Thursday, February 25, 2010

Monkeys in Review

Barrel of Monkeys has gotten great reviews for the current round of Grandma! Check them out:

Gaper's Block

Chicago Theater Blog

Also, I'll be representing on the Monkey team at Strawdog's Late Night Theater Wars, Saturday, February 27th, 11pm. Apparently, we'll be kicking the booties of WNEP, New Leaf, and British Stage Company Family Feud style.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Stupid February

No, I'm not complaining about the weather. I'm complaining about the 28 days.

28 measly days. I know that's a proper month, but it's doesn't seem fair when I've given myself this arbitrary deadline.

I made it about halfway through by the 15th -- Valentine's Day was a wash writing-wise -- and since then I've been tweaking in the first half rather than forging ahead to the second.

Can she finish revising the whole second half of her novel in TEN DAYS???

No harm in trying.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Be Mine

All I want for Valentine's Day is to be halfway through my revision.

I've just worked some numbers, and it looks like if I can get through my "Act Two," by tomorrow I'll be right on schedule. That's about 43,000 words into the present manuscript.

The problem with this is that the second half of the book seems to need a lot more wrangling than the first, but I'm not going to worry about that.

I have a bit more free time in the second half of this month, and I've done some outlining that makes me confident I know where the story needs to shift, even if it will take some new writing to push it there. Hopefully the changes in how I've set up the first half will lead organically into the second.

Please, please, universe, send me novel love!

Oh, Canada!!!

In honor of Canadian Olympics, I ate poutine sans gravy, which probably means it's not really poutine, but whatever.

And I ate a Nanaimo bar, which is like baselining powdered sugar with chocolate. I recommend SMALL PORTIONS. I ate a LARGE PORTION.

And I drank Fin du Monde.

There was also a Falafel sandwich and some Mexican soup, in the spirit of international cooperation.

I intend to go to the gym today and watch the Olympics. I might be there a while.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I just held that bat up and barely made contact with today.

Yesterday, I'd set my alarm for 7, but felt so crappy with a sinus infection when I woke up that I reset my alarm for 8. EXCEPT that I fell asleep while resetting the alarm? Or something.

Then my dog saved me by licking my face at 9:15.

On a normal day, this would have been plenty of time to get to my teacher meeting WAY on the southside fifteen minutes before class.

As it was, it was kind of a miracle that I made it to class with not a minute to spare. See, my car was plowed in -- snow one foot high and 3 feet out from my tires, and I don't own a shovel. So I kicked it around with my galoshes on. I LOVE my galoshes! And scraped at the the windshields wearing my ski gloves, and I got the thing out because my car may be old but it does have some four paw pickup as we used to say of the family dog.

It got free. I got Dunkin' Donuts on the way. One of my co-teachers gave me Advil. Once it put out the pounding headache, teaching was lovely.

As I tweeted, my favorite moment involved a girl choosing between playing Invisible Girl and Nose-Picking Boy. She stared at her choices, so serious, for a really long time, and then said, "They're both good."

So far this week, I've done lots of good teaching, made revision progress, started a new round of Grandma, and tested several boundaries. I've been having good nights with friends -- making February less mean. Today I went swimming, and after I sat in the steamroom and let it wrap around me and burn the inside of my nose in a good way.

So today may not have been super productive, but I'm happy and I can breathe through my nose, and for me, the day after a Chicago blizzard, in February, that's an accomplishment unto itself.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The other half of the rant . . .

. . . had to do with friendship and boundaries, and per usual, my thoughts are coming partly from my book and partly from real life.

There's a line in my novel that sticks in my head. My main character's estranged from her childhood best friend, and when she sees her again, she thinks, "There is not a single person on this planet who gets to know my everything anymore."

That is lonely.

But it's also pretty normal I think for adults. It's easy to get jealous of the openness between really good couples, but even for people in relationships, the older you get before finding each other, or the farther apart you grow after finding each other, the more likely this is to be true.

So there's the fantasy of grabbing a friend (or a blog) and sharing everything -- oversharing. It is tempting and fearful and almost always a bad idea.

An alternative is to share a little bit with a lot of different people -- different secrets for the different people who can handle them. That works, but it makes me feel stretched out, transparent, like I'm forgetting where I put all the little pieces of myself. I might lose some, or a couple of the pieces will snap together without me knowing, start running around doing damage, Bonnie and Clyde style.

We need a little bit of that freedom with someone, even a stranger. It's worth feeling transparent or losing a bit here and there -- otherwise, we explode.

About boundaries . . .

I've been told that my last post was titillating and kind of a tease.

Well. It's that constant question of how much I is TMI? I want to be myself on my blog and not feel paranoid about imagined, conservative ghosts of the future haunting me.

Even now, I feel compelled to say that taking off clothes is a metaphor -- a real common, overused one, I know, but still good. And that kind of disclaimer just makes me feel silly. It's a little bit like the fifties sitcoms with the couples sleeping in separate twin beds. Who am I trying to please?

I work with young people. I want to write for young people. And I'm afraid of the ideas people have about how people who do those things should and should not behave. That was part of my unpublished boundary rant.

Any healthy person establishes their own lines and boundaries for sharing online. But I am an adult, and I don't write this blog for young people -- not particularly -- I write it for myself, and my friends, and other writers, and any other humans who stumble along. And when I stumble on strangers' blogs, I like the ones that open a door onto other lives. I don't need gory details, but I like to discover a human behind someone's words.

If I ever write about anything truly titillating -- and let's be honest, that last post wasn't very -- anybody who's not old enough for it won't stick around to read it. I'll bore them to tears.

Writing and making plays for young people shouldn't mean that I'm not allowed to do those things with adults in mind. Obviously. So why does this freak me out so bad?

Monday, February 8, 2010


I just spent a long time blogging about them, how crazy they make me.

I saved the post instead of publishing. Because it's too close to the middle of the night for me to tell which boundaries I'm willing to cross and with whom.

I'd like to live more of my life in the middle of the night.

It's cold here, but more clear, and no one's surprised when you take off your clothes.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Five acts

Over the last couple of days, I've been trying a new outline.

I broke my book up into acts -- five of them, because if it works for Shakespeare . . . T.S. Eliot thinks he's a hack, but I still think he's pretty swell.

I think it might want to stay this way, with act and scene breaks rather than chapter breaks. And moving one pivotal scene has cleared up a lot. I think I mostly have scenes to add rather than major revision to what I have now. That means the book keeps getting longer, but I can always cut it back later if I need to.

End of February, people. There will be a draft. And I will be asking agents to read it.

As for today, it's 9AM and I'm already through with Act One.

Act One: Writing
Act Two: Voice work
Act Three: Dentistry
Act Four: Spy games or Cardio
Act Five: Jazz

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Oh, yes.

A) I discovered She Writes today via publicist Lauren Cerand on Justine Larbeleister's blog.

Said discovery paid off immediately as . . .

B) On She Writes, Lauren B. Davis posted the exact thing I needed to read today. I've linked to her blog: 10 Questions Never to Ask a Writer.

I like when people ask me about what I'm working on because it means they care, but the answers are not always easy, and it's hard to explain why without feeling ungracious or pathetic or both.