8/28/09

Making Art, not widgets...






I had a great conversation with an amazing writer friend this morning and we were talking about how to balance the writing with the joe jobbing. Joe jobbing, I just learned is a Canadian term my friends who are artists and I use, to describe the type of job that one does in between their gigs and big paydays. It comes from the term, "ordinary Joe", like a real person, with a real job. But I realized in explaining it today that it really isn't accurate, as writing, painting, dancing, acting, working as an artist...these are all jobs too. Real jobs, done by real people, with very real expectations of making a living doing them.

Art is a huge part of our lives and it needs to be valued and supported and it can't be if we keep thinking of it as a luxury that gets to be done in between, or on the side, like some kind of hobby. My friend and I agreed that nothing infuriates us more than telling someone what we do, only to have them say, "I would love to write a book too, if only I had the time", as if time was the only thing required. It's just time, not hard work or skill, or patience, or years and years spent crafting one's skills through trial and error. I know actors get this too, and painters often here, "oh, I could've painted that!"...which is so infuriating. I would never assume that I could just do what someone else does for a living!

I remember hearing that a man came up to the famous Canadian writer Margaret Atwood at a party and asked her what she did, and when she told him he said, "oh, when I retire from surgery, I am gonna write a book," to which she replied..."oh, when I retire from writing, I am gonna operate on people." This still makes me laugh. Sometimes all the juggling gets frustrating. And I know this is now more true for so many people regardless of what they do for a living.

I got this painting from my neighbor David Friedman...it is titled..."Warning! You are entering an Art Zone!" I have put it in the hallway that leads to my office, and this other smaller one of his, inside my office, so that on days like today, when I am feeling spread too thin and wondering what the hell it is I am doing...I can look up and be reminded, I am not making widgets.

8/26/09

Hmm...tell me...how do you do it?


I have been hustling up work in an effort to support my habit...novel writing. Writing a novel takes a long time, it's as simple as that. And even though people say things like "you will write your second one faster..." what they really mean was faster than the last, which really isn't all that comforting. It took me over 3 1/2 years to write my first novel. True, once I knew what I was doing I got faster and wrote the bulk of it in the last year and a half. But the truth is, it takes as long as it takes. Sometimes characters or ideas need to swirl around the edges of my brain, like blurry figures in the distance, taking shape every now and then and whispering something to me, before they retreat again for days or weeks or months. Sometimes a flash of a scene stays with me, the middle of it, not the beginning or the end, just a fragment, like a dream that you can't quite remember all of, and tries to leave you upon waking.

I guess what I am really saying is, you can't rush it. It takes time, and everyone knows, time is money. Thankfully I have a terrific copywriting gig and am doing some freelance work, but I am always fascinated by what other writers and artists do in between the big paydays. I know of one writer who was a dog walker and another who uses part of her home as a B&B..what about you?

8/24/09

Working!




This is the latest addition to my beautiful garden...notice the new plant. It is really coming along and today it will get 2 big birds of paradise! It is so pretty, and I have loved spending time in it, but must now lock myself back in my office. I have a deadline Thursday, and by October 10th I need to have 100 new pages written on the new novel. The treatment needs finishing, and there are critiques to do, and of course all of this makes me want to sleep! But I must not. Instead I will use my view of our backyard to entice me to keep writing, and make a trip to the getting greener all the time backyard, my reward.

8/19/09

The new novel lies in slumber...

I am approaching the "where the hell do I go from here?" moment in my novel. In fact it has already arrived, but I am one week away from really having to stare it in the face, although I see it, looming, taunting, reminding me that all the angst of the first 100+ pages, is going to revisit me with these next 100.

I want to press pause. I want the days on the calendar to stop passing, the clock to temporarily cease ticking and for the phone not to ring, while I escape to a cabin in Big Sur overlooking the Redwood forest and sit in front of a fireplace with Jeff and Mabel and write for a month straight.

This is not going to happen. But I am going to get a visit from my beloved folks for 5 days, which will be a wonderful treat. We love to just hang out, read, watch movies, eat yummy things, gab and stroll. And there will be writing at night, as they tend to retire early with the paperbacks in hand and the news on in the background.

And I am going to try and enjoy myself knowing, that at the end of the week, when all the fun is over...my novel will be staring me down, demanding to know where we are going next.

8/17/09

Gardening with gusto...



I have taken to gardening. Or rather over hauling as an antidote to sitting in front of the computer all day. Our backyard, once a barren landscape of nothing more than sandy dirt and a heap of lies from the landlords who have promised each new tenant that it will be transformed with..."a deck" "patio stones" "a jacuzzi"...only never to materialize once the leases were signed, is now an oasis. After begging cajoling, and sending numerous letters and phone calls, my neighbors and I got to work on it ourselves. Of course we can't change anything structurally or build anything without permission...but we can plant and lay mulch and put out patio furniture, and if need be when we move, we will pick up every little piece of rock and bark that we lay down.

Saturday was phase 2 of the garden and after a 7:00am trip to home depot with my neighbor who worked on set until 3:00 am and was to drive out of town by 9:00, I got more mulch, more dirt, more pots for plants. And then for the next 10 hours I hauled butt. I cleaned and raked and lay bags of mulch and repotted and finally drenched in sweat and deliriously happy, I called it a day at dinner.

There is still so much more work to be done, and it will happen. But in the meantime, I have found the perfect way to clear my head away from the computer and let those novel questions germinate and grow, just like our little garden.

8/12/09

Fall down tired...


Twice this week, I have woken up and wondered what day it is and where I am. I think I might be over tired, but it is a good tired. The kind of tired that comes from, crossing big things off my list...like a 15 page treatment for a screenplay, or finding the right name for my novel, or crafting the perfect letter for a blurb request from a person that I really admire. It is the tired that comes from reworking novel pages and dreaming up new ones, and winning a copy writing gig that is truly delicious.

And then there is also this exercise bet, that my husband and I have had going on for a month and tomorrow is the last day...I have today to get my final workout in, or else I will be the loser, and the loser cleans the apartment by themselves...for a month!!

I have been focusing so much on work, that I am actually aching to get back to my new novel and get lost in the world of my protagonist Elsie and her messed up family. She is about to take off for the summer and my summer is already ending, she gets to go to Paris...and for the next few weeks, I get to go with her.

Time to get back up, and get back at it!

8/11/09

Give that baby a name!!!!



Oh sweet naming! I spent all weekend dreaming up names for my debut novel, my baby. My agent decided that we needed a new name, one that really captured the book, and maybe not the name that I started out with when I first started writing the book...as well...books change and grow. Just like babies, human and furbabies alike. Although those are messier. But I digress.

So, I came up with 43 new names, and yes it was like growing new skin, painful, itchy and so uncomfortable! Imagine if one day your lover said to you, "I know that you have known me for 4 years now, and you are used to calling me Bob, but I'd like you to start calling me Josiah." This only works in my book if you you were originally called Josiah, or Cat Stevens, but again, I digress!

Well, after all the names were in, I got an e-mail from my mama...she thought that the book should be called..."Let it Be Me." Brilliant! A perfect fit! I loved it immediately, as does my agent. And so for now, until maybe the publisher who gets the actual final say decides differently, Navel Gazing is now called Let it Be Me.

Oh, yes. Let it.

8/7/09

The name game....

I am trying to come up with alternate names for my novel "Navel Gazing". My debut novel is about to make the rounds to publishers and my agent and I want to have a few more options to play around with.

The right name makes all the difference. I should know, I am a professional namer and I have seen how an amazing name can make people stand up and notice. Just ask Madonna or Prince, or Google, which is so popular a name it has become a verb! I have named everything from vodka to video games, baby food to books!

But finding that right name, that is a different matter. I will often change the names of my characters several times before I get it right, which can make my dear husbands head spin, when I am reading pages aloud. "What? Who is Ingrid? I thought her name was Hannah...now it's Rachel...then who's Ray?" Sigh.

So here I am brainstorming away on a name that says everything I tried to say in 315 pages, a name that will make people look at the cover and say..."Oh I got to read that!" Naming other people's things is so much easier.

What was the hardest thing that you ever had to name...and did you change your mind?

8/6/09

Do the hustle!!


Well, my mother-in law just left for Winnipeg and it was a lovely low key visit. I managed to get some work done, but have to admit that I now have a small mountain of work stacked up before me and I am just too pooped to tackle it...but I am.

I have been hustling for work, hustling up blurbs for my novel (calling all published authors, will you read my book and say something nice, please?!)and trying to stay on top of my screenwriting and new novel writing. I just got the most delicious copy writing gig, and it is so yummy, it will hardly seem like work at all!

Good thing I have the whole weekend clear ahead of me and can just live in my pjs and write like a crazy woman. Behold the picture...I got the crazy part down!

8/5/09

Wine, Chocolate and Shway...






...these are a few of my favorite things!!


Friday, August 7th, 6:30 to 9:00
What do these three things have common? They delight our senses and make us feel fabulous!!

Join Wally & Terry of Fancifull, award winning L.A. based chocolatier John Kelson of John Kelly Chocolates and Ariel Joseph Towne "The Feng Shui Guy", on Friday August 7th from 6:30pm-9:00pm at Fancifull, 5617 Melrose Ave (between Larchmont and Gower).

Indulge yourself in an informative evening about Wines from the Languedoc region in the South of France, beautiful hand made chocolates and the power of Feng Shui to transform your space and awaken your senses long after the night is over.

This interactive evening allows you to get your questions asked and answered. Ariel will be holding Shway at 7:00 and 8:00. You can ask ANYTHING you want. Can Feng Shui actually help me to kick my career up a notch, manifest my dreams and spice up my lovelife?

Ask all your questions with a glass of wine in one hand and a chocolate in the other!
Learning was never this much fun…or delicious.

For tickets and more information, click here: http://www.fancifullgiftbaskets.com/index.html
 
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