My brain is gonna burst!!!

Oh this is maddening! Just when I made some great progress in my novel I got stumped! Sigh. My novel is being told in the first person, but she is trying to uncover a mystery about her mother...so I go back in time and as my character is not able to time travel, I now want to tell the story in third person. But...it might make more sense to tell this new section from the mothers first person p.o.v....or I might just rewrite the whole darn thing in third person. Egads! It boggles the mind, and makes my already bad headache worse.

Anyone switched back and forth with their p.o.v.'s in the same text before? And if so, want to share your secrets? I will give you pressies...pinkberry...gummies...earrings!! Please?


All the balls are in the air...

This photo is like the map that I wrote out for my new novel yesterday...all the balls are in the air, hovering, barely contained in little coherent spheres of thought.

I took my friend Robert's advice and went off line and into a different room, and wrote long hand all the possible threads and connections for my novel. At one point I had about five entirely different ways the story could go. After a few hours, I made Jeff my human sounding board and bounced ideas off of him, testing what worked and where my logic failed. After about an hour I asked him if he was alright and he said, "no, I'm exhausted, how do you do this all day?" which I have to say made me feel really good. It validated that I am not crazy or lazy for sometimes feeling like I have pulled an all nighter after a day of writing. I often think that I just need a stronger cup of coffee or a multi vitamin or something, but the look on Jeff's face and the way he pleaded with me to just stop for the day and give it a rest, let me know that I am not completely crazy. Partly crazy for sure, how else could I love doing this?


Monday Mapping Maddness...

I have been inspired by how many of my colleagues are mappers of their work, so much so that I am going to try and map a little earlier than I normally would. I am only at page 43, which feels great, but already I am seeing the need for planning what lies ahead. There is a lot more plotting in this book and secrets to be solved and locations to visit. The journey that my protagonist is taking is not just an internal one, but also a physical one. In order to sort it all out I have been writing copious notes and trying to map out my destination.

Although this is hard to do and newer for me, I think that it will be a lot easier than what I have been doing...sitting down at the computer and tearing my heart open and seeing where it goes. My husband joked that it is like picking at scabs. I keep opening the same wound, and wondering what else will be there when I do. You see, I get into my characters and their lives and this story is really dramatic and complicated and personal and it will be fascinating to read (I hope), but for me the writer, right now it's like going into my cave, drawing the blinds, lighting a candle and hammering out my words on a tablet made of stone.

Tap, tap, tap...that's the sound of me hammering out my map. I hope there's a pot of gold at the end of this gray rainbow!


All questions and few answers...

Yesterday resulted in pages and pages of "what if?" for my new novel and very few answers. But the fact that I have questions to ask and that my brain started working overtime, made me very happy. I have a big erase board full of notes and a file on my computer full of thoughts as well...and I am sure that eventually answers and possible paths to take will emerge.

The cool thing about having written one novel before is that I actually have references for all these stages. And although there are days where I can feel like I have no idea how to write, I know from my limited experience, but experience none the less, that that is a familiar feeling too.

Right now I am in the foggy beginning...shapes are appearing in the distance and I am driving towards them, getting closer and closer as they start to take form.

It's thrilling and terrifying, and sometimes my head lights don't work, but I am determined.

Back into the fog I go!


Declare yourself!

Calling all writers and list makers! I would love to know who out there is a big mapper? Do you outline your book/script/day...do you stick to the plan? Do you know ahead of time what you are writing and where you have to write to? And if you do and have a discovered a way that doesn't leave you drained and moaning...what am I doing? Please let me know. Pretty please. There will be a pinkberry frozen yogurt in your future. I promise. Declare yourself! Now spill!

And while we are on the topic of declaring and sharing...would those who write me privately, please consider also posting on my blog? You can give yourself a pseudonym! It takes a minute, but once it's done..it's done and you can use that identity to post on any e-blogger blog. Just think what you will be doing for my mental health, as I write and wonder...hello??? Anyone out there??? And you are, and I know it...now show it. xoxo


Dog with a bone...

I am one of those never give up people. It makes people around me crazy and it makes myself crazy, because it pertains to everything in my life. It's true, I have a hard time letting go. If someone tells me "no", I try again, if they say it's "impossible", I look for another way of making it happen. Whether it's in my acting, writing, or personal life...once I get my mind made up, there is no stopping me.

My latest obsession is the dirt pit out back that passes for a backyard. Everyone in our rental wants it changed. And we were told that if we did the work, the landlord would pay for it. But now three months later...we are still waiting. First there was no money, then there was a little money, then they needed plans, then they needed samples of gravel etc, then they were going to come by an take a look...and that was 3 weeks ago. It was also the day that my landlord asked me not to be a pest, and I agreed, as long as my pestering was heard...and answered. And so yesterday another e-mail went out.

I have always improved the places of wherever I lived, whether I rented or owned and this place is no exception. There are 4 lovely units all made beautiful by the tenants and we would love to use the backyard which is a rare and valuable commodity for this neighborhood. I have even posted on Craigslist for free gravel and patio stones. Sigh. How great would it be to have a place for all our dogs to play and plants for me to tend to, on a writing break.

I am determined. Stay tuned.


Heat Wave.....

It's hot. Insanely hot. 93 degrees hot, and I have air conditioning!! Woohoo!! First time having a/c in Los Angeles. Oh it's too good to be true. Well, it is a little. I mean it's not very strong a/c being an old building and all, but it is there...a little breeze of cool air. I now know that I need to put it on hours in advance as it takes a while to really kick in, but it does kick in, which is really good news because it means that I will be able to write in the middle of the day without turning into a giant puddle of sweat at my desk.


Chitta Vritti...

Chitta Vritti is a yogic term that roughly translates to mind fluctuations or thoughts. A big part of yoga is stilling the mind and not just in a yoga class on the mat, but say like this morning when I was out on my walk trying to wake myself up before writing. I was indeed trying to clear my head, but boy was it ever loud in there. No matter how much I turned up my music I couldn't stop the chatter in my head, which eventually turned to arguments with people that I am frustrated with or over subject matters that are sore points with me and even when I returned and showered and changed I couldn't shake it. I eventually had to tell Jeff that I was having all sorts of imaginary arguments with people and then I had to figure out what it all means. Sigh. The brain is on overdrive.

Well today's soapbox was all about people focusing on themselves and their strict way of seeing and doing things and placing themselves at the center of the universe and not rememebering the big picture. The case I made before my imaginary jury, was about being more compassionate to all living creatures, being more flexible and open to change, stressing less and enjoying life more, celebrating friendship and family and being receptive to new ideas and a different way of doing things.

Lots of Chitta Vritti. And probably no small coincidence that my lead character in my new novel has been arguing with herself a lot. She has a lot to be angry about. Trust me, I know. I'm the one making it up and making it harder for her.

So this is what they call Method Writing. Sigh. Should've picked something happier to write about it!



There was a lot of good feeding happening yesterday! Fed my body with a great walk, fed my soul with lots of Mabel love, fed my my heart with great friends whom we made dinner for and fed my brain with a great writing day. And then today I got actual feedback from fellow writers about the first chapter of my novel and well, I am pretty darn pleased.

Okay there are some problems where I switched tenses back and forth, accidentally forgetting to change everything back to first person past tense, so it was a little back to the future in some parts, and there is my unique way of bastardizing the use of the apostrophe and the comma, and a few skips in logic, but for a first draft, I was pretty darn pleased with the response.

Apparently I have a great opening line, and my readers were hooked and they asked such serious and pointed questions about my protagonist and wanted to know more about her sooner, which is great, because they care. I once had somebody tell me that they couldn't stand a character I loved, they thought he was a total cad and completely undeserving of the love and attention of my lead character. That was hard. I loved that cad and spent several drafts trying to flesh him out, so that readers would see what I saw.

But that is the great thing about feedback, it gives you a whole new set of eyes to see your work and for me it helps me to define what I love and what I am willing to change about my characters. Knowing how others see my characters, informs me as to how I see them, even if that means I disagree with someone else's interpretation.

And a final note of feedback came from a friend of mine who reads my blog. She had this to say about the picture of me and Mabel "Yes Gina, you do like a crazy stalker!"

I must say, I have to disagree.


Reunited and it feels so good...

Boy oh boy do I love that Dog!! Got Mabel back from her Doggy Day Care yesterday, all clean with her hair cut short like a little lamb. And she is irresistible . Of course I stalked her all day, made her sit on my lap while I wrote and bribed her for her affection with dried chicken breasts. Well it worked. She seems to have forgiven me for leaving her in L.A. while we went to Toronto.

It was a great day all around yesterday, and when I finally handed in my much rewritten first chapter, I was happy with the results. Of course today is another day and now I have to try and figure out where I am going next with my novel. I am in completely uncharted territory and my idea board is starting to get crowded. Good thing it is a dry erase board I can wipe it all off and start again! I am thinking of putting my protagonist on a plane and sending her off to one of the countries that I recently visited, but what I really want to do...is send her somewhere I haven't gone. Somewhere far away and mysterious, and then I would have to go..right? For research?

Has anyone ever done this? Traveled to real place for their work of fiction?


Back in the U.S.A...

Wow. We are just back from a fabulous trip to see family and friends! There was lots of visiting and eating and chatting and laughing and as always we crammed in as much as humanly possible getting only 5 hours sleep a night. Of course it is always so bittersweet to see everyone as it never feels like enough time together, and being surrounded by such wonderful friends and family only makes me want to stay longer. Sigh. So much love, so much laughter, a heart that could break because it is so full...these are good problems. And these are not the problems of the protagonist of my new novel. Oh not at all. And now that I am back home in L.A. I can get back to the business of making her life a complicated mess!

Time to get writing, a deadline for my polished first chapter looms!


Bon Voyage!

I am posting late at night again. In another hour it will be Thursday and I will be on a plane to see family and friends in Toronto! There will be lots of loving and laughing and eating and then we will do it all over again! It has been almost a year since I have seen some of my friends and on Saturday we are all getting together for a big brunch and a chance to catch up. I went shopping and got all my little kiddie friends cool t-shirts, can't resist giving to the little people, they sure do love the presents.

In an effort to get ready for our trip, I have been typing away, writing, rewriting, and dreaming up possibilities for my new novel. Yesterday, I had one of those really great writing days where the writing happens inside my head all day long, slowly brewing until murky ideas and images become just concrete enough, that I can grab hold of them and jot them down as possibilities. I ended up rewriting my entire first chapter, and then changed it some more today, and finally I had a fresh set of eyes look and tell me if what I had written had made any sense at all. And apparently it does. It might even be good. Now, wouldn't that be heavenly.

Bon Voyage! See you here next week!


So many questions...so few answers...

What it's almost 9pm? What it's Monday? What I haven't blogged yet?
So goes my brain after a day in front of the computer. I did take a break for yoga, and to go buy some beautiful furniture for our balcony and to take Mabel to her doggy date at our old place, where I got to visit my friend too and drink blended iced Nescafe's...delicious. But in between all of that, I ate all my meals at my desk and am still here, trying to figure out, what on earth is happening in my new novel?

I am starting to ask all sorts of questions about it and the characters, which is such a wonderful thing, because questions lead to answers and they both lead to pages. I am busy reworking my opening chapters and it is making me crazy, and I am realizing that I am actually not only working in a narrative form that I haven't used before, the first person, but also in a style I haven't used before. So, maybe, I was actually crazy before I started the reworking.

Either way, it's time to get back to Toronto and 1989, in my book that is, not my time machine, which would take me to the future when I knew where this book was heading!


Grey Friday...

I can not believe it's Friday...but then again I can't believe that it is April either! Where is the time going? I feel like time is marching on, but I am only strolling alongside it. This fast slow phenomenon is nothing new...it's the "hurry up and wait" tune that is a huge part of being an artist who is often dependent on the schedule of others. Now it shouldn't affect my creativity but somehow it does. As I wait the fate of one writing project, the progress of another is slow. It's as if a big part of my heart and brain is still with that old project, waiting for it to find a home, waiting for it move on to the next wonderful phase of it's life, so that I can move on as well. Sigh.

I am back at work on the second novel today and at the essays, and I hope that my being back in class will reignite my now stuck story and allow me to fall in love with new characters and immerse myself all over again in a new world.

But first a walk, another commercial audition and then it's back to my beautiful office...where hopefully my new "friends" will be waiting to come alive on the page.


What Now?

I love this picture of Mabel. The expression on her face says to me..."What now?" And it's a good question.
What's next for me is another writing course at UCLA this time with a professor that I have never studied with before. I have started a new novel and am only about 50 pages in which is exactly what we will be workshopping. It was hard for me to study with someone else, after having studied and worked extensively on novel writing with the brilliant Caroline Leavitt, (her blog is listed on this page..check it out!) whom I adore and am inspired by everyday, but I needed a kick in my butt and this class seemed to be just the right thing at the the right time.

I love being back in class, and of course I am also terrified. New people, new eyes, new unformed relationships...what if they hate my writing, what if my prof and I don't see eye to eye, and what about all the reading and critiquing that I have to do...on top of all my own writing?!

Of course this is really the perfect situation for me to get anything done in, because the more I have to do, the more I get done. I am still working on my collection of personal essays and my manuscript has been requested by a fabulous agency, so there is a lot for me to do...and like I have been writing here of late, that is all I can do...the work. As for the outcomes...well I am much like Mabel, wondering what will happen next?


Do you believe in hubris?

Yesterdays turn of events has elicited some really interesting e-mail dialogue between myself and some friends. One friend responded to my blog that he felt certain that I wasn't being punished for celebrating and that this is just one more great story for the memoir. Another used the word "shitty" in so many wonderful ways that I had to smile, while another told of his own belief that whenever he gets too happy or feels too good about his life, something goes wrong to remind him that he is "not all that", as if to put him in his small place. He claimed it was a Catholic thing, but I know that it's a Jewish thing too and I am sure every religion has its version of don't- get -too- big- for- your- britches.

But it made me wonder if I believe this? I had worried about it for sure, but did I believe it to be true? This kind of thinking has actually been with me for a long time, a kind of don't get too happy or too high, lest the lows get too low, kind of protective armor. But in truth I have been struggling against this kind of thinking for a long time now, just as much as I have been trying to no longer believe that if I don't get A, then I am meant to get B. I believe in the Universe and all that, but I also really believe in my own actions. Hard work gets results...as the saying goes, the harder I work the luckier I get and it's true.

I believe that the outcomes of our actions are as much a crap shoot as they are destiny. I think that the universe and I are in partnership and I can only ever control my end of the partnership. Work hard, be brilliant, avoid bitterness, and keep the dream alive. Have faith that actions will be rewarded. Do the work and don't worry about the rest. It's easier said than done, but I do believe that it is the doing and not just the saying that gets results.

What about you? What do you believe?
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