Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 194: On the other side

I did it.  I finished my first draft.  At 6:40pm on Thursday, July 29th -- the evening before my 10 day deadline expired -- I emailed the completed first draft to my playwriting teacher.  I meet with him tomorrow morning to get his feedback.  I now have my entire cast lined up for the reading of it on August 9th.  I can scarcely believe I'm here.  Having never written a full-length play before, it was a goal that seemed so distant, so fuzzy and hard to picture, that I'm not sure I ever truly believed I would get here.  Or I suppose it would be more accurate to say I just couldn't imagine what it would be like.

And it is a strange feeling, being on the other side of finishing my first draft.  I almost don't know what to do with myself, not having to spend every spare minute writing.  Of course that will start up again shortly, as soon as I start working on my rewrites.  But until after the reading on the 9th, I won't be writing.   I will take in my teacher's advice tomorrow, and then wait til after I hear it out loud myself the following week before I start rewriting.  As much as I respect and value my teacher's opinion and skill, I want to trust my own instincts and ears when I hear it out loud, to see if I agree with his assessment. 

While I am prepared to hunker down and have to do a lot of rewriting, I will admit I have a fantasy of meeting with my teacher tomorrow and having him say: "Natalie, this is one of the strongest first drafts I have ever seen."  And then only having to make small tweaks, adjust and tighten up a few things.  But I know that isn't realistic.  First drafts rarely resemble final drafts.  But I'm going to savor this brief amount of time where I get to feel like "I did it!", and let myself feel the glow of accomplishment. 

What's next?  My current plan is to have another informal reading in September after I do a second draft, allowing me time to do one more round of rewrites before the formal, public reading I want to have in October for the play's birthday party.  I'm thinking now I might like to try to do a staged reading, though that may be overly ambitious.  It will depend a lot on how extensive the rewrites are.

I'll let you know on Monday how my meeting with Stuart Spencer goes.  I can hardly wait.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 192: 3...2...1...

My self-imposed first draft deadline is tomorrow.  On Sunday evening, I didn't think there was any chance I was going to finish it.  I was still stuck in the middle of the big conflict scene, and felt like it was going to take too much work to get that and everything else done by Friday.  But I finished that scene on Wednesday (and actually kinda like it), and have tweaked both that and the Frank and Angie scene before it to the point where I really have to hear them out loud before I can revise them anymore.  Last night and this morning I plugged in a previously-written scene (the very first scene I wrote for these characters -- funny how the first scene I wrote is ending up at the end of the play).  I thought it was going to need a lot of rewrites, but I just trimmed and stream-lined it a bit and I think it works.  Again, at least enough to have to hear it out loud before I can really decide.

So that leaves me with two, fairly small tasks: plugging Vera into the opening scene instead of a nurse (to eliminate the need for another actor, and to introduce the audience to her character right away), and writing a small final scene for Frank and Vivian.  I actually honestly think this will be done by tomorrow.  I can scarcely believe it.

I'll report in tomorrow.  As my playwriting teacher said, this is a drama in and of itself. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 189: Monday Progress Report

It's official, I'm insane.  I have scheduled a reading: booked a room, lined up actors and invited a few select attendees for a small, informal reading of this not-yet-finished play on August 9th.  Two weeks from today.   I'm sure most people would say it is complete insanity to schedule a reading of a play you have yet to finish, but this is how I work.  My performing partner Kat and I did this with all the cabaret shows we have written -- we set a date and then had to write the show by the date.  It's a great way to make sure you get shit done and don't get distracted.  Like I said in my post about deadlines, it makes decisions a lot easier.  So even if I don't make my initial deadline of this Friday to finish the first draft, I have a drop dead deadline of August 7th (in order to get it to the actors ahead of time).  Impossible?  Surely not.  Insane? Surely.

I made a lot of great progress this week.  I finished a scene I didn't know how I was going to write, and am now deep into the meat of the culminating conflict scene of the play: a confrontation between Frank and his daughter Vivian.  I have written to the point where Frank actually apologizes, something I wasn't sure he was ever going to do.  I know it needs more finessing and tweaking, but I think the arguments are solid.  At least I hope so.

I scanned through the whole play today, as I was looking for scenes to have an actress read for me tomorrow.  I was a little scared to do so, as I didn't know how it was going to hang together.  I haven't read the whole thing for quite sometime, so I feared I might have gotten off-track.  I have to say, I think it works.  Some scenes even surprised me -- I had forgotten a few things I had written, and I have to admit I liked them.  I saw a few things that need to be tightened up, worked out a little better, but overall, I really do feel this holds together.

I can't wait to hear this whole thing out loud.  I want to finish this so badly, it is a palpable ache in my chest.  I may not finish it by Friday, but I am hell bent on finishing it by the end of Sunday.  Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 187: Water works

Yesterday I accomplished what had initially appeared to be an impossible task: I got Angie to convince her grandfather to come home for Christmas even though he can no longer walk.  When I finally hit upon the argument that tipped him over the edge, I burst out sobbing.  Again.  This seems to be becoming a regular occurrence.  Which leaves me wondering: do other playwrights experience this?  Do moments of emotional truth in their writing leave them in a puddle on the floor?  Or is this something about me and my connection (or dis-connection) to my own emotions?  Have I kept things so bottled up and buried for so long that now they are starting to come out in my writing and thus causing this big reaction in me?  Is this just my own personal catharsis happening?  (see Day 97: Playwriting as Therapy).  Any playwrights out there who can chime in? I really am curious.

The reason Angie's task seemed so impossible (other than the basic fact that I think it would be tough to convince anyone who had just lost the use of his legs to go anywhere) is that Angie wasn't able to convince Frank to go in the previous incarnation of this scene.  It was the second scene/short play that I wrote for these characters, before I ever started the full play.  Angie came to the nursing home to take Frank home for a birthday surprise, only to discover that he couldn't walk anymore.  In that scene, he won't budge and she agrees to stay and celebrate with him there.  But now in the full play, I couldn't leave him there -- he has to come home for Christmas so that he and Vivian can have a huge fight.  But I honestly didn't know how I could make that happen -- Angie not only had to convince Frank to go,  she also had to convince me that her argument was good enough to make someone agree to do something he really didn't want to do.  I honestly didn't know how I was going to do it, and it was not easy.  But somehow I did it; I came up with a series of arguments that escalated, getting stronger every beat, until she hit upon the big whammy that he just couldn't say no to.  It was very exciting and satisfying.  Now let's just hope everyone else finds it believable too.

I wonder how many kleenexes I'll have to go through when I'm writing the big fight scene today and tomorrow....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 185: Why?

There are times I really wonder why I do this to myself.  Like last night.

I had cancelled plans with a friend last night in order to be able to write (see Monday's post re: decisions and deadlines).  But between being out very late for my boyfriend's rockin' electronic music show on Tuesday night and the hour and a half long bike ride I did yesterday afternoon between the office and teaching, I was POOPED.  It was 7:45, I had just finished dinner and was staring at the computer, exhausted.  I didn't know how I was going to write in that state.  And I started to wonder, why am I doing this to myself?

Because, verily, no one is making me write this play, and certainly not finish the first draft in the next 7 days.  This insanity is completely self-imposed.  I could have just lain there on my couch/bed last night, watched a few episodes of Veronica Mars (my latest netflix obsession, can't tell you why), and gone to sleep.  No one would have been the wiser, and certainly the world would have kept turning.  Only I would have been mad at myself.

After a little pep talk with my boyfriend, I decided to give myself 20 minutes in legs-up-the-wall pose to see if that would help me revive enough to write (I've been told 20 minutes in this pose is the equivalent of 2 hours of sleep, and it has worked wonders for me in the past).  As I lay there, I thought through why it is I am doing this to myself.  I mean, do I really need to have this done by the 30th?  What if I don't?  Then I won't be able to meet with my playwriting teacher before he goes, and (more importantly) I won't be able to have a reading in August.  So, what happens if I don't do that?  Then it's going to be hard to get rewrites done in time to submit the play in September to a company I know.  So, what if I don't do that?  That would be a missed opportunity.  But even if I were to let that go, I still want to have a solid script (which means with rewrites) by October. I have been talking this all up for so long to so many people, and now have a number of possibly-important people who really want to read this play.  On its public birthday in October, I want to introduce to the world a really solid version of the play, not a half-formed premie.  It will still need rewrites, I'm not naive, but I want it to be really good.  That means rewrites.  That means having readings so I can hear what's working.  That means finishing this bloody first draft stat.

So I got up from my 20 minutes and felt like a new woman (seriously, you should try it). I made some popcorn and poured myself some diet rootbeer (please, body, forgive the chemicals, but I just couldn't bear to have the sugar of the real stuff), and sat down at my table -- not on my bed -- to write.  I spent a solid two hours going over the material I had been writing on the fly the previous two days, sculpting it into stuff that flowed.  I didn't get a lot of new material down, but it was important work that had to be done.  I am into the meat of the scene that I am writing now, where Angie has to somehow talk her grandfather into coming home for Christmas dinner even though he can no longer walk.  This is not going to be easy, but it's a good challenge.

In the end, I feel so much better that I wrote.  I feel so much better about myself, about my project, about doing something that is important to me.  Even though it's hard and tiring and frustrating and difficult and sometimes makes me feel like I'm crazy, I do this to myself because it makes me happy.  That's why.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 182: Monday Progress Report: 10...9...8...

The end is in sight.  I actually know now how my play is going to end, at least in this first draft.  I only have 3 more scenes to write and - if it hangs together - I will have a completed first draft.  I can almost taste it, and I am so excited that I am carrying around my iPad with me everywhere I go, writing snippets on the subway, on the bus, sitting on some steps on a street corner when I have a few extra minutes.  I so want to have this story told.

I now have a penultimate deadline of July 30th for a first draft to be done, to allow time for rewrites before the public reading I am planning for this play's "birthday" in October.  July 30th also coincides with my playwriting teacher's schedule: my last chance to have a private session with him to get guidance for my rewrites is August 1st, and he needs the play a couple of days in advance in order to read it before we meet.  Which means--

I have 10 days to finish the first draft of my play.


Though they can be a little intimidating, one of the things I like about deadlines is that they make decisions so much simpler.  Do I go out and be social or stay in and write?  With only 10 days to finish the play, easy answer.  (My friends will have to forgive me, please).  Do I veg in front of the TV to give myself some downtime or keep working?  Easy answer.  No guilt, no wasted energy trying to make decisions.  For the next 10 days, my choices are clear.  After that I can start agonizing over them again.

Now that you know where I'm headed, I suppose I should tell you where I've been this week.  I wrote in small spurts rather than in one big push, as half of my energies this weekend went towards the pursuit of another, personal goal: to buy myself a bicycle and begin training for my first ever organized athletic event.  Exercise is an area of my life that has not been getting enough focused attention, and it occurred to me that perhaps I should set myself a specific goal and deadline the way I do with my writing to help keep me on track.  The goal?   Ride 65 miles on September 25 with the Escape New York bike race.  I'm very excited -- and a little bit scared -- about doing this.  (Of course, the trouble will come when my two goals conflict with each other, but what else is new.)

What I observed in the process of writing in shorter spurts is that I censor less.  When I don't have a lot of time, I just write down whatever comes to mind.  When I have a whole day in front of me, I mull over each thought or line, debate about whether or not it will work before I write it.  I craft a lot more.  That's important, too, but sometimes it's really great to just let stuff flow and not worry about whether or not it works; to write it down even if you know it's not the right line, but it is the right feeling, and go back and sculpt the words later.  I think it will be useful for me going forward to remember this, and not feel that I need to wait for a day when I have all day to write, but rather take advantage of even those fleeting moments.  I don't have much of a choice these next 10 days if I'm get this done!

This week should be a fruitful one -- I will keep you posted!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 178: Memories

When I was writing in my morning pages yesterday and wrote down the date, July 14th, I realized it was Bastille Day.  Which instantly brought me to a memory from my childhood, when my family was in Paris on Bastille Day.  It's one of those travel memories you never forget. 

It was 1984, I was 12. it was the first time any of our family had been in Europe, and we were on one of those 23 cities-in-14-days kind of tours.  The half day we were given in Paris happened to be Bastille Day (bad planning).  In the early evening, we decided to take a boat ride on the River Seine, not knowing that we would get an extra special treat: the boat stopped in view of the Eiffel Tower to watch a spectacular fireworks display.  That was the good part.

The bad part was, we hadn't eaten dinner yet, and by the time the boat let us off, we had trouble finding any place open to eat.  (You'd think this wouldn't be an issue in France).  By the time we ate at a place that would serve us only things they already had prepped in the kitchen, like soup and salad, it was almost 2 in the morning.  We headed to the subway to return to our hotel.  Turns out on Bastille Day, Paris' normally 24-hour metro service also stops running.  By now it had also started raining.  So here we were, a bunch of clueless Americans tourists who spoke no French, stranded in the middle of Paris at 2am on Bastille Day, in the rain.  A bunch of punk teenagers (I mean that in the literal sense -- dressed in black with spiky hair and dog collars), found us highly amusing and began throwing firecrackers at us.  I was afraid my umbrella was going to catch on fire.  No taxis would stop for us, until we finally saw that the word "taxi" was painted in a square in the middle of the road: the taxi stop was in the middle of the street and you had to stand there to get picked up.  When a taxi finally stopped, the driver wouldn't let the 4 of us share a cab, insisting that the front seat was "only for dogs" (I swear that is what he said).  So we had to split up into separate taxis (which terrified me, to be separated in that situation), but finally made it back to our hotel.  That experience ruined me on big cities for many years.  Thank god I got over that.

After this memory flooded my mind yesterday morning, I was filled with a sense of sadness, thinking of how much of my life I don't remember at all.  There are these moments, these highlights, these memories that stand out that you keep reliving, leaving the other ones to languish and be forgotten completely.  I don't have a great memory for events as it is (I can memorize a 3 hour opera in a foreign language, no problem, but ask me what happened 2 weeks ago, forget it!).  For a moment, I wished there were some way to recapture all that, to sit down and watch the DVD of my life, to remember all those moments I can't remember anymore.  If I don't remember the things in my life, it's as if they didn't happen, right?  What's the point of experiencing something if you don't remember it? 

Ah, but I think not.  Living is, after all, the present moment, this exact moment you are living now.  That is the only moment that we actually have.  Whether I remember an experience or not, I experienced it in that moment; I lived it, and either enjoyed it or (hopefully) learned from it.  Even if no one is there to hear the tree fall in the forest, the tree still falls.  Those experiences, remembered or not, bring you to the moment you are living.  Memories remind you of how you got here and give you clues as to where you want (or don't want) to go in the future.  I'm guessing that most of the memories that do stick are of moments where we changed direction, however slightly.  The moments when we took that left turn at Albuquerque (or didn't), whether we chose to or it was chosen for us. The endless hours in the car going the same direction meld into one another and fade away.   The pivotal moments are the ones we remember.

How does all this relate to playwriting, you ask?  It does, I swear!  That is what theater is, a stringing together of the pivotal points in a character's story.  To quote a friend, "theater is life, with the boring parts cut out."  No one wants to watch 2 hours of people sitting in a car, sipping a soda and listening to bad songs on the radio.  We want to see when the car breaks down, or they take an exit and end up lost in a town overrun by zombies, or they miss their exit and end up driving straight into the path of an approaching tornado.  I have written a few scenes for my play that I thought were important because they showed some aspect of a character's life, gave some texture for what it was like to be that person.  But the scenes didn't work because nothing happened in them.  Each scene has to show something happening to the character, or the character changing in some way in order for it to be interesting.  (Unless, of course, you are Sam Beckett and can absolutely brilliantly break that rule, as in Waiting for Godot).  The kinds of moments people usually remember are also the moments they want to watch on stage.  Imagine that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 176: Monday, er... Tuesday progress report

Alas, it's Tuesday and somehow my blog update didn't happen yesterday.  I blame my boyfriend.  My plan was to write my update last night before I went to bed, but we ended up being out late with some friends visiting from San Francisco.  My boyfriend thus insisted that I go home and get immediately to bed so I could get a decent night's sleep.  I dutifully obeyed, forgetting at that point that I was supposed to write in my blog.  So here it is Tuesday morning, and I am once again faced with my time trifecta.  Because I went to bed last night, I didn't get writing done.  And now in order to do this this morning, I have to skip out on my walk to work.  2 out of the 3: sleep and writing.  No exercise.  I have to choose which one of my promises to myself to let go: either my promise to update my blog or my promise to walk 5 miles every day.  This makes me sad.  I suppose if I could rewind last night, I could have cut the time with my friends shorter.  But then again, these are people I get to see maybe once a year when they are in town, so that seems like a lousy choice.  It just isn't possible to do it all.  But enough whining.  Let's get to the progress report.

Sunday's writing yielded 5 new pages, a new character, and a huge new conflict.  After the last scene I wrote, I had a strong feeling that Vivian (Frank's daughter) needed some kind of confidant, some person outside of her family to talk to, if for no other reason than to give her some way of voicing her feelings.  (Unless you want to write big soliloquies, the only way to reveal a character's thoughts in a play is through dialogue with another character.  In a novel, you can write what the character is thinking, but not in a play.)  But I also felt she needed some kind of life outside the family unit, to give her more texture, to allow the audience to learn a bit more about who she is.  And thus, Arnold was born: a married, traveling salesman who hooks up with Vivian when he's in town on business.  Boy, is this broad's life a mess.

Of all the relationships I could have chosen, why did I choose one so, well, pathetic?  First off, I don't feel like I chose it.  As I went through various scenarios in my mind, when that one popped in - for whatever reason - it was just right.  I just knew that was it.  Not the gay hair dresser friend, not the coworker at the diner, not the bonafide boyfriend.  Vivian is the sort of person who has been so hurt and so damaged that she would only risk intimacy with someone who isn't truly available to her.  (I find it helpful sometimes to "therapize" my characters - it helps me understand them better and see what choices they would make). 

I also know that Vivian will try to make some sort of change in her life in the course of the play, and have been trying to figure out what that is -- what a woman so blocked and so stuck in endless cycles of bad choices would be capable of doing to help herself.  I think I hit on it in this scene.  As it is something that will create a huge amount of conflict for Angie and Frank -- making for good drama -- I'm going to go with it and see if it sticks.  (I won't tell you what it is right now, I need to save at least a few surprises!).

So while 5 pages doesn't seem like a lot, it was a very fruitful day.  I have a lot of good ideas for what scenes are left that I need to write, and where this whole thing is going.  I even know what the big final conflict scene will be.  In fact, I think that is what I'm going to write next, even though it's not next in the play.  Sometimes it works to write out of order and then go back and fill in the connective tissue.

I am loving this process so much!  Who would ever have thought.  I can't wait to get back to it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 174: Test run

I am about to take my iPad for its first test drive.  I have packed a bag with all I need to spend the entire day in Central Park, since my iPad is supposed to have up to 10 hours of battery life.  So while I normally can only spend a couple of hours there with my laptop, I could potentially be there all day with my new toy.

I am eagerly anticipating diving in to the play again today.  When writing in my morning pages journal this morning, I had several moments of inspiration for what I want to write next, as well as for a possible ending.  When the image of the ending came to my mind, I actually burst out crying.  I usually find that when I have that reaction, it is because I have hit upon a deep truth for my characters - something that just is.  (I believe I've written in my blog before about how writing often feels like I'm revealing a truth that already exists rather than creating something out of thin air -- the way sculptors say they are revealing the statue that already exists in the marble.)   It is thrilling to have an ending to write towards -- this is the first time I have seen one so clearly.  If only I could just take the week off from work and do nothing but write -- I feel like I could finish this thing in a few days if I were uninterrupted.  Alas, I must be patient.

I am so grateful to my best-boyfriend-ever for taking off this morning to leave me the day alone to write -- his support of me in this endeavor is more meaningful than I can say.  And on that note, I'm off to the park!  I'll let you know tomorrow how it goes.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 172: Investing

I made a big investment in my writing life this week.  I bought an iPad.  I feel like this will free me greatly to write on the go, out in the park, on my lunch break, when I'm traveling, etc.  I've never been an early-adopter of the latest gadgets, but this one seemed like something that would actually greatly improve my quality of life writing-wise, so I did it.  I'll let you know if it lives up to my expectations.

It's intriguing to me how much I have already invested in this relatively-new passion of mine.  I could probably tell you exactly how much money I've spent so far on my playwriting if I cared to pull out my tax records (I don't), but aside from this latest expenditure I've spent money on playwriting classes and on rehearsal spaces, costumes, props, and fliers for productions of my short plays.  I've also invested so much more than money -- how could I count the hours I've spent writing, creating these characters and the worlds they inhabit?  But even more than money or time, I've invested my hopes, my plans, my self in this endeavor.  I am putting such great effort into sculpting my life so as to allow me more freedom and time to write.  My biggest life goal at the moment is to have enough voice students so I can quit my office job -- largely so that I will have more time to write.  I plan my time off and my vacations, and schedule my time with my boyfriend and my friends, all while trying to figure out when and how I can write.  Writing has become my master.

How did that happen so quickly?  I only discovered writing plays about a year and a half ago.  How have I so whole-heartedly thrown myself into this thing that is so new to me that I scarcely feel I know what I'm doing?  Or perhaps I should ask why?

I'm sure one reason is that this feeling is familiar to me -- for many years I was even more heavily invested in my opera career than I am currently in writing.  I've learned a little better balance now, so that I am not sacrificing everything else in the name of my art.  Perhaps it's also that I like having something be my "master", to give me focus, and far-reaching goals to always work towards.  I am never just drifting aimlessly in the ocean with no land mass in sight -- I am always rowing towards something, even if what I'm rowing towards always remains elusively just beyond the horizon.

I think, though, that playwriting is tapping into something within me in a way that nothing else ever has.  A truth comes out of me and onto the page, a truth that resonates with people.  I seem to have found a way to share my authentic self, to connect with people through my writing in a way that was elusive to me as a performer.  It definitely happened when I was performing, too, but those moments were fleeting and far too few.  I won't go into the myriad of reasons why I think this might have been the case - but I love that I don't seem to be fighting that same struggle anymore.  When I write, it just happens.  And so I want to do more.  And more.  And more.

And that, my friends, is why I bought myself an iPad.  How's that for a justification?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 168: Monday progress report

Uh oh.  It's technically not Monday anymore (since it is 10 minutes past midnight), and I haven't written my Monday progress report yet.  This is what happens when I go camping and am away from my computer for a few days -- I actually unplug.  I probably could have managed to thumb-type a brief post on my swanky new MyTouch phone (I have finally joined the ranks of people walking around with constant access to their email and the internet), but I actually kept my phone off all weekend, only checking in 2 or 3 times.  It feels good to unplug, disconnect for awhile.

I thought I might write over the weekend, but in the end I only spent maybe a half-hour to an hour going over the last new scene I wrote and making some edits.  I didn't feel in the space to sit down and really write -- especially by hand since I didn't have a computer with me.  (oh, how all this will change when I get my iPad -- Apple, are you listening?).  I do also have to admit that I find it hard to write in the presence of my boyfriend.  This is something I am going to have to work on, for both of our benefits.  We both need to be able to work in each others' presence, so that we can have time together and get our creative work done.  I know couples who do this -- spend time in the same space, but each doing their own thing.  I have to learn this skill if I ever want to live with someone again (which I do).  Not to the exclusion of having time alone to write (or even just be), but as an additional mode.  If anyone has any tips on how to do this, I would love to hear them....

Alas I will have to make up last week's writing on other days this week.  I will sit down and look over my calendar in the morning and plan out when that will be.   Until then, buona notte.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 165: Time Trifecta

I've come to the conclusion that my time-management struggles most days come down to a fight between three things:  exercise, sleep, or writing.  It is impossible for me to do all three in any given day.  I can sometimes manage to do two of those (though sleep almost always loses out to some degree).  So I am in a constant battle to decide which thing is going to get neglected.  All three are important to me; all three are good for me.  Two are necessary for my physical health; one is necessary for my mental state.  So how do I choose between them?

I am attempting to think of them in a bit of a rotation -- if I have exercised a couple of days in a row, then perhaps I'll choose writing in my blog (and/or my morning pages) the next morning.  If I haven't slept well in several days, I'll buy myself an extra 30 minutes of sleep by taking the subway instead of  walking an hour to work (though I love that so much, I will rarely choose not to do that).  It is an imperfect system that usually leaves me feeling frustrated.  I haven't found a way to feel truly ok with choosing to not exercise or not write (while I don't feel bad emotionally about not sleeping, I just feel tired and cranky which doesn't help me get the other things done). 

I really need to learn how to not feel inadequate for not getting everything done I want to get done.  I do hold myself to a rather impossible standard.  But it isn't just that -- it is also these things make me happy and I feel frustrated that I don't have time to do them.  I keep saying "if only I didn't have to work" - if only I could be earning my money from doing what I love to do.  Oh-so-fortunately, I am more than halfway there.  I make more than half of my money now from teaching voice lessons, which is something I love doing.  My goal is to have enough students by the end of the year to be able to leave my office job and only teach -- which would allow me so much more time to write, and sleep, and exercise.  While I hate to live for the future, I have to admit that I am eagerly awaiting the moment when that happens.  (To that end, if you know anyone who is looking for a voice teacher, feel free to send them my way!  Info on my studio is on my website.)

And now, I'm off for a lovely three day camping trip - triple the amount of weekend I normally get.  I plan to do some writing on my play, and will report how it goes on Monday.  Happy 4th of July!