Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I decided today's Scruffy Dog Review Blog entry would be about the importance of a good teacher.

And, once I posted, I remembered what I originally meant to write about.


At least I have an idea for next week's entry.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Weather? Don’t know – still dark

Not much to say. Got a bad case of the blues. Part of it is an unpleasant situation (which can’t be discussed here) that needs to be handled. Part of it is a series of unrelated events, which, taken separately, could be shrugged off, but, all hitting at once along with the Major Unpleasantness, just add up to . . .blues.

It happens, you get through it, you go on. It’s just no fun while you’re in the midst of it.

Day work was fine. I don’t have to work on Christmas Eve after all, which is great – two full days with my loved ones. Considering that one is only flying in for those two days, it’ll be great not to have to think about a show. I’ll be exhausted from the previous couple of weeks with no day off, but that’s life.

Got about 1000 words done on Fix-It Girl.

My downstairs neighbor (I only know him as The Vegetarian), has begun putting on his television on very loud early in the morning and late at night. I don’t know if it’s to drown out the thundering of the cats pretending to be water buffalo when they play, or if he just doesn’t realize that I can hear the actual words of the programs come up through the floor. He’s always been unusually quiet (as in, a couple of times I wondered if he was dead down there), so I don’t want to say anything. Plus, it can’t be easy when the girls are in full elephant mode.

Speaking of girls, I visited my friend A’s two yesterday after day work. Boy, where they glad to see me! They’d flung their bowls all over the place and pulled the cover almost off the futon. We set things to rights, and they had their supper and we played for a bit. I promised them I’d be back to stay with them tonight and tomorrow night. Mine will have a fit, but too bad.

The Recalcitrant Student and I have parted ways. She admitted that she wants to be a writer in theory – she wants acclaim for having written, she wants the parties, she wants a byline in The New Yorker and a spread in Vanity Fair. But she doesn’t actually want to sit down and do the work.

I told her she needs to find a different teacher, then. Someone who is more geared to marketing than writing. I’m about process, not product. Because when you have a solid foundation and a good relationship with your process, you come up with something good to market. And then you deal with the business. There are plenty of people who market first and are more interested in that aspect than in the work. I don’t read their work anymore because I don’t connect with it. But someone does, because they’re making a living, and good for them. But I am not the right teacher for someone who wants to take that route.

Okay, the TV downstairs is on so loudly that my lamps are shaking.

I have A LOT to do today before I leave for the city. And I don’t feel like doing any of it.

Oh, well.

Colin Galbraith has a wonderful poem up on today’s Circadian. Mik submitted some great photos of Fort Worth for 13 Journals (more to follow).

And there’s a press release out for my association with The Scruffy Dog Review:

Which reminds me, I need to write the blog entry for SDR today. I had something I wanted to say – darned if I can remember it.

Worked on the text for the new DE web pages. I think the overhaul is going to be good, and much more suited to the work I’m doing now. The original pages were suited to My Life As A Serialist. And that life, at least for now, is over.

I see the life I want. I can taste it. Yet it is just out of my grasp for the moment. And I have to figure out how to get there.

The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems
The Scruffy Dog Review

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

Not much to say this morning, because I said oh, so much yesterday.

I have to work on some bills this morning, and get my insurance forms filled out and sent back to the union before I leave for the theatre. Our union is forcing us into one of the worst possible health plans.

I plan to edit “Christmas Treats” today – I’m already late on both that and writing Christmas cards. Usually, I can’t wait; somehow, this year, I’m not in the mood. I’ll try tomorrow morning, after my daily page quota is met. Usually, I can put on Christmas carols or Gregorian chants or whatever and get a good, solid batch done in a couple of hours.

Today’s essay on Circadian deals with the question “Why Write Poetry?”, and I agree with the author’s answer.

I sat up last night and read a book that I’m sure is fascinating to writers. It’s called My Staggerford Journal by Jon Hassler. Hassler taught for over twenty years at a Community College. He always wanted to be a writer, and began writing short stories in between times. Against everyone’s advice – including his family’s – he requested and was granted a year’s sabbatical. With so much unscheduled time on his hands, he wrote – and sold – two novels. Both novels were written and revised in the course of the year, and he sold them within ten days of each other.

His journal is inspiring. One of his inspirations is Henry David Thoreau, who encouraged, over a gulf of years, him to follow his dreams no matter what the people around him said.

And this, which is so true, where he muses about whether he could have written his novel without a sabbatical:

“The problem is that one can’t start a novel when one wants to. Rather, one has to have the time when the novel is ready to start. It’s just as likely to want to start on the first of February as on the first of June. You may be able to wait until the first of June, but the novel won’t wait. The novel is more important than the writer. The novel will go away.” (p. 54).

If you’re a writer, you MUST read this book.

That pinpointed my problem with NaNo, which I’ve had such a problem figuring out. I tried to make the novel wait. I had to coax it back. Scheduling a month works for people who have problems making writing a priority. But, for those of us who put the writing first, having to wait to work on something is detrimental rather than helpful.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Nov. 28 Part III

Set up most of December’s poems for Circadian. I have to slot in some essays, do the weekly news, and also set up the holiday poems, but other than that, it’s good. I’ve started scheduling the January poems. There are a lot of poetry days in January!

The writer of tomorrow's essay changed his mind and pulled it -- he was afraid he'd stated his opinions too strongly and there would be a backlash. I scrambled, but I got another essay in for tomorrow. It happens. It's a shame he felt that way -- it was a good piece -- but I wasn't going to argue and beg. He's got to do what he feels is right. And the other essay's topic is equally as interesting, as far as poetry goes, although it's more personal than political.

I want to do something special for Friday, the 13th of January, and I want to do something special for the 25th, which is both Burns night and Virginia Woolf’s birthday.

If anyone reading this wants to submit something short – 12 lines or less – please send it here by December 13th for the Jan. 13th and December 30th for Burns Night/VW birthday.

Also had to get out a press release. It shot out to PR Web, and, over the course of the week, I’ll email it out to my press list. I have several other releases to get done over the next couple of weeks. I’d like to pound out a couple of travel articles, but don’t know if I’ll have the chance.

Can’t believe how the day flew by!

This is how I like to spend my time.


Nov. 28 Part II

2402 words on The Fix-It Girl. Finished Chapter 24. Nice scene between Mavis and Louella Parsons. Camilla’s gone to Las Vegas and Jeffrey to Mexico so they can divorce their respective spouses and marry. Things are getting more and more difficult for Mavis at work – I’m getting ready to spring her from Hollywood and bring her back East.

4000 words (16 pages) on Never Too Late. Now the book can accelerate to the end; plus, I’ve set the seeds for Book 2.

It felt good to get in a solid writing day. Working full time on the show for two weeks in December, I have to make sure I stay balanced in order to stay sane.

The Fix-It Girl – 55,013 words

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
55 / 100

Never Too Late – 64,325 words

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
64 / 90

Monday, November 28, 2005
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and warm

Check out Patricia Gallant’s beautiful poem “Epiphany” on Circadian. I’m also going to update 13 Journals –we’ve gotten some entries lately, and I want to get them up.

Interesting – on the journals project, the two participants who have been the most unreliable as far as deadlines are the two who bill themselves as freelance writers. Not only would I not do another project with them, I sure wouldn’t recommend them to potential clients. If they can’t put a journal in an envelope and mail it within a month, why would I think they could do anything else on time?

The Portland Herald’s article on the project back in August was great – complete with one of my photos! I was very excited when I saw it up in Maine – they’d meant to mail it since it came out, but just handed it to me when I got there. I’ll do up tear sheets and send copies out over the next few weeks.

As I revamp the Devon Ellington site, I think I will put up pages for both Circadian Poems and The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project.

Only four more days until the launch of Colin Galbraith’s new book Fringe Fantastic. For more information on this exciting book, click here.

Didn’t get any writing done yesterday. At all. Spent the day decorating.

The past few years, I hauled everything out and managed to decorate the place on the First of Advent (which is what yesterday was). Not this year. I worked all day and have about half done. Haven’t even started on the tree yet. The tree’s sitting in its spot in the living room and it’s decorated around it, but I haven’t even started it yet. I seem to remember some sort of twinkle light crisis last year, so I just may buy some new lights before I even attempt it.

The coffee table looks great, all decorated in my great-grandmother’s old tablecloth from her famous restaurant – a sort of golden colour – with a golden sheer over it and then plenty of red candles and woodsy stuff; the “mantle” keeps evolving and looks lovely; the Advent table will keep evolving, too, but it’s fairly simple. I set up the beginnings of the big holiday table – this year, I put red panels up to cover the file cabinets, covered in a patterned gold sheer, with a red velvet cloth pressed with a gold snowflake pattern as the tablecloth. So far, only a few soft sculpture angels and a genuine gingerbread house – that I’ve had since the 1970s – it is now a petrified gingerbread house – are up. It lives in the refrigerator all year, in plastic and bubblewrap, and comes out for the holiday. One expects it to be reasonably disgusting by now, but it’s fine. Not that I would eat it, but, as a piece of sculpture, it works. I also hung tapestry panels on the backs of the big, straight-backed chairs – the colours match the décor AND the carpet.

I sent a box to my SO so it will reach him in time for St. Nicholas Day – since we’re combining traditions, this year, we’re celebrating (my) St. Nicholas Day on the night of the 5th going in to the 6th and (his) St. Lucia Day on the 13th. We also already swapped our advent boxes – we’re both crazy about the Advents, and sent each other boxes with an ornament for each advent and for Christmas Eve. My First-of-Advent was a soft sculpture Santa.

I never thought of myself as having a Santa Collection (I’m always hunting down nutcrackers), but I seem to have accumulated quite a few of them over the years.

I did manage to take some notes for The Fix-It Girl. The Louella Parsons biography is extremely helpful, in addition to being quite well written. I’m taking three sets of notes – Items to Research, Ideas for Future Drafts, and straight out historical notes.

I wasn’t feeling well at all yesterday, but am feeling better today.

I did manage to upload Fix-It Girl for verification. It took multiple tries, and, finally, I had to do it in a completely different way than instructed – I was so frustrated I was nearly in tears, but I sat there and figured it out, dammit – and got my winner’s icons and certificate.

I don’t know if I’d do it again, but I’m glad I did it. Because I have the discipline to sit and write every day and make writing a priority, that wasn’t the focus. And I’m not sure it was good for my process to push that hard every day. I had a good time, I met wonderful people, but I’m not sure if I’d do it again.

But then again, I have an entire year before the decision needs to be made.

Back to Fix-It Girl this morning, and then a million other things to do. One half of the room looks beautiful and decorated. The rest looks like it’s been ransacked. Because when you clear off places in order to decorate the “stuff” has to go somewhere. Right now, most of it is on the floor. Some’s packed away, and some needs to be sorted and filed.

And my desk lamp’s broken, so I’m typing in the twilight here.

I want to start playing with the programs Colin sent. Originally, I was going to upload the old DE site as soon as I could; looking at it, I want to do SUCH a massive overhaul that I think it makes more sense to overhaul and then put it up at once.

Another good yoga session today. For a change.

The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems
The Scruffy Dog Review

The Fix-It Girl -- 52,611 words (completion goal 100,000)
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
52 / 100

Never Too Late -- 60,375 words
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
60 / 90

Northumbrian Suspense Story – 2250 words

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
2 / 15

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday, November 27
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde (as of the 22nd)
Cloudy and chilly

Intense few days. And it doesn’t promise to let up any time soon.

On Wednesday, up at 4:30 AM, out of the house before six. Hit Kittery, Maine by 10 AM, which was great. The drive up was smooth, and not a lot of traffic. Did some shopping at the outlets – including my purchase of a pair of Timberland boots. My last pair of Timberlands lasted ten years, with almost every day wear. I figured it was worth the investment. The pair I fell in love with – that felt as though they were custom-made, were originally $179. And on sale for $44. They were MINE. That’s what I love about Mercury Retrograde.

Found some other gifts. So now, I need only one more gift (which I think I’m getting at the museum next week) and I’m DONE.

My wrist is bothering me. Whatever I did at the show is aggravated by the driving and the rest.

We meandered through the Yorks, Wells, and Ogunquit, making our favorite stops. One of my favorites is always the Book Barn in Wells, Maine. This time, I found three treasures: A biography of Samuel Goldwyn that I can use as background research for The Fix-It Girl; a book about the history of the Boston Post Road, which runs right through my town; and a book of journals and letters from the early 1800s by a group of articulate, intelligent, well-educated daughters of the president of Harvard University called The Articulate Sisters.

We stopped at the Maine Diner in Wells for lunch. How often have we driven past it and not found it? And they’ve been there since 1983. The place was packed, and I think we were the only ones who weren’t local, since the people running it greeted everyone by name. The food is wonderful – we had lobster club sandwiches – just delicious.

By the time we hit Kennebunk, it was snowing lightly; by the time we hit Portland, it was more serious. We were happy to reach Gray and tuck in to a nice, warm house.

After a nap, we all went out to Cole’s Farms for dinner – our usual arrival day dinner stop. Cole’s Farms has been around for a good long time – simple, no-fuss food that’s good.

Conversation is sometimes difficult at dinner because my Great Uncle and my Mom don’t hear too well – and my Grandmother doesn’t listen.

Scenes and dialogue for the Nothumbrian suspense piece flashed through my mind. A good section of the piece will be set on the train between King’s Cross London and Edinburgh Waverly. I want to set a few scenes in Newcastle, too – I’ll have to check with my friend, the wonderful writer Chaz Brenchley, to remind me of the correct geography. It’s been awhile since I was in Newcastle.

The snow is beautiful. I took photos. I have a series of photos of the small pond beside the house as it changes through the seasons.

I skipped Lost. I’m perfectly happy in the midst of a snowstorm in Maine. I have no need to escape into someone else’s life, even if it is in Hawaii.

Instead, I wrote six pages on the Northumbrian suspense story. It focused on the train ride from King’s Cross immediately after departure. I have to refresh myself on the stops on that line. I wrote the first confrontation where Tamryn steps in to prevent 11 year-old Dustin’s abduction. The next section will take place on the train between York and Newcastle.

Got an idea for another piece, isnpired by The Articulate Sisters, about three bright, educated, articulate, ahead-of-their-time young Victorian ladies who accompany their widowed father on a Grand Tour. I want to set it later than the journals of the actual sisters because I want to make use of evolving modes of transportation.

Woke up to the snow Thanksgiving morning absolutely convinced it was Christmas morning! I’m a little confused!

It snowed steadily all morning, and I wrote until it was time to leave for the Hall. I wrote a little over five pages on Never Too Late. Elise finally received her first real kiss and now I can get on with the rest of the story. That sentence makes it sound like a romance, but it’s most certainly not. Now I know I really have to change the title! I also did three pages of the Northumbiran suspense story. I got them out of Newcastle, through Berwick-on-Tweed, and they’re now eating steak dinners at the Buttery Restaurant in the Hotspur Hotel in Alnwick.

I could sit here in Maine for days, perfectly happy to read and write while it snows outside. If the cats were here, it would be perfect. This is how I want to live – in New England, writing.

We had 57 people for dinner this year. It was a lot of fun. It’s the only time I ever see most of them, and one day, someone needs to sit down and write out the family tree chart. I can never keep straight how they’re all connected. But there’s a lot of pitching in and laughter and great food and stuffing a year’s worth of conversations into a couple of hours.

The driving was treacherous, but it was only a couple of miles, so we got there safely and back safely.

Everything was plowed and clear by Friday morning; we got a good start and made it back by mid-afternoon.

The cats wanted nothing to do with me.

Sorted through mail, unpacked, tried to catch up on some email. Colin’s disk of wonderful stuff arrived – now I have to learn how to use it – and also a copy of the new Louella Parsons biography – another reference for The Fix-It Girl.

Hit the ground running at six a.m. on Saturday; did laundry, etc., and drove up to Mohegan Lake and was at JoAnn Fabrics by 9. Picked up some pieces I need for the decorations. By the time I returned, BOTH shows had called with emergencies. One called for day work – someone hadn’t shown up – well, they called a half hour AFTER the call started, and it takes me an hour and a half from the next train, not the call – in other words, by the time I got there, the call would have been over.

Plus, the other show called first.

The other show needed me to work shows, and I could actually make the half hour. They did the prep for me; I did my preset. My friend A. had to go to the hospital unexpectedly, so he was out and his swing was on the way in, so that rack had to be done by the people already on site, too. But it all got done.

Matinee was smooth, in spite of a different girl in a different complicated ball gown who showed up WAAAAY too late. We got her in it and onstage. I’ve been booked for the Holiday Hell Weeks before Christmas Eve, which consists of 16 shows without a break, instead of the usual 8. Yeah, I’ll do it, but I’m not sure how I’ll get through it.

Ran around on dinner break, doing errands.

Second show was a bit rocky. A lot was missing from the boy rack, so I had to run around and find things for preset. I dropped a glove in the first change – fortunately someone retrieved it and gave it to me. Had a problem with the regular girl in the regular ball gown. The girl got on stage, but she was bitching and moaning about it. Such is life. Sometimes you just have to move a little faster. Lately, the dressers have to make up for actors not getting to the change on time, and they need to get their butts in gear.

I’m going to have to practice yogic detachment during Holiday Hell or it will be ho-ho-smack!

Speaking of which, I finally had a good long yoga session this morning. Went to the store, got the newspapers, have biscuits baking in the oven.

Lots to do today, including work on The Fix-It Girl, catching up with emails, etc., and setting up the December pages for Circadian so I can simply upload them.

I’m tired, and I can’t even imagine the state of perpetual exhaustion in which I’ll be for most of December due to the shows. But it will pay January’s bills. And, if I can pace myself properly, it gives me the month of December to launch my GDRs for 2006.

I’ll repost the questions soon.

The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems
The Scruffy Dog Review

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Nov. 22 Part II

We had some bad news today: the son of family friends dropped dead unexpectedly at work. We still don’t know way.

He was a year younger than I am.

We left a message for his parents – they’re on their way to New England; if they’re still there when we get back from Maine, we told them we’d take care of whatever needed to be taken care of down here so that they can concentrate on being there – with his wife and two kids.

Work was okay – mentally, I’ve already left for Maine.

I have to pack my “Writing Bag” for the trip and frost the cake; then hope to make it an early night.

Four story ideas poured forward today. Took notes on them. One is demanding immediate attention – which I don’t want to give. I’m figuring 10-25,000 words. Set in Northumbria.


Never Too Late is going up to Maine.

Someday, I’ll find a suitable title.

Carpe Diem, all! You never know IF there’s going to be a tomorrow.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Just so some of you get into perspective just how screwy our government is, roll this one around your head: A legislative bill is kicking around Congress (in empty corridors right now, since, supposedly, they’re off for the holiday) that will cut 142 billion dollars in spending. It will do so by taking it out of Medicare, education (as in, cutting school lunch programs, getting rid of music and art, etc.), health and welfare programs. Those hardest hit would be those promised aid by our President post-Katrina, senior citizens, and school-age children.

Why are they doing this? To EXTEND a tax CUT for the top 1% earners in the country, which doesn’t even run out for two more years.

That’s right – hurt those who lost everything in Katrina, senior citizens, school children and regular working people so those making a million dollars and up can get yet another TAX CUT.

That’s obscenity – and it’s our government at work.

NPR interviewed Senator Olympia Snow of Maine about this the other day. She had a few choice words for her fellow politicians.

Acupuncture was wonderful yesterday. I feel sooo much better. And it seems to have helped my mom as well. I look forward to going back next month for another treatment. I can actually turn my head far enough so I can look over my shoulder – always helpful if you need to change lanes driving on the highway. My mom had her first night of sleep all through the night, and waking up without pain. She’s moving better – I’d say she has five or six more degrees of motion than she had before it. Her colour’s better, her energy is better. What a relief!

Threatened to drop one of my students. Her work is not improving, it’s sloppy and disjointed because she refuses to focus. You CANNOT write outstanding prose when you’re also IMing your friends, watching TV and talking on your cell phone. Yeah, I’m sure some writers are doing just that. Some of them might even get published – occasionally. But you’ll never be the best writer you can be until you write mindfully. That means when you’re writing, you enter the world of your piece. COMPLETELY. I understand that sometimes parents have to keep one eye and one ear on the kids while they write. But even that uses a different part of your brain than all the other crap.

If you’ve gotten a stack of rejections lately, take a look at your writing process. You may be submitting sloppy work because you’re not giving it the attention it deserves and the work it needs in order to sparkle and catch an editor’s eye.

If she’s not going to take the work seriously and MAKE the time and space for it, if she doesn’t want it badly enough, there’s no point in wasting her money or my time. If she wants to play at being a writer, let her find a different “teacher” who will string her along and take the cash and let her continue her bad habits. She’s got talent. But she’s bone lazy, and I don’t know if that’s something that will ever change.

And I LOATHE lazy people. Doing ten things at once isn’t efficient use of your time if you’re doing all of them poorly.

It’s very easy to spot a piece written with distractions. The sentence cadences change.

Realized I was out of eggs this morning – and needed them for my cake. Out first thing to get eggs and top up the gas tank, so we can hit the road with a full tank in the morning.

In line at the register next to me was a kid, about ten, who was obviously sent in by his mom to pick up one thing and come right out. She’d given him a $20 bill. So the cashier starts yelling at him, “It’s too early! I don’t have change! What are you doing, coming in here with no change?”

So I said, “Why the hell are you yelling at HIM because you’re not doing your job? If you don’t have change, march your butt on over to your manager and get some! You’re here to serve US, the CUSTOMERS, not the other way around. We are not here for YOUR convenience. And don’t you EVER speak to a kid that way again when he’s simply trying to pay for his purchase.”

So he does that, gives the kid his change. And then, while I’m checking out, he grabs my newspaper off the belt and starts flipping through it. I snatched it back – I wanted roll it up and hit him with it, but that was going to far, even for me.

Some people simply should not deal with the public. I know that I’m one – therefore I don’t. This guy shouldn’t be, either.

But I got my eggs and I baked my cake.

On a fabulous positive note:

Click this link right now and go visit the Fringe Fantastic website. Colin Galbraith’s new book launches December 2, and the site has a variety of wonderful information, contest opportunities, a teasing taste of the book and more.

I don’t want to wish my life away, but I’m sure looking forward to December 2!

Designed and printed a temporary business card for Ink in My Coffee that I can give out this week in Maine. It’s done on Printmaster Gold, so, unfortunately, I can’t export it or use it for anything else. Which is a shame, because I like the graphics. Of course, since it’s clip art, I couldn’t actually USE the graphics for what I need – I have to come up with my own. But, as a quick, temporary card while the DE website is down, it’ll work.

Scary hockey news: Jiri Fischer of the Detroit Red Wings had a seizure on the bench last night, and the game was suspended. In true, quick-thinking hockey fashion, Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan skated the stretcher across the ice, saving the medics the time it would take to bring it around the arena. The kid’s only 25. They had to perform CPR on him AND use the defillibrator while he was still in the bench area. He’s in the hospital, listed in stable condition. Best wishes for a quick recovery. Both teams must have been terrified.

What’s great about hockey players is that they’re used to having to make quick decisions. If something goes wrong, they don’t freeze or panic. They act. The time saved by their quick thinking and resourcefulness may well have saved Fischer’s life.

The chocolate raspberry cake is in the oven. I need to work on The Fix-It Girl, then catch the train in for day work. However, it’s late and I haven’t even showered yet, so I don’t know how much will actually get done.

I’ll be off line for a few days – have a wonderful, safe, fulfilling, and joyful holiday.


Monday, November 21, 2005

Nov. 21 Part II

1867 words on The Fix-It Girl. Funeral and post-funeral reception scenes, studio insensitivity twisting the knife for Mavis; the other secondary principals reveal to her the decisions these deaths have caused them to make and Mavis is left to clean up the mess.

The Fix-It Girl – 52,611 word (NaNo goal 50,000)
Zokutou word meter
52 / 50

The Fix-It Gril –52,611 words (completion goal 100,000)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
52 / 100

Monday, November 21, 2005
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

The weather’s supposed to be bad today – just what I need, driving to and from acupuncture!

As long as it’s okay to drive on Wednesday – I want to go to Maine!

My grandmother, on the other hand, is hoping it snows when we get there so that we have to stay a few extra days.

My cats would have something to say about that.

Hop on over to Circadian Poems and check out the poems celebrating American Thanksgiving. We won’t publish again until next Monday.

Yesterday, I did the matinee on a track I haven’t done in ten months. It was okay – I paid attention, most of the time I was reasonably fast. One chorus girl got snippy – because SHE made a mistake -- and I told her, “B. might put up with that attitude, but I don’t.”

I enjoyed catching up with the people I like, and the show went by pretty fast. I started the essay for Wednesday’s Scruffy Dog Review Blog on the train, and then realized the topic is far too involved to be ready for this week. I’m going to touch on it, but develop the actual piece for another time. And I’ll have to upload the piece Tuesday night, because Wednesday morning, we’re on the road before six a.m., and I don’t plan to get on the computer at all.

The week after Thanksgiving, I’m going to stay in the city off and on, looking after my friend’s cats while he’s away. I’ll work on The Fix-It Girl when I’m working from home and Never Too Late when I’m working there. Maybe being in a different environment will help me come up with a better title!

Also, it gives me a chance to poke around the library branch on 41st St., where I originally came across all that WPA documentation. Since I don’t live in NYC, I don’t have a NYPL card anymore, but I can sit in the library and take notes for a couple of hours. And then go over the notes while I’m playing with the cats! I’ll take my camera and photograph the lions at the entrance of the library – Patience and Fortitude. I wonder if they’ll be wearing their holiday wreaths by then?

As far as the theatre work goes, I no longer get joy out of it, and that makes me sad. I’m capable of doing the work, thanks to years of experience, but it’s not coming from the heart anymore. It’s not that I don’t care about doing good work, it’s just that I have detachment from it. Which isn’t a bad thing; it’s simply not the way I like to work.

Every time it made me particularly sad, I remembered Mary Catherine Bateson’s book, Composing A Life, and reminded myself that I’ve played this movement in the symphony of my life and I’m getting ready to start the next one.

2006 is the second year of my three-year transition out of the business. It already proves to have as many emotional minefields in it as this year, as far as the transition.

But, when a job isn’t working, you’ve got to move on. You need – and deserve – to work in an environment that’s not only externally positive, but internally positive. When that happens, everyone reaps the benefits. People want and need the right people with positive attitudes in the jobs – people who want to be there, who do the work, and deal with their own lives on their time, not company time. People working need an atmosphere of friendly, invigorating professionalism without petty egos.

Too many people stay in jobs out of fear. It’s one thing to stay in a job to keep up the income while actively working to change your situation. It’s another to sit in the job, collecting the paycheck, bitching and moaning, while doing nothing. Sometimes it takes awhile to actually make the switch, but as long as you start putting things in motion and actively pursuing alternatives, you can find the right situation.

It’s that whole search-and-transition process that’s the most difficult.

Trying to decide whether or not I will tape Lost while I’m gone. The promo annoyed me – Sayid tied to a tree and hit by Ana Lucia? Why? The way it’s presented, it merely shows her again as a coward and a bully. She performed an act of manslaughter – face the consequences and take responsibility.

I also wonder if the creators are doing a disservice by making it so clear that Ana-Lucia is a tough woman who functions by trying to beat up the men, while Kate is a tough woman who never stops being feminine. It will be interesting – and annoying – to see how many gender-biased clichés the storylines fall into. One of the reasons I liked the show last year was that it took gender assumptions and played with them and against them. This year, they seem to play into them instead. It makes me wonder if the network is messing in the process more and giving the creators less creative room.

If there are twelve executives on a piece, each one has to put a thumbprint on something creatively, to justify his or her existence. That’s why so much that airs is a total mess. Instead of the network buying a creative vision and letting the creative team run with it, they mess with it for a variety of usually ego-driven reasons and you get crap. The fact that ANYTHING makes it on screen even halfway coherently is amazing.

And, when it does – films such as LORD OF THE RINGS, HARRY POTTER and Lucas’s STAR WARS films immediately come to mind, and RESCUE ME comes to mind as far as television – audiences respond positively.

And then, instead of learning from what works, production executives try to imitate.

Okay, time to put on my writing clothes and get some work done on The Fix-It Girl. Funeral scene next, with two other principal characters vaulted into an action that will change my protagonist’s life forever.

Thanks, Eric, for the advice. You’re right – I’ll read the book between drafts. I’m going to use it to add layers.

As usual, the second draft will be far overwritten – I’m expecting it to run 160,000 words by the time I’m done. And then, for the third draft – out comes the machete.

But, until there’s a finished first draft, it’s all pipe dreams.


PS I can’t wait to go to acupuncture this afternoon.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Nov. 20 Part II

Only 604 words, but Chapter Twenty Two is done and the characters are dead.


So, tomorrow morning, I can start with Chapter Twenty-Three, where we discover how these deaths serve as a catalyst for the entire rest of the story.

Gotta catch a train.

I feel terribly heartless.


Sunday, November 20, 2005
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Have I killed off my two characters yet?


I’m procrastinating.

Instead of writing yesterday afternoon, I baked bread and then I set up the top of a bookcase as a mantel for the holidays – decorated with swaths of festive fabric, candleholders, nutcrackers and angels.

The cats helped.

You can imagine.

Pictures to be posted at a future date of their “help.”

I found a stack of my Yuletide-themed fabric, but I’ve also got a lot more – in storage where I can’t get at it. So I might need to make a trip to the fabric store soon.

On a happier note, it looks like my SO might – might – be able to come here just for a couple of days over the holidays. That would be wonderful. We both have European backgrounds and share some of the same holiday traditions (such as Christmas Eve being the big celebration and Christmas Day more of a hanging-out day; celebrating the four Advents, etc., etc.). But I’m also doing some research on Scandinavian traditions, and will incorporate some of his favorite holiday traditions this year. I’m almost afraid to look forward to it too much, in case the schedule changes and he has to work, after all.

Most of the holiday shopping is done. I still have to sit down and write cards and make a few things and buy, I think, three more presents. I have to wrap what’s going up to Maine this week. But I think I’m on track, and I don’t have to stress out too badly. I want to be able to sit back and enjoy the season.

I stayed up way too late last night reading the Provincetown book. If I hadn’t had to be awake and alert for a track I haven’t done in eight to ten months today, I would have just sat up all night to read it.

I have to leave in an hour or so for the theatre.

So I better kill off my characters and get it over with.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Nov. 19 Part II

It was a busy, non-writing morning, although Fix-It Girl is rolling around in my head.

Went to the post office, got my hair cut (I could NOT go to Maine looking like I was looking before the haircut). Started the bread. Replanted some plants. Took the air conditioner out of the window, drained it, and packed it away. Got the storm windows down. Rearranged the plants. Caught up on some email, etc. Dried out some books that, somehow, got wet.

A few days ago, I read Margaret Frazier’s latest Joliffe mystery, which is quite good. I like the character of Joliffe, and, it surprises me how little has changed in life in the theatre since medieval times. We’re not in constant acute physical danger in the same way, but many other things have not changed. And, despite celebrity culture, let’s face it, a good portion of the country believes that theatre people are dirt. Many of them have no idea what kind of hard work and commitment go in to the life, and, let’s face it, many of them are jealous that we’re not chained in soul-sucking desk jobs. Although “what other people think” in terms of peer pressure stopped affecting my behavior years ago, I’m still aware of its existence.

Also read a chick lit novel that I thought would be good brain candy. I won’t mention title or author because I have rather unkind things to say about it. Reading the back cover, it sounded like fun. Reading the author’s bio – she already got on my last nerve. The first few chapters showed promise. And that’s where the story should have ended. It was dragged out, with the protagonist repeating mistakes, and, frankly, by the end, I just didn’t care, nor did I think she deserved a happy ending. Ick.

Before NaNo, I ordered a book I desperately needed as background research for Fix-It Girl. Paid for quick shipping and everything. It’s called Daughters of the Great Depression: Women, Work and Fiction in the American 1930s. It arrived yesterday. After I hit my 50K point.

Can I just say I’m done with Amazon? Except when I receive gift certificates? I’ll research it on Amazon, but buy it from Strand or bookstores that actually provide customer service. Amazon used to be great. No more. Buh-bye.

Anyway, the dilemma now is whether to read it now as I continue the book, or wait and read it between drafts. I feel I should do the latter. By the second page of the Intro, I was already taking frantic notes. This book will help add texture and detail to the revision. I’m afraid it will throw me off building the bones of the story now.

So I switched to reading a book about the history of the Provincetown Players (one of my favorite topics anyway) – which, although it plays a part in my story, its influence in the story is quite different than the former book’s.

Fix-It Girl turns out to have a broader social scope than I expected. How could it not, taking place during the Depression? However, I envisioned one of its themes being about creative vs. business, creative powers vs. studio powers. But the emerging theme is the gender struggle that was so central to the country in that decade. It’s interesting to see where Hollywood played into what actually happened in the country, where it played against what was happening, why, and the consequences.

I’m going to take a break now and then do a few pages. My shoulder is in extreme pain and my neck hurts so much the collar of my shirt hurts where it touches. Thank goodness acupuncture is on Monday.

I’ve been dragging my feet on actually writing today’s pages because I have to kill off two of the major secondary characters. They’re much more endearing than I planned, but I have to cut their lives short in order to create the catalyst for the next section of the story. I’ll hate to say goodbye. And no, I can’t bring them back in flashbacks or as ghosts.

I feel as though I’m being terribly cruel.

And I’m longing to get back to Never Too Late. And I STILL want to change the title. Although possible series titles are starting to come.

Time to put the bread into the oven and get to work.


Saturday, November 19, 2005
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and COLD

The heat kicked on yesterday in the late morning. After the oil truck turned up. Yes, folks, we had no heat because the building had run out of oil. This is what happens when the onsite super of 30 years retires and is replaced by someone who is only available by cell phone.

In addition to digging in and hitting the 50K mark on Fix-It Girl yesterday, I also did a rewrite of the Christmas story, designed it, and did the layout. It’s cute. The design elements are consistent, but the size on the pages morphs due to needed space. Which isn’t the most professional way to do it, but it seems to work.

I found massive typos in the copy – all gotten through spell check, but it was too small to read on the screen and I missed it in the layout process. So I’ll do a few more passes. And I have to decide what kind of paper to use. I may go down a font size to 12 – it’s currently 14 – in order to keep the back cover clear. Right now, there are words to the very back cover margin. And I had to cut to make it fit!

There are things I want to change and I’m having nerves about the piece because it’s cute and sweet instead of hard-hitting. But it does capture Greenwich Village in holiday time (thank you, TV pilot, for giving me an excuse to reacquaint myself with the area), and it’s definitely within the holiday spirit, so I need to get over myself, fix the problems and get on with it.

One of the reasons for my insecurity is because, years ago, I created in a small blank book, personal poems and stories as a Christmas gift for someone close to me. The person unwrapped it, flipped through it – and threw it in the trash. In front of me. Without reading any of it.

Any wonder this person is no longer in my life?

But it still makes me jumpy.

I also think I tried to put too much in this story – even though it is only three scenes – exposition wise. The problem about writing about someone who has a great NY apartment is that you have to explain how the character acquired it. New Yorkers are obsessed with real estate. The stories about people reading obituaries to find apartments are entirely true. One of the biggest complaints about The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd was that NY viewers did not believe she could have: a) gotten and b) kept the great apartment in the series.

So, I’ll have to fix and cut and err on the side of too little description rather than explain everything about this character’s back story in 1600 words. We don’t need to know EVERYTHING. We need to know what’s relevant to the STORY. The rest can be hints.

Anyway, off to the post office, and then back to write.

Now that the pressure is off Fix-It Girl, I’m relaxing into it and it’s flowing.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Nov. 18 Part II

I kept working on Fix-It Girl. An additional 2611 words. Brings me up to 50,140. I’ve hit my NaNo goal. Now I can relax into the rest of the book.

The Fix-It Girl -- 50,140 words (NaNo goal 50,000)
Zokutou word meter
50 / 50

The Fix-It Girl – 50,140 words (completion goal 100,000)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
50 / 100

Friday, November 18, 2005
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

No heat today. When it was in the 60s, they blasted up the heat. Today it’s in the 30s and nothing. Time to call the landlord.

Got up early and did most of my NaNo pages before taking the car in; came home and did the rest. 3027 words this morning. I am so close. I can’t falter now.

Day work was fine yesterday. I had ideas for several stories, which I jotted down. When it’s time for them to ripen, they will.

I listened to NPR, which is always stimulating. Actor Neil Patrick Harris was interviewed and he had some of the most insightful and well-articulated comments about Stephen Sondheim’s work that I’ve ever heard. He talked about how Sondheim builds time for the character to think in the music – such as be using an eighth rest instead of a sixteenth rest, or bringing up a tone at the end of the third repetition of a lyric. He’s right. Sondheim’s work is enormously character detailed.

Didn’t feel up to going out after work last night. I’m in a lot of pain –can’t wait for acupuncture on Monday. And I want to push through and hit the NaNo goal this weekend, so that I can relax.

I wrote Chapter Twenty, and started the next section, in the spring of 1933, in Chapter 21. I’m setting the stage for them to leave Hollywood. And get the rest of the piece back on track. I hope I can pack in everything I need to in 20 more chapters.

But, in December, I’m not going to work at such a frantic pace.

I’m worried that, because I have outlined, this work is too deliberate. I haven’t felt the fire that I often feel with a piece. I enjoy the writing, I believe in the piece, but . . .it may simply be exhaustion from trying to hit 2500 each day.

I’m ready for a trip. I look forward to Maine next week. I just hope it doesn’t snow.

During the day, I think of all sorts of things I want to discuss in the blog. Then, in the morning, I work on my NaNo pages before I write the blog, and by the time I get here, all that’s in my head is Nano.

I haven’t even talked much about hockey lately. The Islanders struggled early on, but lately have done well. In fact, the other night against Pittsburgh, it took 9 shooters on the Islander side to win the game. Jason Blake scored the winning goal – nearly lost it off the edge of his stick, but kept his cool and got it in. And DiPietro kept his cool and his temper down at the other end of the ice. He’s maturing well. Garth Snow anchored a good game the other night – Atlanta I think. I’m glad Snow’s back with the Islanders.

Last night, however, Tampa Bay beat the Islanders 3-2. Martin St. Louis scored the winning goal – and he wasn’t even supposed to be in the game, because he has a broken finger. But he was there and he won it for them. St. Louis is one of my favorite players, and has been since before he got so much attention, the Stanley Cup and the MVP. He’s a prime example of the scouts overlooking talent. The guy was never drafted – but he has an MVP trophy and a Stanley Cup ring. And he’s a hell of a good guy, too.

Whether it’s hockey or writing, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your dream.

Put down your head, work your butt off, and do it.

The question always is: How badly do you want it?

And only you can answer it.


The Fix-It Girl ­ -- 47,529 words (NaNo goal 50,000)
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
47 / 50

The Fix-It Girl – 47,529 words (completion goal 100,000)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
47 / 100