Saturday, September 19, 2015

Writing Reality - Wait! Which One?

This is another post of questions without answers. Of observations and wonderings.

The other day I submitted some writing as part of an application for a writing workshop. The story takes place in the mid- to late 70s. The stories I submitted are excerpts from a larger body of work and that larger story was between 1974 to 1982, with a few flashbacks. 

Yesterday I was thinking about one of the stories, about feedback and questions from a mentor and peer writers on that story. The written story feels pretty solid and done. I was thinking about how that story would be different if it happened now - or when it happens now because it is not a unique situation. 

In 1975 there were no cell phones; at least not in the hands of the general public like there is now. 

There is another story (not a part of the submission, but a part of the Work In Progress (WIP)) about smoking pot. In 1976 it was illegal, meaning harder to get and you had to be careful with the smell and not get caught. Today I received a notice from Willamette Week about their upcoming Puff Puff Pizza event, which starts off with a "'pot'-tail" hour - yes, just what it sounds like. 

Not in the WIP, but in my life, I came out in late 1982 - early 1983. That was a significant change in my life. But, at the time, I didn't know about the significance of that period in the LGBTQ community. Yesterday a person in support of a grassroots cause came to my door, with non-cisgender clothing and name - something which would have been dangerous in the place and at the time I came out.

So - writing stories. Fiction or non-fiction or creative non-fiction, I don't think it matters which. The questions carry across the genre: conveying the reality of the time in a smooth and effective way. 

Another example happened earlier in the week. I was talking to another writer about research. How now it is so much easier, in many ways, because many of us have our Internet connected devices with us most of the time, we have computers at home. No more having to make lists and go to the library and look through the card catalogs and the book stacks. Two days ago at home I needed to find a recipe for the chicken breasts I'd bought; we have cookbooks filling half of two shelves in the kitchen. But I had something semi-specific in mind and it was easier to bring up the Internet and search on my phone rather than combing through the books in search of what I wanted. 

There are people alive who never heard of a "party line" in relationship to the phone. There are people alive who have never seen or heard of a "rotary phone" and can't conceive of one. There are people alive who grew up with computers in the home, the Internet, instant search and electronic books and cell phones in their pockets since they were young; they couldn't imagine having to search for a pay phone or wait until they got home to connect with someone. And, before answering machines and before email - there was no leaving a message or sending a text or dropping an instant note. 

See? No answers. Just thoughts. About writing the reality and keeping it real, even for those who weren't therein that time . Perhaps these are the thoughts of a still illness-influenced brain or reflection that I have lived long enough to see some of these significant changes in how we live. But they are thoughts - how to write the story of another time, when PCs and Macs and drones and smart phones and RFID chips were the things of science fiction. 

There is more to this, but this is long enough for now. The other thing I'm pondering that I will toss out there is why sometimes a character's use of a mobile phone seems out of place and unreal. Like it was stuck in as an afterthought to make the story seem more modern (perhaps it wasn't written with the phone in hand but the editor thought it needed to be added to make it real - but it doesn't fit). I don't have answers about this, yet, either - but have noticed that sometimes the presence and use of a cell phone in a story doesn't work.


Have you noticed any of these? Or something similar? How to write the not too distant past in a fast changing time period and still keep it real? 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Aha! An Update of Sorts

photo by Rooze 
I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth.

Nor off the face of the writing page.

Nor off the face of anything.

Except a little pause here in the blog world.

I have been writing. I finished an online revision class with Ariel Gore in the Literary Kitchen; which was amazing! I have done some of another 30-day challenge, where I've kept up with daily writing, although fallen behind on the prompts they've provided - a bit of rebellion on my part but not unexpected in terms of process. I've been writing TONS of work related missives.

And I've been working. And taking short trips with Serena while she teaches. I drive and taxi her to and from the workshops. And in between I nap and write and journal and do little things I want - like go to LUSH and Blue C Sushi in Seattle, and Green Salmon Cafe for Matcha Reishi Latte in Yachats, I make collage and I read and I play Words With Friends or Angry Birds With Friends online and write some more. Oh - and I did complete Camp NaNoWriMo which I've already written about here.

Then there is theatre. Interpreting, coordinating, meetings, networking, creating. And that is what this short post is a distraction from - the final packing to go to Bend where I will be interpreting "Comedy of Errors" at their Shakespeare in the Park in the beautiful Drake Park. An amazing setting. Tonight we will watch their dress rehearsal. Tomorrow night we will watch their first performance. And Saturday night we will interpret. We've been doing script work and catching rehearsals or pieces of rehearsals here; now we will be eating, sleeping, breathing the play until we go live Saturday night.

It is now time to return to the final packing and double checking that I have everything I need for the interpreted show - the right shoes, shirt options (there are a couple of unknown factors, so I'm taking color and style options), pants; the script, No Fear Shakespeare, notebook with notes from the script and rehearsals ... and more.

Smarty Pants in Georgetown, Seattle, WA

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Camp NaNo - tada!

Yes, I did it! I met my goal. I wrote a lot of words. I had some fun and some boring moments and some insghts.

And I wrote. A lot. That was my ultimate goal and it worked.

A few days off and then I get to delve into an online revision class! I very excited about that opportunity, too.

I'm a Camp NaNoWriMo winner!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Camp NaNo Note

I have just under 3500 words to become a Camp NaNo Winner - I am going to make it across that finish line after all. I thought I might not. I thought I might give up.

But as of right now, I am a couple hundred words ahead of today's target. And the story has finally progressed a little.

True that the author has stepped in a couple of times to provide commentary on the progress. And that's okay. It's Camp NaNo and if I'm not having fun, then why do it! Right? Right.

I took a few minutes to create a cover, just to keep the creativity flowing because the words have stopped for today.

I will cross 25k words before midnight on Friday. I swear I will. The story is rambling and roaming and parts are downright silly and that's okay, too,

I'm writing.

No dead bodies. But there is a sparkling pink cowboy snap-up shirt, a clean freak in a white t-shirt, and a missing pink elephant.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Camp NaNo Quick Update

I am a November NaNoWriMo writer. I thought I'd jump into Camp NaNoWriMo in July to give a jump start to my writing. Which it has and hasn't. The "slower work time" is not quite as slow as it seemed it would be. I have a big work related project I'm working on and I did have a play to interpret and hours to make up. All of which I've done.

And I've written.

But I haven't written every day, so it's been write a couple of days, miss a day or two or three. Then write to catch up. Rinse and repeat.

Right now I am about 1000 words the total word count target for today to finish up on July 31st.
There are still one and a half hours before this day is up and I can probably squeeze out those words. Then I will have six days to complete the words to be a Camp Winner. As of right now my projected completion date is August 4th based on my average word count so far. Since I don't have to get up early tomorrow, I am going to try to write a few words ahead, since I will have little time to write tomorrow.

Alright. Back to the writing now with the hope of catching up.

Oh - the story? Meh. It's writing. It's wandering. There have been a few moments where I've laughed. And there have been times when I've rolled my eyes and/or been bored. This is writing exercise and this is clearing out the junk.

Before I jump into an online writing revision workshop in Ariel Gore's Literary Kitchen just three days after the end of Camp NaNo. No, I won't be using this mess and jumble of a story for the workshop.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer is for Writing. And Theatre. And Adventure.

Okay. So I took the adventure part first, before it was officially summer. That was a good thing!

I returned to a month filled with theatre.

Then I decided to do Camp NaNoWriMo. I'm glad I made that decision because, as much of a struggle as it has been to find writing time, I have made it happen. I get caught up in my 25k word count, then I fall behind. Then I write more words. And I fall behind. It's all okay. I see this Camp NaNo experience as a priming and clearing adventure, to get myself ready for the Real NaNo (grin) in November. I've been struggling to get my writing habit re-established, especially since my writing buddy had to take some time off for a health situation. A couple of other friends have come forward and we're finding times here and there to write. Which keeps the writing fingers nimble (which is different than my interpreting fingers - how? I don't know, except maybe it's my palm orientation!). As I told a friend I met for writing today - this is my time to pull out the weeds and clear the deck for the real stories to come.

And maybe, as she replied, there might be a few keeper gem sentences or concepts in all of these 25k words I will generate.

Maybe. That would be a bonus and I'll take it. If it happens. Right now in my Camp NaNo story, the performance happened, complete with two dancers in neon unitards (oh boy) and a rolling on the floor Yogi Man, and a woman in a white flowing dress with gold threads and eggplant colored ribbons and sage green stitching twirling on the floor.

Hey, but no body parts! I don't think it's that type of story.

I am playing with one idea in the story that I like. It is a really good exercise and - sure, I'll tell you. It's probably all you'll get out of me about it; as if revealing there were dancers in unitards weren't enough! My protagonist is remaining genderless. Not as in the character doesn't know or the character's friends don't know - they do. But the reader doesn't know. It was a thing this character wanted. This is being a great exercise in writing. Without gender but keeping it natural. 

The latest thing to happen is that to protagonist just woke up at home but does not remember how that happened. The last conscious event was being drawn to the stage and then into a trance like state. Right now there is much foraging happening in the kitchen in the search for breakfast. 

Also, this week I interpreted the one-woman performance of "The Lady Onstage" at Profile Theatre. This was a part of their In Dialogue series. I love these staged readings - and this one was a particular joy. The play was still being revised. Each day of the short rehearsal period there were changes. At first there were new scripts as sections were rearranged, revisions made. Then there were lines and adds/deletions/alterations. Each day. It was a wonderful opportunity to be there with the playwright and the director and the actor and the stage manager as this piece was still being developed. And then to interpret the production. They will be taking this piece out into the schools in the fall and - no, I'll wait until there is more information. But I will say that there may be a wonderful, special opportunity for some Deaf students. 

In the theatre realm, we're waiting for the script for Bend's Shakespeare in the Park (the play is August 21-22 in Bend, and August 23 in Sunriver; we interpret on the 22nd). The director is making final revisions to his adaptation of "The Comedy of Errors" right now. We will hopefully have the script next week. We've already started working on the story, on research and such while we wait for the actual script. 

Meanwhile, I still have 16 days left to write my 25,000 words this month. I think I'll make it!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Yes, I Am

I am doing this.


I felt I needed a little prodding and what better way than a self-imposed deadline with no other consequences than the failure of meeting a goal. Camp NaNoWriMo makes it even easier to complete your project. Oh, wait, did I say NaNoWriMo is easy? No, that's not what I meant!

At Camp NaNoWriMo, you are allowed to write whatever you want. Yes, I know there are NaNoWriMo rebels who don't write a 50k novel, but write 50k of something else. But November NaNo is for novels. At Camp, people are doing revision, scripts, novels, short stories, essays, blogging, and I'm sure other things I haven't even seen yet. You also get to set your word count goal at Camp NaNo.

I opted for 25k and am (so far, anyway) writing a piece of a novel. I decided to not push for 50k because there is so much else to do in this much slower theatre time. I'm not sure how summer Camp NaNo will go - but the goal (besides writing 25k words) is to have fun and get those writing wheels greased and up and running. June was extremely busy in terms of theatre, leaving me no time to write or do much of anything else except work, eat, sleep, take some walks, and prepare for and interpret plays.

So, back to it. My silly story awaits! My protag has met up with some friends while waiting to see a new dance works performance. And has seen a few unexpected things and people, as well. There is a hint that the protag needs protection. But from whom or why has not been revealed. And, so far, my protag is genderless. And nameless. I suspect the name will be revealed fairly soon. Or maybe not!

Anyone else hanging around in Camp NaNo? You can find me there with user name "dot.". Yes, I am that creative. *wink*