Stop and smell the...

...roses. Friday is here. At last. Yay. Somehow managed to get my 7 page integrated beat sheet outline done for my screenwriting class, got my other writing assignment in, did a last minute freelance job, and now just need to read Life of Pi before Sunday when my book club meets. It was a busy week of working, and trying to hustle up work and I gotta say the hustling part is the most stressful!

But now the weekend is here, and although I will work all through out it, tonight I will take a break to visit with friends, share some homemade Quinoa stew, salad, and a glass of vino from my trip to wine country. Mmmmmm....smell those roses!


"Time keeps on slipping...

..into the future." That is the song that is in my head today, although I don't want to "fly like an eagle to the sea, fly like an eagle, let the spirit carry me..." but I do want the pages to fly out of me!

Things are going slowly in the world of my novel...and I am just now starting to stress about it. You see I can see the end of the year from here, the second we are in August, my brain will already be gearing up for September and then I jump to Christmas/Hannukah! I am already well past the half way mark of my year, but not yet at the halfway mark for my second novel.

Getting to the halfway mark or the middle, is the hardest thing for me to do. I claw my way to the middle, one slow page at a time and then once I am there I can usually run to the three quarter mark and sprint to the end. Of course writing a novel is much more like running a marathon than a sprint or a flight, to mix metaphors, it is a test of endurance, of stamina and this is the point in the marathon where I need to dig deep and pull up those reserves and tell myself to focus. I want another 150 pages by the beginning of October and a complete draft by the end of the year. No easy feat. But I will try...


Change the sheets! Next guest arrives at noon!!

My dear friend Kim left yesterday after a truly wonderful visit. I have known Kim for eight years now, when she directed me in a show that was a really big deal for me. I had been doing lots of sketch comedy and working with Second City and Kim not knowing me had asked me to come in and read for a part in a play based on the recommendation of one of the cast members. She needed a fast talking Noir Dame, a genre I adore, and I needed a great gig! Much to my surprise, Kim gave me the role, and that summer I got to work with some unbelievably talented actors. Our play got rave reviews, the cover of a newspaper, a 2 page spread, was the 'Hit of the Fringe' and sold out every single show! Professionally, it exposed me to an audience that had never seen my work, personally, it was the start of some great friendships.

Now all these years later it is amazing to see just how much each of us has grown and accomplished and talk about where we want to be in the next eight years. Even though we are on different career paths, the dreams for our careers and ourselves are not that dissimilar...to keep being artists, to keep challenging ourselves, to thrive and prosper, and yes to have a pied a terre in NYC! The onus is now on Kim for that one, after all, she also loves the ocean... but I got that part covered!

Time to change the sheets! My mother in law arrives at noon...I hope I can get her green thumbs into our garden.


And she accusses me of stealing!

Sorry to have not blogged for a few days, my dear friend Kim (I couldn't get her pic to rotate no matter what I tried!) has come to visit and we are spending our days having picnics in Santa Monica, mooching around The Grove, eating Mexican food at El Cholo and having dinners at home outside in the backyard. We are laughing and gabbing and catching up. You see Kim lives in Canada, when she is not traveling around the world being the fabulous award winning lighting designer that she is, and to get her for a few days not working and all to ourselves is a ridiculous treat!

Kim's only flaw is that she plays dirty when the bill comes. This is particularly upsetting, as playing dirty when the bill comes; snatching it from friends, sneaking the waiter my credit card before the food is even served, (all tricks I learned from my mom) is my specialty. Well, wise to this, Kim has started to announce aloud..."She's stealing something!" This makes me freeze in my tracks and let go of whatever it is we are having a tug of war over and allows Kim to make a dash for the cash register. Sigh. She is crafty.

Today we will be mooch about L.A. and tonight have dinner in Silverlake. And tomorrow a road trip to wine country for the day! Ah friends. They really do fill our hearts and remind us of who we are and what is important, like good laughs, good conversations, sharing dreams and yes every now and then, threatening incarceration to remind us just how much we are loved.


Solar Power twinkly lights and rewrites...

Today when I was running errands I found some solar powered twinkly lights at Target and bought them! Solar powered twinkly lights have long been a dream invention of my husband and I, although I see that not actually doing anything about it like, say... research, design, patent protection...we missed the boat and now they are the brainchild of some other environmentally friendly magpie! I am thrilled. I am going to wrap the cute little stars in the lime tree and enjoy margarita's by their luminous light when my friend Kim comes to visit me tomorrow! Woohoo! I tell ya there is nothing like a house guest to kick your butt in gear. I have been clearing my desk and writing away for days so that I can have some fun time. Of course Kim is fabulous and knows that I will need to work too, but it never hurts to get a few days ahead.

This afternoon is all about rewriting my script beat sheet, which is so much harder than it sounds. My brain has just started to wrap its head around several questions regarding the structure of my new novel and along comes the script beat sheet, a completely different, but just as demanding animal. Sigh.

Let's just say that I am happy that I got a blender to make the iced coffees that I have been mainlining!

Back to the beat board!


The backyard beckons...And Faint or Flight syndrome...

On the agenda for today...

Yoga -Check!

Audition- Check!

Trip to see fabulous commercial agent-Check!

Lunch in the backyard with delightful neighbors and dogs-Check!

Pinkberry, reward for work done- Check!

Work done....um...no...not yet...uh...so much to do...must drink ice coffee and get cracking on copy writing, psa announcements, script notes, class assignments....snooze.

Whenever I get stressed, or let the work pile up all I want to do is sleep. I have been dozing off everywhere lately at all times of the day. My husband says that people have a fight or flight response to stress. Apparently, I have lost the fight part and have replaced it with the sleep part. My friend renamed it faint or flight, as she witnessed me lay my head down in the middle of an audio seminar and pass out for ten minutes. I couldn't help myself.

Alas, the only thing to do, is clear my desk, so that I can be less stressed and hopefully stay awake longer to enjoy things...like that beautiful backyard, which beckons...

What do you do when you are really stressed?


Hot Summer In The City!

It's really here. Summer has finally arrived in a big way this week and the heat has come with it. But this year, I will not have to sit at my desk and turn into a puddle! No, this year, I will be able to write in crisp air conditioned goodness all day long. And this, I think, is a good thing. I mean I have lots of writing to do, novel writing, copy writing, screenwriting...lots. And now it seems, no excuses.

So why then, in spite of my attempts to control the temperature, does my brain and body still feel like it's a hot, lazy summer day? Is there just a natural rhythm to the seasons and the way we work that stays with us, a sort of hold over from school days when summer meant a 2 month long break and September meant back to school? I know that every September I feel energized and want to go out and buy new colored pencils and notebooks even though I don't need to.

What about you? Do you work differently at different times of the year?


Ignoring the novel...

This has been a crazy week, and a great week! Great because I have been really busy and crazy because somehow I only generated one new page of my novel. Okay, I rewrote my synopsis, rewrote my 5 page outline for a new screenplay, did 2 freelance jobs, auditioned and gardened like a maniac, but still...no new novel pages...really? Really. Sigh.

Sometimes this is what happens to me. I get to a place in my novel, where I just know that the best thing to do, is walk away from it, for a teeny bit. I still check in on it and it still turns over itself in the outer reaches of my brain, but in some ways, I choose to ignore it. I garden. I spend more time on my acting, I read magazines and watch movies. It's like we are having the kind of fight that you sometimes have with a really close friend, the kind where you love one another, but don't necessarily like one another, and you decide to give each other space until the weirdness has blown over. That's where I have been with my novel since Tuesday. I'm a little pissed at it. It keeps changing its mind on me, promising one thing and then offering up another. We are at an impasse my novel and I, and as it seems that neither of us will yield, I think the best thing to do, is to wait another day or two and pretend that nothing is wrong and try again.


My brain has shut off...

It happened yesterday at 2:30pm. I had made my Tuesday deadlines and thought that I would go to the backyard for some fresh air. I sat in the big Adirondack chair, let the dogs out, mine and my neighbors, opened my laptop to return e-mails and stared off into space. An hour later, still starting. An hour and a half later, I am chatting with my neighbors, laying down gravel, and heading inside for what I hoped would be more work, but alas, was just more staring. I watched a couple hours of Nurse Jackie, bathed and was in bed and sleeping by 10:00pm.

And it seems that the brain fog has not cleared. I have been distracted, locked myself out of my apartment, forgot to eat breakfast until 11:30...and can not stop yawning. I am hoping that a long walk will shake of these cobwebs and help me to focus once more.

I start my advanced novel writing workshop today and have pages that need editing and more pages that need to be written. I am hoping that the forecast calls for the overcast brain clearing by noon and a clear and bright brain for the rest of the day!


Monday writing madness!!

Whose idea was this? To write a screenplay this summer and work on a new novel and take courses at UCLA? Oh wait... that was mine.

I have spent the whole day writing away, hammering out the outline for a screenplay that has drastically changed since I started it two weeks ago. It's good for me to do this and I am loving bouncing ideas around, but my head is going to explode. There are characters coming and going and story lines beginning and ending and endless editing as I change my mind constantly about what the story is that I am trying to tell. The hardest thing for me is to distill the story down to a log line, one sentence that says this is a story about. Once I have that, I write it down and refer to it again and again, reminding myself when things get too crazy to focus on what the story is about, what is at its truest, most pure heart.

This weekend while festivities were under way for the 4th of July, happy belated all, I was at home at my desk, watching a different kind of fireworks go off on the pages of my new novel. A new character took focus, a secret was revealed and I passed page 100. Finally. The writing madness is paying off...which is a good thing, because it only gets crazier from here!


Rally the troops!

The only long weekend I am going to have is a long weekend of writing! I just got a freelance gig, which is fabulous!! And I have an enormous amount of work to do for my screenwriting course...and I am about to start an advanced novel writing workshop for my second novel. My novel page count isn't where I want it to be yet, and so this weekend I am getting myself up early and shooting for 3-5 pages a day until Wednesday!

It will be hard to do as I am at that point in my novel where I can see where I am going in the long run, but in the short run, there are gaps...huge gaps that need to be sorted through. Alas that's where the troops come in! As you can see they are all there on my desk, along with a now empty tin of chocolate covered espresso beans, a large iced coffee and this gorgeous new addition...a hand blown glass vase that was a gift from my friends Greg & Shin and is a ray of sunshine on even the dreariest of days! I love this vase, it has layers upon layers, and reminds me that this is what my story should be like, and in it I put a note that arrived from my mom with flowers one week that says simply..."You can do it."

And I can, and with all these lovely treasures from friends and a hefty dose of caffeine...I will.


Happy Canada Day!!!

Maple Syrup and Veggie Bacon for everyone!!

Today is Canada Day, and all my Canuck friends have been facebooking holiday cheer, and things that remind us of home. Things like, Tim Horton's coffee and donut shop, which is a franchise that was started by a famous hockey player. Tim's is an institution in Canada. Think of it like a folksy Starbucks where everything is really affordable and the locals go, to order a double double, which is a coffee with double sugar and double cream, and a timbit, or a donut hole.

Funnily enough my first ad campaign was for Tim Horton's expansion into the United States. I shot 6 National commercials for them, did a whack of voice overs and even had a spot named after me, called "Gina Bagel." It was a big deal and it helped me support myself while doing sketch comedy and being paid in beer, and it got me noticed as a gal who could do commercials which is a great way to support yourself as an actor, and even better as a writer!

And now here I am living in the States, working on my first big comedy screenplay that is about of all things...a hockey family! We've come full circle Tim Horton's and I...sigh. May your Canada Day be sweet. As sweet as a timbit.
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