Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sunday, January 29, 2006
New Moon
Chinese New Year!
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Happy Year of the Dog!!!

So our ever-lovin’ NY State Governor has a budget that will give regular working people a tax cut of 2% (provided they’re married), and the rich a cut of 9%. Why the heck isn’t that reversed? So sick of the rich getting more and more while the people who just work three jobs to survive continue to get their pockets picked by the politicians.

Very tired.

Tweaked four pieces and sent them out yesterday. Started to put the fixes into Clear the Slot, but only got the first four chapters done. Excavated my desk somewhat. Signed and sent off some contracts. Worked on the new text for the DE site – I keep working on it and then throwing it out. Worked on some pitches. Wrote Wednesday’s column for SDR.

In and around the other work.

Today will be another long day. I’m waiting to hear if I’m needed for a re-shoot on the television show tomorrow – if I am, I hope my call is late enough so I can leave from here.

Islanders finally won last night, thank goodness. They played well against the Bruins. Both teams worked very hard. Always makes for a more interesting game. Rangers beat Pittsburgh, too, so it’s all good.

The Situation weighs heavily on me and has gotten me way down. I know the solution, but I haven’t figured out a way to get there yet. I’m working on it, though, and that’s all I can do. But I’m very discouraged.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Saturday, January 28, 2006
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and warmer

Got a call yesterday afternoon to work on yet something else, so I went off and did it. So now the show is mad at me because I wasn’t available at the last minute to drop everything and come in to do a track I don’t know with new actors and no notes. Ah, the life of the theatre! You know, I can’t sit around and wait for the possibility that they will call me at the last minute – I have to take the work offered.

When I got home, I worked on the revised Chapter 10 of Clear the Slot and then read through everything I’ve got so far. I’m happy with it, but I was dismayed by all the typos. I flagged everything and will go in and do the fixes page by page (there were a few more edits and tightenings I found, too, but the majority of mistakes were typos – disconcerting because I’ve gone over and over and OVER those chapters). I want to brush everything up and then move on to the second half of the book. The massive restructuring/edits/rewrites are in the upcoming chapters. I figure I’ll need most of February to finish this revision. So it will be March before I can start querying.

Did some work on Hearth Phoenix. It’s difficult. Pushes a lot of buttons. But I’m also making interesting discoveries as I work on it. I can’t actually articulate them yet, but I work on a section and then I realize what it means to me on various levels.

Booked all weekend (not at the show), so I have to fit the writing in and around everything else that needs to be done. As the writing needs to be done.

There were two interviews on television last night with French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, about his new book, American Vertigo, detailing his travels around America. He was fascinating in both interviews, truly filled with ideas, not simply opinions on ideology, and his book has now made my Must-Read list.


PS Anyone else really pissed off that Ford is laying off 30,000 employees? They claim it’s a “last resort” – yeah, right. I wonder how many executives have been laid off and how many six-figure salaries – including the CEO’s – were reduced before this “last resort.” When the executives earn the same as the workers, then I’ll believe they tried to do everything they could to avoid this. Because, let’s face it, without the people who actually do the work, the executives have no reason to be there. Typical.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday, January 27, 2006
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was fine. The phone rang just before midnight the night before – they’d just wrapped on location, and my call time was pushed back an hour. What an enormous psychological difference it makes, setting the alarm for 6 AM rather than 5!

The sun was even on its way up as I left for the train.

The train was late (of course) and then we had to stop and pick up the passengers from a train that broke down. Imagine stuffing two rush hours trains’ worth of passengers into one. Typical. But at least we didn’t leave them stranded, which is what the MTA usually does.

The subway was fine, and I got to the studio early, which allowed me to relax with a cup of coffee and the paper before diving in to work. I was support yesterday, rather than being on set – offloading the truck, resorting the clothes, putting the laundry through, harvesting the tie bars and precinct numbers from the clothing and putting it back so it’s in place for the next time it’s needed; making sure the tags are written up as to what each character wore in that day’s episode for the continuity book, restocking the character closets.

Each principal has a rack called a “closet”. This is true in episodic television, and, especially, in soaps. The designer creates a look for the character, and a color palette. And then the designer and assistants shop for the look. For each episode, the designer designs the look for each day contained within the episode – some is pulled from the closet. Some is shopped. And the closet grows over the course of the season or seasons. Everything is tracked to the last detail – jewelry, lingerie, shoes, accessories – not only for continuity, but so the character doesn’t wear the same piece too often (unless it’s a character marker, such as Columbo’s raincoat in that series). For instance, one of the female characters tends to wear above-the knee skirts and cashmere sweaters, in a particular range of colors that flatter her skin and her hair. Another female character’s palette is darker, with more leather, longer line on the jackets and skirts, and more accessories such as grommeted belts, etc. The male characters each have their own range of shirt colors and styles, and, especially, ties. Ties are used as character markers, both in color and in pattern. It’s interesting, because it’s part of creating the world of the character and the world of the show. It helps the audience’s perception of the character, along with the dialogue and the action. It’s a visual.

I compare my closet to a “character closet” and I see how much wider my personal range of clothes are, as far as color and style. At first, I assumed it was simply a case of real life vs. fiction, but one of the other costumers said, “But you live many lives in one. Each of these characters has the life at work and the life at home. You have the life here when we see you, or at the theatre; the life when you’re writing; the life when you’re traveling; the life when you’re making public appearances or teaching; the life when you’re doing things to support your SO.” She wondered if I had different wardrobes for the different noms de plum!

That’s an interesting idea, actually. Since the voice of each is different, I would think the wardrobe choices would be slightly different, too. Although, overall, I tend to go for a simple, tailored look with details in the accessories or in something like buttons or topstitching or whatever. I like color and I like texture. I don’t wear white. I have one little fluffy white cardigan with rhinestone buttons in a loose crochet that I wear sometimes in the spring or summer over something, but that’s the only white piece of clothing I own (other than tee shirts with designs from shows or places of interest). White doesn’t look good on me, I’m uncomfortable in it, and I don’t wear it. I am not someone who can wear ruffles – I look and feel ridiculous in them. But I can wear pleats, although the front pleated pant look of a few years ago was awful for me. I went with it for a season or two, but, when I cleaned out my closet a few months ago, I got rid of all except a single pair that I bought on my last trip to LA that actually look decent on me. Body skimming rather than boxy. True waist rather than dropped waist or low rise. I prefer straight leg pants, but, since I love and wear boots, I also need an array of pants that can fit over the boot. I sometimes think I was permanently damaged by the seventies bell-bottom look and that’s why I stay away from flared pants. I love capris (which used to be called “pedal pushers” when I was a kid).

It wasn’t until I seriously began working in wardrobe that I learned how to be self-aware of what looks good and what doesn’t on me without being overly critical, and learning the tricks to highlight my good features and hide the not-so-great ones. Sometimes, I still fall in love with something that’s totally inappropriate. And I might even wear it once or twice. But it becomes a choice rather than something done out of oblivion.

And it’s important that I look decent in the various aspects of my work. On set and backstage I have to be neat, not sloppy, and I have to be able to move in what I wear. It’s inappropriate for me to wear a mini-skirt and a low-cut shirt to set. Especially if I’m standing outside all day in the freezing cold or offloading a truck. Doing behind-the-scenes work, part of my job is NOT to pull focus. On many shows, when you’re working backstage, you have to be in full black – I have quite an array of black jeans, long sleeved t shirt and long sleeved sweaters to get through the seasons. I also need pockets, because, in spite of wearing the kit strapped around my waist or an apron, I also usually need a place to either stash notes or call sheets or the notebook, and a back pocket serves nicely. I’m representing not only myself, but the show, my direct bosses and the union. What would it say about my professional abilities (especially in wardrobe) if I showed up looking sloppy? Thank goodness for five pocket jeans, that’s all I have to say. And, of course, I have to look completely different when I speak at a Town Council meeting, or do an interview or teach a class.

When I did the hockey interviews, I wore jeans, a sweater, and boots. Simple, no-nonsense, low-key. Very tailored. Straight forward look for straight forward interviews. One time, I was invited to a dressy event, so I wore a cocktail dress and heels. One player actually dropped his drink when he saw me! It was very funny.

As a writer, when I make appearances, I dress as carefully as I would for a character. I want to be comfortable, feel good in the clothes, and wear clothes that are “me”. However, because the focus in the industry has shifted so much away from the word and into the marketing, creating a look for one’s writing self is very important. Now, to dedicated readers, the word is what’s captured them in the first place; however, since the focus of the industry is now on marketing and “branding” (something I loathe, by the way), the look one presents at readings, interviews, workshops, etc. has become important.

Let’s face it, if it’s your first suspense novel and you show up in pink stretch pants and an appliquéd sweat shirt, unkempt hair and badly applied make-up, unless it’s part of a character/persona you’ve created to market your work and your entire approach is larger-than-life, playing-against-type, it’s going to be hard to be taken seriously

Anyway, enough about clothes. I had a break-through, walking around the streets of Astoria, Queens on my lunch break, about The Widow’s Chamber. As soon as I’ve finished the last few bits of Angel Hunt, I want to go back and finish The Widow’s Chamber, and then start adapting it into a novel.

One of the things I struggled with during the two years I wrote the serial was the POV/voice. To me, it seemed more natural to have it be first person, from Nora’s perspective. However, because it was a serial without end, and I knew that, eventually, I wanted to wind up Nora’s (very long) arc and focus on other characters – especially her brothers, possibly the female innkeeper with the coach-driver husband in the magical valley, etc. Within the context of that serial, the only way I could see doing that without ending the serial and starting a new one was to stay in third person. But it often felt unnatural.

For the adaptation, I’m going to switch to first person, and tell the story through Nora’s eyes. Part of what I want to explore, in general in this piece, is how Nora’s independent thinking and often unconventional behavior takes an emotional toll on her, and now I can do it from the inside. It breaks open the story in a way – the serial had me feeling trapped for the last few months, because the POV wasn’t serving what I needed to do for the story. I couldn’t show her inner conflict well enough. The story was limited omniscient, in that we perceived most of it through Nora, but because it was not the correct POV for the story and I struggled, I was not able to do so skillfully enough to truly make the story work.

Just making that simple decision got me excited about the piece again.

I finally resolved a character name in Clear the Slot. Originally, the character was named “Dora”. I liked the old fashioned sound of it. However, there’s also a “Dina” and a “Daphne”, and three D-women names, especially with the amount of time they interact, became distracting to my Trusted Readers. There was no way Daphne was going to change her name – she put her foot down. I tried changing “Dina” to “Tina” – however, the main female character, the owner of the hockey team, is TJ – Tania Josephine – and best friends with Dina. So that didn’t work. So Dora’s name was the one that would have to change. I tried “Cora”. However, the marketing manager is named “Cory”. Even making jokes about “Cora and Cory” didn’t work. So I tried “Nora”. But Nora, to me, is the Nora Cavanaugh of The Widow’s Chamber, not the Nora Jennings of Clear the Slot. I tried “Maura” and “Moira”, but, in addition to having too many characters whose names began with “M” at that point, the character herself disagreed with the name. So I decided on “Thora.” Even though it’s a T name, “TJ” and “Thora” sound different enough and read differently enough on the page not to be confusing. And the character is happy with it. And names I tried like “Vera”, “Wendy”, “Grace” – didn’t fit the character. Six drafts’ worth of this until it’s resolved. Talk about something to induce a headache!

So, off to writing now. I need to do an article this weekend for a travel site, work on some stories, and get back to the project roster.

So I better get moving.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Jan. 25 Part II

I was called to work the TV show tomorrow, so I had to pull myself out of the Malaise and be slightly productive. I can go in late enough to leave from here, but I won’t have time to go online.

Looks like another 5 AM alarm, at least.

At any rate, Circadian is up and so is the Dog Blog. I am working on both tomorrow’s Circadian and on Kemmyrk, which might go up later tonight.

I worked on the revised Chapter 10 of Clear the Slot and it looks like, in a day or two, I can re-read the first half of the revision and see where we are. I’m glad I took a few days away from it – I was starting to get too immersed in the world and had lost my objectivity. Then, I’ll focus solely on the second half of the revision, so that the first half doesn’t get 100 re-readings while the second half only gets 12. I’ll leave the first bit alone until I’m done with the second half, then read it all together and see what doesn’t coordinate.

Meanwhile, both Fix-It Girl and Periwinkle are going, “Hey, don’t you dare forget about US!”

But for now, it’s back to Hearth Phoenix. The piece pushes a lot of buttons, and it may never be something that can be whipped into saleable shape, but, for my own well-being, I have to write it.

Till Friday, then, at least.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool


Glad I finished the first draft of Shallid. I need to let it sit a few days before I start typing.

Adapted the first scene of Glam Hearts into novel form. It’s fun, but it’s a slow process. And, I realized that I have to open it out more. Because it started life as a radio play, and had only six performers, I made sure everything could be handled by those six. Now, I have to add in more of the people with which these characters interact – without letting the cast grow too large, as I have a tendency to do. I have to let the adaptation take its own pace. The pace of the piece is quick, light and bright, but the adaptation process is slow. It makes an interesting juxtaposition.

Life With Aunt Dot has been renamed Hearth Phoenix. Hearth Phoenix is actually the title of a non-fiction project that I recently decided to scrap for various personal reasons. However, I loved the title and didn’t want to lose the title. It fits this project, and now that I have the right title, the project flows. It’s a tough one to write, because of the person emotional buttons it pushes. I don’t know if it will ever end up to be something publishable – all I know is that, for my own peace of mind, I need to write it, and I’m able to reach the emotional truth of its core better in fiction than I ever could have in non-fiction.

Day work was fine yesterday, though there was much additional lifting of clothing due to painted dressing rooms, and my arm hurts like crazy. Today’s grocery shop and hauling the bags up three flights of stairs didn’t help, either. Oh, well.

Finished Julia Briggs’s fascinating book Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life. It makes me realize how much I use writers’ diaries in the course of my writing day as fuel when I get tired. In the Manhattan apartment, I had ever so many writers’ diaries, and one was always next to my work table. When I began to fade, I could pick it up and read a few pages and get re-inspired. Unfortunately, they’re all in storage now, where I can’t get at them.

Today is both Virginia Woolf’s birthday and Robert Burns night. Later this afternoon, I’ll post some tributes on Circadian. Yesterday’s entry was late because I had a ten minute window before leaving for work, and, of course, Blogger wasn’t working. No Ink, no Circadian, no nothing. Oh, well.

I’d like to get back to the Clear the Slot revisions, too.

I’ve got a pot roast simmering on the stove, which is cheerful on a dull, gray January day. I’m a bit down – I know why and I know how to solve it, but I’m not sure how to get there. Mostly stress and exhaustion.

I’ve been listening primarily to classical music lately – Mozart, Bach, Schumann – there’s a reason it’s still so popular. It also makes me realize that my music collection lacks enough classics. Eventually, I’ll treat myself to some more CDs. It doesn’t have to happen right this minute. What I have serves its purpose.

The man sitting ahead of me on the train home last night concerned me. He’s at least ten years younger than I am, but overweight. His skin was an odd shade of red – and not from being out in the sun. Underlying the red was a blue-gray tinge that made me think he would keel over at any second. I’m sure the extra-tall beers he downed at an alarming rate didn’t help, either. He wasn’t obnoxious or anything like that at all – there was just something about him that made me worry for his health. But I couldn’t exactly lean forward and say to a stranger, “Please go to a doctor as soon as you get off the train” because that’s just inappropriate and unfair. Hopefully, he’s going home to someone who will see/sense the same thing I did and urge him to go.

Unfocused and restless today. I’m usually like that right after finishing a long draft. Ah, to be like Anthony Trollope! He wrote each morning. If he finished a book within his designated writing session, he pulled a new sheet of paper towards him and started the next one.

The scents of meat, onion, garlic, bay, thyme, rosemary, and oregano waft through the air. Already I feel better.

Scruffy Dog Blog will go up later today, once I’ve sorted out what I actually want to say. I have several ideas, but need to figure out which is the most useful and relevant.


Monday, January 23, 2006

January 23 Part II

The first draft of Shallid was completed at 3:24 PM.

I started it on September 15, 2005.

6250 words were written today.

The first draft is just over 82,000 words, a bit under what I estimated, but it gives me more room to expand in the next draft before cutting.

I’m going to start typing it in a few days. Once I have a typed draft, I’ll let rest before putting it into the editing rotation.

Periwinkle now comes into rotation as the Secondary Project.

But, first, I’m going to allow myself a little celebration.


Monday, January 23, 2006
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Plenty of school delays, school closings, etc. I hope the brook doesn’t overflow. It’s rather miserable today, and I hope to stay safely tucked in here at home all day.

Lots of business/admin work to catch up on, and then also lots of writing waiting impatiently for attention.

Acupuncture was a relief yesterday – although it’s the most needles I’ve ever needed. Between stress and the physical demands of both backstage and set work, my body is suffering. Next time you watch a TV show, think of all the physical pain that went into it. An hour-long series episode usually takes eight days to shoot. Eight days of at least 15 hours, often more, in all weathers, or in a hot studio room under lights. There’s lots of lifting involved, and lots of standing. And the need for intense concentration, or the piece falls apart.

It’s not that there’s never down time or never laughter and fun; but the focus is on the work that needs to be done and done well, and you have to be ready to jump into action at any moment. And know when to take action and when to sit tight. And, while the camera’s rolling, to be absolutely still.

I couldn’t write much when I got back, because I had to let the treatment set. But I went over the material I have for the tarot book. I may need to do a preliminary outline before I write it, and then, once it’s done, rewrite the outline for the proposal. The focus is quite different than the tarot books out there, which is why I think it will sell, and I also want to keep the material separate from what’s on Kemmyrk – the blog expands on the material in the book without each duplicating the other; at the same time, each can stand alone.

After the acupuncture, several more characters came and began telling me their stories. I took notes. I don’t want to start anything new, because I have plenty that needs my attention, and I don’t want to fracture the attention any further and do a disservice to the works already in progress. Also, I wonder if perhaps some of these characters could be convinced to inhabit the same world (book). I made the necessary notes, put them in the file, and moved on. The ideas need to rise like bread dough. I’ll know when they’re ready to bake.

I’m sleeping much, much more than usual. Part of it is due to the intense stress of The Situation. Part of it is because, when I am working, right now, each aspect of my work demands the fiercest of concentration, and I’m tired when I’m done.

The big dilemma in structuring each day’s work is whether to do the creative work first or the practical. I’m best in the morning, so it makes sense to do the creative. Yet, once I’m on the computer, I’m in the mindset for the practical.

I’m experimenting with doing the “have-tos” first off – the blog, Circadian, whatever column is due that day, deadlined work, etc., first, and then switching for a few hours to writing; then, when I get tired from the creating, going back to the practical.

If I don’t keep to the commitments first and try to sit down and simply write, it bothers me and I can’t concentrate. If I do all the practical work first, I run out of energy and have nothing left to create. So it’s that juggling act again, and finding a way to give strong attention to both.


PS Hop on over to Circadian -- Part I of Colin Galbraith's article on Robert Burns is up. Part II will go up tomorrow. Wednesday is both Burns night and Virginia Woolf's birthday -- Circadian plans to celebrate both.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sunday, January 22, 2006
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Short (I think) entry today. Finished the newsletter yesterday – I want to do another proofreading of it before I print it and mail it out.

Researched some more markets. I may have some material for some of them, but I also got ideas for some new work.

Worked on Shallid – interesting how, as I get closer to the end of it, it’s more and more difficult. There are 13 books in this series – it’s not like I won’t be with these characters again. But I’m having trouble finishing and letting go. However, I’m going to push ahead and do it. I’m about four pages from my goal from the month, and probably forty pages from the end of the draft.

Pushed aside the furniture yesterday afternoon, put on the music and danced. I was trained in ballet, tap, jazz, and modern. For awhile, I considered making that my career. However, I don’t like other people to tell me what I’m supposed to look like (even as a teenager I was more likely to flip someone off than throw up to fit what “They” thought was the norm –besides, I was a very thin teenager to begin with), and being a performer gives too many other people too much control. Plus, I got injured playing basketball and had to give up dancing when I didn’t heal properly. For years, I felt because I chose to give it up, because there were so many people who chose to do it, I’d given up the option to do it just for myself.

Yesterday, I proved myself wrong. The training and technique still hold. I had good teachers, and I paid attention. I still enjoy the choreography aspect, and I spent a couple of hours just doing studio work because I wanted to. It was great. Mix occasional dance sessions with the yoga (which, right now, is limited due to the elbow injury), and I think staying fit will be something I look forward to doing on a daily basis.

I also painted. Just because I felt like it. There were a couple of pages of just getting used to the feel of a brush in my hands, but then I painted a tree. My tree, not someone else’s tree. And it looks like a tree, and it looks like my tree, and I’m happy with it. And the experience of painting was invigorating, liberating, and inspirational. It helped me return to the page with a better perspective.

I’m reading Susanna Clarke’s novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. It’s quite fascinating. I want to read the entire novel before I comment on it, because I wonder if some of the things that hit me oddly in the reading of the early chapters are deliberate set-ups for later. I want to see it through before I make my final decision.

Off to acupuncture, and then back to do some more writing. Shallid waits, and I’ve got to get Elise, Emmett, Lucas, and Maddie out of the pickle in which I’ve left them.

I needed to clear my head of Clear the Slot for a couple of days to regain perspective, but I plan to return to the revisions tomorrow.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Saturday, January 21, 2006
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Partly sunny and mild

Yesterday was pretty busy. Worked on a newsletter, researched some new markets, updated the submissions log, worked on the new text for the DE site. The more I work on it, the more I want to change the content substantially. Did four loads of laundry at a friend’s place, caught up on The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review.

Worked on the revisions for Chapters 13-15 of Clear the Slot. Made some cuts, debated some others and found the chapter end in the middle of 14 so I can turn three chapters into two. Evening out the chapter length, in this particular project, helps the rhythm.

Adapting Glamorous Hearts into a novel will be interesting, because I realized that the best way to tackle it is to yet approach it in a completely different way than I usually approach drafts. Usually, I need to go all the way through a draft, getting a picture of it as a whole, and then go back and edit, working through each draft. With this piece, I’m going to end up doing at least three drafts of each chapter before I move on to the next one. And then, when I have the overall draft, I can go back and work on it as a whole. But, the first draft of each chapter is adapting the dialogue into prose. The second is adding in the descriptive detail. The third is cutting some of each so that there’s a balance and the chapter has a good flow. Only then will I be able to build the next chapter. There’s already an agent interested – it came up in casual conversation and I warned this person that it was no where near ready. I didn’t want to break my own rule and try to sell something that wasn’t finished and blow the contact!

I also realized Life With Aunt Dot needs to be restructured. Originally, I planned to have a prologue of three quick scenes letting the reader in on the initial conflicts and then bring it all together. Now, I’ve realized I need to develop each thread independently for about twenty pages or so and then bring all the pieces together. By the time I reach the 7th-Draft-Fit-For-Submission, it may be back down to three quick scenes in a Prologue, but to get there effectively, I have to write it all out and then cut.

I’m reading a book on non-fiction proposals, because the projects called Non-Fiction A & B last year are close to ready to pitch, and I wanted to remind myself of all the bits to include. Non-Fiction A is substantially different from the “normal” nonfiction book, so I have to adapt some of the bits, but the note about removing all qualitative words from the proposal or cover letter (“perhaps”, “estimated”, “approximately”) hit home.

Unfortunately, many of the examples of “good” proposals reminded me of used car salesmen and made me want to gag. If I read a proposal like that, or picked up a book and read that on the back cover, I’d run for the hills! I certainly wouldn’t pick it up and pay money for it!

Which is why I’m not in the business of being an agent.

Personally, I loathe this trend pushing authors to “brand”. I don’t want to buy a “brand”. I want to buy an individual’s book, and I want to watch that individual grow and change with every book. I don’t want the name and location changed with the universal replace feature on the computer. The only thing I want to know I’m getting is good writing. I think it dumbs down both the author and condescends to the reader to “brand”. I stop buying and reading an author's books when said author just retreads the same territory in each book.

Can you imagine what would have happened if Virginia Woolf tried to sell her work today? She was so brilliant and reached for something new and different in every book.

Perhaps publishing hasn’t changed that much. After all, she and Leonard Woolf did start Hogarth Press.

Lots to do today, so I better get started. I could feel Shallid and the Fantasy Epic burbling last night, and I purposely did not allow myself to do any work on them, so I could attack the page vigorously today.


Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday, January 20, 2006
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and milder

Ran errands, paid bills, got books. Always a good way to end the errands – a treat of a book! And I admit it – Borders roped me in. Every time I buy a book, they hand me a discount coupon for the following week. I come back, buy the next book on my list – and get another coupon. I know I’m being played, and I don’t mind, in this case.

Because I still go buy books from the independents, too!

Worked on chapters 11 & 12 of Draft 5 of Clear the Slot (which are now Chapter 9 in Draft 6). Printed out all the revised pages. Once I have the new Chapter 10 done, I’m going to take some time and go through the first half of the revision again before going on to the second.

Printed up Chapters 13, 14, & 15 of Draft 5 for revisions. I thin I want to split them up into two chapters as well, but I have to find the good chapter ending within Chapter 14.

I forgot to mention that I re-read Glamorous Hearts as the first step towards adapting it from radio script into novel. It’s seriously cute. And not in a bad way. It’s a very sweet, light-hearted, romantic romp. It’s also going to be quite a challenge to adapt it, and will take quite awhile, which is fine. For this particular piece, I think I’m going to have to decide which scenes become which chapters, write it out in prose, then go back in and add in the descriptive details. I’ll stop and research as I go, chapter by chapter. I don’t want to lose the undercurrent of Leonard’s experience in World War I and how that affects him. I think it plays well against the overall lightness of the piece. And I want to make sure I have plenty of period detail about New York City in 1921, about clothes, hairstyles, etc. I’d done some research to write the original radio play, but since I can move beyond dialogue by opening it out into a novel, balancing the description with the dialogue will be the major challenge.

The Kemmyrk column got up a bit late in the afternoon yesterday; and today’s Circadian poem will be late because I’m having trouble with the file.

Meeting last night about The Situation – good turnout, good information, a plan of action formed. It’s good to know we’re not out there alone. The Mayor and two City Councilors were there – one of whom remembers me from high school, which is pretty funny. I always assume no one’s going to remember me.

My neighbor came up for a glass of wine after the meeting – turns out I went to high school with several of her siblings! Too funny.

I am exhausted, though, physically and mentally. And I need to pull it together and get more writing done today. I’m behind on the goal for the Fix-It Girl, but everything else seems to be percolating along okay.

I think I need to smudge the apartment, too. With all the tensions from the Situation hanging over us, it’s becoming difficult to create here.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thursday, January 19, 2006
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

That was some storm. Tens of thousands of people without power over the tri-state area, and many still without power.

My mother was staying at someone’s house in Greenwich. Not only was there no power, but a tree fell on (someone’s) car in front of the driveway, so she couldn’t even leave to get somewhere where there was power. And she was running out of medication and her cell phone battery was fading.

I called CT Light & Power and told them the situation. They flagged the address to indicate there was a senior citizen who needed help, but said they don’t make the decisions about where to send work crews, the police did, and it would probably be four or five days before they’d get to her.

So, I called the police department and told them what the power company said. The dispatcher, when I repeated the 4-or-5 day comment said, “I don’t think so. I’m sending someone over right now.”

Crews showed up shortly thereafter, and my mom is on her way home now.

The City Council meeting was fascinating. Long, but fascinating. I don’t feel abandoned by the City the way I did going in. I feel that the Council is actually going to take into consideration the citizens, rather than just following the dollars. And that’s all one can hope for at this stage, isn’t it?

Of course, many things were discussed, and it was fascinating to watch the discussion and decision-making process in the town. There are people in our city government who actually do have a commitment to both the city and the individual citizens in it, and are trying to balance the needs of the majority with the needs of the individual. That is very heartening.

I shan’t do a blog for The Situation yet. Too much changes too quickly. Literarily, as soon I post, something will shift. Plus, it gives those who wish to hurt my family ammunition. I will, however, keep working on the fiction piece to get to the emotional truth of the matter. Whether I’ll ever publish it is something else, but working on it gives me a way to process and think and visualize. It utilizes what I do best in order to both relieve some of the personal stress and come up with ideas that can be used in life, not just art.

On the writing front, I did a lot of reading yesterday (when it was light enough), mostly a biography of costume designer Edith Head, as research for The Fix-It Girl. I also worked on the edits for Clear the Slot. Because I’m rearranging the chapters, this is a messy bit, and I have to be meticulous about tracking pages and changes. The overall flow of the book is much better, though.

Errands to do, and another meeting tonight.

And, hopefully, writing.

Off I go.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde

The winds are expected to hit 75 mph. I have to go out in this in a few minutes to run an errand. Actually, I just changed my mind – I’m going to wait until closer to noon. I don’t want to be hit by a tree limb, and they’re flying around like crazy. I’m hoping that nothing comes crashing through the windows.

Day work was fine yesterday, though I’m having trouble concentrating. My arm is also killing me – ironing and steaming was excruciating.

Colin’s Fringe Fantastic arrived yesterday and I had to sit down and read it straight through. It’s great! I’m going to sit down again and read it more slowly this weekend to savour it. If you haven’t bought your copy yet, hop over to his website and do it now!

I’m going to try to post the Circadian poem before the power goes out (lights are flickering, winds howling, windows rattling), and then write out SDR blog and post it when I can.

Plus, I have to speak tonight at the City Council meeting about The Situation.

Hang tight, people, it’ll be quite a ride.

Guess I’m writing in longhand by candlelight today. Not bad, as long as the building holds and nothing falls off.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived Dr. King’s dream every day instead of just noticing it once a year?

On the 6:19 AM yesterday (which, of course, was late), but got out to the studio in plenty of time. It was a good day – we were re-shooting a scene from Episode #2, which I had not worked on -- so I was trying to match people from photographs, not having been there initially.

Of course, casting didn’t send us the same people (or they just didn’t show) and some of them didn’t wear the same clothing, but, for the most part, it was fine. I mean, why send us an African American man with dreadlocks to replace an Asian woman?

There was one guy, though – he came late, pulled two shirts out his bag, threw them at me, and said, “I need these ironed. See what you can do about it.”

And I said, “You come with your clothes pressed. And you check in with the BG person and then you get looked at by wardrobe. We are not your valets.” I reported him to the person in charge of the BG, who had a few words with him, letting him know that he’d be removed from the set if he ever pulled a stunt like that again. And it’s not even like those were clothes he was going to wear for the scene!

Then, of course, he argues, “My sister’s supposed to do this stuff.”

So only women iron?

I said to him, “Maybe you oughta learn how to pick up an iron and take care of your own stuff. Like an adult.”

On a happier note, one of my favorite extras from the other pilot, back in October, was there. He’s such a great guy, and he works all the time. It’s always a pleasure to see him. More than makes up for the assholes that wander through.

Something I noticed, working BG: very often, we have to dress them in uniforms for court scenes, etc. The men rarely give their correct sizes the first time, especially waist size. They give a smaller size and then complain when the pants don’t fit. Boys, get over the vanity – I have 15 minutes on a good day to dress you, and I can’t be running around four or five times because you gave me the wrong size! The women, on the other hand, are great with their sizes and upfront.

For the most part, though, this group was very nice. The re-shoot ran smoothly, it was a powerful scene – I jumped one time because it was so realistic – and we were done by lunch (which was 2 PM).

I ate about a block away at a really neat diner place called Cup – food was good, although the staff was frazzled.

And spent the afternoon putting through the laundry, prepping for the next day, tagging and bagging clothes from this episode that now have to be stored, just in case. Every tie, every sock, every cufflink has to be meticulously tracked – in case of more re-shoots, like today, weeks after the original, or in case they ever decide to flash back to something from a previous episode. Organization and a strong system are key. Keeping to that system under time and budget constraints (because, no matter how much a company allots for a show, there are ALWAYS budget constraints) is a miracle. It says a lot about our supervisors that it runs so well, and it says a lot about the production company that they give the support necessary for it to run well. They’re smart – they know if they support us now, it saves them money down the road. They see the big picture instead of only seeing the day’s end financial tally. They’re the kind of company one wants to work for in this business. And beautifully unique.

Came home, collapsed into bed, watched a bit of TV. Watched some hockey, read a bit, couldn’t concentrate, because I’m so fatigued, physically and emotionally.

Today I’m at the theatre, but tomorrow and Thursday will be about dealing with The Situation.

Today, I’m also hoping to get in some work on the Fantasy Epic. I’m falling behind in the writing – again, mostly from the injured arm (which hurts A LOT today) and the emotional strain of The Situation.

The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems

The Scruffy Dog Review

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Jan. 15 Part III

Since I’ll be up before 5 AM and out of the house before 6 AM tomorrow, I thought I’d better get a jump on things. Especially since The Situation ratcheted up even more – although I did find a glimmer of hope today.

Tomorrow’s entry for Kemmyrk is up.

And so is tomorrow’s Circadian poem. I’m quite excited about this week’s three poem entries – they are one long poem broken down in three parts telling a mystery story. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and I thought it was interesting. Part One is up now (for tomorrow’s entry), the next bit goes up Wednesday and the conclusion on Friday.

My poor mother had to drive alternate roads this afternoon due to fallen trees from the storm – and got a flat tire. She managed to get to where she’s staying, but the car is sitting in that garage with a flat. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to fix it from set tomorrow, but I’ll take the mechanic’s number with me and see what can be done. As if she doesn’t have enough to worry her.

I’m exhausted, but I’m going to try and get a bit of writing done, in between icing my arm. Turns out I have one month more on the fantasy epic deadline than I thought. Thank goodness. The story is rich, but mining that richness and texture means a slower pace. I don’t mind – I’m more interested in a good story than a quick writing process.

And maybe I can get some more edits done on Clear the Slot.

Did insurance paperwork and some other paperwork. I have to find out what additional paperwork I have to do in relation to my mother’s injury. And then I have some more paperwork to do for myself. Plus, some letters that need answering.

Even in this age of email, there’s nothing quite like the jolt of joy a letter gives!

Back on line on Tuesday, I think.


Jan. 15 Part II

Change of Plan: My friend has no power and is iced in. I'm working at home today. And, if my friend manages to get out, perhaps my friend will come here to warm up.

Just in case, I'm baking.

Sunday, January 15, 2006
Last Day of Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Snowy, stormy and cold

The Cailleach was hard at work last night. The rage of the storm mirrors what I feel. Howling winds, rattling windows, screaming through the air, venting full fury -- and there’s certainly plenty about which to be furious.

The Situation ratcheted up even further yesterday. It’s getting truly ugly. At the end of this week, after a few more meetings, I will launch a blog specifically dedicated to this experience. People should know what it’s like from the inside, and how often the good of the citizen is tossed aside for the almighty dollar, regardless of the law.

I didn’t get much writing done, because I had to create documentation and file the appropriate paperwork.

But I did get some work done on the Fantasy Epic. And I typed the Chapter10 edits for Clear the Slot. However, as I’m going over the edits, I realize that I can consolidate some chapters and make for a tighter draft. I put part of Chapter 4 into Chapter 3 and part of it into Chapter 5. I combined Chapters 8 & 9. So now, in the tighter version (which I have yet to print because I want to go through the previously printed pages for typos before I print out five complete chapters), I have only eight chapters and have cut a total of 10 pages. 55 pages still to cut. It balances the chapters out better. I’m thinking of combining chapters 11 & 12, (which will then become Chapter 9), but that’s a big old chapter, and might be too much. And that chapter needs to end where it ends now. It’s the perfect button for the first half of the book. Perhaps I can make some more internal cuts.

Of course, now I have to make the appropriate adjustments in the synopsis. It never ends!

And reprint Chapters 3-8.

My arm’s hurting like crazy. It also limits the yoga poses I can do.

The Islanders are, unfortunately, back to their losing ways. The Vancouver Canucks mauled them with a score of 8-1 last night. It was truly embarrassing. The team fell apart, except for the same five guys that always give their all. Mike York got the sole Islander goal. DiPietro was pulled after four goals. He wasn’t “mentally fatigued” – the guy was trying to be the whole damn team all by himself back there with no help. Stirling was not the person who needed to be bounced to improve the team. The person who should be was still wafting around the ice last night, more concerned with looking pretty than playing good hockey, in my opinion.

The new blog will launch either Friday or Saturday, depending upon how things shake out this week. It will focus on The Situation, leaving this blog to be the one for my writing and that blog to delve into the emotions of the experience of the situation.

I have to get some paperwork done this morning, and then I’m going over to a friend’s to do laundry and write. I need a change of scenery.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Saturday, January 14, 2006
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cooler

It’s supposed to rain all day and then turn to snow over night. At some point in the night, I woke up because of a ferocious thunderstorm and lightening. And yesterday, the fog was astonishingly thick.

All good intentions for a focused work day went out the window when the newest blast and twist came in the Situation. I have a feeling I’ll have to set up a separate blog to deal with it. The Situation will personalize for readers just how vicious and heartless certain aspects of the population have become, all hiding behind the façade of “business” with complete and utter disregard for the consequences to human life.

As soon as I can share it with you, I will. I have a feeling, in the next few months, I’m going to need the support of my cyber friends and regular readers. Because the next few months are really going to suck, and all I can do is hope I have the strength and the creativity to get through it and keep the faith that the ultimate outcome will be better than where we are now.

Otherwise, I might as well jump off the Tappan Zee Bridge right now.

And I’m not being melodramatic.

Anyway, at least the elbow got some rest. I’m making far better progress with icing every two hours and light exercise than just taking a pill to block the pain. I think I’ll wrap it for Monday – I’m doing the TV series again. It starts late enough for me to come in from out here and should only be an eight-hour day. They’re re-shooting a scene – I’m not sure if I have to match any extras from that episode (it’s an episode shot before the holidays) or not. Guess I’ll find out when I get there.

Today, we’ll see how the Situation ratchets up yet again. It’s causing my mother’s health to deteriorate and it’s not doing so much for mine, either.

Life, Paint and Passion is an excellent book. I don’t agree with everything in it, by any means, but it does help me feel freer and more confident in taking brush to paper. Just because I feel like it.

Watched The Book of Daniel last night. I still like it, although I think they’re complicating the plot just to do so, not to particularly serve the story. Again, one of the strongest portions of the show is the strong love the family has for each other.

In case you’re wondering why I haven’t commented on Lost, it’s because I didn’t watch it. I was busy with other things. I’m not going to be jerked around by a network scheduler. I may watch some new episodes, but I’m not going out of my way to do so. I’m sure the work between the actors playing Eko and Charlie was beautiful, because they’re such strong, detailed performers. But I’m tired of being jerked around by ABC.

I feel like a fighter preparing for the ring, and trying to put on a good front when I’m really on my last legs.

But I am going to try to do some writing today, since I didn’t write much (just played a bit) over the last two days, and I won’t write much Mon. or Tues. due to being on set and at the theatre.

I feel as though I should comment on the brutal murder of seven-year-old Nixzmary Brown allegedly by her stepfather while her mother did nothing. There is evidence that she was systematically abused, tied to a chair in a room with only a litter box as a sanitary facility, and systematically starved.

Part of the reason so many parents get away with this type of torture is because the penalties aren’t harsh enough on them. I do not believe anyone who harms an animal or a child is redeemable, and, instead of allowing predators to continue to do harm, the system has to be changed to make sure this type of cruel creature (anyone who could do something like that is no member of humanity) never gets the opportunity to harm again.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday, January 13, 2006
Waxing Moon (almost full)
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Warm and rainy

The arm’s a little bit better, but I want to take it slow this weekend. I can’t afford to be out with an inflamed tendon for weeks, so I want to baby it a bit for the next few days so I’m able to work again next week. Icing it every two hours helps.

Friday the 13th! It’s usually a good luck day for me. There are poems celebrating the day on Circadian.

Wednesday’s matinee was okay. My arm was bothering me, and it’s a track I haven’t done in ages. Plus, all the new people just came in to the show and everyone’s still figuring out the details. But I got through it – nobody died, nobody was in the wrong clothes, they were all out on time.

Had a drink with a friend after the show – only in town for a couple of days, and our schedules are both crazy, so this was it as far as seeing each other. “A” drink turned into a whole bottle of wine, but it was fun.

Yesterday, I gave myself the day off, once I’d posted entries for Circadian and Kemmryk. Ran some errands in White Plains, which included buying a new step-to-open trash can so that the cats don’t get into the garbage. They’ve decided that unwrapping the trash and spreading it all over the kitchen floor at 3 AM is the most fun ever. So now there’s a bright blue trash can with a shiny silver lid and a human has to step on it to open it. The cats are terrified of it, especially when it makes that thwamp! upon closing. They think it’s a Garbage Monster. Good. Although Elsa did try to figure out how to get it open so she could get what was inside it. It’s too heavy for her.

Bought a wonderful, wonderful book called Life, Paint and Passion by Michelle Cassou and Stewart Cubley. I read almost the whole thing. As some of you may remember, one of the 2005 long-term goals is to experiment with painting. For myself, not as a profession. I’ve always wanted to, but for so many years I was told that I “can’t” do anything artistic because “you’re the writer.” But the hunger is there inside me, so I thought I’d get a book to get me going. This is it.

The great part is that so much of it can also be applied to writing – working from intuition, not second-guessing yourself, trusting the process. It’s very much like a Julia Cameron-style book for painters, and it helps me understand why her books are so popular.

While I agree with process over product when you’re doing writing or painting for the sheer joy of it, when it is your passion/vocation/calling/career, however, I do believe you have to take it further. Enjoy the process during the process, but then, after, if it is going to be the way you make a living, you have to add the business savvy to it. Just process is not going to keep a roof over your head or food on the table.

But, painting-wise, for me, this is the perfect book right now because all I want is the process.

And there’s nothing wrong with writers who only want to write for the process. But they have to realize it is highly unlikely that they will hit the bestseller list if they don’t then take the next steps. And that is where I think these self-help, cheerleading books do a disservice. They don’t help their readers fuse the two.

I do not believe that process and product are mutually exclusive. I think it’s terribly difficult to balance them and fuse them, but no one would be able to make a living at any sort of art if it wasn’t possible.

Ah, hockey. What a night last night. Last night, Mark Messier’s #11 New York Rangers sweater was retired and raised to the rafters. What an emotional ceremony! Messier brought more than the Stanley Cup to New York. He brought a lot of what’s the best part of being human – caring, loyalty, friendship. He made a difference in this community beyond hockey, and he was committed to the idea of a city as sprawling and diverse and out-of-control as New York as a community.

While Mike Richter remains (and will probably always remain) my favorite player due to his mix of talent, intelligence, and humour (along with everything else on his long list of stellar qualities), Messier is an important part of what it means to be a New Yorker, whether or not you’re a hockey fan, for 14, 15 years. He’s a part of my life experience as a New Yorker. I value that, and I value him.

Then, it was the Islanders vs. Calgary. Steve Stirling, head coach of the Islanders, was fired, and Milbury will step down when they hire a new GM. I was pretty ticked about that. I have a high opinion of Stirling. I can think of one person in particular who I believe is much more responsible for the team’s lack of success who should have been given the boot over Stirling and Milbury. For some reason, the organization seems to think the sun rises and sets with this guy, and I sure haven’t agreed for the last four years.

I was also concerned because they put DiPietro back in goal. He’s been out for only five games with a sprained knee. If you’ve ever had a sprained knee, you’ll understand why I’m saying “only five” games. The team can’t afford him to get re-injured and out for a long period of time. But he did an excellent job. Of course, since he’s out there doing an excellent job, the commentators start talking about his tendency to suffer “mental fatigue” after about five games. Now, I’ve watched DP closely since he was down at Bridgeport in 01-02. He’s got amazing talent, skill, quickness of mind, a tendency towards arrogance, and yes, if you get into his head, it’s all over. However, he’s grown so much over the past few years – the arrogance is now backed with genuine confidence, because his already high level of skill keeps growing. And, mentally, he’s miles ahead of where he was a few years ago. I felt the comments, especially last night, were inappropriate. His mental strength has grown enormously. He might get on my last nerve sometimes, but he’s so far beyond most goaltenders and he’s only going to strive for more. Of course, it was made by a commentator who’s never been in the goal net.

Facing Calgary’s never an easy task, especially when the stakes were as high as they were for last night’s Islanders. Calgary’s got Miikka Kiprusoff in goal – not only does he have ice in his veins when it comes to the game, he’s got a knife-edge intellect and fire in his heart. And they’ve got one of my all-time favorite draft picks – Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf – who’s a big guy – zoomed around the ice like lightening checking every Islander in sight. I think every single one of them met the ice at some point thanks to this guy. And he does clean checks.

It was a hell of a game. Truly desperate hockey like I’ve rarely seen, on the part of the Islanders. Trent Hunter (one of my favorites I’ve been watching since his Bridgeport games) gave 900% (he always gives at least 500). He was on the line with Mike York, another favorite of mine since his Ranger days. It’s fun to watch “my” guys play against each other, but awfully difficult to root for an actual team when I’ve got guys scattered all over the place. And the Islanders won, 3-2. Too bad they couldn’t do it in time to save Stirling’s job. And the person I mentioned earlier – I didn’t think he contributed much to the mix tonight, although the commentators practically wet themselves over him several times. I just don’t see it. And I’m not naming this person, because it would simply be mean on my part.

I’m going to try to have another fairly quiet day today, but get some writing done. If I work in short spurts, I should be able to use the arm in bits and pieces, without it falling into bits and pieces.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Short entry. Somehow, either on set or backstage, I’ve injured my right elbow pretty badly. Typing is almost impossible. Pretty much everything is almost impossible.

I’m going to rest it, ice it, etc. today and give myself the day off.

I will try to get Kemmyrk up later, and the Circadian entry, but that’s going to be it for me today.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and warm


And, experiencing, full force, the impact of a Venus Retrograde. This is an inappropriate place to discuss details, but it’s definitely impacting my writing life (and everything else).

Good day on the TV show yesterday, in spite of having to get up at 4 AM, and in spite of having to wait 40 minutes for the subway to get me out to the studio. But I made it in time, got everyone dressed appropriately in record time (now that I KNOW what I’m doing, I can just go DO it and not ask 300 questions).

I wasn’t needed much on set, but there were plenty of other things to do, boxing and sending stock borrowed from another show back to LA, prepping the clothes for the next day’s shoot, and a million of the other little details that have to be taken care of by someone so that the actual shooting can stay on schedule and on budget.

Film prep is very different from theatre prep. For a theatre piece, you want things to look pressed and neat and all that, but there’s also the “40 Foot Rule” – how’s it going to look from 40 feet away, because that’s how far the first row is. So there’s some leeway. If there’s a tiny wrinkle near someone’s shoulder seam, it’s not a big deal. In film, the camera sees everything, so it all has to be perfect. Plus, on film, you have to worry about continuity. Some of the stuff shot yesterday has to be matched exactly to stuff shot later in the week.

Came home, ate dinner, collapsed into bed.

My elbow’s bothering me – I’ve done something to the tendon. Fortunately, the track I’m doing for the matinee doesn’t involve too much lifting.

Yes, I’m in at the show for the matinee today, covering for someone called in for jury duty. I am not in the mood to put up with whiny chorus girls today, so it should be interesting.

All I want to do is go back to sleep.

Today’s Circadian poem is up, as is the column for the Scruffy Dog Review.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Still dark

Reasonably productive day, yesterday, although more problems with The Situation threatened to derail the entire day.

Managed to get up last Thursday’s Kemmyrk column (Blogger stuck, and, since I had to dash to set, I couldn’t mess with it) and yesterday’s column. Published the Circadian entry. Wrote Wednesday’s Scruffy Dog Blog.

Three more queries out on Dixie Dust Rumours. Got some interesting leads, researched them, and will send out more in the next few weeks.

Caught up on some business. Sent out a few pitches. Re-read some job listings that sounded okay the first time around, but, on closer read, they basically want a high level of creativity and work for far too little money. So I’ll pass. There’s one I’d kind of like to do, and I’m wrestling with myself whether the credit would compensate enough for the low pay. I don’t have to make the decision today – I can let it simmer for a bit.

Managed to type in the edits for chapters 8 & 9 of Clear the Slot.

Every moment not spent with Clear the Slot feels like time wasted. Amazing how one’s emotional reality can have little to do with physical reality.

Change o’plan for the day – not at the show, on the TV series instead. Good thing I got so much done yesterday. Up at 4 AM. Yippy skippy.


Monday, January 09, 2006

Monday, January 9, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

I’m feeling a little better. It’s taken me awhile to recover from the exhaustion and fighting whatever bug I may have been fighting.

Most of the weekend was spent either putting away the decorations or working on the edits for Clear the Slot. I’ve edited through Chapter Twelve now, and have the edits through Chapter Seven typed, including fixing the typos on all seven of the first chapters.

Typos of the weekend: “pier” instead of “beer” and “congregation” instead of “congratulations”.


It’s going well and getting much tighter and smoother. I realized I don’t have to cut 100 pages, only 65. I’ve cut 7 so far, by making internal cuts and tightens (and cut one entire page that was pretty useless and didn’t move the story forward). 58 more to go. I’m starting to feel better about it, and I’m not worried that I have to end the book several chapters earlier, and then make the first season take three books. That would just be too much.

It’s fiction, definitely fiction, and a valentine to the sport. I’m trying to capture the essence of the experience, but not simply transcribe actual experience. The most important part I’m holding on to is telling the stories of everyone on the team, instead of focusing on merely one or two players. Because hockey is unlike any sport, it is so team-dependent, I would do a disservice to both sport and player if I compromised on that aspect of the story. The story works because I show them, on and off the ice, as individuals but working as a team.

Next time you listen to a hockey player interview, notice this: any praise, he will immediately take the focus off himself and include his teammates. Any criticism, and he will immediately take personal responsibility. Plus, hockey players tend to actually have something to say in interviews, instead of merely using the same old catch phrases over and over. They listen to the interviewer’s question and actually answer it.

So, I’m trying to balance the needs of what will allow me to sell this story while still keeping its integrity. Not an easy task. I’m prepared for some of the criticism and pressures from industry pros who actually like it. There are plenty of things during the production process I’ll compromise on. But juggling the storylines of all the members of the team is something I am NOT willing to compromise. Which, ultimately makes it a harder sell.

Not letting the story go on too long will help with that.

Speaking of hockey, Saturday night’s Islanders’ loss to Carolina was painful (as was the loss the night before). Swear to God, watching them play, except for about three of them, I wondered if the entire team had come down with mono. I’m worried about how management will shake things up to try to get them out of their malaise. I truly don’t know what’s caused it.

It’s also always easy for someone sitting in the stands to comment or criticize on what’s happening on the ice. And, of course, the idiots who couldn’t skate a lick if you put ‘em out there in a harness have the most to say. But, unless you’re on the ice with the guys and in the locker room with them, you really don’t know what’s going on.

When I was in my eight month intensive research process, at the table after a game one night, asking questions, one of the players commented on the fact that I never criticized. I asked questions to understand why certain decisions were made, but I never told them they “should have” done something else, and he wanted to know why.

My response: “If you came to watch me work backstage and told me how to do a quick change, I’d poke your eye out with a seam ripper. Why the hell would I tell you how to play hockey?”

In other words, unless you can play the game better than the pros, shut up and don’t tell them how to play it. If you can play it better and you do, or you have, believe me, I’m very interested in what you have to say. In other words, when Gretzky has something to say, I’m going to pay attention. When Bob from the garage who can’t even lean over to strap on a pair of skates starts criticizing a player, I’m going to walk away.

Speaking of armchair quarterbacking, the Giants lost to the Panthers (severely) in the first round NFL playoffs last night. All I’m going to say is that I’m not surprised. And, if you get a chance, listen to the difference in the interviews between these guys and any hockey player interview, and you'll see what I'm talking about above.

I’m still oversleeping, but not sleeping well during the night. Most of it is stress due to the Situation, which I’m trying to handle through action, yoga and meditation. But it’s simply going to take as long as it’s going to take, and I can’t panic, or I’ll be lost.

Lots of business stuff to do today, so I better get going. I’m in at the show tomorrow for day work and Wed. mat to cover when someone’s out on jury duty.

Circadian Poems
The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
The Scruffy Dog Review

Clear the Slot Sixth Draft – 30,428 words (goal 100,000)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
30 / 100

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Saturday, January 7, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I’m a bit confused about the conflicting reports coming out of the mining tragedy in W.VA. Early on, there were reports that it is a non-union mine. Yet union officials are talking about the safety hazards. My question is: if the mine was non-union, are the union officials making noise to try to unionize it, trying to make the point that it would be safer if it was a unionized mine? And, if it WAS a union mine, the union definitely failed its membership by allowing them to work in a mine with as many known safety violations as this one had. Why were they ignored, by both ownership and the union? Why weren’t the workers pulled from the mine by their union, even if the mine had not yet been shut down? I find it difficult to believe that there’s no fund set up by the union to pay miners pulled off a job because of safety hazards. Knowing these people live from paycheck to paycheck, it is the union’s responsibility to make sure that the workers aren’t forced to work in sub-human, mortally dangerous conditions because they can’t afford to refuse. And the owners –even though they only owned the mine for two months – had a responsibility to fix the safety violations IMMEDIATELY, not just shrug and say they were looking in to it.

The day on the TV show was a long one. I was on the clock for just over 15 hours. We didn’t get out until nearly 1 AM on Friday morning. Fortunately, my friend A. took me in and I caught a few hours’ sleep before taking the train back home, or I would have had to wander the streets of Manhattan until the commuter trains started running again. I was feeling way under the weather yesterday. I took care of some business, then went back to bed and slept for a few hours in the afternoon.

I enjoyed myself. It was physical work and several locations and lots of extras, but, for the most part, it was fun. A little hectic at some points, but fun. The last I heard, this series will debut in March. I’ll keep you posted. There are a lot of good people working on it, and the atmosphere is pretty decent.

Once I got up, it was time to take down the decorations. Boy, the space looks bare! Wow. Quite a difference.

Watched the premiere of a wonderful new show last night, The Book of Daniel, about an Episcopal priest struggling with his life. The religious right is having fifteen fits, of course, and I bet most of them are doing so without ever having watched an episode. The show is not blasphemous at all. It’s about the beauty and necessity of faith, especially in the difficult times, and how no one can “fix” everything, not even the Heavenly Host. It’s also about deep love. In spite of not always getting along, the characters in this dysfunctional family have a deep, deep love for each other. It’s beautifully written and acted. And I’ve worked with two of the cast members in shows over the years– Laila Robins and Kathleen Chalfant – they are wonderful in this (plus, they’re great to work with).

Overslept today, and then had to do some errands in regard to The Situation. I want to be hopeful about a positive outcome, but I’m very depressed about it at the moment.

I did a bit of work on revising Chapter 9 of Clear the Slot last night. I want to fix the typos in the first three chapters and then start typing the revisions of 4-9.

I also want to do some work on the Fantasy Epic. It’s been kind of stalled this week and I’m running out of time. Yet, when I actually sit down and focus on it, it flows well.

Postage rates go up tomorrow. I have to remember that when I send out queries.

I think I’m fighting some sort of bug that wants to take me down for awhile. And I just don’t have time. I am trying to pace myself with it, and I suspect that much of it is triggered by the stress due to The Situation.

Hopefully, I’ll get in a good meditation session with my friends from 100 Days, and that will help.

Really, all I want to do right now is sleep.

Circadian Poems
The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
The Scruffy Dog Review

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Thursday, January 5, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Who knows? Still dark – though it sounds wet

Short entry today because I got a late night call to do the TV show. It will be a long day at numerous locations downtown, so off I go.

Worked on both The Fix-It Girl and Shallid yesterday.

The bulk of the day was spent on the edits for Clear the Slot. I typed the first three chapters, with their edits, and did more edits. Then I went over it again and found typos (hate spell check). I called a character a “pin in the ass” instead of a “pain in the ass.” That kind of mistake. Revised, revised, revised chapters 4, 5 & 6. Started on Chapter 7 and did a bit of work on Chapter 8.

Here I thought I made so much progress cutting and tightening, but, in the first three chapters, I’m only two pages shorter. Sigh. 98 more pages to cut.

The other choice would be to end Clear the Slot at an earlier point. I found another chapter ending that has potential as the book ending. However, that might make Sweep Check too long, and I’d really rather not write all of Sweep Check before I start shopping CTS. But how else will I know how the two volumes balance each other? Since outlines are merely jumping off points. We’ll see. I have to see what serves the story best. I don’t think I can stretch that first year over three books – that’s unfair to the reader, much as I love these characters.

If I keep with the substantial cuts I made in Chapters 4-6, maybe I’ll feel more on the right track.

Can I just go live in that book, please? I’m having way too much fun with it.

Speaking of hockey, goalie Garth Snow was injured last night in the Islanders vs. Panthers game. The Islanders’ other goalie, Rick DiPietro, sprained his knee about a week or so ago. The backup recalled from Bridgeport went in for the last eight seconds of the game and the OT win (thanks to Parrish and Bates). Snow’s one of my favorite players – it looked bad when they carried him off the ice, and I hope he heals up quickly. My heart just about stopped when he didn’t get up from the collision (he always bounces back up) – and it couldn’t have been fun for him, either. He looked like he was in a lot of pain, and TSN lists the injury as “lower body” and he’s going day-to-day. Blake also got injured early in the game and is day-to-day. Believe me, they missed Blake last night. Best wishes to both for quick recovery.

And the Islanders needed this win – breaking a five game losing streak. Watching Mark Parrish mature as a person and a player over the past few years has truly been a joy. There are a lot of great guys on the team, (Bates, Blake, Hunter, York, Godard, Snow, the list keeps going), but Parrish’s growth in particular stands out. It’s great to watch them go from talented kids into dynamic men.

Gotta run. Today promises to be a long day full of exteriors, and who knows how late I’ll get back.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy Birthday!

To a wonderful writer and a wonderful friend,

Chaz Brenchley

Wednesday, January 4, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

12 dead miners, one clinging to life. My heart goes out to the families. May the one survivor pull through.

Okay, here is yet again another example of the typical Republican Punishment Platform: ratcheting up credit card minimums. They’re trying to spin it saying this will get consumers out of debt more quickly. Yeah, now people have to forego food in order to pay off credit cards. If they were truly concerned with that part of the equation, they would freeze interest rates at 9% for five years, and that way people COULD get out of debt. As usual, they are trying to put a marketing spin on screwing consumers even farther up the ass and telling us it’s for our own good. In addition to ignoring the fact that most credit card debt at this point is NOT from impulse shopping, but from medical bills and groceries because they themselves have cut all the services.

The ride to and from the city was dreadful yesterday. I’m so sick of the other commuters.

Going in, a woman wearing a lavender faux fur jacket tried to shove me out of the way to elbow herself onto the train (there were only three people trying to get into the almost-empty car). Need I say that was a really dumb thing to do on her part? Then, she spends the train ride talking loudly into her cell phone about all the allergy shots she needs. I’m sure at least seven people wanted to offer her peanuts.

The man behind me snapped his newspaper on my head repeatedly until I turned around and said, “Look, you have an entire three seater to yourself. Next time you hit me in the head with the newspaper, I hit YOU on the head with my book? Got it?”

On top of that, a guy a few seats away tried to pick up a woman sporting an Australian accent. He kept telling her about all the new techno toys he just bought, but his face and his body language indicated how much he wanted to get her into bed. Meanwhile, the calculations floating across her face showed how she tried to figure out if his net worth made sex with him worth it for her.

Riding back (on the 4:49 no less), the train was simply filled with drunken office men who’d probably begun imbibing at lunch and obviously hadn’t stopped all afternoon. You want to drink, that’s fine. But don’t be a sloppy, rude drunk all over me on the train, because you’ll be puking up a few teeth along with those beers.

Day work was fine, although it was difficult to be away from Clear the Slot. I hated not being anywhere that allowed me to work on it.

The good thing is that the Fantasy Epic began to flow. I’ve written close to 2250 words by now. Most of the piece has unfolded for me, and I jotted down a few pages of notes as well so I don’t forget. If I can write 1000 words a day for the next few days, I should hit 9K fairly soon (which is how long I think it’s going to be) and then I can start typing and rewriting. I’d like to get three drafts, preferably four done before I have to send it off. The first draft will be a bit skeletal, and I’ll add more sensory details in the second and then cut, cut, cut, cut what’s unnecessary. I’m playing with some theories and archetypes and it leads me to interesting places. I’m also playing with a few titles. I hit patches where I’m completely swept up in the story, and I like that.

So the day wasn’t completely lost creatively.

I think I’m going to call it “Ris An Abrar”, which, according to the trio of sources I checked, is Gaelic for “Called.”

Surfed the job boards – so many of the calls for writers are downright insulting. Batches of 10 articles at 750 words per article at $10 each? And the “privilege” of publication? For Business Writing? Honey, the work you want done for your site requires both a high level of skill AND a lot of research. $10 MIGHT get the computer turned on. Or I MIGHT occasionally do something like that to help out a friend. But not a stranger and certainly not when the ad has such a condescending attitude towards writers.


Speaking of writing, I’ll have a blog entry up on the Scruffy Dog Review blog site later today. I’ve got a trio of ideas, and I’m not sure which one I’ll post yet.

The Situation gets worse and worse, and will get even more so over the next few months. That just sucks the energy right out of one, leaving little except anxiety, depression and a huge reservoir of anger. Anger can be a wonderful catalyst, but if it’s not used properly, it’s as dangerous as a dropped match in a stack of hay.

Circadian Poems
The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project

The Scruffy Dog Review

Shallid – 74,525 words (goal 90,000)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
74 / 90

“Ris An Abrar” – 2250 words (goal 9,000)
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
2 / 9

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Wednesday, January 3, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Slushy and cold

The Scruffy Dog Review’s premiere issue is available here:

Check it out. Read all the wonderful work by the contributors (many of whom have blogs linked to the right). “The Literary Athlete” column makes its move to the mag, and I also have a story, as Christy Miller, called “The Purchase” in it.

And keep reading and submitting!

My thoughts and prayers are with the 13 miners trapped after the explosion in W. Va. May the rescuers get to them in time.

Got out three newsletters yesterday, and the column due to my editor. Three things to cross off the January To-Do List.

Three submissions. With one I got out just before the end of the year, I have four of the 13-in-Play out. 9 to go. Now I just have to figure out which ones and where. I’m not counting query letters in this. I’m counting actual manuscripts.

Did a little bit of work on Shallid, although it was rough going. There’s a transitional section I have to do before I can pick up the pace and race towards the end, and those are always the toughest.

Revised the first three chapters of Clear the Slot. Fixed the glaring problems, and now I’m reworking each sentence to make sure I’m saying what I want in the best way possible. A big decision I made is not to revise on the computer. I’m retyping the entire piece for this new draft. I can see, in the draft off of which I’m working, how cutting on screen left big holes in the text. As always, when I work on this book, it obsesses me. I can’t think of anything else. It’s an inherent danger of this particular piece. It means more to me than anything else I’ve ever done. No matter how much I love any current WIP or anything that’s published, Clear the Slot has a special place in my soul.

The only other piece that drove me quite in the same way or as hard was the first volume of Ransagh, and even that doesn’t quite hit the all-consuming energy of Clear the Slot. The book consumes me even more than the game, but it’s passion for the game that sparked the book.

As I’m doing each chapter, I’m rewriting the synopsis. When I’ve completed the draft and the synopsis (how I loathe the synopsis part of the business – you like the concept, read the damn book, dammit, don’t think you can get the gist of it in two pages), I will cut that down and tighten it so that’s in place, and hone both my logline and my single hook paragraph for the book. I’ll also have to rearrange the notes for the other books in the series (although I’m thinking maybe I should make it four books, not five and not have one about the year of lockout). Maybe I should poll hockey players to find out what they think. Since the series is to celebrate them as much as feed hungry hockey fans who have little fiction from which to choose about their sport, and the players have had a lot to do with the genesis of the project, they can decide if it’s four books or five (to a point).

Anyway, by the end of this draft, I’ll have honed all the different paperwork one needs for the pitches and can get on the stick (puck?) with that aspect.

Unfortunately, so much of the business end of it is busy-work for the writer (wasting the writer’s fricking time that should be spent writing new work) to streamline the process for everyone else in the pipeline. I hate it, but it’s a reality of the business.

But without a draft as close to perfect as I can make it, there’s no point in trying to sell it.

Did four hours of administrative work on the various projects and am still nowhere near where I need to be.

Have to leave for the theatre soon, and want to try to get some work done before I go.

The Fantasy Epic requires attention or I’ll miss the deadline. It’s not like I can submit a first draft, or even a second draft with a remote chance of acceptance.

Eventually coming up with a title would be a good idea, too.

If you’re looking for a good book filled with both inspiration and information, pick up The Practical Writer, edited by Therese Eiben and Mary Gannon. It has interviews that appeared in Poets & Writers as well as new material, and a great resource guide. I highly recommend it. The essays feel as though you’re having conversations with the writers.

If you get a chance, hop over to 100 Days – I’m joining them to help with my meditation practice. With the stresses threatening to crush me in the coming months, due to The Situation, I need all the grounding and support I can get.

Circadian Poems
The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
The Scruffy Dog Review

Monday, January 02, 2006

Monday, January 2, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy expected to become snowy

My thoughts and prayers are with those dealing with the floods out in California and the fires in Texas, Oklahoma, and Nevada.

Circadian Poems returns today with a lovely New Year’s poem by Pamela Taylor.

There’s a new post on The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project.

Kemmyrk has been restructured and makes it debut today as a twice-weekly column.

Getting away is always good. I did sneak on to the computer up there a few times, to get this and that done and just check a few things. Oh, well.

It was an unusual retreat center because it’s not open to the public. One can only get a spot there by recommendation from a regular. It takes place upstate, in the family homestead of the person who runs it (and who asked not to be named here).

There’s something wonderful about seeing in the New Year in a meditation room filled with candles and large windows, looking outside at the falling snow.

I took over the kitchen, of course – made all sorts of appetizers: my infamous devilled eggs, a country pate, smoked salmon and cream cheese on pumpernickel, mushrooms stuffed with eggplant and spinach, and black bean hummus. We had champagne cocktails. For the main dinner, I cooked a pork tenderloin in a sauce of maple syrup, cider vinegar and mustard. The person who ran the center had a broken ankle, and, since to me, cooking is a form of meditation anyway, taking over a good portion of the cooking make sense.

Does that make it Ink in Someone Else’s Kitchen?

New calendars are up, the house is clean, the laundry was done before the turn of the year (can’t go into a new year with dirty panties, now, can we?)

Yesterday, I spent six hours on administrative work for various projects. Hate it, hate it, hate it, but it’s necessary.

Wrote three newsletters. Worked on updating various lists.

Revised March’s “Literary Athlete” column (called “Showing Up is Half the Battle”). That goes to my editor today.

Worked on Circadian, 13 Journals, Kemmyrk, and a salon for which I’m responsible. Checked the job boards and now have to make some submissions (yes, today – enough of printing them out and putting in them in a stack for “someday”).

Worked on Shallid. I don’t think my goal of 22 pages for the month will be too difficult to reach. I wrote six pages yesterday, and I’d written some more pages over the weekend. I can see the end – I can almost taste it.

I need to figure out which 13 projects I want to juggle for the 13-in-Play theory. I can’t remember if it’s Hope Clark (of Funds for Writers) or Anne Wayman (of Absolute Freelancing) who told me about the concept – it’s about always having 13 pieces on submission. I don’t know if I have 13 pieces without homes right now, but I guess I’d better get going and look. I need to get stuff out.

After all, the postage goes up on January 8.

The Fantasy Epic needs some attention, before that deadline ends up rolling past. As do many other things on the list.

And I have every intention of dropping everything to watch The Tournament of Roses Parade. I HATE the fact that it’s not actually on New Year’s Day this year – it’s one of my favorite New Year’s Day rituals.

If you signed up for “Devon’s Random Newsletter”, you should get your new issue shortly. I plan for it to be, um, less random than it was last year. If you’re not signed up, but would like to be, you can sign up here.

I rolled up my sleeves and started the edits on Clear the Slot. I’m working my way through reading the draft and taking notes; then I’ll tackle it chapter by chapter. I need to cut a good bit – there’s too much there – but haven’t found where yet. I’m finding plenty of places to tighten and snip, but there will also have to be some major cuts. How to do it without losing the entwining storylines . . .well, I have to figure it out as I go.

I managed to read through the entire 463 page draft (see why it needs cutting?). I took extensive notes. I printed out another copy of Chapter One and did some massive edits, rewrites, etc. I think I’ll work chapter by chapter and put the edits in every three chapters.

I’m toying with changing the end point of the book. Clear the Slot and Sweep Check take place during the same hockey season. There’s a lot of story to tell in that initial period of time. Since I didn’t want it to be a 900 page coffee table (as opposed to a coffee table book), it’s two novels. Clear the Slot has gone through numerous drafts at this point – and still isn’t where I want it. I wrote about half of Sweep Check and then decided I wanted to start it at a different point. I wonder if the momentum of editing Clear the Slot will mean I need to go immediately into writing Sweep Check and where I can jam it into the project rotation. Because if the momentum is there, I’m going to use it.

My Most Trusted Reader loves where CTS ends right now, but I need to tear apart and restructure that last chapter completely. I may keep the last couple of paragraphs, though.

I’m also extremely pleased in reading the sections where I’m writing about the guys on the ice in the midst of the game. I think I caught it properly (several players read those sections and liked them as they went through drafts) – the adrenalin of being in the moment chasing the puck, making or receiving a check, etc., etc. I think those eight months of research paid off.

Writing the games was difficult. Because the outcome of the game drove the plot, I had to start at the end of the game, work it out play-by-play, shift-by-shift backwards, then write it forwards, then cut/cut/cut/cut/cut so it would read as both the best type of sports writing and so the reader could feel as though he/she was on the ice seeing the game through the player’s, well, visor.

I’d forgotten how working on CTS becomes all consuming. It was hard to put down the pages and the red pen, even when I was too tired to keep my eyes open, and I knew if I kept going, I would not be making good decisions. So I made myself stop.

Back to work.

The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems
The Scruffy Dog Review

The Fix-It Girl - 59,847 words (goal 100,000 words)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
59 / 100

Shallid - 73,775 words (goal 90,000 words)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
73 / 90