Monday, January 31, 2005

Jan. 31 Part IV

While cooking dinner (thick pork chops with garlic and marjoram in red wine sauce, mashed potatoes and green beans), the beginnings of a screenplay stirred.

Seven pages and three scenes poured out right after dinner.

The last thing I need right now is a new project, especially a screenplay, but these characters would not shut up. Hopefully, now that I’ve gotten a few pages down, they will move to the background and let the deadlined work come through. Even though the premise is pretty cool and it’s a stretch for me.

Two episodes of Widow’s Chamber written, edited and sent. The western is picking up steam again, thank goodness.

And, now . . . to Glamourous Hearts. The music I ordered from Amazon shipped today, so I should have it shortly, to give me a boost.


Jan. 31 Part III

An episode of Charlotte written, edited and sent to get my ass out of this week’s sling. I’ll have to write several more in tandem with the Widow’s Chamber episodes.

One and a half episodes of Widow’s Chamber. I’m kicking the New Orleans section into gear.

Vacuumed. As much as I fantasize about not having to do housework, I probably get more creative percolating work done while vacuuming, doing laundry or doing the dishes than anything else.

When I held office temp jobs in and around my theatre work (pre-Broadway), I always knew it was time to leave when the boss asked me to place a call for him and then call him to the phone when the party was on the line. I can’t work for anyone who thinks he’s too important to dial his own telephone. And, on the other end, when a secretary calls me for her boss, I tell her when he’s ready to talk to me, he can be on the line when the call comes through; otherwise, I have no time. My time is too valuable to waste on Legends in Their Own Minds.

While vacuuming, I remembered an affair I had several years ago. (Is it still an affair when both parties are single? “Short-term relationship” makes it sound more important than it was). It was with an Artist. Whenever I stayed over, his housekeeper would arrive extra early and start vacuuming directly outside the bedroom door. She didn’t approve of the relationship. She felt I wasn’t rich enough or pliable enough for “her boy”. (He’d chronologically left boyhood many years before, but obviously not emotionally). She was right. He expected me to take a grunt job to pay both sets of bills (maintaining separate residences) so he could do his Work. And to hell with my own. The sex wasn’t that great, the emotional coldness was off-putting, his work just plain wasn’t that good, I pay my own way and expect him to pay his, and no one gets in the way of my work. It started with elaborate wooing and seduction, but once I was bagged, it deteriorated rapidly. I was out of there pretty quickly. He immediately found another young woman, this time with a steadily paying job in business, who was willing to pay for him as a Kept Man. A Kept Man who can’t get recognition – or money – for his work, but hey, as long as he doesn’t have to pay his own bills, I’m sure he doesn’t care.

Back to Widow’s Chamber. I want to get some more work done on it before switching over to Glam Hearts.


Jan. 31 Part II

Language Rant:

Before I start my own writing for the day, I have to post a language rant.

I’m really, really, really sick of women blaming language for their problems. Saying it’s “male” and therefore bad/limiting/victimizing. The word itself is simply a word. It’s the context that gives it meaning. Yes, words are weapons and it is up to us as individuals to train in responsible usage, the same way we would with guns or knives. Perhaps we don’t have enough words with the correct shades of meaning – heck, I’m constantly searching out terms in other languages to get the exact meaning I desire for a piece.

But stop with the blame and do something. Go ahead and create words. I know some people do, and they refuse to use words they see as “male”. How about creating words that are inclusive, instead of exclusive? Simply creating the opposite in order to strike back is adding to the problem, not solving it.

The most prevalent of these battered words are “history” and “women”.

I don’t find either of those words limiting. I find the imposed definitions limiting, but when you actually dissect the word, they are more encompassing than the terminology created as a knee-jerk reaction to those words.


The complaint is that it is “his story”. Well, then the world would be spelled “Hisstory” and it’s not. It’s “h – i – story.”

To me, that means “Human interactive story”, which is what history is about – the way humans screw up or don’t screw up their interactions.

To me, that is more encompassing than “his story” and “her story”. It’s the Human story.


The response is often “wimmin” or “womyn”. If that’s your shade of meaning, fine. But, to me, the word “wo –man” or “wo-men” represents the womb encompassing men, which is what happens when a female is pregnant. And the womb both encompasses and represents the female. Grail, anyone?

Step down off the soapbox, put it away, and get back to that computer! The Widow’s Chamber won’t write itself (if it did, I wouldn’t be so far behind).

But at least I’ve had my morning rant and can now return to my morning coffee and the page with a clear mind.


Monday, January 31, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warmer

After the past week of brutally cold temperatures, having weather in the teens is positively tropical!

The people of Iraq had the opportunity to vote yesterday, which is a good thing. But I want to know how the elected leaders will be protected?

I flick on the television last night and what’s on? A Perfect Murder. I watched a few minutes – enough to satisfy myself that my comments in yesterday’s entry about that film and Unfaithful were on the money, and they are. I’m convinced that both scripts were worked on by the same person – probably uncredited, but well-paid. The speech patterns between the husbands, the wives, and the lovers are too similar. As much of a different dynamic as Martinez and Mortensen bring to their respective roles, there are too many parallels for it to be coincidence.

And I stand by my comment that the characters of the lovers in both movies have a coldness about them (a comment on the writing and perhaps the direction, not the acting) that turns me off. Yes, there’s sex there. But the men are in it for control/manipulation/money while the women are in it for curiosity and that holds for a time or two; but I don’t believe either affair would have had the duration portrayed without more and that more is what’s missing and makes it unbelievable to me.

And while, for once, in both films, female characters exploring their sexuality aren’t punished with death, I still found the characters of the lovers too conveniently disposable. Just kill ‘em off when you can’t figure how to move them out of the picture! It was irritating.

Submitted three old stories for a deadline because I didn’t have new work. I doubt they’ll be accepted, but I wanted to send something. Not usually the best reason to submit, but there it is.

Disappointing news: one of my classes has been cancelled. While I wish it hadn’t been on a professional level, because I looked forward to it, on a financial level, I need to make up the cash. The harsh reality is that, in this shaky economy – thanks to our current administration – a writing class is still a luxury. People have to feed their families and pay the rent and put gas in the car. That’s simply the way it is. I’ve got a matinee this week that will replace tonight’s lost cash, but if the other classes are in danger as well . . .I gave up a lot of work in order to be able to teach these classes. If the classes aren’t a go, I need to make up the money elsewhere, and I’d prefer it not to be in theatre. I may take on some private students during the time scheduled for the class, which would help. And, because I was in the theatre so much this month, I couldn’t pursue the business writing gigs I need in order to make alternate money. It’s a hamster wheel, and I have to figure out how to get off. Perhaps it means a lean February to lay the groundwork. The Doubt Demon sets his piranhas on to me, and I just have to out swim them and come up with a solution.

January Evaluation:
Looking back at the To-Do list and reading through my entries, I figured out the hits and misses for the month.

To-Do List Done:
1 month’s worth episodes of Tapestry;
1 month’s worth episodes of Angel Hunt – actually two months’ worth, because of the calendar, but it all got done;
“Literary Athlete” column done and turned in.
Lindisfarne article done and turned in first go-round.
Outlines to Hereafter
60 pages of Ransagh
Finished preparing course material (at least I’ll have it for the next time)
Devon’s Random Newsletter
Quarterly newsletter

To-Do List Incomplete:
1 month’s episodes of Widow’s Chamber;
1 month’s episodes of Cutthroat Charlotte;
2 short stories (one done, one partially done);
4 articles (only one done, unless you count “Literary Athlete”);
Lindisfarne rewrite incomplete
“Trailblazing” column incomplete

To-Do List Undone:
Direct mailing for serials
Query letters for Elsa’s Sweater, Dixie Dust Rumours, Jill Moves, and Captain Marbury’s Ghost
Re-read Clear the Slot—that’s from sheer cowardice
Copywriting direct mail – lack of time due to theatre work
Build Cerridwen’s Cottage site
Ink in My Kitchen – although I bought flour and sugar!
Library Letters
Update – more cowardice, thanks to computer problems

Beyond To-Do List:
2 months’ worth of Angel Hunt because of the way the weeks fell
Contracted and began work on Glamourous Hearts
More than 60 pages on Ransagh
Ink in My Potting Soil

Non-fiction proposal begun
New marketing idea for self and writer friends begun
Intro for RWA newsletter article
Short story to Maisonneuve
3 submissions to Glimmer Train

Lindisfarne article returned for rewrite
Glimmer Train stories from last Oct. rejected
Old Globe’s rejection of Plateau
Dialogue Workshop cancelled

Landed the gig with Hereafter
Turned down theatre work
“All Souls’ Holding Room” published
“Dishpan Hands” published
Widow’s Chamber named Editor’s Choice
Booked workshop in Sturbridge
3rd place in KIC’s top Authors of the Year 2004
Hit one year mark with Angel Hunt

Follow-Up Needed:
Edo period in Japan to answer question posed on blog Jan. 1
Research on Gwenhyfach/Battle of Camlann
Vietnam Project rescheduled to 2007


Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt. Excellent book about the world in which Shakespeare lived and probable influences on his life and work.

A Book of One’s Own by Thomas Mallon. Very good book about people and their diaries. This is about the thirtieth or fortieth time I’ve read it.

King Arthur: Hero and Legend by Richard Barber. Interesting research material.

Life in a Day by Doris Grumbach. Another re-read. Realized it provided impetus to start the blog.

So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson. A fun book about the love of books and reading.

The Bishop’s Tale by Margaret Frazier. Medieval mystery. Well done, but I wanted the murderer to be someone else because I wanted that character to have a second chance.
Dressing Up for The Carnival by Carol Shields. An interesting but uneven collection of her short stories.

Bandbox by Thomas Mallon. A delightful fictional romp through the magazine industry of the 1920’s. I’m telling you, nothing is coincidental.

The Last Templar by Michael Jecks. The first of his medieval series. Strong characters who don’t take the easy way out.

Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See. Good ideas on structuring life as a writer. Some thing work, some don’t. It’s individual.

The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. Again, techniques that one has to try and find the personal hits and misses.

Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton. The best of her published diaries. A balance of joy and rage, unlike some of the latter ones, which focus primarily on rage.

I did quite a bit this month. It wasn’t all to plan. Some things fell by the wayside. Some things were disappointments. But there were unexpected joys and opportunities and days that needed to be seized when offered. All in all, not too bad. I’m more satisfied than I expected to be. There’s much more work to do to achieve my goals, but the positive outweighs the negative. Situations that don’t work out may be disappointing now, but I’ll be able to look back in six months or so with understanding and gratitude for why things fell into (or out of) place the way they did.

Tomorrow, I will post my To-Do List for February.

Now, it’s a few episodes of The Widow’s Chamber before returning to Glamourous Hearts. I’m going to take a deep breath and work the script backwards for awhile, to see how much middle I’ll need to generate.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Jan. 30 Part V

Work progresses well on Glam Hearts. I have the first 12 scenes, about the first fifth of it, in draft.

And now I’ve realized that I’ve got to write the end before I can go back and do the middle. There are to be 60 carefully constructed scenes. Since the denouement is a rather complicated sequence in a masked ball, I need to write it out so I see how many scenes I need for it, and then go back and fill in the middle.

I don’t like working that way, but if I don’t have the ending firmly in place, the middle will have too much elasticity, and I’ll lose that tight, rhythmic banter I need to keep amongst the characters.

Why do we have to reinvent the wheel with every project?

At least this way I don’t get static and locked into a single, solitary way of doing things.

I was afraid William would be too weak a character, but he’s holding his own. Martine hasn’t quite hit her stride yet, but she will. Conrad hasn’t even made an appearance yet, although Harriet’s talked about him.

Picked up a Wed. matinee of Wicked, since I don’t have a class that night. Might as well take the cash.

Tomorrow, Widow’s Chamber week begins and I am sickeningly behind on that. I’m also behind on Cutthroat Charlotte, and completely forgot to pick up a guidebook to Cuba last week.

I’m tired and out of creative energy. I think I’ll call it a night and either read or watch bad TV.


Jan. 30 Part IV

Found the Ida Tarbell bio. It was actually where it was supposed to be, always a pleasant surprise. I had to skim it, because there’s no time to read it cover to cover, but I think I’ve got what I need. Got the magazine research done, and I think they can have some intelligent conversation about current trends.

Using the Bessie Smith CD, the Cassandra Wilson CD, Buddha’s Dream and an Australian CD I like a lot, Vicki Hansen’s Earth Heart.

When I got tired of working on Glam Hearts, I switched back to Ransagh. The village has been destroyed – although I’ll have to go back and add in some detail in the next draft. I want it to be a minor incident (heartless creature that I am, destroying a village, even though its inhabitants were ignorant and rotten!) that sets up something more major several sections from now. Therefore, I don’t want to spend pages on its destruction, although perhaps it deserves more than the two paragraphs currently dedicated to it. I’ve spent more time on the reactions of the people in the group to the destruction than to the actual destruction itself.

I have a feeling that the manuscript will come in over 500 pages. I may have to break the story up.

Well, the whole darned thing has to be written before I figure out how to split it up. For the genre, it should be a trilogy, but I’m not sure how I’ll split up five sections as three books. So for now, it’s one damned long one and I’ll figure out restructuring later.

Also got out this month’s issue of Devon’s Random Newsletter.

I’m re-reading Journal of a Solitude. I always forget how much that book teaches me, no matter how many times I go back to it.

I’ll take a pause to cook dinner and then return to Glam Hearts. I have to figure out a way to work in some of Leonard’s war experiences in – later, when he and Harriet have built up trust in each other. I read some of the first person accounts of the battles and of the poison gas. And, of course, with our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, I can’t help being even more affected by the stories.

I’ll keep writing tonight – there’s absolutely nothing I want to watch. Although I could slip in the DVD of Hidalgo, I’m hesitating. I’ve now been warned by seven people that the script will annoy me, and do I really want to go through script annoyance when I’m working on one? I don’t think so. Even if I do fall in love with the horse! I think I’ll wait and watch it when I’m prepared to kick back and just accept it for what it is. And that way, there’s a chance I’ll actually enjoy it.


Jan. 30 Part III

Ida Tarbell. Ida Tarbell. She wrote for McClure’s in the early 1900’s. I once picked up a remaindered book about her, but haven’t read it yet. Where’d I put it? Was she still writing in 1921? Citing Tarbell’s work could highlight Harriet’s more serious side which she hides under her constant chatter.

Jan. 30 Part II

I got a later start than I wished on the writing. My horrible downstairs neighbor returned, with an equally horrible companion, to bang around and spread venom for a couple of hours. The cats refused to place their paws on the floor, as though her poison seeped up through her ceiling into our floorboards.

I did a thorough smudging when she was gone.

I’m alternating between Bessie Smith and Cassandra Wilson on the CD player as I work on Glamourous Hearts. Leonard has a sharper sense of humour than I expected, which will work for the piece. I’m taking a quick pause to jump on the Internet to research popular magazines of the period and to see what played on Broadway in 1921.

At the Costume Institute, there was an amazing design by Lucile for Ziegfeld’s Follies in 1920 – I’m going to push it and use it in a show in ’21. So I guess I should do some Follies research as well.


Sunday, January 30, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Gray, snowy, cold

I wonder how high the body count will be today in Iraq? I don’t even want to put on the news. Hiding from it won’t change anything, and it’s my responsibility to know as much as I can and then decide what I can do.

Congratulations to Angela Ruggierio, who joined her brother on the ice with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League. She is the first woman to play a pro hockey game not as a goalie. May this be the beginning of much more mixed hockey.

My body’s sore from all the hours at the desk yesterday. I’m sure I will have to take frequent yoga breaks today.

I made a poor choice in movies last night, and, instead of replenishing me, the film merely annoyed me. It was Unfaithful, a film I’d heard a lot about when it was released. I didn’t like it. I found it unbelievable, and, frankly, I don’t think it’s okay that the husband murders the lover and the wife accepts it. There wasn’t enough invested in the two characters to make me believe it.

Even though there are plot differences and thematic differences, there were enough similarities between this film and A Perfect Murder that it made me wonder. The characters of the lovers were quite similar, although Olivier Martinez (in Unfaithful) and Viggo Mortensen (in A Perfect Murder) are very different men and each brings his own unique qualities to the roles played. But the coldness and calculation in both of the lovers was so similar that it made me wonder if both films were script doctored by the same person. Yes, sexually, both characters were hot and the women fell for the passion. But there was such a coldness in both lovers’ characters that I didn’t believe either woman would stay with the man beyond one or two encounters. If a woman is in a sterile marriage, I believe she’s looking for more than simply sex. She wants warmth. And neither lover in either film offered warmth. And, though far too many women allow themselves to be controlled by the various men in their lives, in fiction, I expect more. I want to see them move past it, learn from it, and have fresh strength. Even though the wife in A Perfect Murder not only survives, but takes her husband down, the way it unfolded didn’t work for me. Unfaithful reminded me of A Perfect Murder so constantly, I almost felt like I was watching the films simultaneously.

I managed to do a few pages of Ransagh last night -- a reaction to getting some work done in a fictional world I wanted to inhabit as a response to the dissatisfaction I felt from the movie.

On a more positive note, the copy of May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude that I ordered for class arrived. I don’t even want to think how many copies of that book I’ve gone through over the years. But, of course, my copy is in storage and I needed a new one, so I bought another one. This one is the original, small version, rather than the Trade Paperback available now. I like it better. So I will re-read it over the next few days to reacquaint myself with it before class starts.

I’ll check my e-mail, and then Bessie Smith goes on the CD player and my attention focuses on Glamourous Hearts. I am looking forward to spending the day with Harriet, Leonard, Martine and William.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Jan. 29 Part II

8 issues of Angel Hunt written, edited and submitted. Up to Issue #105, and 418 manuscript pages. Issue #104 was the one-year marker. Two out of four have run over a year. I’m satisfied with that. I’ve learned an enormous amount from the serials.

Printed out the issues I hadn’t – the last issue I printed out was Issue #57. With my history of computer malfunctions, that’s just asking for trouble!

Happy with the way the story is accelerating. Even the odious Cissie Backus showed a flash of creativity! :)

Working on my evaluation of this month. When I started, I assumed I would be very frustrated. But, looking at the month as a whole, I’m pleased with the progress. It’s never as much as I want, but there’s steady progress, and that counts for something. I’ll share the Evaluation on the 31st.

I like the Buddha’s Dream CD a lot. It’s soothing without being annoying. The Celtic Harp CD is hit and miss. Some of it is great. Some of the vocals are annoying when I’m trying to write.

I saw a contest I want to enter; but I’m not sure I’ll have time to write the entry. I don’t have anything just sitting around that I can use.

I’ve re-read both Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life and Julia Cameron’s The Right To Write over the past few days. I find myself disagreeing with techniques more than usual when I read them. I use them as fuel, when I’m tired. Although I’ve never agreed with everything in either book, I’ve often found them helpful. This time around it’s been less than usual. Is it possible to outgrow a book? Some of the suggestions I shrugged off previously absolutely grate on me this time around. It’s odd.

Ordered 3 more 1920’s CDs from Amazon in a variety of styles. They should be here by the end of next week or so, so they’ll be useful in writing Glam Hearts. That is one of See’s suggestions that I do agree with – for a new project, buy a set of CDs and play them while you’re writing.

Two art forms that fuel my writing are listening to music and looking at paintings or photographs.

I think I’ll cook some dinner, and maybe even call it a writing night.


Saturday, January 29, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Bizarre dream about hotel room keycards. I hate them, frankly. I’d much rather have a key.

Some idiot called at 8 AM and then hung up. Hate that!

Ordered some books I need and have to sign and return my contract this morning, on my way to the grocery store. The groceries won’t get themselves here. Yes, I could order online, but I love grocery stores. I love the options. I love the abundance. I love sorting through everything and creating meals in my head as I go aisle by aisle. Grocery shopping is something in which I take a lot of pleasure.

So the morning will be taken up with the mundane details of life, and then Bessie Smith goes on the CD player and off we go with Glam Hearts.

Two issues of Angel Hunt are ready to go. I think I’ll just send those off before I leave.

Keep It Coming named me #3 on their top three Authors of the Year. So that’s flattering and encouraging. Not quite sure how I can add that to my CV, but I will. We get a little giftie, which is greatly appreciated. We had a choice of several items, and I picked something I’d actually use.

Halfway through my first cup of coffee, I came up with a cross-promotional marketing idea for myself and my writer friends, but it needs more thought before I can write it out properly and suggest it here. I need to cost it out and make sure it’s inexpensive and an equal investment for anyone who’s interested. It could also be kind of fun.

My friend Michelle is coming to Baltimore the first weekend of March. I’ve always wanted an excuse to visit Baltimore, so I’m going to drive down and we’ll get to meet for lunch! Something to look forward to during the upcoming dreary winter days.

I’m already on Disk 2 of the blog and we’re not even a month into the year.

Now, off to deal with contracts and groceries, knowing my characters are impatiently waiting for my return so they can resume telling me their stories. At least they all want to talk today.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Jan. 28 Part II

Thank you to Diana and Debra for your encouraging comments. I desperately needed them. This Being-True-To-Yourself gig forced by the Saturn Retrograde is hard sometimes! :)

If you want to read Virginia Woolf’s diaries – The Writer’s Diary is the one-volume version that Leonard put together. What I like to do is to read the full set of diaries while I’m reading the novels in order – they feed each other. Just a thought!

I had trouble getting going, but managed to get the train, get the check, do the banking, pay the bills, get some lunch and get to work on time.

My horrid downstairs neighbor moved out. As I passed her on the way to the train, I said, “I want to wish you well for the future.”

She glared at me and said, “No one around here works. When I worked for a living, I had to be there at 8:30!”

Let’s just say I’m not sorry to see her go. The cats are so much more relaxed without her negative energy emanating up through my floorboards and her loud television! They’re little Serenity Felines.

Day work was fine. Lots more stitching than usual –we even had an extra stitcher in the room today. And we still barely got it all done.

Ran up to the Verizon store on 57th and 6th to pay the phone bill, then back over to the Borders at Time Warner. I couldn’t figure out where they’d put ragtime music, and therefore, didn’t find any. However, I did find a Bessie Smith collection that I can’t wait to play while I work on Glam Hearts tomorrow. I also picked up a CD of Celtic Harp Music (I love both Celtic Music and Harp music) and something called Buddha’s Dream: Music for Meditation, which I hope is good. Maybe I’ll find a ragtime CD over the weekend. I haven’t bought any music in ages, so it’s time.

My tarot client met me at the Time Warner Center. We grabbed a cab through the Park (it’s so pretty in the snow!) to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He’d never met Hatshepsut, and I can’t go to the museum without paying her a call, so that was one of our stops. I lose so many tensions of the day in her room, and she helps me see things within the perspective of thousands of years.

We did the reading at the Temple of Dendur, and it was intense. The place was nearly deserted, and no one bothered us. If anything, the security guards kept us protected. We were on a low wall near the reflecting pool, within a shaft of light. It was perfect.

Afterwards, we nipped down to the Wild exhibit, down in the Costume Institute, which was, well wild. I especially like the costumes with peacock feathers. Of course, the absolute best were the authentic Sioux beaded pieces, not the haute couture pieces inspired by The Real Thing.

There was a guy at the Temple of Dendur and in the Wild exhibit and later at the bookstore. Handsome, dark-haired, blue-eyed, lean and muscular at the same time. He looked so much like a character in one of my pieces that I figured I imagined him (except I don’t put anybody in a white fisherman’s sweater in NY). Anyway, even when he bumped into me in the bookstore, I figured he was a figment of my imagination or I was projecting or just using him as inspiration for a story – until I got home and found his card in my jacket pocket (so that’s what he was doing, bumping in to me at the bookstore. And I thought he spent an awfully long time circling around the Temple of Dendur – about five times)! Hmmm. Hmmm.

My client and I grabbed a cab to the train station in Harlem and then headed to our respective homes.

It was a good day, but a bit of a roller coaster (more details in a few days, when I’ve had time to sort them out). I was tempted to do some serious drinking when I got home. Not a couple of glasses of wine, but serious drinking, like in my twenties, when I could down a whole bottle of scotch without thinking twice. But I can’t do that anymore, and it really wouldn’t serve any purpose except to make me lose another writing day (tomorrow) to a hangover, so I didn’t.

The encouraging comments from my friends warm my soul, and the card slipped into my pocket by a handsome man warms my ego.

In Angel Hunt, Lianna has to deal with the Demon of Gaul. I’m dealing with the Demon of Doubt. I’d like to make a trade. The Demon of Gaul is easier to vanquish.


Friday, January 28, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Went to bed early and woke up around 2:30 AM from a home invasion dream. What’s that about? Finally got back to sleep (after checking the doors and windows) and then overslept. But at least I feel rested.

Not a good writing day yesterday. I have a feeling today will be more of the same. I won’t get home until later tonight – the tarot client I have booked after day work wants to do the reading up at the Temple of Dendur, so . . .off we go.

I got a bit of Angel Hunt done and a few pages on Ransagh. I’m coming up to a difficult section detailing the destruction of a village. Although the character who destroys it is justified in doing so, later there will be a stiff price to pay. In order for that payoff to work, I have to set it up properly here.

Boy, when I do the revision on this one, I’m going to have to spread out all the pages and do a bunch of rearranging. The progress of the journey will stay the same, but what of the back story revealed when and where may change.

But now, I have to focus on moving forward.

Hopefully, I can pick up some 1920s music this weekend and get back into the groove with Glamourous Hearts. I’m devoting most of the weekend to it, hoping I can get a large chunk of it done. Doing it in dribs and drabs doesn’t work. Even though it’s a different process than a stage play – partially because it has to be structured in 90 second segments – it doesn’t have to be done in a single sitting. But I still need to be able to concentrate on it more intensely than I have during the past few days. I need to spend three or four hour blocks of time on it for several days in a row.

It was hard to get back on that train yesterday. But I did it. Survived it. Survived the trip home in spite of a ten minute departure delay and no heat on the train. EVERY train in EACH direction EVERY day is delayed because of “no door light.” Fix the damn lights, you morons! Supposedly someone gets on the train and checks all these things before the train is ever opened to passengers – so why does NOTHING EVER work?

Granted, the anxiety set off by the train has to do with other issues that are not train-related. I know what they are and I’m coping with them. But the sheer frustration caused by what should be a simple commute intensifies on a daily basis.

The work call was fine. It felt like walking into an alien environment. Emotionally, I’ve left the business in many ways.

I’m so grateful that my writing friends and even many theatre friends are supportive of my decision to turn down the job interview yesterday. That was a huge step for me. It was a sign to both me and the theatre community that I am serious about this transition. Part of me is scared to death, but I know it’s the right thing to do.

And I’m also pleased that I keep positive people around me, for the most part, and have cut out a lot of deadwood over the years. There were plenty of years where I surrounded myself with people who weren’t good for me. I’ve gotten better at listening to my instincts. That doesn’t mean I surround myself with “yes people” -- far from it – I prefer someone who’ll give me a respectful, if opposite point of view. But they don’t expect me to live my life at their convenience.

Finished, printed and mailed some of the copies of the quarterly newsletter yesterday. Wrote some letters. Prepared a stack of bills that will be paid today. (Oh, joy! Oh, rapture! Actually, it’s such a relief when I send out the bills that it makes me happy, although I wouldn’t describe it as either joyous or rapturous. I’d rather spend the money on books than bills).

Forgot to mention that Wednesday’s episode of Lost was a rerun, which was highly disappointing to me, but absolutely loved West Wing. Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda – wow! There’s such an ease in their work together and so much detail to both their performances.

Canon offered to replace my Multipass. I asked for new software first, to try when I do the system reinstall. If that doesn’t work, then, yes, I’ll take a new machine. And I’m grateful that they didn’t even hesitate to offer. That’s why I like dealing with Canon – they actually offer customer service!

There are all sorts of awards being developed for bloggers now. It’s my nature to be competitive – that’s one reason it was hard to turn down the star dresser interview – so often I get a chance to reach for a competitive position and I go for it and get it just to prove that I can. Grow up, already! I’m trying, I’m trying. But the purpose of this particular blog is to figure out my own creative process and share it in the hopes that it will inspire or encourage other writers. If I get competitive, I’m not sticking to my purpose. And part of this Saturn Retrograde, for me, is being true to my purpose. I’d start looking at “Award Winning” blogs and wonder if I should change mine. Many of the blogs I see are filled with links to other information instead of imparting their own information, and, frankly, they give me a headache. I want to have a conversation with the writer of the blog, in the way that, reading Pepys’s diary or Woolf’s diaries or Sarton’s diaries, I feel I have a conversation with them. Part of this whole growth cycle is to break old patterns that didn’t get me where I wanted to go.

I certainly wouldn’t turn down an award if it was offered, and I may well nominate blogs, but I can’t actively pursue the award arena without making changes I don’t want to make in my own work.

So, back to Lianna in Angel Hunt and dealing with the Demon of Gaul . . .

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Thursday, January 27, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and bitterly cold

It’s estimated that it is 15 below today. I dread going in to the city. I don’t trust the train line at all after Tuesday night’s little incident. I decided I will file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. Enough already.

Had to toss some of the work on Glam Hearts, so I haven’t made much progress. Haven’t finished the rewrite of the Lindisfarne article, either, but I’m close. It’ll be the weekend before that goes out, and that’s simply the way it is.

A little down today, but I think it’s because I caught a chill Tuesday and I’m fighting the beginning of a respiratory infection. Hopefully, I’ll win the fight. My back and neck are still sore, but some time without working with heavy clothes on the raked stage will help. I’ll put in a call to my acupuncturist and see if I can get in soon. Mourning yesterday’s high death toll in Iraq adds to the despair. The next few days will be the bloodiest we’ve seen yet, without a doubt.

I’m getting my hair cut in a bout an hour, which should lift my spirits (I can be such a cliché sometimes, but a good haircut does a lot to lift the blues). Mentally, I need to start looking ahead towards next week’s classes. I need to do some photocopying for the Dialogue Workshop, but I feel good about the preparations for that one. And the Time and Space to Write is about working solitary in a room full of people. I’m going to work on Ransagh during those classes, and we’ll use some time at the beginning and end of each class to brainstorm about places where we’re stuck.

Back to Angel Hunt, and then to the theatre. I feel about as inspired as wilted lettuce, so today is about technique.

For a free issue of any of the serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Jan. 26 Part III

Eight pages of Ransagh. “Joe” has become “Jed” and “Perry” has become “Percy.” I tried to make a thematic point with the names “Joe” and “Perry” – even though the characters protested those weren’t really their names. It didn’t work and they simply sulked and faded into the background, which doesn’t work for the story. So they’re “Jed” and “Percy” now and have perked up quite a bit.

Tom is still Tom because that’s who he is. Mila and Jory are quiet right now, but the girls’ storylines will pick up soon. Shawndor is more important than he was supposed to be originally, but that’s okay. He’s a lovely and complex character and I’m glad he showed up to actually participate instead of merely represent an idea.

And Raisa is front and center, much to her dismay.

I’m telling more of the story through Kenelm’s eyes than I planned, but it’s working. (Yes, I know, there was a “Kenelm” in Widow’s Chamber, but he died after only a few episodes and this Kenelm has a great deal to accomplish over the course of the book).

I’d like to type the 75 longhand pages I have (more, actually, because I have several pages of inserts). The problem with that is I’ll start to edit as I go – making the first typed draft the second draft of the piece – and that screws me up. I can’t edit as I go or I get stuck. I have to see a draft all the way through and then go back and edit. But it’s hard to track the multiple storylines by pawing through hand-scrawled pages. I’ve got notes, but . . .

Whatever. I’ll figure it out. The piece is at a delicate stage and I need to let it shape organically instead of forcing it. I can fix it and hone it and clarify it in the progressive drafts. This is not a piece that can be rushed. And it’s a world that continuously beckons enticingly. I can get lost in it for hours, which is the way it should be with writing.

Can I start reading the new book yet? Of course not. There’s more writing to be done.

2 ½ scenes of Glam Hearts. I need to work a heck of a lot faster if I want to have the time to do the revisions I want to do.

I’m still feeling exhausted and fragile from the train situation last night. It pushed some deep emotional buttons that have absolutely nothing to do with the practicalities of the situation.

Working on Issue #100 of Angel Hunt. That’s two of the four serials that have passed the 100-episode mark. Wow. I wanted to get to this point, but, when I started a little over a year ago, I wasn’t sure I could. When I hit issue #104, later this week, I will have written a year’s worth. It’s intense.

I’m standing firm on my career transition. I received a call to interview as star dresser to a famous actress for a revival of a play that will open on Broadway this spring. I turned it down. Yes, she’s a wonderful actress, and it would be a hell of gig to put on my resume. But being a star dresser usually means at least 60 hours a week, plus the commute, which would leave me no time, and, more importantly, no energy to write.

The writing is what I want and that is the goal towards which I need to work, not matter how enticing the offer. I’m too burnt out to do the level of work the job requires and, more importantly, that I require of myself in such a situation. The focus is on the writing, and that is where it will stay. I’ve made a lot of progress in that direction over the last year, and must continue on that path.

Re-reading the above, it looks as though I egotistically assume I’d get the job simply because I was called to interview. From past experience, if I get the interview, I land the job. While it doesn’t always happen with a query letter – YET – it does in my theatre career. That’s why I turned down even the interview. Why set myself up for something that will cause more friction in my soul? I know what I need and want to do. I have to stay true to that purpose.

Shows have come and gone for years and will continue to do so. But this is my life and needs to be lived NOW.


Jan. 26 Part II

I’m having trouble getting going. I’m exhausted, irritable and not feeling well.

I want to start the next Michael Jecks book, The Merchant’s Partner. However, I’ve decided that it will be my reward for getting something done today.

I’m using some Scottish Gaelic terms in Ransagh now. I worried a bit about it, because the term “ransagh” is Manx, and I thought I should stay with one language, even though the piece isn’t set in Britain or Cornwall or anything like that. But I need to come up with specific names for special items vital to the plot, and there’s no word in the English we currently speak that hits the exact shade of meaning I want. It’s like the correct character name – when you hit just the right word, it resonates inside.

Anyway, my travelers are in the North now and I needed to name some objects. I picked up the Scottish Gaelic dictionary and found what I wanted. I thought, well, this is what I want and it’s right. I can either switch all my terminology to Scottish Gaelic now, or I can make each place on their journey tie in to a specific language.

Probably I should have used Icelandic or Nordic for the North, but I’m using Scottish Gaelic. Maybe I’ll use Old Norse for the East. Not sure what yet to use for the South – was there a Breton language? I’ll have to check. The West will be Welsh. And the Center will be Manx.

Guess I’ll be investing in some more dictionaries over the next few months.

This way, the terminology is specific to the region and it’s not just random words tossed out because they sound cool in the context. The meaning of each name is made very clear without a ton of exposition. I’m trying to take what I’ve learned from strong description done by my favorite authors and apply it (as opposed to copy it) in my own work.

But if I don’t get down to it and actually do some of my own darned work, I’ll lose the day and I can’t afford that.

I need to do a system reinstall and I just don’t have the sharpness to do it today. I need to make sure I’m rested and have coping skills in place before I attempt it.

Today I need to work on Angel Hunt, Glam Hearts, Ransagh,The Widow's Chamber, Cutthroat Charlotte, and rewrite the Lindisfarne article. And the morning’s already gone. I’m just in a daze.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snowy, gray, cold

The show began an hour early yesterday, which means I should have arrived home an hour early.

Instead, I arrived home at 1:30 this morning.

The train stopped at Pelham. We sat for about a half hour due to “police activity” ahead on the tracks – but they wouldn’t tell us what or why. Then, since we were at the platform, they suggested that we get out because they didn’t know how long we’d be there.

About half of us got out of the train to walk around or smoke or use the phone or whatever.

Without any announcement, the train suddenly just pulls away. Leaving us in a suburban train station after midnight with no alternative transportation. In temperatures in the single digits (with wind chill, it was below zero).

It was an hour before someone came to get me due to getting lost. I’d just given up and was about to walk until I found a cop or a cab or something – I sure couldn’t stay out in the weather any longer. And, because it’s the suburbs, of course no one helped each other. Maybe other suburbs are filled with helpful people, but not around here. They’re also pigs on the train – they think the train crew are their maids, and throw their garbage everywhere. I think conductors should start writing tickets for littering. Usually, when I see some dumbass make a mess on the train, I gather it all up and had it to Mr. Cashmere or Mrs. Mink and say, “You dropped something” and walk away before they can do anything but take it.

And today, they’ve simply cancelled service on my line.

Why is the MTA allowed to do all of this, continue to hike fares and not answer to anyone? Because these are political appointments made by the governor. And anyone who knows me knows what a low opinion I have of the current governor.

I’m still not warmed through, I’m achy, and I have a scratchy throat.

But I need to pull it together and have a good writing day.

My contract and first check arrived yesterday, and I’m off writing.

Yesterday, I only got a couple of pages done on Ransagh, so today has to be exceptionally productive.

Last night is supposed to be my last show for six weeks. Let’s hope that’s true. My back is killing me, and I need to be able to focus on the writing. But people at the show are very excited for me, and it’s nice to have their support.

I’m reading Michael Jecks’s The Last Templar, the first of his mystery series set in 14th century Britain. He does a wonderful job, and his characters are full of surprises. I love the way they are utterly true to themselves, yet don’t fall into formula. His descriptive and sensory details are perfect – not too much, but just enough to give you a complete picture of being in the midst of it all and lose yourself in the world. He used to work in computers, but now writes and studies medieval history. Good stuff! I picked up the next two on my way to the theatre. There are 14 books, the first with a 1995 pub date. How could I have missed them? The subject matter is right up my alley.

It’s a good read, and I highly recommend it.

Okay, I have to prepare for the exterminator (who may or may not show up – you notice we go through this every month?) and then back to the keyboard.

For a free issue of any of the above, click the link and download.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Seven pages of Ransagh last night. It’s moving along well. I already passed my page goal on this project for the month.

It seems bits of my operating system have vanished, and Colin suggests a system re-install. I’m trying not to panic, because every time my computer’s needed that, even if a tech support person has done it, it’s been at least eight hours of hell and then the system has never worked again and I’ve had to buy a new computer. I can’t have that happen this time.

Why doesn’t Microsoft have to answer to any consumer organization about this? I don’t get it.

In any case, I have to get some writing done before heading to the theatre. I have a double day, but it should (famous last words) be my last show for about six weeks. I need the break desperately. I dread going in. I’m tired of the chaos. It’s a wonderful show with lovely people (for the most part), but it’s simply become too much. And my back is killing me from the lifting and the raked stage. The injured shoulder is starting to roll forward, too, and if that goes out again, it won’t be pretty.

Yesterday was such a good writing day, and I’d like to have several of them in a row. Hopefully, during the period I’m teaching, that will happen. I’m very excited to start next week. The thought of being able to help interested writers improve skills and encourage them to follow their writing dreams is thrilling to me.

I still can’t figure out if I’m going to work on Angel Hunt or Glam Hearts before I leave. Better just stick in a disk and do SOMETHING.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click on the appropriate link and download.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Seven pages of Ransagh last night. It’s moving along well. I already passed my page goal on this project for the month.

It seems bits of my operating system have vanished, and Colin suggests a system re-install. I’m trying not to panic, because every time my computer’s needed that, even if a tech support person has done it, it’s been at least eight hours of hell and then the system has never worked again and I’ve had to buy a new computer. I can’t have that happen this time.

Why doesn’t Microsoft have to answer to any consumer organization about this? I don’t get it.

In any case, I have to get some writing done before heading to the theatre. I have a double day, but it should (famous last words) be my last show for about six weeks. I need the break desperately. I dread going in. I’m tired of the chaos. It’s a wonderful show with lovely people (for the most part), but it’s simply become too much. And my back is killing me from the lifting and the raked stage. The injured shoulder is starting to roll forward, too, and if that goes out again, it won’t be pretty.

Yesterday was such a good writing day, and I’d like to have several of them in a row. Hopefully, during the period I’m teaching, that will happen. I’m very excited to start next week. The thought of being able to help interested writers improve skills and encourage them to follow their writing dreams is thrilling to me.

I still can’t figure out if I’m going to work on Angel Hunt or Glam Hearts before I leave. Better just stick in a disk and do SOMETHING.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click on the appropriate link and download.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Seven pages of Ransagh last night. It’s moving along well. I already passed my page goal on this project for the month.

It seems bits of my operating system have vanished, and Colin suggests a system re-install. I’m trying not to panic, because every time my computer’s needed that, even if a tech support person has done it, it’s been at least eight hours of hell and then the system has never worked again and I’ve had to buy a new computer. I can’t have that happen this time.

Why doesn’t Microsoft have to answer to any consumer organization about this? I don’t get it.

In any case, I have to get some writing done before heading to the theatre. I have a double day, but it should (famous last words) be my last show for about six weeks. I need the break desperately. I dread going in. I’m tired of the chaos. It’s a wonderful show with lovely people (for the most part), but it’s simply become too much. And my back is killing me from the lifting and the raked stage. The injured shoulder is starting to roll forward, too, and if that goes out again, it won’t be pretty.

Yesterday was such a good writing day, and I’d like to have several of them in a row. Hopefully, during the period I’m teaching, that will happen. I’m very excited to start next week. The thought of being able to help interested writers improve skills and encourage them to follow their writing dreams is thrilling to me.

I still can’t figure out if I’m going to work on Angel Hunt or Glam Hearts before I leave. Better just stick in a disk and do SOMETHING.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click on the appropriate link and download.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Jan. 24 Part III

Ink in My Potting Soil
This is the Garden Section of the blog. Garden? With a Northern Exposure in an apartment, it’s a bunch of pots. Fortunately, the avocado I planted as a joke is now growing bark.

Anyway, I’ll make entries occasionally about the ups and downs of my “gardening” life.

Every year, I have dreams of Gardening Grandeur. Every year, I’m limited by the lack of natural light and I haven’t been able to set up a proper Grow Light.

But I keep trying.

Anyway, this afternoon, when I should have been writing, but was, instead, procrastinating, I ordered seeds for the coming planting season:

Culantro (similar to Cilantro, but not as much of a diva – as opposed to deva – plant)
Creeping Thyme
Tinkerbell Nicotiana (I don’t know what it is, but it seems like it could grow here)
Iceland Poppy (a risk)
Black Knight Scabiosa (don’t know what that is either, but I liked the way it looked)
Northern Lights Wildflowers

Will send off the check in the next day or two and hope the seeds arrive for the next New Moon planting in February. I doubt they’ll be here by Imbolc, but I have some other seeds to do the ceremonial planting on February 1.

I decided not to order the Morning Glory and Moonflower from Johnny’s – the ones I pick up at the local gardening center work better, for some reason.

One year, in Manhattan, I alternated pots of Morning Glory and Moonflower and trained them up my window like a floral curtain. I had blooms all day and all night. I’d love to recreate something like that here.

I can’t wait to have my house so I can really muck around in a garden!

Back to writing:
I did some research on WWI and then 1921 for Glam Hearts.. I have to decide which battles Leonard fought in. I did some basic research on fashion, movies, music, etc. I wanted to make references to The New Yorker – but that didn’t start publication until 1925. True Romance already published in ’21, but I’m not sure I want to refer to it. I will have Leonard somehow smuggle in a bootleg copy of the banned Ulysses, though.

1921 was also the first year of the Miss America competition (Margaret Gorman won), the year that the bra began to replace the corset, the year Trojan condoms hit the mass market, and the year Edith Wharton won the Pulitzer for The Age of Innocence. The Ford automobile was $290. Prohibition already took effect, women received the vote in the previous year and women who enjoyed sexual freedom were called “charity girls”. Is that the same as a mercy f—?

I’m also not quite sure how to work battle memories and stories of poisoned gas attacks into a lighthearted comedy, but it’s an important part of Leonard’s character and I’ll have to find a way.

Somehow, by accident, I downloaded “Kitten on the Keys”, a popular song that year. I’m glad I did, because I really like it and it always helps to have the appropriate music play while I work. I even figured out how to turn it off (after the fifth or sixth time). I know, Colin, I’m completely hopeless.

I wrote the first three scenes of the script while playing an Ella Fitzgerald CD. Meanwhile, the dinner cooked (chicken in red wine sauce, potatoes and spinach). I’ve switched to the Creole Zydeco Farmers while I finish cooking the dinner and through doing the dishes. Can you tell I’m still sulking about the cancelled New Orleans trip? Then I’ll go back to Glam Hearts and try to do another two scenes before calling it a night. They need 60 scenes for the script (it’s tightly structured to their format). Harriet’s a lot of fun, and William is proving himself smarter than expected, which is a good thing. All four main characters have to be evenly matched or the farce won’t work.


Jan. 24 Part II

I’m glad I looked at “The Literary Athlete” again before I sent it. I found a whopper of a mistake – tense shifts – and smoothed it out. It’s something the editor would have caught, but it’s part of my job to send off the best, tightest, smoothest piece I can.


Colin’s got some ideas to fix the scanner software problem, so I’ll take a look at that. I want to get the “musts” done before I start screwing with the computer, because if anything goes boom! I don’t want to be screwed.

And since Microsoft is built to self-destruct anyway the day after the warranty runs out . .

Issue #125 of Widow’s Chamber finished, edited, and sent. It’s a quiet pause, following through on an earlier storyline that will be wrapped up towards the end of the entire piece.

Angel Hunt week starts again this week. Let’s hope I can slide easily back into it. I still have to work on Widow’s Chamber and Cutthroat Charlotte this week as well, so I don’t keep falling farther and farther behind.

My producer agreed to the Feb. 21 as the deadline for him to actually see work. I don’t know if he thought I was giving him a false deadline or if he doesn’t realize what the process is to turn out a decent piece of work. But, he knows from talking to two of my other editors that I’m reliable and on time, so hopefully he realizes that I don’t give false deadlines and I have a realistic idea of what it takes to turn out what he needs. Maybe some of his other writers weren’t willing to stand firm or gave him false deadlines, but I’m on the level when it comes to time.

An episode and a half of Angel Hunt drafted. Again, I need to break formula here. In the formula, Lianna’s frustration and tension would drive her to Niall; however, the way she’s grown during the piece, it would be against her character to do so. Therefore, in spite of the genre pushing us there – we’re pushing back. That doesn’t mean she won’t turn to him at some point in all this, but NOW is not the right time. It would fall into the realm of “stupid, typical, clichéd mistake” and that would hurt the overall story.

I promised an actress friend I’d run her a copy of Women With an Edge. As I read back through it, I realized that, although many of the monologues are strong, many are not. I ran my friend the strongest of them. I may have to redo my play submission sheet – I think it may be time to retire Edge. Some of the pieces are so much of their time that they don’t hold up anymore. Some of them are timeless and they can continue to trot around, but I’m not sure it holds together enough as an evening of theatre.

Managed to catch some misdirected anger before I did any damage. I’m working on my flaws. I’ve got a good long way to go, but I’m working on them.

I dread going in to the show tomorrow. Just dread it.

A quick lunch and then it’s time to tackle Glamourous Hearts.


Monday, January 24, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I was an Arctic Goddess yesterday and loved every minute of it. I said to my S.O. that I must have been a penguin in another life, and he said, “No, a polar bear. Most dangerous creature on earth when riled.”

I decided to take it as a compliment!

He’s also talked me into agreeing to learn how to cross country ski. I don’t know when we’ll get the chance to do it this year, but, yes, for the first time, I think it is something I’d like to learn. And he pointed out that you can get from place to place faster on cross country skis than on snowshoes.

Anyway, we had the good train to get into the city again – clean, new, warm, and on time. Why is it that on an ordinary day, they can’t get the trains to run properly, but in the blizzard, they run better than ever? Go figure.

I had an absolute blast getting from the station to the theatre. When you enjoy working with elemental energy, how often do you get to work with something as intense as a blizzard? I used the snow to represent creativity and used every gust of wind to feed my energy, so that I felt about a hundred times stronger by the time I got in the door, rather than exhausted from “fighting” the storm. Because guess what, when human fights nature? Guess who’s gonna win? So I might as well use that enormous energy to feed my own creative energy and get me where I’m going – both literally and physically.

The train was an hour earlier than I usually take on a Sunday, but that’s fine. I got to the theatre early, had a big hot chocolate, and chatted with people before starting work.

For the most part, the matinee was okay. But there’s a communication breakdown – someone was hurting too much to do the second monkey reveal and management switched monkeys without telling our supervisor, who could have then told the right dresser so we could have switched wings. So we had no wings for the monkey who did show up. This happens way too often and it’s something they need to figure out. It’s not fair to the dressers, and, especially, not fair to the actors. Every set of wings is unique. You can’t swap them out and put any set of wings onto any back. And the extra monkey sheaths we were promised never materialized.

But you know what? After Tuesday’s show, it’s not my problem for about six weeks. And I’m so ready for it. I’m burnt from the show. There aren’t enough dressers on it, so when there’s a change midstream – and, because this show is so complex, there always are changes during the performance – there’s no time to fix anything or change anything to turn over anything.

Came home to find an e-mail from the producer with final terms for the contract and the deadline (Feb. 21) -- and then he wanted to know when he could see a draft. I explained to him that that’s what the Feb. 21 deadline is. I don’t turn in work that’s partially done. It wastes all our time. You have to bake bread before you make toast. If you slice the dough while it’s rising and stick it in the toaster, you’re going to have a mess. Sorry a writer bailed on him – but he had my outlines on Jan. 5, and if he’s under time pressure, we could have finalized the contract on Jan. 6 and he’d have had the piece by the middle of next week.

These people have got to realize that writing is a process. Agreeing to a deadline and then pressuring to turn it in early guarantees the writer will:

Disappear or
Drink or
Freeze AND
Miss the deadline

Come on, people, get a clue!!!

Anyway, I told him he’d have the script by February 21. That’s realistic and that’s what we agreed upon.

I tried to work last night and my neighbor knocked on the door looking for scotch tape. I’m fond of my neighbor, but she’s always interrupting me when I’m on deadline. I swear I’m going to rip out the phone and put a big frowning face on the door to scare people off. Especially under deadline pressure, and exhausted, interruption is a huge derailment.

I’m thrilled that my friend Colin bought a new house – congrats!!!! And my friend Michelle let me read a chapter of a wonderful WIP. Very exciting.

Plotting work on Ransagh, but no actual pages.

Today, I have to finish “The Literary Athlete”, finish and turn in issue 125 of Widow’s Chamber, write two issues of Angel Hunt, and the plan is to write at least five scenes of Glamourous Hearts. I also have to do some more research for the Lindisfarne article, because the rewrite is due on Thursday.

To work, then.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Sunday, January 23, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snowy and beautiful

1:15 AM

In spite of all the media exclamations of snow gloom and doom, it wasn’t that bad. It’s absolutely gorgeous outside, and I’ve enjoyed the beauty the snow brings to the area.

It barely started to snow as I came in to the city – although all non-emergency personnel were encouraged to stay home, and only two guys who couldn’t speak English and I were in our train car. Everyone made it in for the matinee and then stayed put. A friend and I ordered in Indian food for the break.

We had two sad incidents. The first is that the colleague for whom I am filling in this week lost her mother after a long illness. We’re glad she was already down there instead of trying to get there in a blizzard, but wish we could do something helpful for her through this. She still plans to be back at work next week. Also, during the second show, one of the ensemble injured his neck and had to be taken to the hospital. He’ll be fine, and I felt terrible having to climb around the EMTs to grab clothes and move the quick changes to another area. But, since they weren’t stopping the show, the changes had to continue.

I even got about three pages of Ransagh done and finished reading Bandbox on the way home.

Traveling back through the snow-covered streets was a bit effort-intensive, but it was so beautiful, and two friendly Norwegian tourists helped me scale a snow pile I couldn’t quite handle on my own with my bags. We had one of the GOOD trains back, and they’re only running diesel right now.

Supposedly, the storm will intensify overnight. I’d estimate we only had about 10 inches so far (by the time I’d left for work they wailed it would be 36), although they claim it will hit 36 inches by morning.

We’ll see.

Because the moon will shortly be full, it’s also expected to flood tomorrow. Icy floods – not quite sure what that will be like. Guess I’ll find out.

All of us are hoping for a Snow Day tomorrow, but I doubt it will happen. I’m still irate that they pull us in to work in a blizzard without making any arrangement for accommodations in case anyone got stuck. Several colleagues offered me a place to stay, which was greatly appreciated, but I’m glad to be home. I’m relaxing with a nice glass of wine (part of which I spilled on the Ransagh folder, but I’ve rescued the manuscript pages before they got drenched. Ironic, when I was so worried and left them at home to protect them from liquid)!

I’m going to write Glamourous Hearts for Hereafter – that’s the romantic comedy set in 1920’s NY. I’ll need to do a bit of research on the end of WWI and read some newspapers – I want to make sure I’m not using references that are later in the decade than I want to set it. I start it Monday and it’s due February 21. I’m very excited.

Trains are only scheduled to run once every two hours tomorrow, so I’d better get some sleep, as I have to get up early and figure out which train I need to take. Provided we don’t get our much longed for snow day.

“Trust the storm” worked. I took a slightly different route from the station to the theatre, which kept the wind at my back the entire time instead of walking into it, as I usually do. That also worked coming home – and I was able to get home, which is better than I’d hoped.

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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Jan. 22 Part II

Interesting: In today’s meditation, it kept coming up: “Trust the storm.”

Not that I know what that means, but I guess I’ll find out. I’ve been working with Thor energy lately, and he knows a thing or two about storms. After all, when an archetypical energy taps you on the shoulder and says, “I have a few things to say to you, missy” you’d better pay attention! :)

So instead of looking at today as a battle, I’ll see what it has to offer.


Saturday, January 22, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Freezing, cold, blizzard expected

Hard to get out of bed this morning. Exhausted, and I have a horrible headache – a combination of tension and pre-storm. I’m also hurting physically because of the combination of heavy costumes and working on a raked stage. My neck, shoulders, and back are a mess. Time to call the acupuncturist!

So, today we’re supposed to have a blizzard and maybe up to 24 inches of snow. But they’re making us come to work. And I’m supposed to get home how? And get back to the theatre how? Another reason to leave the business. I am tired of my life being put in danger because producers refuse to cancel shows. I’m not talking about these producers more than others, but producers in general. A couple of years ago, I had to come in for a show during a bad storm, and as soon as my train got into the city, all outgoing trains were cancelled. And when I lived in the city, first starting to work on Saigon, there was a bad storm. We all came in to work, but we had sane producers who sent us home. And, at that time, I only lived ten blocks from the theatre. Everyone was in a great mood, skiing up and down Eighth Avenue. Literally. So, I went home and wrote the first draft of Women With an Edge.

Maybe if I get a few days of being snowed it, I’ll turn around the entire first draft of the script! :)

“The show must go on” is not about nobility; it’s about the greed of those making the profit. Because, of course, if you refuse to come in during something like this, you don’t get hired again. By anyone. Hopefully, I’m moving in the direction where that will no longer be an issue.

That doesn’t solve today.

Of course they’re making no provisions for any of us who get stuck in the city. We’re on our own.

Hopefully, the meteorologists will be wrong as they have been all season – we’ll have some snow but it won’t be that big a deal.

Deal with it step by step.

I was going to bring Ransagh in with me to work on, but I don’t want to risk losing what I have if something goes haywire. I’ll take blank paper, but I’m leaving the sections on which I already worked at home. Maybe I’ll type up some of my notes so I don’t get stuck. But I can’t risk the pages I’ve written getting ruined. Today’s pages I could replace if I had to, but everything up to now? It would be difficult.

Listened to the new CD by my friends Telly Leung and Randy Witherspoon, called Getaway ( I like it a lot. I had a few suggestions and comments (don’t I always) and discussed them with Randy last night – they’re along the same lines he’s thinking. I like the CD a lot, and it’s something I’ll play often. They’re working on some more songs and I can’t wait to hear them. Telly, Randy and I all met on Flower Drum Song a few years ago and the friendship has grown.

Had a good night at the theatre last night. My colleagues are excited by the scriptwriting gig for Hereafter. So am I. I look forward to getting started. I came home to an e-mail from my producer – he spoke to two of my editors, who gave me glowing reviews (love them, which is why I’ve been working with them for years). AND he’s willing to give me that fourth week to polish scripts. I can definitely do a 120 page script and polish it in four weeks.

As soon as he tells me which script he wants to go with first, off I go. He had some questions – good ones, which gives me hope – about how I would handle the mistaken identities in Glamourous Hearts without confusing the listener. And, I even had the answer! I’d thought it through when I wrote it. Fortunately.

Thank you, Debra (Fantasist on my Recommended Reading list to the right) for your kind words. Yes, it’s tearing me apart to want to leave a career I’ve loved so deeply. Leaving the theatre is like breaking up from a long term relationship. It hurts like hell, but sometimes, love alone just isn’t enough. The sensations remind me of relationship breakups. It’s quite strange.

Stopped at Coliseum and treated myself to Thomas Mallon’s Bandbox. I love it. It makes me laugh and think. It’s lively and descriptive and entertaining and moving. Of course I couldn’t wait until the retreat weekend. I had to have it right NOW. Again, I nearly missed my stop coming home because I was so engrossed in it.

Children’s Writer Guide to 2005 also arrived on my doorstep. Hopefully, it will prove useful. I ordered it specifically for the info on working with book packagers. I still want to be one of the Carolyn Keenes writing Nancy Drew! :)

As I’m preparing for the “Writers and Journals” class, I’ve been thinking about the information on Alternative Journals. An Alternative Journal is a journal not of your actual life, but of the life you envision for yourself, as a way of working towards it. It’s a tool of creative visualization. I tried keeping one once, and abandoned it after a matter of days. I realized that the only thing in my life I really want to change is the financial picture. I want to earn more money and have more security (so I’m going further into freelancing – does that make sense? No. Will it work? I’ll MAKE it work). Other than that, I’m mostly living the life I want. There are a few things I’d tweak, but that’s it. Everything else is progressing along. Once I come to terms with the career transition and can stop agonizing about the process, and set up several regular writing assignments to provide the “steady” income, everything else is fine.

It’s rather comforting to realize that, even though I’m doing a career transition, the actual nuts and bolts of my life are positive, good things that I love. There’s not that much I’d change.

Well, today will be what it is. I just want to be prepared. I’m leaving extra food and water for the cats, just in case I can’t get home tonight. I’ll make arrangements with friends so that if I get stuck, I can show up around midnight and crash with them. I’ll take my toothbrush. And hope for the best.

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Friday, January 21, 2005

Jan. 21 Part II

So much for a productive writing day.

Traffic to Valhalla was backed up all the way to my town due to road construction. What should have been a twenty minute trip took nearly an hour. But I have my parking permit, my faculty ID, everyone was very kind and happy to welcome me, and it felt right to be there.

Went grocery shopping – they’re huffing and puffing about a major snowstorm tomorrow. Depending upon to whom you talk, it’ll be anywhere from 8 – 18 inches. So I (and everyone else in the region) stocked up on food. Especially cat food, in my case – I can live out of the freezer for a few days, but the cats can’t go hungry! :)

I’ll have to leave in about an hour. I’m so tired I can barely sit up, and trying to march the words across the page simply isn’t happening today. I just want it to be next Wednesday and to be done.

And I want to find out which script I need to start on for Hereafter. I figured out how much I have to do each day in order to also get in a couple of rewrites. Script pages go more quickly than prose, so I think I can do it.

I want a nap, but I’m afraid if I go to sleep, I’ll sleep through the alarm and miss the train in. I’d rather exit gracefully than sabotage myself in that way.

But I’ll try to get some work done on the train tonight.


Friday, January 21, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and very cold

The good news: Hereafter wants me to write scripts for them. But I only have three weeks to write a two-hour script, and they’ll tell me which of the four they want me to do by Monday.

The bad news: I am physically and mentally exhausted. There is a dynamic shift backstage with which I’m not entirely comfortable. Part of it is that I need to have that six week break from swinging. Part of it is . . .whatever it is.

Hopefully, the scriptwriting can replace the swing work and I’ll be done.

Seven pages on Ransagh yesterday. It’s going in the right direction (now that the characters have picked a direction in which to travel, in a literal sense). I had to add something else to Chapter Four to answer some chronology questions. Hopefully, it’s done well enough via dialogue rather monologue to both give the exposition necessary, yet move the story forward instead of bogging it down.

At least I have some time at home today during the day. I need to run over to Valhalla (couldn’t on Monday because of the holiday), but then, I want to focus on Widow’s Chamber and Charlotte. I’d like to do two episodes of each today.

I’m saddened that I’ve moved from restlessness to unhappiness in relation to the show. Part of it is that we’re nearing the end of the Saturn retrograde and I’m feeling the squeeze. Saturn is about life lessons, and anything that’s unresolved in that corner of one’s life needs to be dealt with. Since I’m in transition, I’m feeling it. I’m on the road to doing what I’m supposed to be doing, but I’m still lingering where I no longer should be. So I’m feeling the pressure. The show is a lovely, special place to be with plenty of good people. It’s simply that I’m supposed to be somewhere else. The Universe has its own timetable, that’s not quite in sync with the smooth three year transition I’ve set for myself. I need to find a way to harness that Saturn retrograde energy in order to make the transition smoother, not more difficult, and I haven’t quite figured out how to do it. Working against the Universe just wears you out and causes more problems. Working with the Universe helps keep the flow going; only when you’re not quite sure how to “go with the flow” and still keep from drowning, it gets a bit complicated.

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Thursday, January 20, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Inauguration Day. How depressing.

Today, I will honor the “Not a Dime” Day and not buy anything at any store, and wear the white ribbon in protest of the war in Iraq while supporting the troops.

I can’t wait to hear about New Orleans’s Jazz Funeral for Democracy!

And the way the media – by that I mean the networks – are trivializing the protests is both disgusting and a breach of journalistic ethics, in my opinion. People are protesting because they love their country and don’t like to see such disrespect for those who are dying mounted on such a massive scale.

I wonder how many soldiers will be killed while all this is going on?

I’ve changed my mind. With all that’s going on, and all the disrespect shown to those who disagree, I COULD be one of the people who turn my back.

Weary – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Shows were fine yesterday.

Dinner with my friend R., who is in very much the same place I am – ready to leave the theatre, but feeling guilty at wanting to leave something so many people would give anything to participate in. We’ve just outgrown it, that’s all. And we need to work on the next phase of our lives.

It’s getting clearer and clearer that my path lies outside of New York. It may be in Massachusetts – it may be out of the US altogether. We’ll see where the next few months lead me.

I got an issue of Widow’s Chamber written, edited and submitted yesterday before I had to go to the theatre. I’m going to aim for the same today. I’m so far behind, but if I work at it bit by bit, I’ll catch up.

I stole time to work on Ransagh yesterday. Much of it was at the theatre, during breaks, a bit too close to show time, which meant I was fuzzy at the top of the show. I made all my changes, but I knew I wasn’t completely there. I was in the world of Ransagh, and it is not a world that I wished to leave. Partly because, in its political scheme, as things darken, individuals take it upon themselves to create positive change, and that is something I would like to see happen in this world.

Also, the piece fascinates me because all the characters are much richer and complex than I could have hoped. There was a section I wrote yesterday, where it would have followed the formula of the genre for one character to offer comfort to another who is lost and grieving. And yet, the character has not yet reached a point where he can reach out. He wanted to – but he was incapable of it, and instead walked away, which creates an entirely different dynamic than if he had been able to offer comfort and friendship. In the traditional storyline of the genre, he would have. And it would have been dishonest to his character at this point, and given him nothing to grow into. What he will actually offer to this character in a later section of the book is far greater and is much more true to who he is than if he simply offered a few awkward words and a pat on the back now.

I wrote eleven pages, over the course of the day, completing chapter 4. I need to rewrite the Prophecies, but it’s difficult to write prophecies when the male ushers in the next room have hip hop music playing on their cell phones and are comparing their pudgy lack of abs and how badly they need to go to the gym.

I’m very weary, and not looking forward to yet another 14 hour day. On the train home last night, some jittery guy with an over packed bag suddenly stood up in the train, stripped to his underwear, and changed clothes in the aisle. “Bet you think this is weird,” he said.

“No,” I replied. “I get paid to deal with actors in their underwear. It’s nothing new to me.” And I went back to my book. Because, after all, what more was there to say?

I hope I can revive my spirit today. I’d like to stay in bed and wake up and find it’s tomorrow, but that won’t change what’s happening around me. So I might as well be aware of it and start investigating ways I can do my part to instigate positive change.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy, gray, very cold

The Hudson River is frozen over.

An actor friend gave me the DVD of Hidalgo yesterday. He told me, “Be patient. You’ll hate the way the girl is written, and you could have done better dialogue. But you’ll love the horse.”


Seven pages of Ransagh during dinner break. Every time I work on the piece, the sensation is akin to stealing off to meet a lover. It’s absolutely delicious. I have to be careful – if I get too wrapped up in this book and lose objectivity, I can fall into either cliché traps or Legend-in-my-own-mind traps, and neither will serve the work. But I can slip into its world at any time, and the world slowly reveals itself to me. It’s like nothing I’ve ever visited before, and I treasure every moment spent there.

Day work was fine, and the show was a bit rocky. More monkey madness – the wings fit the replacements differently than the people for whom they were originally built, and it makes it harder to get the wings on the monkeys and locked in a quick change. They need to take another look at them and adjust each set appropriately. And my poor Tin Man blew through both pairs of white livery hose tonight. Fortunately, we have more in stock, and I can give him two fresh sets tomorrow. And some performer swings were switched to different tracks and were confused on entrances and exits and quick changes – so there was a bit of a muddle. But I don’t think the audience knew a thing. And that’s our job backstage – keep it going no matter what, so the audience has no idea.

Someone I know who only contacts me when something is required, and who makes friendship gestures but never follows through, called to ask a favour. Instead of setting myself up yet again for more frustration, I simply said no. Much better all the way around.

Tired and sore from working on the raked stage. In spite of the yoga, things are askew.

The Carol Shields book is so good I nearly missed my stop coming back home last night.

You all watching Lost tonight better fill me in, since I have to miss it! :) It’s another 14 hour day for me at the theatre.

With some work on Widow’s Chamber first.

As draining as this week is, at least I have a retreat weekend to look forward to – in four more weekends! :)

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