Back to it

Writers from the UK only. Irish and UK residents only. We focus on Texas writers. We want midwestern writers only. Canadian writers will be given top consideration. We will not read international scripts. No submissions accepted from outside the lines we’ve drawn in the sand.

Fucking hell. Fifteen minutes of an internet search and the rug’s been pulled out from under my feet. Every time I check for new theatres to submit to, there are more bullshit caveats like the above. Restrictions. The ‘if you don’t live here you can fuck off’ attitude. Isolationism is the new fad du jour.

Yeah, go stick your heads in the sand.

Theatres have, as a matter of fact, closed down so much with their submission policies I’m really starting to think about screen plays because – at least for NOW – those are open to all writers no matter where you currently live. Kind of feels like a trap, tho. Spend loads of time mastering a new format to find everyone has closed down their submissions again. I mean, that’s what happened with the fucking theatre scripts.

Bastards.

Sometimes I hate the world so much.

Well, I’ve still got a couple places I can send out to. After this year, tho…*sigh* I might be working in a vacuum again.

Yesterday’s social outing went well. Easy conversation, pretty comfortable. Mentioned some of the summer fests coming up and hope we can get together to wander the streets of Rotterdam enjoying the music and art on offer. It’s good to have someone other than my brother to talk with. And…my ego got stroked a bit. They were at my script read through, and I felt like I had a gold star hanging above my head the whole time. There was no question as to whether or not I was a good writer – only whether or not my scripts have been chosen for production. That’s new. Usually when I mention my writing (or music, or anything else artistic), people demand (demand!) to know what I’ve done – and then they sit there saying ‘uh-uh’ or ‘don’t know it’ or ‘never heard of it’ like that was their intention in the first place – to put me in my place. But I didn’t get any of that yesterday. Instead, I had some polite enquiries on the status of my radio script. Super enthused grins when I talked about my current script. Quick ‘yes’ replies when I asked if they were interested in helping me with the Night Witches. And I thought ‘Damn! These people really respect me as a writer!

It felt good.

Today: physical activity is needed. Like, direly. Gotta get to the gym for a full bash (hopefully not my ankle again). Want to put time in on the script and start to get it in the new system. Have two old films I recorded off BBC to watch. Should also do at least one run through of the play and my lines. And I should get serious about Dutch, and do a bit every day…again. Fell off that last resolution pretty quick, but the key to accomplishing your goals isn’t doing it all in one go, it’s getting up every time to you fail and starting again.

*sigh* Get up. Back to it.

The Ghost in the Window

It’s good. With the right actors, it could be great.

Even the typos I found in my read through didn’t detract from the suspense in the story. Corrections were quick – been thinking about it for a week (there’s another life axiom: the longer you think about a storyline, the less time it takes to get it on paper).

Of course, if the script is performed by a bunch of hacks it’ll come off as cheesy. Or it could.

My brother gave me a weird warning yesterday, before I began reading. He told me to stay calm if anyone labels this as a black comedy. I told him there are zero comedic elements in the script and I can’t imagine anyone turning this into a comedy. He said I’m writing (again) about subject matter that makes most people nervous, and when people are nervous, they poke fun – therefore, it’s a possibility. Yo – write down a number and put enough zeroes behind it and you can call this script anything you want. Do it in full clown face; I don’t care if you pay me enough.

…Okay, not exactly true. I’d never go and see it if it’s done in any other manner than the way I wrote it.

It would not prevent me from writing another one. Which is good, because now that I found my way into these thrillers/suspense/horror stories, I know exactly how to make them happen. Two words: what if. What if this happened, what if that were true – what if can get you damned far in a story, and makes things very interesting.

And yeah, as I was sitting last night watching tv, I heard something that triggered those two words in my brain. Mmm.

Bad news: Scrivener sucks. Can I say that louder? Scrivener SUCKS. It can’t insert (MORE) or (CONT’D) in dialogue breaks. That’s a killer for me. No matter how much the designers of Scrivener want to say that using (MORE) and (CONT’D) is old fashioned and going out of style, they’re still vital stage directions in theatre scripts. Not including them in any software designed to write scripts is stupid. It’s akin to not adding in an auto page number function. And naturally, it’s not something you see until you get to the very last stage – printing. Grrr. Have another trial software – Fade in – to try, but I think I’ll just head out to Celtx and get it typed in on that software. Getting to that point where I need it done and out, so I can concentrate on my next script.

Started reading the book my director lent to me on the Night Witches. It promises to be an interesting read. It’s a role play game book, not a novel or non-fiction piece – something I’m not really familiar with. But it’s got suggestions for character types and scenarios, set-ups for interpersonal conflicts and intrigues, and I think it’ll expand my storyline in several directions. Certainly, if I get stuck on how to move forward, I think this book will be invaluable.

Just had a reminder pop up on my screen. I’m meeting people today to be social. Oh…yeah.  In five hours I need to be downtown, alert and aware, and preferably not looking like I just got out of bed. Bummer. Really don’t want to get out of my pj’s today.

Right. Arrows out. Remember to ask. Look up. Smile. Don’t overwhelm with a long monologue about my work. They are people, too.

So – breakfast and shower. Keep my head about me and my hands off the keyboard. Then a nice little metro ride downtown. A nice cup of coffee or glass of juice while I talk to people who might spark another story or character idea for me. A nice afternoon out of the house, and I’ll come back twice as refreshed and ready to work. Nice. That’s what I’ll aim for.

I’d like to be more than just a ghost this summer. I don’t get outside and do summery things anymore. And I never tan or stay outside long enough to get color. Part of that is my problem with too much heat. Part of that is my work. But I do feel a ghost, watching others get that warm brown skin, smelling the BBQs, seeing people sitting outside, hearing the music and laughter floating in thru the windows…. And I’m not quite sure how to stop being a ghost and start living again. Will forcing myself to sit outside, baking in the heat, take care of this sense that something is missing in my life? Or will it just make me feel lonelier, as I sit on a park bench by myself, speaking to no one, watching others have fun?

I could deal with my ghostly existence if it meant my work was getting noticed. It would offer me some sort of balance: okay, I don’t go outside but my work is winning me accolades. And I know I don’t do real life very well. Nice to dip my toe into once in a while, but I don’t want to go swimming in that sea every morning. Outside looks great, but I know once I’m there the heat is oppressive, I begin to sweat, and all I want is to find a cool place to chill. Better to view it from here. Better to look down, and observe.

That’s me; the ghost in the window.

Keep your eyes open

Do not know how long I was at it yesterday. Began writing before my brother woke up. Took a breakfast break when he came out of his room for coffee. Back at it before he left for the comic book shop. Surfaced around five in the afternoon. Came up gulping for air, actually. It was intensive.

And the first draft is complete.

Shivers. I think I’m dead on with my 30 minute timing, too…

A glance at my calendar told me I’m not one month ahead of myself, but two. So I’m not touching the new script for a few days. Oh, I’m itching to read it through. Test it. See if it’s as good as I think it might be. But I’m gonna let my brain rest. Honestly, it feels swollen. Like the grey goo is all puffed up and pushing against my cranium. Not pain, exactly…just very tired.

Two days ago my brother pointed out that our glass recycling needed taking out. Today, the recycling is still sitting in our kitchen, un-taken-out. The dishes aren’t done, either, for the second or third day in a row (I forget how many). I wonder how my bro feels about that. …Irritated? Has it wound him up like it winds me up, and will his sleeping brain program him to NEED to clean when he wakes up? Color me skeptical. I think he’ll easily let it slide for a few more days…whereas I, now out of my writing trance, am irritated by it no end and will probably begin cleaning by 8 a.m.

Someone needs to do the grocery shopping, too.

…Thinking about calling for a reading of the new script, tho I’m concerned about two things. One, this is very topical. So topical I’m not mentioning it (even the title of the piece) to anyone but my brother. It’s not that I don’t trust the people I know, I just know that people are stupid. They’ll say something without thinking to their hairdresser or the receptionist at the dentist’s office – who’ll then say something to someone they know, who happens to be a writer, who’ll be better known or have an agent or just get their stuff out faster than me, and suddenly my brilliant idea is old hat that no one wants to read. My second concern is more personal: I don’t want to call a reading just to toot my own horn or show off – Come! Read my fantastic script! I feel confident on my timing, sure in the story telling. There’s no real reason to read it through, no questions I have other than can it actually be pulled off? – And the answer to that question will not be revealed in a read through.

I’d like to squeeze in some gym time today. Not that I’m in the mood to go and sweat. Nope. Want to let my body ooze through the day, inert and sluggish. But I think getting up and (at least) walking for an hour would do me good.

Received a temporary rehearsal schedule from the director. Temporary because it’s only laid out for four weeks and if anyone can’t make their night, the whole thing will get shifted around. Fine by me. I’ve nothing on in the evenings. Thought we were going to work with two scenes each night, meaning four actors would be at every rehearsal. But the director’s schedule has only one scene blocked out each night. Which means, since my acting partner is on holiday from now ’til July, I’m working alone with the director on my nights. He even blocked himself in for reading the other role in my scene.

On the heels of my questioning his girlfriend’s reaction and all that I see occurring within the dynamics of the theatre group, that tiny, black and white rehearsal notification set my heart racing. Oh, Goddess! Not again! 

What the fuck am I gonna do now?

My first thought: circumspection. Don’t stand too close, don’t laugh too long, don’t talk too earnestly to him – and certainly don’t bring him any blueberry muffins! That grates at me. Damn it! It’s so rare I meet someone who could actually be my friend that when I do I become this big, enthusiastic dog. Jumping around, slobbering everywhere – happy just to be there. And I like to stand close to my friends, laugh long and hard with them, discuss real issues in a forthright and serious manner, and bake them goodies. It’s what I do. So to ask me to reign it in…feels like I’m asking myself to erect walls – something I’ve been told I do very, very well. Something I’ve been trying very hard NOT to do.

Ach! Enough. I’m thinking too far into the future again. I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I shouldn’t be making so many bleeding assumptions.

Look down at your feet. You have so many steps to take before you’re there!

Just…walk slowly. And keep your eyes open.

Earning my place – at last

It’s the morning after the first read through of the upcoming play. So much to sort thru on a personal level I can’t even address Manchester, except to say it made me feel sick.

Purposefully took the day down yesterday. No heavy exercise, no writing. Just chill out. Read thru the script on my own a bit. Figured if someone else was doing my work, I’d want them to be present and in the moment, not thinking about how tired they are from their work out or what they’ll be doing tomorrow – so I gave the writer and the director my own nod of respect by keeping clear and focused on my role. Upshot: I got a lot of laughs, and an “excellent!” from the director when my part was done (note: it was the only time during the evening he used that particular word).

Facts I learned: first, performance info. This group is part of a theatre network here in NL, and they have access to a larger, professional stage two nights every year because of it. We’re booked in (already) for September 30 and October 1. The board is seeking alternative venues to perform in. The Hague, Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Delftshaven were all discussed as possibilities. All I could think was whoa! We’re gonna run back to back shows at the big venue here in Rotterdam PLUS try to squeeze in additional nights that’ll include travel time? *sigh* That will tax my physical limits. Need to double down on my health. Wash my hands three times as often as I generally do. Avoid close contact. All that crap. Second: the performance nights mean that the group has from now ’til mid July to rehearse (when we break for summer), and then a few short weeks in September before we perform. I have my doubts about some people learning their lines within that time frame. In particular, my partner in the scene (it’s a series of duets) – which brings me to fact three. He (my partner) is on holiday all of June, which means he’s missing out on the bulk of rehearsals. Of the two of us, he’s got the long speeches. In fact, he may have some of the longer monologues in the entire play. Will he be able to get it, or will I be standing up there at the opening of the play, carrying someone who stumbles around and can’t remember his lines?

Observations: oh, the girlfriend of the director is definitely Ms. Prima Donna. She didn’t bother with anything other than the few pages of her scene – and when the rest of us read our parts, she half turned her body away from the group and wore a bored expression on her face. Her reading was a bit better than most of the group – but only a bit. Really did seem like I was the only one who bothered to read their part before we began.

Afterwards, we went to the Uni pub for a beer. Hm. The Dutch really nurse their alcohol. Ended up standing around for more than an hour. Everyone’s glass was empty, but no one moved to get another or even suggest it. Most of the cast are teachers at the Uni, so they talked shop – effectively shutting me out, since I’m not a teacher. I listened, and smiled, and watched the group break into sub-groups. Two dyads and a triad. Body language turned away from me.

There was a time in my life I would have stood there, and done nothing. Just felt left out and stupid. Seems that time is over.

I picked up the empty glasses and took them to bar. An excellent in to signal my leaving – which was my intention. I said goodbye, and was acknowledged. Surprisingly, the director asked if I was taking the metro and when I said yes, he came with me. It was cool; we were able to chat away from the others. [Side note: I know this might boomerang back on me; if his girlfriend had cause to be jealous before I think last night just made it worse.] Found a couple of areas we agree on: loving the Aliens films (tho thinking that Cameron almost ruined the franchise), finding Jennifer Lawrence a terrible actress, and in general a quick intellectual exchange that touched on many lively subjects. Strangely enough, when I mentioned my upcoming script on The Night Witches, he asked ‘You mean the aviation group in the war? I’ve got a role play game about them!’ and he promised to bring the game along next rehearsal.

To make myself clear: I’m not at all interested romantically in the director. I do enjoy people I can talk with, people who have similar interests. And I’m looking for friends. Yes, I’m worried that my responses will be taken the wrong way. They often are. Especially when I interact with men. So while I find the director intellectually equal to myself, with a wide range of interests that intersect my own yet and at the same time contain things I knew nothing about (which excites me, because that’s the way I am), I’m hesitant about pursuing a real friendship because of misinterpretations. Misinterpretations by him, by his girlfriend, by the entire cast. Been there, done that.

…Yet, I enjoyed it. Feels like I’m climbing up the ladder of esteem in the director’s eyes. Getting him involved in my script work was the start; he enjoyed the story, and I felt a shift in his attitude right there, like he thought ‘ah! here’s the story teller I expected!’. Now the acting – the immersion in the role, the expression of the role.

I’m earning my place – at last.

onetwothreefourfivesix

Step 1: Turn off the news.

Step 2: Cut my long fingernails.

Step 3: Turn on the Trance station. Aaaah! Soothing.

Step 4: Close the curtains. Need darkness.

Step 5: Clear my head.

Step 6: Write.

Spent time yesterday frustrating myself by trying out that new Scrivener software. Ugh! Horrible formatting for radio. Fucking horrible! Ended up returning to my simplistic Word template and fudging it around until I got PDF print that looked good to me. It’s sent out already to a theatre in Florida. Had the whole week scheduled to dick around with it. Shoulda known I didn’t have the patience for a week of editing.

A week free. What new project can I take on?

Ah, yes. A bit I began on January 6 (computers ARE useful for keeping track of things like dates for you). Google: monologues and duologues. Bing! Found a fest calling for work due July 1. Funny thing is, it’s in a city I performed in. So I know what they want, what they’re used to, and what I should expect.

Good mini project to take on. Enough time, certainly. Even enough time to write it in Scrivener and give it one more chance to wow me.

Heard from my ex-pen pal on FB. Again. Still blaming me, still justifying himself. Now stating conflicting things, and I don’t know what to believe. The only thing I know for sure is he’s showing me his true face. The name calling, the manipulation games, the attempts to coerce me into guilt. If he’d come at me gently, asking for me to talk to him please, I might have responded. But not this! I know what this is – a narcissist’s game. I grew up with that shit and will not deal with it anymore in my life. Screw you. Still. In deference to our friendship, I’m giving him his one last shout at me without blocking him. I know he’s hurt, and lashing out. But that’s it. He’s used up all my gentleness and compassion.

And maybe I should just block him now. My history shows I have a habit of attracting stalkers and weirdos. I know he doesn’t get that this is me being kind to him. I could have written a long, torrid message explaining exactly why I found everything about his stance so offensive. I could have ripped him a new asshole. I didn’t. I chose to quietly say goodbye. Why bring any of it up? He obviously doesn’t understand. He’s one of those people who’ll nod and say ‘uh-huh’ while simultaneously thinking the opposite. Best I can ever do is take it, and use it in my writing. Create the character. Show him, not tell him. Far more effective.

…Odd to think I once felt at a loss over what to write. I struggled to find story material. Now, there’s so much to write about. So very much. It’s almost formulaic. Follow the rules, and begin. Keep to your outline. Trim, trim, trim it down. And in onetwothreefourfivesix you’ve got it.

Puberty at 51

It is a source of continual amazement to me that people who voted for 45 – restricting human rights, killing the environment, degrading women – are shocked when I inform them we can no longer be friends. I’ve been told to ‘grow up’ and ‘get over it’, or better yet: ‘it’s just stupid politics and you’re far less of a person than I thought’.

Wow.

As a measure of my self restraint, I’ve said nothing in reply. Good on me.

Feels like I’ve taken the first step towards adulthood. Sticking to my ethics. Saying “no”. No more! I won’t take it.

And you’re fucking surprised.

Seems you didn’t know me at all.

Now I may have to deal with a troll on FB. My ex pen-pal, who voted for 45 and said ‘it wasn’t a big deal’ (among other language that PISSED ME OFF) sent three messages telling me to fuck off then three more emojis throughout the night to make sure I knew he wasn’t okay with any of it.

One more message from him and I’m reporting him. I DO not and WILL not take being fucked around with on a social network.

And what goes through people’s minds? That this kind of behavior will reflect any better on them? That I’ll change my mind and say ‘oh, sorry! you’re so upset; let me take it all back’? Um…nope. Should be a clue that it took me as long as it did to say what I said. Time = thought. I thought long and hard about it. Thought about my ethics and moral stance, thought about the friendship, forgiveness, taking the higher road – all of it.

So let me make this utterly clear one more time:

I am not some messiah, willing or able to turn the other cheek after you abuse me.

Expecting me to be is on YOUR head. Telling me I’m wrong for my feelings is on YOUR head.

I’m not wrong. Now let me throw back your own language at you.

Suck it up, snowflakes. You big fucking babies! Whine, whine, whine. Sorry you’re so fucking stupid you don’t realize that when you shout obscenities at me and my friends, when you take away our rights, or when you destroy the planet I react with anger. I think your ignorance is on your own head, too. Read a book!

Went to the gym yesterday to try and burn it out. Two hours. I was tired, less angry afterwards, but not completely calm (obviously).

Didn’t help that my language lesson lacked ANY sense of direction. First, we were asked to pull random words out of the fucking air and make sentences. Then we were told to use ‘omdat’ (because) and corrected on grammar without being told the grammatical rules. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be learning. Couldn’t take anything down because the instructors said the correct sentences once and then quickly moved on. I was bored, angry for having my time wasted, and frustrated because I now KNOW how much better a lesson can be.

Fucking hell!

Happy news: have all of next week off. Thursday is Hemelvaartsdag (Ascension Day), and Friday a lot of stuff is closed to ensure a long weekend. Perfect for me! An entire week free of classes or appointments. I can write. Get the radio script loaded into the software, make the formatting changes, send it out and move onto the next script. Already stepped out the scenes for the next one in my brain. I think I can do it with 4 actors and very minimal set dressing. Can’t wait to get started; it’s timely, creepy, and easy to do as a production.

…You know, if I keep coming up with these horror/Twilight Zone plays, I’m gonna get a reputation for being able to write them. Maybe I can; it IS what I’m coming up with. But I think it’s all a fluke. I’m just stumbling into them. Discovering them by accident. I’m not setting out to write them. Gotta admit, they’re fun to create. And maybe I should let go of any expectations I have of myself. If I turn into a female Clive Barker, well…that’s not all bad, is it?

Ha! Listen to me. Dodging the flack thrown at my head and accepting my limitations and abilities. Now, that IS really growing up!

Can a person hit puberty at 51?

 

I don’t suck dick

This is not where I expected myself to be at 5 something in the morning. Not today. But noise woke me up (lorries? a thunderstorm? someone half a mile away closing their garage door?) and suddenly I couldn’t sleep anymore because one thing was on my mind: I’ve got a 45 supporter as a friend on FB, and that needed to change and change right away.

My longterm online correspondence (10 years or more) has ended. I opted to keep it simple – I can’t be friends with someone who voted for 45. Farewell. That’s a kinder message than members of my family received. Unfriend.

I should really go through my FB ‘friends’ and unfriend them ALL unless I know for sure they didn’t vote for the orange orangutang. That’ll leave me with a handful of people. *sigh* Just too lazy to do it. I only post derogatory news items of The Orange One and occasionally cuss on FB. It’s un-cool as a social website. Sometimes I think about just deleting my account, but then I remember the South Park episode when Stan tried to do that.

I don’t want to get sucked into a lame 80s cyber world.

Second dental cleaning yesterday because it was three years since I had it done and there’s just a lot of work to be done. The new hygienist was brutal. Had me spitting blood.

My teeth look amazingly white, tho.

Reason to feel both jealous and hopeful: yesterday’s language lesson found me sitting in with another student and teacher because my usual teacher is off on holiday. And DAMN! I’d really like to permanently switch to this new instructor. She was probably a teacher in real life. First, we had reading to do. Then questions to answer. Then complicated words to pronounce. Then a spelling test. Then simple chatting over our opinions on the story. It was THE most thorough lesson I’ve ever had. I was corrected on pronunciation and syllable emphasis. English was readily swapped to when needed. My grammar was corrected, and sentences were spoken to me slowly, clearly, and repeated until I got every single word precisely. SO jealous I don’t have her as a regular instructor. Also hopeful that I can find a teacher out there who’ll really teach me rather than sit there half bored as I try to read aloud.

Went into overtime using my Dutch when a knock at the door revealed two workers from the local Buurtwerk (neighborhood work) group. They’re out covering their areas, checking in with residents and asking about the neighborhood. What’s good about living here? What’s not good about living here? I stumbled through with my pidgin Dutch. Sure, I made grammar mistakes. Sure, I inserted English when I didn’t know the Dutch. Point is, they understood me and I understood them. Progress!

Inclement weather. The skies are grey, the clouds low and threatening. Please send us a good, ripping thunderstorm! I love thunderstorms. The sheer power let loose strikes me dumb. I just stand in front of the window, looking. And I’m 14 years deprived of thunderstorms; Ireland didn’t have them. So gimme, gimme, gimme!

Preparing mentally to dive into editing mode with this new software. Almost there. I find editing like reading Dutch: I can do it any time, but how well I do it depends on my mental prep. When my head’s there, it goes super fast. When my head isn’t there I spend most of time going over three lines and not being able to get beyond them.

Naturally money is tight. Tighter than tight. Another big bill showed up. Apparently it was a February bill that someone forgot to send to us, and now they want their money. All my doctor’s visits hit at the same time, so that’ll cost us. And the exchange rate is for shit. Goddess! Whatever happened to the idea that the euro was created to be a one on one challenge to the dollar? Thanks, Nixon, for killing the gold standard and hanging all the world’s currencies on the mighty US dollar. Stupidest move ever. Now currency manipulators use their power to create false values to world currencies. Just another slave game by the 1%.

Caught myself last night thinking that there’s a whole part of life I never let myself experience. Family, home, kids, cars, job. That stray thought occurred to me during a car commercial. Not sure what it was about that ad that triggered me. But trigger me it did, and a flood of all I’ve missed came whooshing towards me followed by regret and fear. Was able to recognize I was chasing that ‘grass is greener on the other side’ idea; I was reacting to an idyllic scenario, not anything based in reality. Oh, wouldn’t it be great to be young and in love and have lots of money and be thin and beautiful all at the same time. Fuck yeah, it would! I always thought so. But should we really allow ourselves to lead around by this carrot on a stick that’s only ever available to a chosen few? Goddess! And I’ve heard some of these chosen few espouse the idea that this was their destiny, the almighty guided them to it, blah blah puke blah. Um…it was chance. Luck. Chaos. A roll of the dice.

Or the dick you sucked.

There’s one thing about me that’s always been true, and I guess my life reflects it.

I don’t suck dick.