence.

On sale, of course.

Monday, August 14, 2006
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hazy and humid


Worked on Real. Broke the 90,000 word mark. Less than 10,000 words, if it decides to stay within its 100K estimate. It’ll be a good feeling to finish that first draft. It’s going to need a heck of a lot of work in the revisions, but it will be good to have it all out in front of me to revise.

Sam and Callie have hit a frightening crisis – separated by thousands of miles, and she’s missing after a bomb went off. With Sam’s rival Crispin (who keeps threatening to run away with the book, but we can’t do without him at this point) out and about, right there to search for her. The book’s covering a lot of ground.

Typed Chapters Nine and Ten of Shallid.

The new play forms and shapes itself inside of me, preparing to be written.

This morning, I got up at 5:30 AM. By 7:45, I’d written the first scene of the first act, 28 pages. I’m trying to let each scene germinate and then write it, instead of trying to do the whole thing headlong. I’m trying to work with the Furies, rather than be driven by them.

Devon



Real – 90,250 words out of est. 100,000
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
90 / 100
(90.0%)


Shallid – 24,382 words out of 82,000
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
24 / 82
(29.3%)


Julia’s Legacy -- First scene of the first act – 28 pages.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

August 13 Part II

There’s a play waiting to be born.

As I read the NYT Arts & Leisure section this morning, the first line, the last line, and the characters appeared. It’s not quite ready to be written yet, but it will be. Soon.

Those of you familiar with my process knows what that means. I have to write plays straight through, without interruption. Everything else goes to hell without the hand basket. It doesn’t matter what I “have to” do. When it comes to plays, once the Furies land, I’m possessed.

I was going to work on “Ris An Abrar” for BIAW over on Villa inTuscany, but I think it might be the play.

I can’t ignore the articles. They must be finished.

But I can feel the play forming in my soul.

And, if I don’t give myself over to it completely when it’s ready, I’ll lose it. The play, I mean. Not sure about the soul.

The play is the only format that demands this type of dedication from me. It’s usually worth it in the long run, but boy, oh boy, what a toll in the short run.

Sunday, August 13, 2006
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cool and pleasant

Today is the first anniversary of Kemmyrk, so there’s a little commemorative ditty up over there.

I want to congratulate my friend and colleague, Kristen King. She’s a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Best Writer’s Website Contest (p. 57 of the October issue). Woo-hoo!

And congrats to my friend Michelle Miles for a nice royalty check from Samhain Publishing – you’ve earned it, my friend!

I miss being in Edinburgh for the Festival Fringe. I was there twice, both times with shows I’d written. It was difficult, frustrating, exhilarating, overwhelming and wonderful all at once. I met many wonderful people and some people I’m glad never to see again.

The two shows so far I’d like to see the most of this year’s crop are called Crunch! (http://www.tangramtheatre.co.uk/)
and Radio (http://www.kandinsky-online.com/). Kandinsky also has a blog, here:
http://www.kandinskycorp.blogspot.com/

There’s also a show called Potted Potter: The Unofficial Harry Experience where a pair of storytellers perform all six books in 60 minutes. Sort of like Tom Stoppard’s The Fifteen Minute Hamlet with the 1 minute encore (which, by the way, if you’ve never seen it, is an hysterically funny play – hey, it is Stoppard).

Since I can’t be at the Fringe, I’m re-reading Colin Galbraith’s wonderful poems about the book, Fringe Fantastic. If you don’t already own a copy, I suggest you order one. It’s a wonderful book.

I miss the camaraderie at The Last Drop and at the Oxford Bar. One thing I love about the Fringe is you end up going out with your audience half the time and discussing the work in depth, then going to see whatever they’re working on, and so on, and so on, and so on.

I’m sentimental about plays right now because it’s Fringe time AND Chaz is working on a play. So now I’m all wistful and want to get back to working on plays. However, everything I have to say right now is not being said in script format, but in prose.

I keep meaning to mention that “Lady” was rejected by The Barcelona Review, but with a request to submit something else. Now I just have to figure out what. I also have to get something off to Grit – now is generally when they look at submissions for the upcoming year.

Made a list of all the problems in the computer. So far, it’s a full page, single spaced. And I’m nowhere near done.

I’ll be calling Geek Squad first thing on Monday to set up an appointment for later in the week.

I did some subdomain work and even sketched out a couple of logos. One will work as is – if Geek Squad can get my scanner to work, I can scan it in and go from there. The other needs a bit of embellishment. I might see if my artist friend Barbara (who will have her own photography page on the DE site) might help me with it.

I started work on the penguin story. I realized how little I actually know about penguins, penguin care, penguin transport, etc. I’ve got an encyclopedia, and an Audobon Nature Encyclopedia, which should help. But, since there doesn’t seem to be a Penguins for Dummies out, I am going to have to ask the Central Park Zoo a bunch of questions. They’re going to think I’m completely crazy, but hey, it won’t be the first time.

Anyone know anything about farm equipment? I need to do some research (for the penguin story, believe it or not), on farm equipment. I probably should just email John Deere or something.

I’m looking for the name of the thingy that looks like it’s pulled by a tractor-type cab, but it’s a long, flattish truck bed in the back, usually with a low red railing around the edges.

Hey, I’m a city girl – I used to live in apartment over a strip club a block off of Times Square. Farm equipment isn’t my forte!

And I’ve set the penguin story in upstate New York rather than Texas, where it actually happened. And I don’t want to squish any of my fictional penguins. I know, they’re fictional, they won’t be hurt and it would be good for dramatic effect, but . . .I don’t wanna!

Wrote Wednesday’s column for the Dog blog. I’m going to start series of Sensory Exercises. They should be quite entertaining, especially since participants work on two sets of stories for the duration.

Worked on the story about the painting, the thrift shop, and the stray dog. I have to make a call over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and find out which paint can be layered over oil paint to cover a painting. I don’t want it to be another layer of oil because of the way I want the layering discovered.

They’re used to me asking odd questions, too.

Got a few pages done on Real, but not as much as I wanted. Sam and Callie are back in Scotland for a quick weekend, before the next obstacle is thrown in their path.

I spoke to my grandmother this morning; she sounded confused and depressed. I have to track down another family member this evening and find out what the heck is going on.

Devon


Real -- 88,500 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
88 / 100
(88.0%)