Fantasy Land: Maynard Edition

There’s something very exciting about leaving your house before the sun comes up and driving down a dark highway. There’s something markedly less exciting about being so exhausted at 12pm that you seriously contemplate pulling a George Costanza and curling up under your desk.

Work has been really (really) busy this week and it strikes me as ludicrous that it’s only Wednesday. At least Thursday feels like something substantial. Like, hell yeah, it’s almost the weekend. I DID those four weekdays. But here we are, Wednesday.

All the busyness has drawn my imagination to fictional vacation days. I actually tried to take a “mental health” vacation day last week and it resulted in being pulled into a quagmire of work-related trouble-shooting. Bad job, Erin.

My imaginary vacation day goes like this:

6am – Wake up, look at the clock, relish this moment, go back to sleep

10am- Actually wake up. Coffee. Breakfast.

10:30am – Start writing. Write write write. Write.

12pm – Sushi for lunch. YES. Sushi for lunch. Also, during lunch I watch Ghost Adventures or Paranormal State on demand or Netflix. This, friends, is pretty ultimate. Spicy tuna roll, please.

1pm – Write. Write more, write. Feel good about writing. Write.

2:30pm – NAP. HUGE FAT NAP.

3:30pm- Write.

4:30pm- Start making dinner for my husband because I am an awesome wife and in this fictional day, I totally nail dinner.

5pm on – Bask in the praise for my amazing dinner. Also, brag about my word count for the day and then watch Game of Thrones with my husband.

FIN

I have hope that someday I can make this dream a reality. Maybe I should pick a day now and claim it….

We Are Katniss

Tonight, I’m getting in a line at 10:30pm with a bunch of like minded people and wait for The Hunger Games. Guys, I’m so excited. I’m maybe too excited. I get that this is dorky, but I’ve been waiting for months!

Here are some of the reasons I’m flipping out about the movie:

1. Obviously, the books are fantastic. At this point that goes without saying. I read them last summer while working on my manuscript and found the writing incredibly inspiring. Like a jolt of writerly adrenaline. Collins is an absolute master of pacing.

2. Katniss, how dare you? As is documented, I love a lot of cheesy YA with questionably back-boned heroines, but this lady is truly outstanding. She’s perfectly imperfect and so well drawn. A wonderful counterpoint to the whispier set of anemic heroines.

3. Jennifer Lawrence is awesome. I’ve been a little obsessed since Winter’s Bone – which was incidentally my favorite movie last year. I watched it twice in a row when we were on a cloudy winter vacation in New Hampshire and fell in melancholic love. So dismally perfect.

4. Octavia. My sister’s good friend is weirdly IN this movie. She plays Octavia! They did a semester in Ghana together through NYU. Although I’ve never met Brooke, my hopes are high that someday we’ll be Facebook friends. Dare to dream!

5. Dorks with weaponry. I’m absolutely certain that people are going to be dressed up tonight. Ryan and I (totally by accident) once attended the opening of Julie and Julia and there were people wearing aprons to the show. So, if folks dress up for THAT premier, I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen for this one. Guesses include, bows and arrows, loaves of burnt bread, stabbed people, long side braids.

Also, this means that we’re even closer to December 14th…opening of THE HOBBIT!

This is a good movie year.

Paranormal Activity: Bad decision making

At certain intervals in childhood, I was really bad at sleeping. I’d watch the clock as hours paced by until it was 2 or 3 in the morning, my brain racing, envisioning the morning when I’d be too tired to move. I’d stare at the shadows on my ceiling until they became ghosts that wanted to suck me into hell, or form the menacing face of Kris Kristofferson (I was terrified of him as a child). I’d maybe watch an infomercial.

A bad scene, and it made 6th grade kind of a bear, among other, more universal factors (e.g., adolescent insecurity, braces, and soul diminishingly bad hair cuts). When I was able to calm down a little in the ensuing years, sleep became a lot easier. But now sometimes when I’m really nervous or keyed up about something, the insomnia returns.

No big deal, unless you  just watched a marathon of the Paranormal Activity movies.

Boof.

I’ve seen each of them three times at this point, so it is getting a little easier to live with. Now, I spend as much time wondering why Katie would date a jerk like Micha as I do obsessing about the creepy stuff.

But when you’re awake and staring at the ceiling at 2am, nothing’s worse than imagining your foot being grabbed by some invisible rage-machine named Toby. Or that basement…eeeh, that basement.

Also, the half-waking dreams wherein I have to care for a demonically possessed Andre the Giant in a found-footage style documentary, I can do without.

My absolute favorite is having to pee but being too afraid to get up and go to the bathroom. All for the sake of entertainment! This is the consequence of bad decision making.

Unfortunately, I’m powerless. I’ll keep seeing the movies and terrifying myself. When there’s yet another prequel, probably with silent movie found footage starring the guy from The Artist, I’ll see that one too. Also, I’ll be stocking up on melatonin.

 

PitchMadness

A quick update. I mentioned that my work had been accepted into the Pitch Madness contest a few days ago but didn’t have much more info. It turns out that there were 60 entries chosen spanning three writers’ blogs and a number of literary agents made bids on the submissions they wanted to read.

I’m very happy that a wonderful agent from a wonderful agency has requested that I send her my full manuscript. Best case scenario!

Some really hard working and innovative writers put on these contests once and a while for the benefit of poor unagented folk like myself, and I’m so grateful for all their patience and labor.

If you want to take a look at the bidding wars that occurred (in the style of a poker game), check out Brenda Drake’s Website. Lots of really wonderful submissions and, in this contest, lots of winners.

So, I haven’t heard back from any of the folks who have THELMA yet, but this is just a little more good news. It’s a long road!

 

Jog Thoughts

“What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.” — Samuel Johnson

In that spirit, Jog Thoughts

Those are my sneakers.

They are on me.

Ughghghghgh

People in cars think I look dumb.

When are these bangs going to grow out all the way, this is ridiculous.

I have so many bobby pins.

How many bobby pins have I wasted over the years?

Uphill. Hate.

Ladies don’t spit.

This is a shuffle.

This is OK.

I wish the Catholic Church behaved better.

I want to visit a Unitarian Church.

Grilled chicken? Meh.

I can stop at that store.

I’m not going to stop there.

I can see my house.

Why don’t we live closer to right here?

The closer houses look nicer than my house.

They are closer to my feet right now.

If you stop a block away from the house you lose.

Don’t look at me, teens.

Teens, man, you are such teens, teens.

I wonder if those teens work at the radio station…

fin

Writing away from the Berlin Wall

One of the really wonderful things I experienced while working on THELMA was just a quiet granting of permission to have fun.

Most of you know that I’ve performed comedy for a long time, so fun is something that I’m accustomed to in theater. In fact, for improvisation my personal contention is that it should be all fun, 100% of the time. I think that even when a group is maybe a little off, or their inexperience shines through a little too much, all can be forgiven if they’re having fun. I love watching performers enjoy themselves and love each other. I hate when you’re watching a show and you can see improvisers stressing out and getting pissed at each other for not listening, missing the mark, etc. It’s one of my least favorite things.

It’s make-believe, for goodness sake. If you hate a scene, make believe that there’s a time machine there to blast you seven minutes into the future and BAM, the bad scene is over. Sky’s the limit. No, sky’s not the limit. The imaginary galaxy way past the sky is the limit.

But anyway, I’m getting off track. The point is that I’m good at allowing myself to have fun, and be ridiculous on stage – but I was never good at expressing myself that way in my writing.

This is a true story – the first creative writing project I can remember was in third grade. My lovely teacher who happens to be named Mrs. Pettee asked us to go back to any time in history and pretend to be an observer there. Write about the things you see, hear, smell, etc.

Lots of my friends wrote about castles and princes, some wrote about being a teen in the 1950’s and hanging out at a soda shoppe. I had just learned about slavery, so off to the antebellum south I went! I vividly remember sitting at my desk, imagining and writing about smelling blood and cotton in the air. Heavy for a kid, but I felt transported and excited by exploring really hideous things. It was a really enveloping experience, and kind of changing for me.

Mrs. Pettee was really impressed/concerned.

I followed that piece up with an epic poem inspired by the tearing down of the Berlin Wall brilliantly titled “When the Wall Comes Down” I think that one ended happily with Reagan and Gorbachev embracing each other like they were brothers. And yeah, that might actually have been the utilized rhyme. Don’t try to steal it. I’ll find you.

In high school I wrote two plays – one about homelessness, one about the Holocaust. I think you’re starting to get my point. For whatever reason I’ve equated deadly seriousness with meaningful writing for years, decades actually.

Turns out, that kind of gravity has almost nothing to do with my personality or writing strengths. Yes, I have a respect for great wordsmiths of human suffering (tons of respect). But more than twenty years after my abolitionist paragraphs, I’m comfortable admitting that it’s probably not me.

I’m starting to write another piece now with an older protagonist and I have to check myself constantly. Realistic doesn’t have to mean depressing. I remind myself to have fun, be unafraid of comedy, because that’s what feels natural and quite frankly it’s what I’m good at. Go forth and have fun.

*A wee note! THELMA was accepted into a pitch contest here. There are going to be some agents involved and there’s a poker motif…but I’m not sure I truly understand the process yet. I’ll let you know if something good happens!

Hoo-de-Hoo

This week I conducted a training during a birds of prey show. Owls, specifically.

The earthy, long haired presenter held a library full of second graders in rapt attention as she hooted loudly and educationally into the microphone. Different kinds of owls have different kinds of hoots. I learned that. Even I was bored by me, compared to the awesome birds.

I found myself wondering about the owl lady. She was a total professional and very comfortable as the birds perched on her arm. Some looked like fuzzy baby owls, and one was gigantic and only had one eye. For some reason I have a huge soft spot for one eyed animals. They make me want to cry and hug — although I think this guy could have clawed up my face if he wanted to.

I loved the Q & A session the best:

Kid: Can you buy them for pets?

Owl Lady: Oh, no. Next question.

Kid #2: Why can’t you have them for pets?

Owl Lady: Because they’re wild animals! You can’t have wild animals for pets. Next question.

Kid #3: Why can’t you have wild animals for pets?

Owl Lady: Because they belong in nature! They are wild! Next question.

Kid #4: I have a big yard…

The children were so into it. I was there for another purpose entirely and even I was so into it. I’ve had to do many, many school shows before in my comedy life, and there’s always the terrifying element of – what if these little people hate us and call us out on being adult fools? Because sometimes improv is profoundly stupid, even for second graders.

Owl lady had nothing to worry about. Seeing those animals out of context, in a regular old library, was magical. Even more magical than adults in black pants and lav mics.

Solution: ImprovBoston Zoo-on-Wheels division. You’re welcome.

In writing news, all I’ve really completed in the past week is a short story, totally unrelated to Thelma. I’m waiting to hear from a number of people for that girl! The new story is YA – from the perspective of a 17 year old, which is a total change of pace for me, but it was fun. Thinking about maybe expanding it…we’ll see!