In my mind

Opened up my outline and began writing in earnest this week. I feel almost as if I’m writing a term paper. My outline is so detailed I can’t stray far from it, so it’s just check the next line, think, and write it out. My biggest stumbling block right now is my determined decision to use zero contractions when my characters talk. It’s a little dialogue trick to emphasize the people are not native English speakers. But I don’t want to sound stilted or weird, so I must think from time to time and turn my phrases so they sound both foreign and natural (using Tolstoy as a big example). In other words, I must think more like a Russian in my dialogue. It’s a mind set I can use, but it’s like anything else: once my head is there, it’s difficult to pull out. My inner dialogue has shifted to a bad Russian accent (much like Moose and Squirrel), and I find myself giggling over idioms and sayings running thru my brain.

But I’m discouraged, even as I write. The Russian allegations, the hysteria, the hacking and propaganda accusations – Gods, I’d have to be Hemingway to get this play produced in today’s clime.

I’m still putting my all into it.

Realized more than ever that my first act must be both introduction to and education about these women. Too many people I speak to have never even heard of this regiment. So the first act may be the furthest from the ‘truth’. I have to explain the situation, their bad equipment, the sexism and opposition, and why the regiment was formed in the first place all thru dialogue. In real life, this was all known. In the script, we have to allow the audience to discover this – educate them. It’s a fine line, to give all that info without being heavy handed. But I think I’m managing to do it, through personal perspectives and stories.

Case in point: the soviet agent. Every soviet regiment had an agent, called the Politruk, attached to it. The Politruk was the long arm of communism. Often times, they were harsh and unforgiving – and just as suspicious of their troops as they were of the enemy. But how many Americans know that? How many would even recognize the word ‘Politruk’? Not many. So I introduce the term, but make it clear thru the dialogue exactly what this person’s role was in the military. A similar thing happened with the woman responsible for forming this regiment. No one in the US (or very, very few) will know who she is, even tho she’s a well known aviation star in Russia. So I have to give some background on her, explain why she’s a big deal – even tho she’s not even in the play. Her story is related thru another character’s personal history – this is the woman who inspired the character, who showed her that women can be more than just mothers and wives.

The entire first act will just be introducing all the characters, their relationships to one another, and enough historical information so the audience will understand the story. Like I said, I gotta stick to that outline. Eleven characters to give fully rounded roles to…that takes a lot of words.

Today’s a pimple on the ass of summer. We’ve had several cool days, back in the mid 20s. Today’s temp is shooting up to 30 or higher, out of the blue. And we’re supposed to pop with severe thunderstorms later on this evening. I sure hope so. My tiny bedroom always stays three to five degrees warmer than anywhere else in the house.

Off, soon, to the gym. Get my arse moving. Hopefully after that, I’ll still have a few hours to tinker with the script and get some more work done.

Heard from my acting partner, who is working as an extra in an upcoming film. Passed my head shot on to him, and he promised to pass it on to the casting director. Also heard from the director’s girlfriend, who put together the promo poster. While she wants to use photos of all of us in various promotional shots, they’ve decided to keep the photo with me and my partner as THE picture. Think I’ll get a large print out for my wall. I’m pleased she responded; never sure how that relationship is going. Doing my best to be warm, friendly, and non-threatening.

And I gotta ask a Dutch native about something. A Dutch guy, specifically. Some of the young men who work at the gym have a habit of winking at me every time I’m in there. I get winks when I check in, and winks when I leave. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s a ‘hey, you’re an older woman but you’re a tough broad, so I’ll give you a wink’ or a ‘hey, you’re an older woman and I’d like to do you’ thing. Or maybe it’s just a thing shop owners do. The Dutch say hello to me as I walk far more than other nationalities. So maybe winking at regular customers is just a friendly gesture. A ‘we’re all in this together’ thing. I don’t know. Wish I wasn’t so dumb about these things.

Very little thought to anything that frightens me. Too wrapped up in everything else. That’s good; saving me from needless anxiety. I worry sometimes that I use my work to distract me from all that. That all I’m really doing is pushing it away.

But, hey. A little distance from my fear isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a mental holiday from myself. Leave those doubts behind. Allow myself to feel powerful for a little bit. Sexy, even.

So in answer to the ever-present summer question are you going away on holiday?, the answer is I already am on holiday. In my mind.

A Different Kind of Wallowing

My mind needed that. Needed to shut down, no words, no thinking. I lulled it with television programs and films. And I woke up with this crazy idea in my head about my role.

Headed over to Hesseplaats and hit the cheap shop. Aha! Forty-nine cents for a pair of outrageously ugly hair clips and a whopping €1.79 for some small, ugly, red-rimmed reading glasses.

Kept my mouth shut about it. Went last night to the photo shoot/rehearsal, excused myself before pinning my hair up with the uber ugly hair pins (on either side of my head, sticking out in the fashion of a 12 year old; completely inappropriate for a 50 year old) and donned the glasses. Grins all the way around when I walked in. But still! No voice, no voice. Not until the first line. Then I let gave it to them.

My eyes scrunched up, as if I had problems seeing. My upper lip raised over my teeth in the ultimate nerd facial expression. And the voice! Nasal. Whining. Somewhere between Urkel and Fran Drescher.

The room exploded in laughter so loud it almost threw me.

Then it was the piece de resistance: the long, uncomfortable silence between my character and my partner. I’d tried a lot of things to fill the time, but nothing that felt really solid. Nothing that felt really funny. Not so anymore! I needed to get my phone on the table for a bit later on, so I decided this silence was the time to take it out of my purse and set it down. And what could be more natural than to take a facial tissue out and blow your nose after such a move? I made the noise through my mouth, of course. I can’t actually blow like that. It was loud, and long, and completely obnoxious. Something no one could speak over.

I was told, later, two things. One, of the other actors was laughing so hard she couldn’t catch her breath. Two, my partner almost lost his composure at that point and had to struggle to keep a straight face.

Afterwards, the director said only three words to me: We’re keeping it.

This is to say nothing of the fact that my partner and I were the only pair to have our lines fully memorized, to be this deep into choreography, to have the kind of sympatico needed to pull off this comedy.

I went for it. Full on, no holds barred, no consideration given to intimidating or scaring any of my fellow actors.

And I stole the show.

Again.

Somehow, I think my picture is actually gonna make that promotional poster….

The rest of the duos did their thing. No one could muster up a laugh for anyone else equal to the smallest I received. …There were chuckle points. I made a point of paying close attention to everyone. But the people I saw perform last year are essentially doing the same thing this year. Same inflections. Same body movements. Same everything. It was very noticeable.

Yes, I raised the bar. Everyone now knows we run the risk of the first act going over like gang busters and the rest falling flat in comparison. I’m not exactly comfortable putting other people in that position. It can cause a lot of hard feelings. Especially since this is something I don’t even have to work at much. It’s as second nature to me as breathing.

And it threw me. The excitement. I came home at 10:30, smoked and talked my brother’s head off til midnight, tried to sleep til 1:30, got up and smoked some more, and finally drifted off sometime after two a.m. My head would not shut up. My mania went into overload. Every scenario grander than the last, winding me up.

This is what frightened my mom. This overexcitement post performance. I try to keep a lid on it, but that’s truly impossible. In comparison, I’m a champ at handling my negative thoughts. Much more success at breaking them. This…this was intoxicating on a level that rivaled the worst addiction. I recognize that.

It was like a mind orgasm. Everything felt good. I felt good – no, great about myself. My abilities. Confident, assured. Happy. So bloody happy! Nothing else compares.

Down to earth: the girlfriend of the director was there. Three sentences into her greeting, she slipped in ‘I’ve been hearing great things about you’. Uh-oh. Later on, during her scene, she felt the need to grab my water bottle and drink from it – thereby destroying it for my use later on. Two moves trying to show her dominance. She’s got nothing to fear on the romantic level. But as an actress…last night, baby, she got served.

Did maybe find someone to be a friend. Another female, one who was pulled in last minute and lives in a neighboring city. Don’t know her well. But she proved to be an American American, not a Dutch person who fools you into thinking they’re American because they do the accent so bloody well. She was very nice, open, friendly. We walked to the metro with the director and another actor. Ah, and they gave me props on the walk. Compliments, excited chatter over my next script.

My ego feels fat and full today. I don’t want my ego to become a monster. Don’t want this to become my norm. I must learn to sip a little bit from each encounter. Take a taste, but don’t gobble. I’m gobbling right now, and I know it. It comes from years of ego-starvation. But I intend to instill the same discipline I use with my exercise regime. Steady progress. Keep my head on straight.

…After today, that is. Today, I’ll still wallow. It’s just a different kind of wallowing.

Eating Elephants

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Night Witches is definitely an elephant. I don’t want everything centered on one character. Each role should be unique and driven by the character’s personality.

I’ve taken my basic outline and begun expanding it. Busy writing individual outlines for each and every character. Where are they? What are they doing? How do they react? Found a few surprises for myself, bits and pieces I hadn’t considered while writing the overall outline. When I’m done with each character’s outline, I’ll take everything and assemble a master outline. Very specific and tight. It should give me a good start on scenes and dialogue.

Settings shouldn’t be a problem. I think all they’ll really need will be a few tables and chairs. I was going to use the barracks as a setting, but that involves getting cots or beds in there to make it look like a barracks. Involved, and expensive. Changing it to a common area, like the mess hall. Kind of makes sense: if the entire regiment is going to meet to discuss anything, the space needs to be big enough to accommodate everyone at once. A mess hall would have tables and chairs, and enough space.

Going to be asking a lot of sound and lighting crew. Again. But, come on! That’s what they live for, right? Something inventive to get them involved. I’ll bet turning lights up and turning lights down for every scene gets boring. So, write them in. Make them pay attention and be present for the production. They’re part of the crew, after all.

My brain is cooking. The creativity pot is bubbling and boiling.

Skipped language class this morning. For one, I’m bloody well busy and damned happy to finally be on the active side of Night Witches. For another, the class was scheduled to have students come in to talk to us individually. Kid students. Those walking germ factories. Sorry; don’t care how old they are or how beneficial talking with them might be for me. I can’t risk my health. Not now, not ever. Got so involved with my outlines and thinking that I forgot to text my teacher. Feel kind of bad about that.

Had rehearsal last night. Can I say it? DAMN, I’M GOOD! For one, we blew through the first 7 pages and went on to begin working the last half of the scene. For another, I got one suggestion from the director on a line delivery nuance. One. My partner had quite a few. He also stumbled more with his lines, but as I assured him, he’s got the bigger speeches. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the director smile and nod during my performance, laughing a few times at my physical portrayal of the character.

One not so great thing I’ll note: I’m really terrible at small talk right now. During the break last night, I immediately got into heavy topics – generally, a no-no. But I, of course, just dive right into that stuff. That’s where my head is: my issues and my writing. That’s the conversation anyone gets out of me these days. And as the words came out of my mouth last night, I knew I was wrong. Wrong to bring it up, odd to mention my thoughts, too abrupt with my feelings. I need a bleeding social interaction class. *sigh* Though I think that only served to emphasize how perfect I am for the role of Wendy, who’s very socially inept.

Other: chatted on the way to the metro after rehearsal with the director, as usual. He told me he never partied. Like, never ever. At first, I thought he was pulling my leg. Took me three ‘Really?‘ exclamations before I accepted he was telling me the truth. I wonder if my wild days inevitably led me to where I stand today. I wonder how different things might have been…

In a lot of ways, I feel like I’ve never really lived. Never went after what I really wanted, never gave myself a chance. That’s terribly sad. I’m both angry at myself for caving in and my family for programming me this way. I pity myself and hate myself at the same time. It’s a really sucky place to be.

And yeah, I know I have to forgive myself. Sometimes I feel like I’m almost there. Other times…not so much.

Forgiving myself…now that’s a big elephant.

Some days I hate being a woman

Woke up to a blessedly cool 15 degrees. Such a big difference in temperature I needed a hoodie on to feel comfortable. It’s supposed to heat right back up to 31 today, but for now the air is cool with that hint of fallen-dew smell, and I feel if it stayed like THIS all summer, I could be a happy person.

Rehearsal last night. Surprise: my acting partner came home from holiday early and showed up for last night’s work. MUCH better. I like working with my director, but I need to pick up the timing and habits of my acting partner. And the director needs to see both of us interact in order to do his job. One-upped my partner (and for all I know, everyone else working on this play) by having my lines memorized so well that when we began the run thru I didn’t need the script – which the director noted with a smile. Disagreed on a minor point of dialogue; the director feels a few of my lines are all double entendre. I disagree; a person may use double entendre, but for a whole paragraph? Didn’t feel right to me, but he’s the director so I’m delivering the lines the way he wants them done.

Learned something, too. There’s a short bit in the scene where I notice a photograph that’s been cut in two. I’d been playing it exactly the way I’d react – when my partner talks about it being his ex who left him for a guy on holiday, I widened my eyes in shock and concern. HOWEVER, I was told cutting people out of photos is now a normal thing to do. Everybody does it. It’s not a sign of psychosis and I shouldn’t have any concern or fear over it. …Really? Have things got that bad out there? I was taught that behavior was wrong, wrong, wrong. A sign of immaturity. An inability to deal with anger. Something to fear: someone who’d do that might snap and pick up a gun at any moment. And now it’s “normal”. Accepted behavior.

Dear Goddess! What are you people thinking?

…And it’s no wonder we have so many mass shootings. So much violence. If you think THAT’S fucking normal…!

*sigh* Gotta say, it’s nice to be back on my blog. A place where no one can interrupt or override me. The real world ain’t that nice. Felt like I had a big dose of that last night, as well. There came a time near the end when my partner and the director began discussing the education system here – something both have worked in. Something I know nothing about. So there was a long lag when I had nothing to say, nothing was said to me, and any attempt of mine to add in a thought or statement was talked right over. Then I got home, tried to talk about it to my bro – who interrupted me and overrode my line of thought, interjecting with HIS night, HIS work, HIS thoughts. I did what I always do: clam up. If I’m not important enough to be listened to, fuck you. You don’t get to know anything about me. But then, as ALWAYS, I’ll be blamed for ‘putting up walls and not letting anyone in’. What a fucking load of twat! And sorry, but this SHIT always comes from MEN. Can’t quite shake the feeling it’s all chauvinistic bullshit from the start.

Yeah, there’s quite a bit of anger in me today. Had to read another article about burkinis from a man’s perspective. Piss the fuck off!

Does not help I was told last night I look 40 something. I should be pleased, right? It’s still 10 years junior my actual age. Instead, I find my ego punctured and deflated. What? I don’t look 30 anymore? Fu-u-uck! Horrible to feel so torn – to want (at the moment) every man’s penis to fucking fall off and rot, yet still want to look young and attractive.

Some days I hate being a woman.

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.

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.

A whole new animal

Sorted through the umpteen million PDFs of writing opportunities I’ve got on my desktop. Good thing, too. While many are just getting catalogued – found them too late for this year, so I’m saving the info to have a head start on next year’s calls – a couple caught my eye. One call is for a 30 minute play due September 1. I can make that. I can write Night Witches and still make that. So now my schedule is sorted. First up, my radio script. Transferring it into Scrivener, a writing software designed to handle real projects: scripts – radio, theatre (US and UK), film – research papers, books. There’s so much in Scrivener I’m having a difficult time getting through the instructional information. Pretty sure I’ll pop for the full version. It’s loaded and it works on my older operating system. But I’ve gotta see what happens when I transfer in something I’ve already written. How much formatting will hold? Probably none. I won’t kid myself there. Good news is, formatting is the easiest (tho most boring) part of writing a script. So, in goes the radio script. Add a few things here and there for the next place I’m submitting to. Take a deep breath, ’cause there’s no break allowed – straight onto the 30 minute script. One month max for it while simultaneously reading the book on the Night Witches. Have time to schedule a read through with the local theatre group if anyone’s actually around during summer (other than me). Send it out, start writing Night Witches pronto. Leaving myself a couple of months to flesh in the story, call for a read through, and still have more than 30 days left to fix any problems and polish it up before I submit it.

Also just spent time thinking about my personal schedule. I’ve got this tendency to diss myself and everything I do – you might have noticed. So I counted. Counted the hours I spend exercising for my RA, the hours in language class, the hours for doctors and physio and dentist visits, and with a mere 4 hours given over to writing Monday through Friday I’m topped out at 40 hours a week. To take care of myself, and do a little bit of writing. 40 bleeding hours – full time shit. No wonder some part of me balks at volunteering time anywhere; must have already known I’m maxed out.

Rehearsals are called for next week Monday. Three hours in the evening slated to read through the entire play (all 4 skits) and talk about character development (or some such theatrical jargon that’ll make everyone feel like they’re involved and participating when it’s really the director giving instructions to actors too dense to understand their roles). Want to watch and listen with my writer’s perspective; I tend to distance myself emotionally from the situation when I fall into observation mode. I stay calmer because people become characters acting things out in front of me. They’re not mean or nasty towards me; they’re showing me a scared and callous side of themselves. Remember that! I intend on watching the girlfriend of the director closely. Big surprise she made the cut – not. At the moment, I’ve got her pegged as the biggest see-saw of the bunch: loudest mouth, most unsure about her talent (as am I; never seen her try to act), and most likely to get thrown off balance by something not connected with the production.

My head’s wagering on what’s gonna happen. This chick is the one who was disruptive during my reading. I think I’ve sussed out all the possibilities for that behavior. Now she’s got to deal with me in this production. Cold shoulder, or false best friend? How will she react? Odds are I’ll get the false best friend. Forced cheerfulness. Inclusion when possible in order to sneak in those barbs that can’t be called out because they’re too deep in entendre. Oh, yes. Been there, done that. It’s what I expect.

But I’m not the person I was thirty years ago. I’m not so easily disrupted. I’ve a few good foundations to cling to, to remind me of what’s true and what’s not. Don’t know what she expects of me. Maybe she doesn’t know either. What I do know is this: I believe I have the capability to handle whatever she throws at me and not lose my cool. Because one thing is absolutely clear to me – I don’t care if she likes me or not. I saw her real face early on, at one of our meetings, and had that analysis confirmed during my script read through. I don’t like her, and I don’t want to be her friend. She’s got nothing to hook me with, nothing to hold over me, nothing to use against me. Wanna diss me on my work, my looks, my age? Go on! Nothing I haven’t said to myself. Nothing you’re gonna say that’s any worse or harder than what my own brain comes up with to taunt me. I shall laugh. Laugh at her, laugh at her attempts to unhinge me.

No, I’m not the child I was. I’m a whole new animal.

It would be nice, though

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Got up this morning extra early and on purpose so I could write, and now I’m staring at the blankness of my post and wondering what the hell to say.

Start with the good. I can walk without pain. That’s a biggie. Off pain pills, down to an occasional paracetamol in the evening. Want to get back to the gym today for a long, slow exercise session. I am very aware my attitude goes to shit when I experience pain (note: pain for me lies somewhere between 5 and 8 on the 1 to 10 pain scale; anything less than a 5 is just discomfort). If more people were aware of that…but they aren’t, and they’re all too busy with their own thoughts and lives to think to ask why I’m in such a shitty mood so often. The answer is simple: pain. I’ve a lot more of it than I talk about.

It’s May. The Netherlands celebrated the coming of this merry month with a 20C sunny day – warmest to date, and followed up by a grey, dingy morning promising rain and feeling twice as cold as it actually is because it falls the day after such summery warmth. Nonetheless, May means movement; time has marched on. There’s the script read through. Several doctor appointments. More language lessons. Deadlines to meet. And I must begin haunting some of my online emails for replies to earlier script send-outs.

Worried about a lot. Worried my ears are gonna get sliced and diced at the doc’s, and I’ll have to spend the summer keeping out of the water. Worried the ear doc is gonna say there’s nothing they can do to rid me of this continual ringing. Worried I’ll get yet more rejections on my writing. Worried about my residency status. …There’s so much to worry about it kind of cancels itself out. Just becomes a wall of grey noise.

Do not want to begin writing on a new project before I’ve wrapped up my last, so I’m keeping myself busy. Playing games. Watching Twin Peaks again. Doing what I can to help around the house. Giving my brother as much time as possible each and every day for him to do his writing. Keep telling myself thank you. Thank you, Beeps, for doing the dishes. Thank you, Beeps, for cleaning under the bookcase in the hall. I gotta say it, because my bro is too wrapped up in writing mania to acknowledge it. I understand; been there often myself. Feels a little lonely, tho. The only conversation I get is about his book, his writing, his graphics. Wears thin after a while.

Well, now I know what it feels like…and next time, I’ll try a lot harder to pull my head out of my ass when my brother talks to me as I write.

*sigh* But I need concrete, real stuff right now. I need people contact, and laughter. I need things to look forward to. I need my appointments and classes, my weekly and monthly routine. Feels like my dreams are pulling away from me; all the old comforts I told myself for years and years don’t offer the same protection as they once did. Realized I still dream as a 20 year old. The only difference is now I dream with the sole purpose of escaping my worries. I don’t really think any of it will happen.

It would be nice, though.

Take the flag

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It’s a hell of thing to be sitting somewhere in public, waiting patiently, minding your own business, nothing at all wrong, and then, when you try to stand, you freeze with pain. Don’t know what sound escaped my mouth or which facial expression spasmed across my face, but I can tell you this – it caused five grey haired pensioners to gasp, get up, and try to help me.

Gods!

Must not have looked too good.

Spent yesterday morning growing ever more paranoid during my language lesson. The other student was present again (surprise), and I noticed my teacher took ten to fifteen minutes to catch up and chat with her but far less to chat with me. Now, I know I’ve surpassed the other student in language use. I’ve come to lessons regularly, worked hard, and made a lot of progress. So it’s only natural that the teacher would try to draw out the other student more than me. Get her talking again. …Right? I was careful to note the teacher’s body language. Not too skewed, but she did seem to lean a bit towards the other student. …Does my teacher not like me? *sigh* What have I done now?

I guess that’s the risk anyone takes when they choose to not be a milksop. Have opinions, state them. Have energy when you communicate! For pete’s sake, don’t talk to me like it’s the closest thing to death; deadpan and distracted. Look at me! Fire up your soul! Maybe we’ll come to loggerheads but at least we’ll know we don’t like each other. But don’t hide yourself. Don’t say ‘uh-huh’ to everything, never offer an original thought, never let anyone see anything of the real you. …That’s my opinion, anyway.

But I’ve been told I can be a poor communicator. Not because I’m unclear or uninformed; just the opposite. Because I’m too clear, too informed. I’ve been told many people don’t like to discuss big issues in life. It makes them uncomfortable. But big issues is where my head is at. Big issues were what I discussed at the dinner table as a kid.

After 50+ years of big issues, I can say that there are a whole lot of people out there who don’t like discussing them. And they don’t like me because of it.

That always makes me feel bad. I don’t mean anything improper about it. Just the opposite. I want to know where people stand on this stuff. I want to know their reasons for their choices. So I ask. And people get put off, or offended, or feel so uncomfortable around me that they choose to not hang out or be my friend.

It’s the risk I take, being me. Because for all the disappointment and lost possible friendships, every once in a while I find a real gem out there. Someone who fires up just as quickly as I do. Someone with a magpie mind fast enough to keep up with me.

That ain’t my Thursday teacher. Nor my Friday teacher.

Not that I expected either of them to be my friend.

…Well, I can move freely enough today – so far. I’ll try going to class, but I’ll take my heavy duty pain pills with me. Or maybe I should just take one now. Get a jump on the stiffness and pain. Probably the smart thing to do.

This ain’t gonna stop me. Not the pain, not the stiffness. Not the idea that my teacher doesn’t like me. Not the embarrassment over forgetting words I knew a few weeks ago. Not my slight dyslexia that always makes me screw up numbers.

Feels like I’m gearing up for war. A war on everything that’s going to try to stop me. I know what my goal is. I know what I need to do to get there.

Time to take the flag.