Getting Stuff Done in the Midst of Life

These past few days have been challenging in being able to get anything done. It’s been a row of successive days where I’ve just had stuff to do.  Work has been busy.  I’ve been running errands for random stuff right after work.  We get home at the end of the night, manage something quick for dinner and then get ready for bed.  It’s just been chock full of stuff.

I’ve got a little more of plotting done on my new novel outline. I’ve got a three act story (more or less) and now it’s just going in there and putting the smaller pieces in there to flesh it out.  Then I can start writing.  I also need character profiles and a supporting cast.  My goal with this next book is to flesh out the world more and not quite streamline the story like I did in the first one.  Not that the first one is bad by any means, it’s just I think I can work this one out better.

I went by the theatre the other night to answer makeup questions. The cast for And Then There Were None has some inexperienced people in the group and a lot don’t know how to do basic stage makeup.  I’m known around the theatre as the “makeup guy” so I got the call to go down.  The play opens up in about three weeks and there is still a good amount of work to go.  They have time, but the cast needs to pull together and get their lines solid. I know the director is stressing about this a good bit, but things always come together in the end.  For her sake I hope it’s sooner rather than later.

My manuscript is still out to my beta readers. I knew it would take a while to get back, but I just want an initial reaction to how it is.  Is it good?  Is it ok with some potential?  Is it total crap?  In any case, I continue to sit and wait.  I try to keep busy with other things and now that I have a new story idea it helps, but as you can see from earlier, I’m having a hard time getting any writing done.  I’m hoping that will change over the next few days.

Do We Talk Too Much, or Not Enough? Maybe both?

Do We Talk Too Much, or Not Enough? Maybe both?

For all our ability today, I can’t help but think that we are looking at a time in our history where communication is harder than it has ever been. We have changed our world to be shortened to talking 140 characters at a time.  Stories or news bits have to hook a reader within the first three seconds or they have dismissed you and gone on to the next thing.  We pride ourselves on having large numbers of followers on our accounts or blogs and even friends on Facebook, but we don’t have any lasting relationships with other people.  In some ways, we have gone backward.

There is a lot of demand for our attention. How many of us sit down at the end of the day and automatically turn on the TV at home just to have some background noise.  Or when we watch TV do we also have at least a smart phone or computer open and operational at the same time?  Odds are we probably do.  Now before I continue, let me say that I am just as guilty of this as anyone.  I live in the same world and have developed some of the same bad habits as everyone else.  I see these things and try to make a conscious effort to start moving against them.

It’s not necessary to check Snapchat every five minutes. If you are texting with someone for five minutes straight, you obviously have more to say to them – pick up the phone and call them.

Our brains need the stimulus – the next new thing, the next piece of information to take in. It feeds our compulsion to get the endorphin high we get when we go to our phones.  Sorry folks, but it’s true:  it’s an addiction.  As a result of a fast paced world where messages and notifications bombard our screens throughout the day, we don’t have the attention span to go through a conversation with a person face to face or read a book.  When did we write to each other anymore and send a message that didn’t instantly come back with a reply?

I’ve tried to build up pen pals here in the past few months. It doesn’t take long to compose an email and send it to someone else.  It’s an opportunity to talk with someone and learn about them.  Oddly enough it was one of my favorite parts of the movie Julie and Julia.  In it, Julia Child has  a pen pal relationship that is one of her most cherished friends.  In watching the movie, I thought to myself, no one does that anymore.  If you talk to someone else for too long they start to think that you want them in a romantic relationship or something like that.  I think the value of a lasting friendship with someone, regardless of gender, has been lost.  How many true, lasting friendships do you have?  Odds are, if you have more than three, you are far ahead of the curve.

(Ok, this next part turned into a little bit of a rant)

Life gets busy. Trust me, if anyone knows that to be true it’s me.  Consider though, if you reach out to someone to start some kind of semi-regular correspondence, you have the ability and interest to carry on the relationship.  It seems to be the thing lately to start writing and then just let it go by the wayside.  Was this something you just wanted to do or did you get bored?  Did you lose interest?  Did is seem like too much work?  I can’t help but think that if you looked at the time you spent doing other stuff that really had no value; a few minutes could be spared to write someone.

(Ok, I’m done)

We have progressed very far in our ability to communicate with each other and share ideas. Why then is it harder to actually talk with other people?  Do we try to take on too much?  Are there too many thing that vie for our attention?  Are we just seeking the next high of a tweet, text, or message alert?  Maybe all of the above.  Don’t forget what you may be missing out on if you find yourself moving too fast.  Take a moment, take a breath, and take a look around.  The time and energy you would put into something of more quality will provide a better worth and return than just the endless chase for numbers on social media.

So, How is the Writing Coming Along?

So, How is the Writing Coming Along?

It’s never a fun experience to be humbled, but I think it’s something we all need from time to time. We may embark on some journey into a new area or skill and think we are making great progress and strides far greater than we could have hoped for.  It’s at that time that we produce what we thing is good stuff to wow and impress just to have the feedback be positive, but also to remind us that we are not nearly as good as we think we are.

And by “we” I mean “I”.

I’ve made it a point lately to submit some pieces in for some online writing contests. There hasn’t been anything too taxing as far as word count.  I’m not nearly ready to do anything with my book yet, but surely I could churn out some short stories of 1500 words, or maybe even 7000 words.  I mean, come on, when you just start writing it flows out and you have your words, right?  Well, yeah, but are they any good?

Feedback I’ve received from the stories so far have been generally good but they show me there is room for improvement. Lots of room.  I’m not sure what I was expecting really.  I don’t think I would be hailed as the next great American writer.  I do need to cut myself a little slack.  I just started writing period in September, and really only writing prose fiction since November.  The story ideas have been good and the characters interesting, I just need to work on technique.

So, I resolve to plug away. I pulled out my first revision of my book again and took a look at chapter one.  It’s still out to beta readers so I didn’t want to do too much, but just to see what I thought now that it’s been a few weeks.  Again, there is room for improvement.  Not bad, just needing to clean things up as far as verb tenses and flesh some stuff out some more.  I find I get in a rush when I try to proofread my stuff and I skip a lot.  I’m a little impatient here.  Part of my brain just wants the thing to be done now and to hurry up and get on with it.  It’s something I’m working on.

There is a local writing group that meets at the library every month. With the holiday this past weekend it looks like they will wait till February until they come back.  I got the prompt from the group leader so I can have something written for the meeting.  I figure plugging in with a group of other people writing would help.  It couldn’t hurt, right?  They meet every third Tuesday of the month.  I still don’t have a straight up writing partner; someone to send stuff to on a more regular basis.  Maybe once a week?  I figure that person will present themselves when it’s time.  I don’t really know anyone well enough who also writes to ask yet.

The Auditions are Over!

The Auditions are Over!

It’s been a busy theatre weekend. Auditions for Big Fish went up and the cast list is out.  There was a lot of really great talent that came out so I know casting this thing was hard.  I did not audition myself; my wife put in for this show, but I was there to watch everything. I have my own show coming up later in the season with Shakespeare in Love, so I don’t want to do too much; plus with my wife in the show, I will be at home keeping up with our soon-to-be-4 year old.  I’ll be plenty busy.

Writing this week has been slow. There is a competition piece I’m working on that’s due the 15th that I’m mostly done with, but with work picking up this week, I will be close to deadline before it’s finished.  I don’t know how much time I’ll have to go back and give it a good edit, so I’m not thrilled about that, but I should have something.  I’m happy with the story and concept anyway.

We are going to be gearing up soon for fine arts stuff with our youth group at church. I expect to take about 12 to 15 kids to competition in May for our state/district competition.  I’m still looking out for the new rule book for 2017, but no luck yet.  They are liable to make some subtle changes or add new categories, but we need to start working on things soon.  With as busy as kids are getting things in place early will help them have time to put in the effort needed to do well.  I’m always excited to see how it goes and what kids come up with what material.  We have some extremely talented kids in our group.

I have another writing friend who has come against some issues with having her work plagiarized by multiple sources. She’s been writing for two years now on different poetry sites and still sees her work pop up at other places online or by other users she knows.  It’s a sad thing.  When you just use writing as an outlet to speak your mind and express how you feel about things, to have your words taken by others and passed as their own is disheartening.

Really people, do we have nothing else better to do than rip off other’s work. Imagine what you could come up with if you spent the energy faking it and actually creating stuff of your own.  Just food for thought.

In an effort to be consistent, I’m scheduling work on this blog to hit every Wednesday. Now, I may get crazy and do extra content, but I like the look of Wednesday.  My other blog will be getting posts on Mondays.  I’m still looking at taking on a lot of writing/editing over the next few months and I want to make sure that the thing that got me writing in the first place (the blogs out here) don’t disappear as a result.

The votes are in!

Well it’s official; I’m a director. The board of directors at the theatre voted on the shows for their upcoming season and my proposal for Shakespeare in Love for fall of 2017 has been accepted.  I am incredibly excited and equally scared out of my mind, but it’s all good.  I have several months before I need to start planning things, but knowing me I’ll want to get started tomorrow.  I’ve wanted to wait at getting too far ahead of myself until there was an official decision to have it accepted, but official word came last night.

This will be my first attempt at directing a whole show from start to finish. Several years ago I replaced a director who had stepped away from the show; it had already been cast.  I will be at the helm here from start to finish for the first time.  I’ve already gotten some commitments from some great people to be my production staff, including my set builder and my stage manager; that’s a huge load off my shoulders.

More to come as I get it. My wife is gearing up for audition for Big Fish this weekend.  Buzz has been big for this show so I expect there to be a lot of people to come out and audition.

Last Thoughts Before the Christmas Weekend

Last Thoughts Before the Christmas Weekend

Well, we are in the final stretch to Christmas and my own schedule has fallen in step. My wife and I will strike out later tonight to finish all the last little Christmas shopping we have to do and then we will be able to enjoy the weekend.

Auditions for Big Fish are coming up on January 6th and 7th and my wife couldn’t be more excited and nervous.  She’s been talking about wanting to be the Witch.  The production will be sometime in April so things for that show will be going pretty soon.  The vote on the next season will be on January 8th, so after that I will know if my proposal for Shakespeare in Love will be accepted.  Between a play and hopefully scouting a new gook to literary agents, my year is shaping up to be pretty busy with new things.

I was able to finish the first revision for my first book this past Monday. I will now be sourcing it out to a few beta readers to get some feedback.  I’m pretty happy with how things came out and I’m looking forward to hearing what other readers have to say.  I hope to get those copies out over the next week or two, but with the holidays going on you never really know.  So in the meantime I’m trying to stay busy writing other things.  I’ve got some world building initially started for a fantasy series/world, but I haven’t really landed on a specific story to tell yet.  I’m trying to knock out some short stories and maybe get those out to some literary magazines and such; you know, try to build up the old literary resume a little.  So far I’m really enjoying getting stories done and out.  I think I may stick with this writing thing.

I imagine my next post will come along sometime after Christmas, so for anyone who I am lucky enough to find as a reader at the moment, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a great New Year. Thanks for reading!

A look at the weekend and then to the future 

So ends my first week without any theatre.  It was great.  We still had a Christmas dinner with my department at work.  I went to go see Doctor Strange at the movie theatre.  I just finished the Walking Dead mid season finale.  It’s been great.

Coming into those next week I will have a big push to finish the first edit and revision to my book.  I’m really hoping to get it done before Christmas ; I should be able to.  I also have other Christmas parties and other things coming up so there is still plenty to do, but I feel more rested.

I get the feeling that this next year will push me to grow into other areas that I have just been thinking about.  Writing and trying to find representation for a book and directing a full play for the first time are at the forefront of my mind.  I’m anxious to push forward but very nervous at the same time.  Either way ,  big things I feel are on the distant horizon