Posts

Showing posts from 2016

Nerd Epiphanies and Podcasts for Dorks

Image
It's amazing how a person can teach for 11 years and only JUST figure out in her 11th year that, maybe, she should figure out 1) EXACTLY how much time it takes her, on average, to grade the assignments that she grades and 2) schedule it into her work week just like she schedules class time and office hours and meeting times, so that the time is accounted for and protected and separate from all other things. (And by "a person" I mean me, and by "amazing" I mean kind of shameful and stunning in its obviousness.)
I imagine there are people who are kind of horrified at the idea of scheduling your days in increments and appointments but that's the nature of this gig, I think -- at least, if you're going to do this gig well enough to keep your sanity and not get fired. (And by gig I mean teaching higher-ed. Sheesh. Constantly qualifying. This week has drained me. Brain not quite working.)
Also, I'm sure there are people who do this kind of thing (teachin…

Good News (A Welcome Change to the Blog, I Know!)

Image
The reading at the end of September at Amos Eno went really, really well, which was a relief and a joy. Two friends from my grad school days attended and it was so, so good to see them after, christ, a decade, and to know that they're happy and healthy and doing amazing things of their own (traveling across the globe, training and running marathons, etc.). The Incomparable Ms. C, my former officemate but forever kindred spirit, also traveled into the wilds of Brooklyn to attend the reading, and I rarely get to see her (because she's one of those people usually traveling across the globe, and I'm a suburbanite soccer mom tethered to L.I.). 
The reading itself was charming and fun (I can say that since, more or less, I had little to do with it). I mean, I knew when I asked Nicole Callahan and Jared Harel to read their poems (and some fiction) that they would bring good work; that's why I asked them in the first place. But I was pleasantly surprised at how well the readi…

Come to This Reading I'm Hosting. Or Not.

Image
I'm in a weird head-space. Tomorrow I'm hosting and taking part in an event that feels much bigger and important than it really is. Maybe this is because I haven't organized a reading or participated in one for a long time, and maybe this is because there will be people there (friends, colleagues) who haven't read or heard my work before, and maybe this is because the work I'll be 'presenting' -- it's weird using that word -- is so unlike other work I've put out into the world. It's two scenes from a new play I began this summer, and it's being read by two people who aren't me, and it's a comedy, and it's not written with poetry, and it's crass in a way that makes me feel really vulnerable -- because I fear that it will be too crass for some of the audience, and really not enough for others -- I don't want to push boundaries in a half-ass way, but I'm probably going to offend some people and I just have to get over t…

Self-Care 2016: Now Featuring Clean-Eating, Podcasts, and Hate Mail

Image
Hello again. It's me.

The past month or so has been filled with a lot of self-care stuff, trying to take care of areas of my life I ignored during May, June, and July while I prepared for my grad course and the script development lab and wrote up/filled out the form for my third and hopefully-final promotion. Then I went to a mini-conference as part of a leadership program at Stuffolk and they had this unit on stress and time-management -- I scored a 27/30, putting me in the high-stress-you're-gonna-have-some-serious-fucking-problems-soon-if-you-don't-knock-it-off category. I already kinda knew I was there, in that red-zone, but, you know, being one of maybe two people in a room of 20 who identified as having high levels of stress made me realize who fucking tired I am of being that person.
So, as the story goes: changes. We'll see if any of them make a difference. Some beach time with the kiddos, some household maintenance, some personal maintenance (running, y…

Conference & Script Development Lab Recap (Subtitle: Real Actors Really Read My Play! And Other Things I Did at Writing-Nerd Camp)

This summer has been motherfucking intense. 
I'm not complaining. (Yes, you can breathe a sigh of relief.) I'm just trying to accurately describe the period of time in which I required my squishy, ill-used mom brain to be suddenly very active this summer. (I'm in year three of coming off those pregnancy hormones -- fingers crossed that maybe my brain will return to full capacity by the Christmas season.)
July's Southampton Writers Conference and its Script Development Lab was extremely useful and productive. (So yes, I'm glad I listened to A. and didn't back out. Don't tell HIM that, though.) My experience with the Script Development Lab this year was really outstanding -- not least because of the feedback provided me by the dramaturg assigned to my play (William Carden of the Ensemble Theatre Studio -- who is brilliant and lovely), and its actors and director, but also because, perhaps, I came to the conference with a piece of writing that is working, in…

Writing Process as Hangover: Berate Yourself, Hydrate, and then Push Through It

Image
My latest blog posts have felt so solipsistic, particularly in light of the fucking chaos and violence in the world that has always existed but seems, thanks to irresponsible and inconsistent mass media coverage, as if it's escalating inordinately of late -- but I'm keeping up with them as a record of my writing process, which is useful in hindsight but feels something like a giant, unrelenting hangover right now. 
Part of this headache-like pressure is very much due to the upcoming script development lab. I told A. earlier in the week that I was thinking of emailing the program and asking them if I could switch from the script development lab to a writer's residency, and he was of the opinion I should just stick with the original plan. He can probably sense that I'm a gigantic coward and that I don't want other people -- particularly people who know what they're doing when it comes to drama -- to read and critique my early work, or work that feels early even …

The Black Mood and Blue Funk of Post-Deadline

I took the week off from writing. More or less. It began promisingly with a lunch date with A.P. to discuss our projects (his novel, my play) and then took a big nosedive from there. After last week's frantic and frenetic push to meet deadlines (the A-form for my final promotion, a somewhat-workable draft of the play for July's script development lab) I think I needed a solid break.
Not that I can afford to take a break at this point. The graduate class (and script development lab, and conference) begin July 6. I'm going to have to use this weekend, and next week, to get some serious work done.
I guess there are two things that left me needing the break and also just kind of deflated me: one, I turned in my promotion paperwork and instead of feeling elated and happy because it's (supposedly) the last time I'll have to go through this process, I felt deflated and weary. And then I found out that my application was far less substantial (like, it probably weighed 3 l…

The Blergh Chronicles, Volume 485, No. 6,437

This week the "mini-sabbatical" ends and two major projects are due: a finished, revised/revamped Act I of my play, and the A-form, my last application for my final promotion at the college.
Things are not going well with either project. I have made the tiniest dent in my A-form and I haven't worked solidly on the play since last week. The weekend was spent hyper-involved in the domestic sphere, shuttling kids to parties and playdates and working with A. on making our house, and our yard, look less tenement-like. 
THAT hasn't really gone well, either, in that we have a bunch of half-started (or half-finished, if you like) projects scattered all over the yard(s) and house -- felled trees that still need to be cut into logs and hauled outta here (and no one wants ME playing with a chainsaw, people); about 7 yards of mulch that needs to be distributed between tree beds and flower beds; weeding, lawn-feeding; laundry -- always laundry, particularly with Vampire Toddler&…

Mini-Unofficial-Summer Sabbatical & Other Attempts to Finish What I've Started

Image
I managed to work on my verse play every day of last week, so something is going right. On Tuesday I created a schedule wherein I outlined the parts of Act I that I will revise or create in order to have a complete, working draft that I can submit to the Southampton Theatre Festival in early June; the schedule itself had to be drastically revised on Sunday when I discovered I'd taken nearly six days to revise one scene.

I am not a fast writer nor a prolific one. I'm trying to come to terms with this. Even when I have more time than usual, like I do right now, while the older kids are in school still but I'm not teaching classes, I can write at a snail's pace. It doesn't mean I'm not working -- in fact, I believe I've spent more hours writing over the past week than I have, collectively, over the past year -- but much of the working consists of trying lines, words, whole stanzas and then scratching them out and starting over . . . or staring at the page as …

Surfacing

Image
I have a different blog post to write (for my union) and a gazillion papers & assignments to grade and a very disordered house to put in order and clean before my mother visits at the end of this weekend, but I felt the need to check in here. I've been sending my manuscript to a slew of publishers and first-book contests this week, and there's something about continually posting a bio that states you keep "a record of [your] writing life, experience in academia, and motherhood" on a blog that makes you think, "oh, maybe I should actually DO that."
Also, when it comes down to it, I blog more for my own sanity and catharsis than I do for another lame line in my bio. Of course, since I haven't written here for a month you can probably gauge pretty accurately where my sanity's at.
This weekend we're throwing a co-ed baby shower for my brother-in-law and my sister, who's pregnant with my first nephew (another boy in the family!), and because…

Spring Break!

Image
Okay, so that resolution to keep up with the blog was a bunch of crap. Basically, I was just waving a red flag in the face of fate when I wrote my last post, because it was followed almost immediately by a wave of child illness and job/family care juggling that took almost all focus away from my writing . . . apart from a brief two or three day stint where I wrote like a madwoman in an attempt to put together an NEA grant application. 
My frantic attempt to submit the NEA application was more of an excuse to focus exclusively on my play, though. I would really, really like to have this rewrite of the first act complete by the end of the semester. I'm not particularly sure how that's supposed to happen with the CW Festival occurring in April and more applications due (for next year's conferences and -- deep breath -- for promotion to full professor); but it's my goal, at the very least.
In order to get back to serious work on the play, though, I have to do some serious…

Back to the Blog // Back to Reality

I'm going to begin my blog again as a companion to the writing and submitting work I am kind-of sort-of doing right now  ... in an effort to move me out of the kind-of sort-of zone and more solidly into the definitely-and-making-lots-of-progress zone.  Because my writing life is some kind of pie chart or line graph, obv.
In January I mapped out a plan for revising the first act of my verse play and moving -- finally -- into Act II. That original map has itself been revised over the past few weeks. This is a result of that "kind-of sort-of" progress: painstakingly slow, but happening, nonetheless. I'm adding new scenes about five lines at a time (i.e. five lines per day, when those days of writing occur). It's a rather pathetic pace, I know, but at this point I'm encouraged that I have a pace. 
Frankly, sometimes I'm amazed that I have a pulse, let alone a pace.
Work feels less intrusive to my writing time than it did last semester. I wrote so seldomly; t…