Today was an Alexander day. It was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.
Well, the evening was, at least. And I've got the feeling that tomorrow is going to suck for a while, too. But there's nothing I can do to change that, so I'm not going to worry about it tonight.
But the idea of a Alexander day reminds me of something else - a James story.
What is a James story, you ask? I'll tell you. Back in high school, I was part of a large group of friends. One of our friends, James, had a rather specific way of telling stories. He would tell long, winding, rambling stories. They might include what his mother had for dinner and how many times the doorbell rang last night. They could include half of the plot of the novel he was reading for English class. The common factor? The point of the story was always something like, "I like to watch CSI," or "I had pizza for dinner."
So there's a definition for you: a long, drawn out story that has a very simple point (which could be illustrated with a single sentence) is a James story.
If you poke around through my comments sections, you might see that question posed more than once. I saw it again yesterday, and it made me stop and think. Is this going anywhere?
I have tons of ideas for stories. TONS. If I had time, I would sit down and write all of them. Unfortunately, I don't have time. I've got lots of little snippets of stories floating around, waiting for me.
I've got four big WIPs right now - a novel called "Happily Ever After," a novel called "Til Death," a novel called "All About the Shoes," and a play with the horrible working title of "Partners." I want to work on all of them. However, I've got a full time job, and I'm volunteering at the local theatre as the stage manager for most of their productions lately, which leaves little time for, well, anything. I squeeze in as much writing as I can, but it's often only on Saturday mornings that I get to sit down and write.
The play has my attention right now, because I'm halfway through the second act, and I will probably finish the first draft by next week, assuming I get time to write this weekend. I've already got the first act out to a friend who's going to give me notes, and I've got a second friend lined up to read it. (Both friends, by the way, are people that I trust for this sort of opinion - one is a writer, the other runs a theatre company.) If I can get it finished and polished before the summer, I can give it to the Theatre Director of the theatre where I've been volunteering, and there's a good chance that it can be on stage for their 77th season (2010-11). At the very least, it's a better chance than any of my novels have of getting an agent by then, since I've got connections to the theatre, and they've pledged to support the local arts in all ways.
I really want to finish "Happily Ever After." I feel it really is the most commercially marketable of all my pieces. It might morph into YA by the time I finish the edits, but I'm okay with that. I really love the story. I love the characters. It's killing me to just let them sit there, all alone in my computer, while I finish other things. But I need to do a little bit more research on fairy tales before I finish it.
"Shoes" is one that I wrote as my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, and the self insertion is HORRIBLE. I've started the editing process, and it's brutal. I've already killed one red pen, and about half of the plot, and I'm only on chapter two. Yeesh. But if I finish editing it, I can submit it to a critique group that I'm part of, and get some really good feedback - after being part of two critiques, I've started to figure out what sort of advice each member gives, and what sort of things each is really good at, and I'm looking forward to it.
"Til Death" is another one that has more self-insertion than I'd like in a final product, but it's not even finished yet. But there's a part of me that doesn't need to finish it. The first part of it was very cathartic for me, and that may be all that I need from it. On the other hand, I really want to finish it, just so I can kill off one of the characters, because I think that will give me a better sense of closure, both with the novel and with my life.
So I guess the answer is, "Maybe." Eventually, I want all of these little bits to go somewhere. But some of them may just be little bits for a while. If I ever get picked up by an agent, though, I've got tons to pitch!
Erica muttered to herself as she walked across the parking lot to her car. Her arms were loaded down with her purse and a ton of paperwork, and she was in a foul mood. She had ended up staying late at work every night that week, and Friday was no exception.
Juggling the precarious stack of papers in one arm, Erica fished around in her purse until she found her car keys. Tossing the papers and her purse across the console and into the passenger seat, Erica sat down and sighed. For a moment, she rested her forehead on the steering wheel, thankful that this awful week was finally drawing to a close.
As she lifted her head, a piece of paper on her windshield caught her attention. For a brief moment, the pessimist inside her thought that it was a parking ticket. Erica quickly realized, though, that it was far too small to be a parking ticket. She got out of the car and retrieved the paper.
"Have a wonderful weekend! - Marc"
Erica's heart gave a little leap. There was nothing between her and Marc, of course, but still... it was nice to get a little note from a friend. She got back into her car, still smiling. She decided that yes, she would have a wonderful weekend.
My love life started when I was in grade four. Craig Bradley had just had a fight with Melissa and decided that she wasn't his girlfriend anymore. He came over to me at the monkey bars and asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend now. I agreed, and for three days, he was my very first boyfriend.
I had this pair of rings at home - the kind of adjustable, gold-tone bands that they used to use around wedding announcements back in the 80's - and I decided that, since he was my boyfriend, I should give Craig one of the rings, and wear the other myself. After all, from what I could see, that's what people did when they were a couple - they wore rings.
I think that scared him off. The next day, he made up with Melissa, and I had my very first broken heart. I wish it had been my last.
I think this cold is affecting my brain. Here's last night's dream.
It was about five a.m. My dog woke up, and started to stretch, standing half on top of me, her hind legs digging into the squishy part of my belly. This was (obviously) uncomfortable, so I groaned. She looked at me, and said, "You should really stretch as soon as you wake up."
The weirdest part, though, was not that she spoke to me, but that she had the voice of Alton Brown (from FoodNetwork's Good Eats).
I looked at her, and gave a half-hearted stretch, mostly just moving my arms a little bit. She looked at me and frowned, then said, "That wasn't a good stretch. This is a good stretch." She demonstrated a 'good' stretch, and it looked good - like it woke up every part of her body, but in a nice, gentle way.
I looked at her and said, "Of course it wasn't a good stretch - I don't want to be awake!" I then rolled over and went back to sleep.
Any dream analysts out there want to tackle this one?
"When you're younger, you can't ever imagine that one day you're going to be 15 years old. And finally I'm going to be 15. And it feels so normal." That's what Dakota Fanning is quoted as saying in Star magazine.
SERIOUSLY?? You can't imagine 15?? You're a freaking actress! If you couldn't manage to imagine being 15, how the heck can you manage to act like dozens of other people?
And really? 15 is old? Just wait a few years, honey. If this is you at 14, I can't wait to see you at 29.
I've been sick for the last several days, which means I've been curled up in bed watching tv, if only because I've been too sick to do anything else. That also means that I've been watching all sorts of crap.
Tonight, I watched "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" on TLC. Holy crap! I'm amazed at the number of women who didn't know they were pregnant and gave birth in crazy circumstances! Of course, my first reaction was, "How could you NOT know?"
Then I actually watched their stories, and it made perfect sense. Each one was slightly different, but I totally understood why these women didn't know they were pregnant. Still... it was so weird!
Anyways. Must get back to crappy tv and trying to finish the baby blanket for my cousin's baby.
Rowan sat up, then thought better of it as the world seemed to spin around her. She groaned and let her head flop back down onto the pillow, then groaned again as she realized that wasn't a particularly good idea either. She slowly opened her eyes and looked at the ceiling.
The room wasn't spinning as much now that she had laid back down, but it wasn't quite still yet, either. Her head was pounding, like her brain cells had all mutated into quarterbacks in a huge football-style free-for-all inside her skull. Her sinuses throbbed, feeling as if they had been stuffed with cotton balls while she slept.
Rowan groaned again before rolling onto her side. The change in position made her sinuses drain strangely, the left side of her head feeling suddenly more congested as the right side made little popping sounds. She reached for the remote control that she had shoved under the pillow the night before and punched the power button.
The television came on, the volume causing her to wince even with her plugged-up ears. She frantically mashed the volume button until it subsided to a reasonable level. Rowan turned her head just a bit, more a downward tilt of her chin than a real turn, to see the television screen. Infomercials - just what one needs when sick, she thought, a bunch of hyper men trying to sell her crap. She pushed a few more buttons on the universal remote, turning on her DVD player and starting the movie that was still in the machine from the last time she had been sick.
As the opening sounds of a young boy's video game filled the room, Rowan finally smiled. There was nothing like The Princess Bride to make you feel better when you were sick. Now if she could just get some chicken soup, everything would be perfect - well, as perfect as it could get, given her current state.
Tonight's regularly scheduled blog is suspended as I received good news this afternoon - my cousin had her baby! Baby Charlotte Rae Doty arrived today, and both momma and baby are doing well, I'm told.
Now, I'm off to finish up the blanket I've been working on (I thought I would have two more weeks!).
I just threw a temper tantrum. It was awesome. It was a full-out, foot-stomping, jumping-up-and-down, whiney-yelling, fist-waving temper tantrum.
Actually, I did it twice - once, spontaneously, because I'm tired and wanted to go to bed. The second time because someone was so amused that he wanted to film it and I was frustrated with the book I'm reading.
Stay tuned, because as soon as I can, I'll post the video clip. It felt great, especially after this crappy week.
So my job sucked again today (hooray for half-hour lunch breaks!), but the boss let me go home early to compensate for getting out of surgery at 1 instead of 12, so that was a bonus.
I've been working on critiquing a novel for a woman in my critique group, and it's made me realize that I'm fairly sensitive to style in novels. Well, not quite - I've realized that for a while, but her novel has reminded me of it. I'm a fan of what might be referred to as classic styles. I like my narratives to be non-conversational when told from a third-person POV. I don't mind conversational tones from a first-person POV. I hate sentence fragments, both in first- and third-person POVs, even when the tone is conversational.
I get bored by run-on sentences. I get bored with really long descriptions of mundane things. I get lost when seven people are introduced in the first page and none of them are described at all.
I get distracted when my dog starts to eat the confetti that fell out of my hole-puncher.
In short, if the writing feels awkward at all, I have a really hard time getting past the first page. Sometimes, when I force myself to continue, the writing and the story improve. Sometimes, they don't.
I recently re-read Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara. I had first read it about fifteen years ago, and I loved it then. That was when I was first getting into reading sci-fi and fantasy, which might be why I liked it so much. This time around, it was like slogging through mud in many places. It was full of pointless descriptions, and endless changes of POV, and it just didn't flow well. The overall story was interesting, though, and that's what kept me reading. I'm now re-reading The Elfstones of Shannara, and it's better. In the notes at the beginning of this edition, Terry Brooks wrote a bit about the process, and how he had actually written something else in between the two that was just awful, and threw it out. He then took all the advice that his editor gave him, and worked on this one. Based on the difference between the two of them, if I ever get an editor, and he/she gives me advice on how NOT to suck, I think I'll take it!
It is absolutely ridiculous that I should be made to suffer because the doctor that I work for cannot be bothered to get his ass to the office before 9:30! He has appointments scheduled for 8:00, usually 2 or 3, and so even the very first people to be examined are 1 1/2 hours late. It only gets worse as the day goes on. Today, the last two patients of the morning cancelled their appointments after finding out that he was three hours behind. THREE HOURS! And it's not as if he had an emergency surgery, or a case to take care of at the hospital. He simply dicked around and didn't give a rat's ass about anyone else.
To top it off, I've been told that now we're going to a modified schedule, so he won't have any appointments before 8:30. However, he'll start seeing patients again at 1 pm. Given that he insists on finishing his morning at 12:30 (unlike EVERY other doctor in the office, who finish at 12 or earlier), this means that those of us working with him will have 1/2 hour lunches, instead of the 1 1/2 hours available to everyone else. That's just awesome.
I'm not dead, but I am doing my taxes. I walked into BestBuy at 8:47 pm and picked up a copy of TurboTax, and I have just installed it. I will be doing my taxes tonight.
I don't really mind the whole taxes thing (well, the paperwork part of it - I don't like having to pay them, but I don't think anyone does), but it comes at the end of a crappy day, where the boss sauntered in an hour and a half after the rest of us, except for the folks who were an hour late because of an accident on the interstate. And then the boss worked well into lunch, and then well into the after-work time, but I still managed to get NO OVERTIME.
So I'm going to go do taxes, then pout, then go to bed. Maybe I'll have a drink somewhere in there... probably after the taxes part, since I don't want to redo them tomorrow.
Wait! Yes, yes I do need sleep! Please, give me sleep!
The run of The Sound of Music is now finished, the set is struck, and the theatre is closed.
Until tomorrow. Rehearsals for Sunshine Boys start tomorrow, and as Stage Manager for that show, I'm getting ready to get going again! Luckily, the director has taken pity on me, and I don't have to attend rehearsals this week, at least until Thursday or so. Whew!
So tonight, I shall sleep, and it shall be good. And tomorrow, I shall sleep, and it shall be better!
And if anyone has an old playpen that they're looking to get rid of, let me know - if I get one, I can take Mia to rehearsals with me for this show, at least until tech week.
I did it! Today, I finished Act One of the first draft of my play (Working title: Partners). I'm sooooo happy about it! I spent most of the morning writing. Okay, alternating between writing and watching TV, but still. I wrote 23 pages, which is a lot for me to do in one sitting. But the story just kept flowing and flowing, so I kept going. I had other things to do - laundry was piled up, dishes needed to be washed, the floors needed vacuuming - and I was trying to get to a point where I could stop. Every time I finished a scene, though, I already knew what the next scene would be, and I wanted to keep going.
I love when the words just flow like that. It's actually fairly unusual for me to get a burst of writing like that in the morning. It normally shows up around 10 pm, and keeps me up until 2 or 3, so this was a pleasant change. I've already got a plan for the rest of it, and there's a good chance that, if I have enough free time this week, I'll have the first draft fully finished by next weekend! I'm really excited about it. I've already given the first draft to a friend to read, and I can't wait to start on revisions, then hand it off to the John Jones to see if it might be included in a future season at MLT. The thought of seeing my play on stage... well, it's as exciting as holding my novel in my hands, if not more so!
So cross your fingers that I'll have lots of time and inspiration this week!
I've got yet another creative thing on my plate - designing a stage manager's station for MLT!
I got permission to make up a set of plans for the set construction team to use to create a new stage manager's station. We're currently using an old desk, one that's covered in several layers of paint. The drawers fit poorly, and squeak so badly that they cannot be opened while a show is actually in progress, which makes the drawers fairly useless.
This new one is going to me more of a podium than a desk. It will be taller, so that I can stand at it comfortably - right now, I have to either sit or hunch over to use the desk, neither of which is ideal. It'll have three shelves instead of drawers, with canvas baskets to hold all the supplies, so they'll slide quietly.
I'm really quite excited about this! It's going to be fun to design, like back in the day when I designed all of the new radiation chambers for the lab! Hmm... I don't think I've told that story yet... you'll have to wait for it!
I'm being so bad! I'm posting from the theatre, backstage, with a gaggle of nuns just behind the door... Being bad feels so good!
I've realized that the dead time between calling for warm-ups and calling for places is a really good time to get some writing done, so I've gone and done something, well, stupid. I've signed up for Script Frenzy. Yes, I'm going to write a 100-page script during the month of April. Wow. Looking at it written like that makes me shake my head. As if I need another thing on my plate!
Actually, I'm just using the bits and pieces that I found there to finish my script, because I really REALLY want to finish it. Technically, I can't win, because I'm using a piece that is already in progress, but for me, this year, the point is just to finish the thing.
Two landmark type numbers coming up - 100 consecutive posts this year, and 300 total posts in this blog! Wow. I write a lot of random crap. So I want to do something to celebrate, but I don't know what. Suggestions are welcome (hint hint). However, it's going to fall in the middle of the run of Sound of Music, which means I'll be sleep- and internet- deprived... perhaps it'll be a video blog. *tries to think of any span of time when she might be able to do this*
In the meantime, some poetry. Keep in mind that I am not a poet, but every once in a while, a little poem demands to be let out of my brain. I think it's nicer to have free-range poems, rather than caged ones, so I let it out.
I finished another project! *does happy dance* It's a dress for my friend's little girl, and I sewed on the buttons tonight. I also picked up the yarn that I need to finish (I hope) the baby blanket for my cousin. I may not be writing much lately, but I'm still creating! And once I finish the baby blanket, I'm allowed to start another project! Woot! I also picked up the supplies to make a wreath for the front door... can't wait to get on that!
When you're the stage manager of a show, the cast and crew know that they should not come up and talk to you unless it's very important. The director of the current show lists two things as important enough to interrupt the stage manager: the theatre is on fire or there's a bone sticking out.
Tonight, the music director interrupted me to ask for a fire extinguisher. And it was for real.
There's something funky going on with one of the cords, and the amp caught on fire. Luckily, it got unplugged and moved to a safe place. The stage stank of smoke for the rest of the show, but, hey, it was small and we survived!
WTF? Seriously, it's been raining for three days, get it together! Stop riding my ass! If you didn't want to go as slow as 40 mph, maybe you should have taken a different route, one where the speed limit was higher than 35! Please note that I was technically speeding!
And go back and read the other notes, too, egghead!
Thank you for the rain. I'm sure the farmers and other wet-loving folks appreciated it. Can I have the sun back please?
Dear Ann Landers,
I don't know how you manage to put up with the levels of stupid that you must see every day. I applaud the fact that you haven't yet stuck a fork in your brain to make it go away. However, a lot of your advice leads to more confusion for the sorts of folks you're trying to help. Can you try dumbing it down even more? It might help them (trust me, I know the type - I see them at work every day!)
Keep up the good work,
Dear Saturday Morning,
Please hurry up and get here. I really need the sleep.