Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Dazzling Moment of Synchronicity

Goodness but I have so much news!  So many things to write blog posts about, that I haven't sat down to write in the last month!  But I know I can't possibly write about them all at once, so I'll start with the one that is the most apropos to this blog: a dazzling moment of synchronicity.

You might be asking, what is synchronicity?  I think the best way to explain it is to give my example:

The sister-in-law of a fellow actor in my current scene study class made the documentary about the International Sweethearts of Rhythm -- the band on which much of my play is based!  I now have her phone number and email and am in the process of setting up a meeting!

There are two things that make this small-world-coincidence feel particularly magical:

One, I have not been going around asking "hey, does anyone know these people?" Mike (the actor in my class) just happened to know I was writing a play because he is acting in some of the other plays being presented by my writing class, so he just happened to ask me what my play was about as we were walking out from class together.  Thus the connection was made.

Two, the night before that class, I was feeling especially stressed, frustrated and unprepared, and bemoaned to my fiance that I really wished I had not taken the class (now that I have decided to focus, for the time-being at least, on writing).  When I told my fiance about this wonderful coincidence, he texted back: "still wish you hadn't taken the class?" (smart-ass).

When I told my collaborator Kat about it, she giddily texted back "SYNCHRONICITY!!!!! AAAAAHHHHH!!!"  When I told my mother, she said "I think that's what god is."  And Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way) would say that they are one and the same.  Ms. Cameron uses the term synchronicity for these happy coincidences, and describes it as "the hand of God, or good, activated by our own hand when we act in behalf of our truest dreams, when we commit to our own soul”.

As an atheist, I reject the god hypothesis as well as the "it was meant to be"/fate/guiding-hand-of-the-universe hypothesis.  Which isn't to say that I don't think we can make our own luck, to some extent.  I do believe that by "putting it out there", by committing oneself to a goal, and setting clear intentions, we set ourselves up to maximize opportunities like this.  We have awareness that goes far far deeper than that which we can consciously recognize, and those "spider senses" can help us make the thousand tiny choices every day that can lead us to things that seem magical because we weren't even conscious we were making those choices.  So, am I saying that some part of me know that I should take that class because there would be someone in it related to Greta Schiller?  Impossible.  But my choices to constantly strive to improve my craft, to put my work out there, and to develop artistic connections as often as possible put me in both those classes at once, allowing me to make a connection that could prove to be very helpful to the development of this piece.  This piece that is so important to me, that is my greatest artistic achievement to date.

Regardless of where this connection will lead -- perhaps just an interesting conversation, perhaps a connection to any possible still-leaving Sweethearts (though there may not be any) or perhaps to something I can't even predict yet -- I cannot wait to meet with her!  For what I do believe in is trying, always trying.  In the words of Goethe:

“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What volunteering *really* looks like (and how you can too)

I received quite a response from my last blog post; apparently people were touched by it.  And while I was touched by the people who applauded me for my efforts, I care less about the accolades than about the people who asked how they could chip in too.  After spending another day out in the field today, I wanted to share some of my experience, and the wide array of opportunities there are out there to help.  You do NOT have to climb 67 flights of stairs to help people.  You don't even have to lift heavy things.  No matter who you are or what you do, there is something you can do to help, I promise you.

Today I spent 5 hours at one of Occupy Sandy's two main hubs volunteer/distribution hubs (520 Clinton Ave in Brooklyn).  I arrived at 9:30; I had to leave by 2:30 to get back to teach.  Even though I didn't have all day, I figured there must be *something* I could do to help for a few hours.  There sure was.  Here is just a sampling of the opportunities available: 

communication jobs (can be done sitting down):

- be part of the communications team taking calls from people in the field about what is needed and where, and feeding the information to the dispatch team (bring your laptop and cellphone)

- be part of the dispatch team, sending drivers and volunteers out with supplies to those in need (bring your laptop)

- welcome new volunteers, find out their skill set/interests, and direct them to where help is most needed

This is but a *tiny* portion of one
UPS delivery that was received just today.

organizing/sorting stuff jobs (requires some physical exertion):

- help unload boxes* from the UPS truck -- assembly line style

- open, unpack, and/or break down those boxes*

- sort the contents of the boxes* into their designated aisles

The boxes* after they have been organized
* There are literally thousands of boxes coming into the center every day from the Amazon "wedding registry" set up by Occupy Sandy, ordered by generous souls all over the globe.  So if anyone had doubts about those boxes ending up in the right hands, I have witnessed that they are. 

- load up cars and trucks that a taking those supplies out to the people who need them

- fill shopping bags for people who have come in person needing donations

be out in the hard-hit neighborhoods jobs

- if you have a car, you can drive other volunteers and supplies out to those who need them

- even if you don't have a car, you can be a volunteer who gets driven to a location to deliver supplies

- be part of a team canvassing a neighborhood to find out what people need and report back, so that other folks can be sent out with specifically requested supplies

food jobs

- if you like to cook (or just to be around food), you can work in the kitchen, preparing and packing up some of the 20,000 hot meals the kitchen might prepare in a day to be delivered to people who haven't had hot food in over a week

- even if you can't stay, you can be like one person I saw and bring over a pot of homemade pasta to help feed the volunteers lunch (and I enjoyed her pasta very much!)

In short, even if being outside all day is not appealing; or if knocking on strangers' doors is intimidating; or if climbing endless flights of stairs is not in your exercise profile; or if you only have a couple of hours to spare:  THERE IS SOMETHING YOU CAN DO.  

Go to 520 Clinton Ave.  It is half a block from a C train stop.  Lend an hour, lend two, lend five, lend ten.  Get your exercise in carrying boxes, or exercise your spreadsheet skills dispatching volunteers.  I met people who took a half day off work, people who stopped in on their way to work, people who had the day off.  Come on the weekend.  Come when you can.  Just COME.   I have never felt more hopeful about the future of the human race than I did today.  You owe it to yourself. You owe it to the people devastated by Sandy.  JUST DO IT.

And if you don't live near NYC, you can contribute to another day's UPS shipment here.  Or just send them money, they need that too.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hurricane tragedy pulls focus

Hurricane Sandy and the devastation it has wrought on New York and surrounding areas has left me mentally and emotionally paralyzed this week.  I haven't been able to focus on any work outside of listening to the news and trying to figure out ways to help.  I postponed a class I was teaching, I haven't worked on my play or my acting class scene, I haven't posted on here.  While certainly all of this trauma and all of the horrible and beautiful things I have scene are good potential creativity fodder, my heart isn't in it -- it is solidly lodged up in my throat and I imagine will stay there for some time.

On Friday morning, I delivered three bags of groceries to someone who was delivering donations out to the Rockaways in Queens -- one of the most devastated areas from the storm (if you saw the pictures of Queens on fire, that was the Rockaways).  On Friday afternoon, between students, I rode my bike down to the Lower East Side of Manhattan (the only way to get there with the power still out in Lower Manhattan) with all the batteries, flashlights and non-perishable food I could fit in my backpack and dropped it off to people who were delivering it to those stranded in buildings with no power or water.  I wanted to stay and help, but had to get back to teach.  But on Saturday, I was able to help -- I rode my bike down again (at only 48 degrees out, it was a chilly ride) and spent the afternoon hiking up to the top floors of two 37 story buildings that still don't have power (even though most of Manhattan is back up).  I met disabled people and seniors who can't possibly get down the stairs (let alone back up again), whose supplies are dwindling and who must spend 12+ hours alone in complete darkness and silence every night.  The cold and the dark were their biggest fears, more than food or water.  Volunteers like us could bring them food and water, but we couldn't bring them heat or light.

I wanted to go out to the Rockaways myself today, but have to teach a class this afternoon.  I am filled with guilt and despair -- temperatures are dropping to freezing now at night and it may be weeks before some of these people have power.  I am hoping to clear one of my teaching days midweek to go out there -- I imagine there will be fewer people who can make it out during the week.

Please, wherever you are, if you are reading this, donate whatever you can whether it be time, money or goods to help these relief efforts.   For a comprehensive list of places to donate/volunteer, please visit the Occupy Sandy relief page.  You can even mail supplies in if you'd rather mail stuff than money! (while the Red Cross doesn't take donations of supplies, other groups do).

Want to mail in supplies?

Send it here ...
The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew
520 Clinton Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Needs List (not clothing at this point):
- blankets
- batteries (Cs and Ds)
- flashlights
- candles and matches
- non-perishable food
- bottled water
- diapers

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I do declare, I am a playwright

Standing in my (postage-stamp-sized) kitchen the other night, talking with my best-boyfriend-ever as I prepared dinner, I declared:

I am a playwright.

This may seem like an overly obvious thing to declare, when I have been labeling myself as a playwright for a few years now.  But it was a recognition of where I see myself right now, and, most importantly, where I want my priorities to lie.  

I have been musing lately (silently and aloud) that I fear that, by pursuing all these different creative avenues I love at once (acting, writing, singing), I risk doing none of them well.  But then I meet people who manage to do more than one thing - to be both successful actors and writers, for example - so I keep trudging forward, hoping that i can be one of those people who does it all.

And one could argue that I am one of those people, I *am* doing it all.  BUT.  But i am not doing any of these things - acting, singing, writing - at a professional level.  I speak not of the quality of my work (I'll let others determine that) but in the literal sense that I am not making money from my endeavors.  I am not achieving any level of commercial success.

I'm ok with that as an actor and a singer at this point in my life.  I'd like to be on Broadway, sure, but I'm not really interested in doing all the work it takes - the endless slogging to auditions and networking with casting directors and such - to get there.  I'm content to do readings, and little shows at ESPA, and hope for the occasional opportunity like I had last year when a writer friend asked me to perform her piece.  

But I am not content with that when it comes to my writing.  Especially not this play.  I quite honestly feel that this play is the greatest achievement of my life to date, and I want it to live.  Out there, in the world, on stages, maybe even in movie houses.  This baby I have created deserves every bit of attention and focus and drive I can devote to it and more.  It deserves to run and play in the sunlight, to be known by the world.  Like many parents do with their flesh-and-blood children, I will give up my own ambitions for success to allow my baby to flourish.

Oh how I can't wait to share this baby with you all as she grows up. She is going to be beautiful.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Rosie's first talent show

I sent my new baby off to its first competition today.  I was so nervous walking to the post office - I can only imagine that it might be something like what a mother feels when sending her daughter out on stage for her first talent competition.  After having prepared her as best you can, once she leaves your hands, there is nothing more you can do.  And while you, of course, think that she is the most wonderful, talented, perfect thing in the whole universe, other people will be judging her now.  And they may or may not feel the same way.

Does this make me like one of those mom’s on Toddlers and Tiaras?  God, I hope not.  

The preparation leading up to today’s submission was intense and challenging.  As with most every submission, I had to include a synopsis along with the script.  "What’s the big deal?", you might be thinking, "it’s only a couple of paragraphs, you just wrote a whole play, how hard can it be?"

The writers amongst you know just how hard it is.  Summarizing the plot points isn’t so hard, but summarizing them in a way that doesn’t read like a list of “this happens, then this happens, then this happens, then this...” is hard.  All the while giving a sense of the tone of the piece, of your skill as a writer, conveying the theme(s) of the work, and telling them just enough but not too much so that they are compelled to go on and read the whole work.  It is an incredibly tall order.

I think I nailed it though.  But only thanks to some masterful input from another playwright, Sheri Wilner*, with whom I consulted.  She pointed out that I needed to hit all the points I mentioned above, and also had some great ideas as to how to do it.  It was like I hired a coach to help little Rosie prepare for her interview questions. 

And now, off she goes.  She is on that stage, waiting for the curtain to rise (i.e. the envelop to be opened), so she can deliver her song to the judges.  I hope they find her as enthralling as I do.

*If you are a writer looking for a mentor to consult with you on a project, I heartily recommend Sheri for one-on-one consultations!  Insightful, nurturing, and affordable. Let me know and I’ll put you in touch.

Friday, September 14, 2012

How much history and how much fiction?

My play is a piece of historical fiction. Meaning, I am taking a piece of history and telling a fictionalized account of it, rather than attempting to make a completely factual documentary.  (The phrase "inspired by true events" would be appropriate.)  Though historical fiction is my favorite literary form, I have never before attempted to write such a work.  It has its challenges. Mainly, how much history and how much fiction do I put into the story?

When I am reading a work of historical fiction, I like to believe when I am reading it that pretty much everything that I am reading is true.  And I do believe it is true, unless it is a about an aspect of history I know particularly well (like the movies Amadeus and Immortal Beloved), and can easily spot when creative license is taken. Since very few people will be experts in the piece of history I am telling, this could either absolve me -- who will know? -- or it could mean I have a greater responsibility to tell the story as accurately as I can, since this play (movie?) may be the only exposure most people will ever have to the subject.

My decisions fall into two categories: the events of the play vs. the world of the play.  I have decided that the events of the play can be fictitious -- in fact, they should be, otherwise I would be dealing with rights issues -- while the world should be as factual as possible.  The details must be accurate so that the audience feels that "that could have happened" (even if it didn't).   If the details of the world make people raise their eyebrows -- that city didn't exist then, people didn't talk like that then, a black band couldn't have played in that club then -- then the whole story will be unbelievable.

Thus I found myself in the library this week, looking at issues of Down Beat magazine from 1943 on microfilm.  MICROFILM.  Yes, it still exists.  No, everything in the universe has not been scanned into google.  Alas, because there is no "search" button on a microfilm machine.  All you can do is go through one issue after another, page by page, hoping to find the little tidbit you are looking for.  But this play deserves every bit of time and effort and energy I can put into and more, so I'll be back there next week, going through more microfilm so that the world of my play can have as much history in it as possible.

Friday, September 7, 2012


(ok, just kidding.  I'm not actually going to write a blank blog post titled "speechless", though of course that would be the only correct thing to do since if I can think of anything to write, then clearly I'm not speechless).

Today's reading of my play far exceeded any expectation I had even dared to think.  Honestly, I don't know that I had a single expectation.  Even when I read through the whole play myself yesterday, I didn't know what to think of it.  There were things I liked about it, but I didn't feel like I could see it.  I was so inside it, it was (is!) so fresh, that I couldn't take a step back and see the big picture.  I honestly wasn't even sure if I had told the story I wanted to tell.  I know this world so well now, having read so much about it, having listened to their music, that I had no idea what the story would look like to people who had none of the information in their heads that I have.

But people saw everything I wanted them to see and more.  The overall consensus amongst the actors and directors and writers there was don't touch it, submit this now.   Of course it will be revised in the development process, but no one could believe it was a first draft and they all think it is ready to be workshopped.  One of the actors is already scheming about presenting the idea to companies with whom she has a relationship to see if I can get a reading or workshop there.

Even as I am typing this, tears are coming to my eyes.  This project has been so long in the dreaming (at least 4 years), and so short in the making (just 3 months) that I still can't quite believe I did it.  On top of that, I have to admit I had started to lose faith in my writing.  Having had my first play rejected from so many places -- even places with which I had strong personal connections -- I was starting to wonder if maybe I can't really write.  My biggest fear in approaching this project was that I wasn't going to do it justice.  I believe so strongly in this story, I feel so passionately that it must be told, and I was scared that maybe I wasn't the person to do it.

But tonight confirmed that I am.  I do have the voice to tell this story.  There are no promises, of course, in this crazy world where the almighty dollar is always the bottom line.  But there is reason for that little candle of hope to flicker to life again, the hope that something I create could actually get produced and be seen by the wider world.  My mother -- the first person on the planet to get to read the play other than myself -- even dared utter the mythical words "when you when your Tony" tonight.  Dare I hope.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Making it real

Though I declared my play "born" on Monday, I'm not sure I really believed it, deep down.  But as of 11:47pm tonight, the draft was tidied up and the missing pieces filled in enough for me to actually print it out.  I can now hold my play in my hands, look at it, feel its weight.  (Oddly enough, despite all the snipping and cleaning up and filling in I've done in the last two days, it is still exactly 112 pages.  The same length it was on Monday.  Funny).

It will become even more real on Friday.  I have scheduled a very informal reading so I can hear the whole thing out loud once before I start the rewrite process next week.  (Next week!!)  I have assembled 10 actors, calling upon people I know as well as a number of referrals to people two or three degrees of separation away.  It is weird to think that people I don't even know will get a glimpse of this baby on Friday.  That makes me feel more than a little vulnerable.

But I'm also excited.  Going through it to clean it up and fill in the gaps, I realized there is more there than I thought.  I like a lot of it.  Parts of it make my cry.

But it's also too hard to tell when you are this close.  I need some distance.  I need it to be taken out of my head and held up to the light so I can really see it.  That's what Friday will be.  I'll let you know what I see.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Play #2 is born!

I have been struggling all day with whether or not to say that the first draft of my play is "done".  I mean, what constitutes a completed first draft, exactly?  Does it have to be something you could actually put on stage right this minute, or if you have the beginning, middle, end and all the important structural beats in between, can you call it "done"?

Even when I finished typing up all of my hand-written notes at 5pm today - constituting 112 typed pages - I was reluctant to pat myself on the back.  Several weeks ago, I was still futzing with the second scene (as I had been for far too long) when I decided to switch from typing to writing by hand in order to move forward.  The gist of it was there, I know how I am getting into it and out of it, but I need to flesh out a bit of the middle some.  And there are a couple of connective-tissue scenes later in the play that I realized today I need to fill in.  So there is more work to do.  There will always be more work to do.

Then, a few minutes ago, I remembered something.  One of my best friends had a baby last January.  She was an absolutely perfectly healthy baby, all 10 fingers and toes, everything in order.  One of her ear lobes was a bit of a funny shape, though, nothing too much to be concerned about, but it was noticeable.  Her dad even wondered if they should get her plastic surgery in order to fix it.  But within a week or so, it grew in and looked completely normal.  It just wasn't quite finished growing yet, but the baby had most certainly been born.

Likewise, I now declare my play to be "born".  I can see what it is, and there are lots of clues as to what the final product will look like when it's more grown-up.  It just has a bit of a funny shaped earlobe, and maybe one or two other little things that aren't quite fully-cooked yet.  I'm even going to introduce it to a few people this Friday in a very informal reading so I can hear it out loud and get an even better idea of what I have on my hands.

So here comes the formal announcement:

Welcome to the world, Sweethearts of Swing.  I look forward to watching you grow up.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


I have just three days to complete my play by my self-imposed deadline.  A couple of weeks ago --before I started writing by hand -- I'm not sure I thought it would be possible.  But now I'm almost there.

So here's the plan: today (Saturday) I will write to the end of the play.  I'm almost there, so that should be quite doable even with teaching on my plate.  Then Sunday, I will go type up everything handwritten and see what I've got, what pieces I might be missing (since I haven't written strictly in order).  Then on Monday I will fill in those pieces.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Window Writing Wrap-up

That's me, in the window!
Yesterdays' "Write Out Front" writing-in-the-window experience was both a great success and a bit anti-climactic.

I started getting incredibly nervous the day before when I realized I needed to figure out what scene I was actually going to write for all the world to see.  I wanted to pick something really good, a scene that would seem exciting to passersby who know nothing else about the play.  Fortunately, that question resolved itself the night before, as the writing I did took me up to a sequence of scenes that would include the ultimate conflict of the play.   That ought to get their attention.

The next morning I made myself look pretty (after all, I was going to be in a window), then packed up my computer, power cord, notebooks, speakers (for music to work by), historical reference book, and pretzels and grapes to snack on.   Micheline (the organizer) got me all set up, and I was ready to go by 10:56.  I decided to break my 105 minutes into two halves, allowing a stretch break in between, and set my timer on my phone for 50 minutes. My self-imposed rule was to not stop typing until the timer went off.  With butterflies in my belly and adrenalin pumping through my fingers, I began.

I began typing with the awareness that other people might be seeing it, looking at what I was writing as if someone else was writing it (never helpful). But within 2 or 3 minutes, as I realized that 90+% of the people walking by were paying no attention, I stopped being nervous and just focused on what I was writing.  A half hour in or so, people started gathering in front of the window -- but unfortunately they weren't gathering to watch me, they were waiting for something next door and actually had their BACKS to my window, blocking the view for anyone else who might be passing by.  My initial nervousness at being observed turned to indignation at these rude people who were blocking people from looking at me.  ("Hey, look at me!").  I let it go, and eventually someone from the Drama Book Shop asked them to clear the way.

In the end, not that many people stopped to read.  A few friends stopped by, and two actors with whom I have worked and haven't seen for ages happened by and saw me, which was fun.  But most of the attention I got from doing this project was not from people who actually saw me do it, but from people who read about me doing it on facebook or this blog.  People seem quite impressed with me for doing this, and one person even said I'm an "inspiration".  So that's quite lovely.

More important than any of that, though, is that I WROTE 18 PAGES.  In an hour and 45 minutes.  I am pretty sure that is a personal record for me.  When I left, I could barely even remember what I wrote, and honestly didn't have the faintest clue if it was any good.  But I went back and read it this morning before diving in to write more, and have to admit there is some really good stuff in there.  I can actually see the end of my play from where I stand now, and am completely confident I will be able to finish the first draft by the end of Monday.   Hallelujah.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Adrenalin junky

I'm doing this crazy thing on Wednesday where I will be sitting in a store front window off of Times Square, writing.  What I write will be displayed as I type it on a giant monitor for all the passing world to see. This crazy thing will be happening at the Drama Book Shop at 250 W. 40th St (btw 7/8) from 11am-12:45pm this Wed, August 29.  If you live in New York, swing by on your lunch break and you can get a tiny preview of this play I'm working on!

When I told my best-boyfriend-ever I was doing this, he said something like "that sounds like the most horrific thing ever".  He would hate for anyone to be witness to his creative process when he is composing.  He loves to perform, but to have someone watch while he's trying to create?  Pure torture. I get that -- as a singer, I used to detest for anyone to listen to me practice.  Perform, yes, but to hear me when I'm trying to work things out?  Horrifying.  Surely having people watch me write will be at least as nerve-wracking.

So why am I doing this? 

I could give a big-picture reason: I think the project is truly fantastic, creative, and worthwhile, as it  helps give exposure to playwrights and to give the wider world a window into our creative process*.  Or I could give a practical reason: I love writing under pressure and figure that there is no greater pressure than having people actually watch me write, so I'll be sure to get lots done.  Or a shallow reason: I'm acutely afflicted with "hey look at me" disease (as my boyfriend calls it), and there's nothing like sitting in a store front window on 40th and 7th as a way to get looked at.

But I think the biggest reason is that I have this compulsion - and always have - to do things that scare me.  I'm a different kind of adrenaline junky -- not the bungie jumping/sky-diving/race car driving type, but the kind who constantly pushes myself where I am most vulnerable.  Even as a child and teenager, I competed in as many things as I could from spelling bees to student government to sports to speech and debate to music competitions.  Many of those things I did not succeed at, but I kept doing them anyway.  And when it came time to choose what I was going to be when I grew up, I picked the most difficult thing I could possibly pick, the thing that would force me to constantly put myself out there in the face of rejection and the overwhelming likelihood of failure: becoming an opera singer.  

And boy did I get regular adrenalin fixes with that one: every application, every audition, every performance was another chance to be judged and and to have someone else tell me whether or not I had worth.  

Ah, we artists are such a contradiction that way, such a mix of ego and insecurity.  

Age and experience have helped me gain a bit more control over my addiction, though.  Since giving up my opera career, I've come to recognize the value of contentment in life and now allow myself to devote time to things that don't require someone else's stamp of approval, like cycling, cooking, gardening, and even watching Breaking Bad with my sweetie.

But clearly I still need a hit from time to time.  Which is why I'll be writing in the window on Wednesday.  11am-12:45pm on 40th between 7th and 8th.  Hey, look at me.  

*if you think this project is as awesome as I do, or even just a little bit awesome, consider donating a few bucks to the organizers to help them cover their costs!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Experiment in productivity redux

(also known as the shortest time between two posts I've ever written on this blog, I'm pretty sure).

I can scarcely believe what I accomplished tonight.  I am almost in tears.  I have felt so stuck, so blocked on this piece -- incomprehensibly so, since I love this story so much and want so badly to tell it.  But I've been feeling like I've been spinning my wheels, that what I was writing wasn't any good, and was starting to wonder if I should just give up and focus on my acting since I'd been getting some traction with that lately.

But tonight, oh tonight! The magic of writing by hand! Of setting a timer, being out of the house!  Of having figured out who my characters are, of having done more research this weekend (since its an historical piece).  Tonight in just 3 hours, I wrote 30 pages by hand. 3 entire scenes, 2 of which I had no idea I was going to write.  The scenes are rough and will definitely need some editing, but they are there.  And it is so much clearer to me now where I am in this story, who these people are, what their journey is.  Specifically what Rosie's journey is, my main character's. I know her now. I love her.  She's definitely more than a little bit me.  She's definitely NOT me in any kind of literal sense, but there is something in her essence that is very much me.

I am in love with my play again.  I am in love with writing again.  I am so happy right now I could cry.  I don't know if this experiment will work this well every time I do it, but I will be doing a version of this every day day this week, for whatever amount of time my schedule allows.  Huzzah.

An experiment In productivity

I am trying a three-part experiment tonight to increase the rate of my writing output.  I keep not getting as much done as I need to be.  I am melding together three different techniques I have found to be useful in the past and am seeing what happens when I put them all together:

1) Leave the house

I often get more done when I don't have distractions of home (especially now that I live with my best-boyfriend-ever).  So I left the house at 6pm tonight, to give him space to work on music without me and to give myself space to write.

2) Write by hand

This is a new technique for me, that I was just introduced to by Winter Miller.  I noticed that I edited way less when writing by hand, so I am trying that tonight since telling myself to "stop editing!" when I'm on the computer hasn't been working. This will also make it much harder for me to get distracted by things like Facebook or email, since I don't even have my computer and the iPad I'm typing on will be stowed away and powered off in my bag.

3) Set a timer

I am going to set a timer for an hour, three times tonight, and write solid for that hour without stopping. No email breaks, hopefully no potty breaks, no self-editing breaks, just write. At the end of those three writing sprees, we'll see if I have another one in me.

I'll let you know how it went tomorrow!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Characters vs plot, or the art of listening

I'm approaching the writing of this play completely differently from how I wrote my last play.  With my last play, I had no idea what the story was I was going to tell -  I just let my characters "speak" to me, intuiting how each scene flowed to the next, discovering the story and the plot as I went along.  When I finally wrote to the end, I then went back and made adjustments to give it more structure.  I thought this would be how I would always write plays, as I love the discovery process and the feeling of just being in the flow.

But with this play, I know the story I want to tell, and I had an outline for the whole play several weeks ago.  So now the process of writing is giving those plot points dialogue, rather than writing dialogue to discover the plot points.  While this process definitely has its advantages, I'm also discovering it has its own pitfalls, or at least one major pitfall for me:

When I write from the characters first, and not from the plot, I am writing from what they want, what they need, and then discovering how they act because of that.  When I know how they already act, I don't automatically get in touch with why they act that way, and the dialogue ends up being stilted and a clumsy way of telling the story.  The characters can feel shallow, like cardboard cutouts of people instead of real people.

I first became aware of this problem when I was stuck in the middle of the first scene and realized it was because I didn't really know what the emotional need was for each character.  While thinking about their needs definitely helped, and I did get through that first scene, I still wasn't quite happy with it.  And I find that as I go forward into other scenes, I am running up against the same problem again: I am too focused on the plot points and not enough on what is really driving the characters to act the way they do.

The root of the problem is that I don't know my characters well enough.  When I write without a story line, I have nothing to go on except who my characters are.  I have to wait and listen to them to tell me what they are going to do, and in so doing, I discover more about them.  It feels as if they are already fully formed people I am simply uncovering.  But when I write from the plot first, it's easy to skip over that listening/discovering phase.  I mean, heck, if I already know what they do, then I must know who they are, right?

I need to spend some time really listening to my characters, the way I did in my first play.  A great way to do this is through free writing, where I write as if I am the charcter writing in a journal, telling my/her story.  I started with Rosie, my main character, and I've already discovered a couple of major things about her that will have a huge impact on the first two scenes (though, in the interests of moving forward, for now I am simply going to make note of them and wait til later to actually rewrite them).  I can't wait to hear what else she has to tell me.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A bear of a tale

My best-boyfriend-ever and I have been camping in the Adirondacks all week.  It's been lovely, exploring a part of the country I've never seen before.  It's also been quite an adventure, from an oil leak on the motorcycle to having almost no phone/Internet access to getting caught in a couple of heavy downpours to having a bear attack our campsite.

Yup, that's right, a bear.  At Lake Eaton campground near Long Lake deep in the heart of the Adirondacks.  We were warned that the park sometimes has bears, but the ranger also said "there haven't been any incidents".  So we did what we've done before - since we have no car in which to put food - stored the trash in the luggage on the back of the motorcycle (harder to get at that way), pulled the soft sided cooler next to the tent (figuring animals will be less likely to approach that close to a tent) and kept the dry goods inside the tent with us (cause certainly they won't actually try to get IN the tent with us in it).

We were right about one of those things.  The bear didn't try to get the food in our tent (thank god).  But she had no qualms about grabbing the cooler that was just a few inches from my feet and dragging it to the lake to rip it open and eat the yogurt, butter and salad dressing that was inside (the beer and watermelon were apparently too much trouble).  Getting at the garbage on the back of the bike was a bit harder, but she easily solved that problem by knocking the 550lb motorcycle over on its side to get the luggage off the rack and drag it into the woods where she could eat her prize in peace.

We were blissfully unaware of all this until I awoke for a quick bathroom trip and discovered the bike on its side and the the cooler and luggage missing.  I don't know how we didn't hear the bike get knocked over, but it's probably good that we didn't since there wouldn't have been a thing to do about it.  Fortunately the cooler is cheap and easily replaced, and the bike suffered mostly cosmetic damage which, while not cheap, doesn't keep the bike from running.  And we managed to find the luggage which - other than a couple of teeth marks - miraculously survived its ordeal unscathed.  If that bag could talk....

What does all this have to do with writing my play? Not a whole lot, but it's a great story.  When I told me dad about it, he replied "you will have a story to share for years." And that's true, we will. These extraordinary moments, these are the moments we tell stories about and are the stories we want to hear.  This is why one of the most important rules of playwriting is to answer the question "what is different about today?". Cause if it's not different, it's not interesting. At least not enough for theater.

The other take away for me from this is that part of what makes this a great story - for me - is that it could have been tragic, but wasn't.  There was danger, great risk, the consequences of our foolishness were potentially life-threatening (or at least severely life-crimping, if the bike had been severely damaged we would have been screwed).  Don't get me wrong, I love dark stories - that's what I both write and act best - but I always long for there to be a glimmer of something good in the end.  I find tragedy averted, or tragedy overcome, to be far more satisfying than straight up tragedy.  Those are the stories I want to hear and tell.

Which is one of the things I have been struggling to work out about my new play.  The true ending of the story (since it's an historical piece) isn't happy.  While I don't want to rewrite history, I have to make sure there is hope for the future, a glimmer of what can be in the way I chose to tell this tale. I don't want the bear to eat the people in my play.   I feel even more strongly about that now.  I have an idea for how to make that work - we'll see if I'm right!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My play, his play, her play, whose play?

Turns out that it is hard to both write my own play and perform someone else's play at the same time.  Huh.

Acting, as you may or may not know, actually takes a lot of work.  Even for these readings I've been doing at Primary Stages, where I haven't had to memorize the script, there is still a lot of background work to be done, figuring out what makes your character tick and why they say the things they say. This takes hours.  Many hours.  Plus rehearsing actually saying the lines, of course.

So I've found myself having to dedicate time I would have spent writing my play to preparing these plays that somebody else wrote.  It's a great problem to have, and I'm learning a lot about writing while I'm at it.  I'm still trying to figure out how it is Horton Foote managed to write a play consisting entirely of many-pages-long story-telling monologues into a compelling piece of theater.  The Carpetbagger's Children - which I performed last week - breaks a bunch of major "rules" of playwriting, and yet it works.  Beautifully.  And Daisy Foote's play Bhutan feels so natural, the way the characters speak --  they all feel like real people (extremely unhappy people, but real people).   I admire this and really want the characters in my play to feel the same.  (not the unhappy part, the real part).

In the balance, it has been good for me to do these things.  I'm really enjoying acting, and the response I am getting would indicate I'm not bad at it.  But I also need to focus on getting this play done.  So I just turned away from looking at more casting notices to writing this blog post, and I need to continue to do that until I finish this play.  Remind me of that, ok?

Monday, July 30, 2012


I am delighted to report after my last blog post, that my theory worked!  I got through the part of the scene that was getting me stuck by focusing on what each character's need was, what each character was fighting for.  And this same thought just barreled me through the second part of that scene.  It's a great question to ask myself, every time I am trying to figure out what a character might say, "what does she want?" When what she wants is clear, what she does/says becomes very clear.  This has also barreled me through the next small section.  Onward!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Skip... skip... skip....

Skip skip skip, like a broken record, goes my play.... 

That expression is perhaps less meaningful now than it was 30 years ago when we all had records.  (I can’t possibly be old enough to utter the phrase “30 years ago”, can I?)  But like a scratched record, I seem to be stuck at one point in the middle of my first scene -- I keep going back over it again and again, trying to get it right. It's not that I am trying to figure out what happens - I know that - but I'm trying to figure out exactly how it happens.   How to get the lines right, to get across the right amount of information without it feeling like exposition, how to make the lines feel natural and honest and compelling.  I know I should just move on - skip to the next song as it were - and fix it later, but every time I launch Final Draft and I read what I've read so I can continue from there, I get stuck in the same spot, editing. It's like a scab you can't stop picking or an itch you can't stop scratching even though you know you should leave it alone. 

(For the record - no pun intended - for those of you who might be feeling anxious that I am only on the first scene with only 40 days to go: I have actually written the second scene already.  But you’re not wrong that I have a lot of work to do, and fast).

The irony is that I know the events of the scene are right.  I am confident - ecstatically so - that I have figured out a strong beginning of my play.  In only 2 and 1/2 pages, I have established what the world is, who the main characters are, what the major conflict is and how desperately high the stakes are. But the exact words the characters are using, who says exactly what when, hasn’t quite fallen into place.

This is where morning pages can really prove their worth.  I was journaling about this, trying to figure out why I’m stuck and how to fix it.  I thought about a writing teacher I had last summer at ESPA, Sheri Wilner, and tried to remember what some of her methods were for getting through a scene.  I was about to go back and look at some of my notes from her class when I remembered one of her tricks: figure out the emotional need of each character for the scene, the need behind the literal thing they say they want.  Things like I want to be respected, I want to be loved, I want to feel safe, I want to punish, I want to save, etc.  Write these at the top of the page and make sure each character is really going after that thing with each of their lines.

Upon remembering this, I wrote down what the emotional need for each character is in the scene (to protect, to be respected, to be safe, to be acknowledged).  It resonated so deeply in my gut that I am quite confident that when I approach the scene from this angle, it will come together.  Let’s hope I’m right -- I’ll keep you posted!

In the meantime, if you’re in NYC and free on Friday the 27th at 3pm, I’m acting in a reading of The Carpetbagger’s Children by Horton Foote at Primary Stages.  It’s a beautiful play, and it’s free!  Details and reservations here.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I had all these other posts in mind about having found the beginning of my play, about balancing writing with my new acting gigs, etc etc, but that is not what is on my mind. What is on my mind is that my cat seemed suddenly very sick yesterday.

My Mimi girl, my cat who came into my life just before my divorce and helped get me through it, who was my companion during my time alone, and who has so gracefully transitioned into neither of us being alone (we got her a companion kitten a few weeks ago, and they are fast friends). I don't know what's wrong with her yet - I'm taking her to the vet today - but I was an emotional wreck all day yesterday, crying uncontrollably at times. On the surface of things, such an emotional response was unwarranted. Though she does have early stage kidney disease, to immediately jump to the emotional place as if I had been told she would die tomorrow was a bit excessive.

But I was reminded of my last cat, Susie, who died of kidney disease and with whom I spent 2 very difficult years treating her at home, including several months of force feeding her liquified food three times a day. Her illness and ultimate loss were the most torturous things I've gone through with a pet. So when Mimi started acting sick yesterday, all those old emotions were triggered, and I lost it.

I think such echoes are what make theater (film, TV, etc) so powerful. Why should we ever have an emotional response while watching people we have never met, on a stage so far away sometimes we can't even really see their faces, acting out a story that never really happened (and certainly hasn't happened to us)? Because somehow, the great story tellers are able to trigger those echoes in us, to remind us of experiences we have had that may have been similar or at least where we felt a similar way, and those old emotions come flooding to the surface. Joy or grief, anger or love, indignation or embarrassment - they can all be called forth in an instant. And for some reason, we as people like this, we like to be reminded of these feelings, even the bad ones sometimes. Perhaps because it reminds us that we are alive, that we have lived.

This is clearly not a new concept - the Greeks wrote about catharsis millennia ago - but it was a good reminder for me. That for me as a writer, it is good to be in touch with my own echoes, so that I can draw on those for my characters. The most memorable moments in our lives are the ones where our emotions were the most intense - good or bad - and that is why those moments are the most compelling in theater. There is an expression we use a lot in both writing and acting: raise the stakes.  If I were writing a story about a woman and her cat, I could write about a cat who acted a little bit sick one day, she took the cat to the vet, the vet said the cat was fine and they went home happily ever after.  It could be a very truthful, honest story, something that would actually happen in real life, but it would be boring.  It would not trigger any echoes.  Or I could write a story about a cat that was gravely ill, where the woman - who was already struggling for money - agonized over how much to spend on vet bills to try to treat her dear companion, where she went to heroic measures at home to try to save the cat, even contemplated having the cat euthanized, but finally, as if by some miracle, the cat pulled through and they had a few more years together.  This would be much more compelling theater, because the stakes are much higher.

But while that would make for a better story, I'm going root for the boring one to actually happen today.  I've already lived through the high stakes version of the story (without the happy ending), and don't need to relive that in order to draw on those echoes whenever I need them.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I committed myself to spending this weekend working.  Not teaching-working, but work nonetheless: a lot of administrative stuff for my teaching studio, acting prep work for the readings and TV shoot I have coming up, writing work, and few non-work-but-still mandatory personal things.

I lost half of Saturday to some not-previously-on-my-list personal life to-dos (like spending a couple of hours with my dear friend who is due to give birth any minute and whom I will thus not be able to see much of for months), so even though I worked almost incessantly til almost midnight yesterday, I still started off this morning with a to-do list with 14 items on it.  I even set an alarm (which I am loath to do on a Sunday) to make sure I got up in time to tackle this list.  I have a deadline of 10pm - 3 minutes away as I am typing this sentence - because that is when the season premier of Breaking Bad comes on which I am absolutely NOT going to miss (thank goodness for DVRs so I can start it a few minutes late).  

I have had other weekends where I had long lists of to-dos, and haven't gotten a third of them done.  But this weekend, I actually wrote down my list in my calendar - including the personal things like morning pages, yoga, and meditation - to hold myself accountable.  I checked each thing off as I completed it.  When I don't make a list, it is too easy to just let something slide, to say "I need a day off to do nothing" and then spend my entire week frustrated that I didn't get these things done when I had the chance.  I was not willing to let that happen this weekend -- and frankly, I couldn't afford to, literally, as much of the work is part of keeping my teaching business going which is what keeps food on my table.

At the end of the day, as soon as I finish this blog post, I will have two items left on my list uncompleted. Which is actually a pretty good ratio (and I may still get one of those done after Breaking Bad tonight, maybe).  And though I would have liked some downtime napping in one of my zero-gravity lounge chairs in my backyard, I feel much more personally satisfied for having gotten almost everything done on my list.  I will start the week lighter, happier, more focused, and ready to keep working since I don't have to play catch up.  So even though it might seem a bit crazy to commit oneself to working all weekend, I'll be saner this week for having done so.  At least I hope so.  And so does my boyfriend.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A different kind of downtime

You know that feeling, that feeling you get at the end of the day, when you've finally gotten home, cooked dinner, eaten dinner, cleaned up, and now it's way later than you hoped it would be and you've still got all this work you want to do but all you really want to do is turn on the television and veg?  You know, that feeling?

That feeling has been plaguing me a lot more the last few months than usual.  Perhaps partly because I'm still getting used to the novelty of actually having a television and cable again (after not having had it for over 10 years), but also partly because I just haven't been as focused.  I've been distracted by moving into a new place with my best-boyfriend-ever, by exploring acting, by discovering the joy of gardening, by getting a new kitty....  While all these are wonderful things, and I'm learning a lot and having a lot of fun with all these new things in my life, my mind has also been crying out to me for some time to just be quiet.  Hence the craving for television.

But suddenly in the last few days, I find myself not craving television.  I find myself craving work.  Writing, to be exact.  Itching, aching to get to work on the play.  Part of it is the new deadline, to be sure (my brain definitely likes those looming deadlines to keep myself motivated), but I think there is something else.

The weekend of the writing intensive, I did 30 minutes of yoga and 10 minutes of meditation before I left the house each day.   I also made sure to write in my morning pages journal, to try to get out the clutter from my mind so I would be clearer to work on the play.  Doing these things felt so great, that I told myself I wanted to do them  every morning.  While every morning hasn't quite happened, I have done all these things a lot more, and I am noticing a real difference.  I am suddenly more focused, more disciplined, and I don't find myself feeling that "need" to watch television, that "need" to just do nothing and let my brain veg. I think I am giving my brain some of that quiet time it needs which then allows me to get more work done.  Which makes me happy.  Cause I have a lot of work to do.

Not that watching television is always bad -- believe you me, I am going to be watching the season premier of Breaking Bad this weekend.  No amount of meditation could make me want to miss that.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Oops, I did it again. (or, the art of making deadlines)

At 10:45am this morning, my self-imposed arbitrary Labor Day deadline for the first draft of this new play became no longer arbitrary.  I am now accountable to someone besides myself (and the readers of this blog) to complete it by then.  I just learned that I have been granted a work-study position for a rewrite class at ESPA-Primary Stages in the fall.  A rewrite class.  Which means I need to have a play I have already written so that I can start re-writing it. That class starts September 11.  8 days after my self-imposed Labor Day deadline.  No sweat.

There be folks would say I'm nuts.  Why on earth would I sign up for a rewrite class when I have barely started writing the play?  Or why would I schedule a reading and book actors for a draft I have yet to complete?  Or why would I book a performance for a cabaret show my performing partner and I have yet to put together?  There seems to be a trend here.  This is something I do a lot -- at least in the last 4 years since I started creating and producing my own works -- and I must say I find this tactic extremely useful (if at times nail-biting and stress-inducing).

The predominant benefit for me of this (perhaps more than) slightly nutty practice is that it helps me make choices on a daily basis.  When confronted with choices for how to spend my non-teaching time - do I do this audition?  Do I go for a bike ride? Do I take a nap?  Write in my journal?  Write in this blog? Practice, do research, do laundry or go grocery shopping?  -- when I have a limited amount of time and too many things that *need* to be done, having a deadline like this makes prioritizing much simpler.  Like today, I chose to stay home and start transcribing the scenes I wrote during the writing intensive instead of going to the library before I started teaching.  The library is something that must also get done, but I'll do it later today.  For now, I need to feel myself getting work done, now that I know that finishing the play by Labor Day is no longer optional.

So if you're a procrastinator who has trouble self-motivating, I recommend you try this trick sometime.  Sign yourself up for something where you are accountable to an outside force, to force you to get the thing done that you want to get done.  You might surprise yourself with how much you can get done when you have to risk disappointing someone other than just yourself.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Other End of the Pen

Tonight I'm doing something I haven't ever done before: acting in a short play.  I'm very excited about this.  It is part of ESPA-Primary Stages' "Detention" series: monthly performances of short works written, directed, and performed by students of ESPA.  Tonight's show is especially fun: short plays set in the worlds of classic board games.  I play Ayn Rand trying to win at Pictionary in order to earn a chance to get reincarnated.  Very fun.  (Show info here if you want to come check it out!).

After half a life-time performing works other people wrote, I first stepped behind the pen in 2009 to write a show that I also performed (Nat & Kat's Adventures with the Time-Traveling Piano).  But that's the only time I've done that -- I quickly transitioned to writing works for other people to perform, and have never since performed anything that I wrote.  In fact I thought maybe I was done performing.  Then last December, a playwright I know asked me to star in a work she had written, and suddenly I was back performing again.  And - for the most part - loving it.

Since that work was mostly acting (75 minutes of monologue, to be exact), it inspired me to try doing some "straight" acting instead of singing.  In the last couple of months, I've done some auditions, and have been fortunate to actually land several things (including my first TV show -- more on that after it shoots!).  It's fun to look at things from both sides again.  I am learning a lot about writing (largely because I am reading so many plays searching for audition material) and getting exposed to a whole new network of people which is both fun and also good for all aspects of my life.

I often wonder how realistic it is to try to both perform and write.  Is it possible to do both well, and to achieve any "success" (read: make any money) doing both, or am I spreading myself too thin?  While I don't know the answer to this, I've also kind of decided I don't care.  Acting is fun, and it is satisfying to use this part of myself, especially in a new way.  I don't want to miss out on that opportunity for joy because I am afraid it will detract from my writing.  And I don't want to give up on my writing either, especially not while I have some stories in my mind that I really want to tell.  And who knows, maybe some day I'll hold a pen from both ends and act in something I wrote again.

Monday, July 2, 2012

All Shook Up

I'm still a little woozy from this weekend's writing intensive at ESPA.  Winter Miller, the instructor, completely blew open my creative process.  I feel like I was put in a martini shaker with a bunch of different ingredients, shaken up, and poured back out.  The end result is still a beverage, but it looks and tastes very different.

Winter constructed the weekend in such a way that I wasn't allowed to do anything the way I would normally do it. For example, we weren't allowed to use computers the first day -- and I was so intrigued by the difference I felt writing by hand that I decided to write by hand for the entire weekend (god help me if I lose that notebook). But she also didn't have us just start at the beginning and write.  We played games where we inhabited our characters; we built sculptures; we made lists of random things and then wrote scenes inspired from those things -- often scenes that we would never expect to write (most notably, the list of the thing that absolutely would never happen in your play, then of course we had to write a scene where that thing happened).

I'm almost not even sure what happened this weekend, it's all such a crazy blur.  All I know is that I walked in Friday evening with some background information in my head (since my play is an historical piece), ideas about the main character and one other, and a handful of plot points that did not add up to a full narrative.  I walked out Sunday evening with an outline for the entire story from beginning to end, very clear ideas of the 6 main characters who are in it, and several rough scenes constructed.  This play is so clear in my mind now, if I didn't have to teach and rehearse and perform, I honestly think I could pound out a first draft in the next week or two at the most.

I think I need to shake up my writing process like this more often.  'Cause this rocks.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Let's Get It On!

cue Marvin Gaye:

I have a hot date tonight.  Actually it's an entire weekend-long date, so it's going to be intense.  Butterflies are fluttering in my belly -- I've been eagerly anticipating this for several weeks and it's finally here.  The timing seems to be perfect for this to happen.  This weekend, my next play will be conceived.

(This is where the whole pregnancy metaphor kind of breaks down -- I actually "conceived" this play idea at least a couple of years ago, with my erstwhile writing partner Kat.  But we never did anything with it.  So, it's kind of like IVF -- the idea has been in deep freeze and will now actually be implanted. Or something like that.)

Obviously this "date" isn't with my boyfriend (fortunately he's not the jealous type) -- it's a 3-day writing intensive with playwright Winter Miller at ESPA-Primary Stages.  It is called the "generator", where you come in with the germ of an idea for a new play and Winter will lead us through exercises to generate more material in one weekend than we ever thought possible.  As I love to write intensively, I figured this would be a great way to kick off this new play, and was delighted when I was accepted into the course.

I have been told to expect that this will be one of those dates where you disappear from the world and nothing else exists, where you barely come up for food and air.  So I'll see you all on the other side - with something of a new play on my hands.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wanna play again? (or, launching Phase II!)

Hello, blog.  Sorry I have been so out of touch.  I've just been so-- I know, I know, I'm sorry, I could have at least sent you a text or an email, but... 

Look.  I have a confession to make.  I can't lie, your fears are correct, I was looking for fulfillment elsewhere.  I was exploring other... creative avenues.  Like acting. And singing a bit.  Actually going on some auditions. I know what you're going to say, I've been down that road before and where did it get me, but it's different this time. I swear.  I'm just doing it for fun now.  And I wasn't completely unfaithful!  I did actually take a writing class.  I wrote a whole TV pilot in like a month!  Amazing, right?  I wanted to share it with you, I did, but I was just so--- I know, excuses excuses, always excuses.  Well I'm back now and I have something I'm really excited about that I want to share with you if you'll let me.  It's another full-length play, but with music this time.  No, not a musical, we've had this discussion, I don't want to write a musical.  It's a play with music, a very different thing.  I'll explain more later, I promise.  Plus I'm upping the deadline ante: none of this long dragged-out 9 months business this time, the first draft will be done by Labor Day.  Only 78 days including today.  Don't scoff, you know me better than that, deadlines are my best friend and I almost never betray them.  Besides, it's gonna be fun! Most of the time, anyway.  

So, whaddya say, wanna play again?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

On the twelfth day - signed, sealed, and delivered!

It's done.  It's in the mail.  It has been a very intense couple of days.   I did not leave my apartment from when I got home after celebrating New Year's (around 1:30am Sunday morning) until 4:30pm Monday afternoon.  I did spend some of those hours sleeping and eating, but otherwise, I was in front of my computer, writing away.  I got to the end of the play Monday afternoon, and had to get to the gym to get the cobwebs out of my brain and step away from it for a bit.  I sent it to some other people to read in the meantime, to make sure it was solid enough to submit.  I returned home after dinner to finish writing the rest of the materials needed for the application, and got up early again this morning before teaching to put the packet together and read through the script one last time.  I took it to the post office this afternoon during a break between students.  And thus, my twelve days of "write fast!" is complete.

I almost don't know what to do with myself now.  That's one of the amazing things about having a goal and a singular over-riding focus: you always know exactly what you need to be doing.  Now I have this empty evening in front of me with nothing to do and... well, actually, I have tons to do.  Did I mention I am moving in 13 days?  I have floorplans to draw up, movers to arrange, boxes to obtain, stuff to sort through.... Plus I want to arrange a reading of this new script, so I can hear it out loud.  Among other things.

But guess what?  I'm not going to do any of that.  I am boiling some pasta on the stove, am sipping at a glass of wine, and I'm going to find some sort of netflix diversion to occupy me and I'm going to sit here and enjoy one of the last nights I'll have living alone with my cat in my adorable little studio apartment.

Happy New Year to me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

On the tenth day... HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It is New Year's Day, 2012.  Hard to believe it.  A year that seemed impossibly far away when I first heard about the Mayan calendar thing when I was a teenager.  And here we are.

And here I am, trying desperately to finish my play by Tuesday morning.  The last two days of my 12 days of "write fast!" have been challenging, because of teaching and some very important time spent with friends, and I haven't gotten as much done as I would have liked.  I'm still working on Act II Scene 4, with scenes 5 and 6 still to go as well.  Ack!  Thus I begin the new year as a hermit today and tomorrow as I make this valiant effort to fulfill a promise I made to myself a year ago.  Not a bad way to start the year, really, working towards a goal.  It's one of my favorite past-times.

Wishing you all a year of fulfilling promises, reaching goals, and getting what you want out of your life!