NaNoWriMo

For those of you not in the know, that’s short for National Novel Writing Month. Takes place every November. I’ve participated on and off since 2003. Have even “won” three times (meaning I made the 50k word count).

Now, I write year round, as much as possible. And a lot of what I write doesn’t lend itself to so high a word count (stage plays, screenplays). But I do also write some prose, and after taking a couple years off, I’m thinking of trying NaNoWriMo again.

Of course, right now I do already have a lot of projects on my plate, but . . . What’s one more? Right? As if my family didn’t already feel like I’ve abandoned them . . .

Being a writer is hard work. Sometimes it’s fun, but not as much fun as so many people seem to think. Sometimes it’s a tough slog, trying to get where I and the characters and the story want to be. Sometimes it’s like having multiple personality disorder because you have to know all your characters as if you were them: how they’d react to something, what they’d say. (This is especially true when writing for television, but it’s true in general for all fiction.) Sometimes it’s an out and out fight with your characters or a plot twist.

Funny thing is, though, that my family is much happier when I’m writing than when I’m suffering a dry spell. Because I’m even more difficult to live with–more cranky and unpleasant–when I’m not actively “employed.” So participating in NaNoWriMo may only ensure that we all come out more content at the end of it.

Moving Up in the World?

Today I got an unsolicited e-mail from JustFiction saying they were interested in publishing “The K-Pro.” Flattering as it sounds, all my red alert signals went off. It’s a writer’s dream to have a publisher waltz up and ask to publish them, but any writer worth his or her salt knows the reality is, it’s never that easy.

First I looked at the JustFiction site. Not a lot there, and (though they admit to being new) their catalogue of books was very small. Nothing I’d ever heard of, and the covers were stock, not individually designed. Hmm.

So then I did the general Google search for information, and thank goodness for sites like the Writer Beware blogs. Need to add them to my blogroll . . .

So yes, I’m kind of sad that JustFiction doesn’t appear to be a legitimate, viable option for my getting published. But I’m glad to know that now instead of finding out to my detriment later.

Playwriting Opportunity (in English and Welsh)

Launch of DAW’s One Act Playwriting Competition 2012

Monday 17th October 2011. Today, DAW launched its annual Playwriting Competition. The competition aims to encourage the writing of plays for theatre in English and Welsh. Previous prizewinners have been published and performed as a result of promotion through our New Writing Scheme.

THE WINNING PLAY IN EACH CATEGORY
WILL RECEIVE A CASH PRIZE OF £250
AND WILL BE PUBLISHED

PLAYING TIME: 20-50 MINS – A MINIMUM CAST OF TWO

An Adjudicating Panel appointed by the Drama Association of Wales will read and consider the plays entered into the Competition and will award the following prizes:

• Best Play for a Youth Cast (16-25 years) – £250
• Best Play in the Open Category – £250
• Best Play in the Welsh Language – £250
• plus commemorative Prizewinners Medals
• The above plays will also be published by DAW Publications

Also:
• The Best Play from a Wales Based Playwright will be awarded a bursary to Tŷ Newydd, the National Writers’ Centre for Wales

TO CONTINUE THE SUCCESS OF LAST YEARS SERVICE…
If you would like to make use of DAW’s Script Reading Service whilst your play is with us, please send £37.50 as the combined price of both competition entry – £17.50 and Script Reading Service – £20.00

For a hard copy of the application form, please contact Teresa on Cardiff +44 (0) 29 2045 2200 or
email: teresa@dramawales.org.uk

For a downloadable entry form by pdf or word format, visit our website

Closing date: 31st January 2012

THE COMPETITION IS OPEN TO EVERYONE. DON’T BE DISCOURAGED FROM ENTERING IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE WALES – WE RECEIVE ENTRIES FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD.

With special thanks this year to Christchurch Theatre Club, Dorset

And in Welsh, for the curious, if not for those who actually read and speak it . . .

LAWNSIAD CYSTADLEUAETH YSGRIFENNU DRAMA UN ACT CDdC 2012

Yr wythnos hon, fydd CDdC yn lawnsio’r gystadleuaeth ysgrifennu drama un act 2012. Bwriad y gystadleuaeth yw annog ysgrifennu dramau ar gyfer theatr yn y Gymraeg ar Saesneg. Yn ogystal a gwobr ariannol byddem yn ystyried cyhoeddi rai o’r dramau buddugol. Yn y gorffennol maer dramau buddugol wedi cael ei cyhoeddi a’i perfformio o ganlyniad i gynllun hyrwyddo ysgrifennu newydd CDdC.

MI FYDD ENNILLYDD POB CATEGORI YN ENNILL GWOBR ARIANNOL O £250 AC YSTYRIR GYHOEDDI RHAI O’R DRAMAU BUDDUGOL!

HYD Y DDRAMA: 20-50 MUNUD – CAST O DDAU NEU FWY YN UNIG.

Penodir panel o feirniaid gan Gymdeithas Ddrama Cymru i ddarllen, dadansoddi dramau ar gyfer dewis ennillwyr yr gwborwyon canlynol:

• Drama orau ar gyfer cast ieuenctid (15-25mlwydd oed) – £250
• Drama orau yn yr gystadleuaeth Agored – £250
• Drama cyfrwng Gymraeg orau – £250
• Medalau i’r ennillwyr cofiannol.
• Bydd CDdC y ystyried gyhoeddi’r dramau uchod

Yn ogystal:
• Mi fydd yr ddrama orau gan ddramodydd o Gymru yn ennill bwrsariaeth i Ty Newydd, Canolfan Ysgrifennu Cenedlaethol Cymru.

GWASANAETH DARLLEN SGRIPTIAU

Os hoffech wneud defnydd o wasanaeth darllen sgriptiau Cymdeithas Ddrama Cymru tra bod eich drama gyda ni y pris gyfunedig yw £37.50 sef £17.50 i gystadlu yn y gystadleuaeth ysgrifennu a £20.00 am ein gwasanaeth darllen sgript.

Am ffurflen gais ar gyfer y gystadleuaeth, cysylltwch â Teresa, Swyddfa Cymdeithas Ddrama Cymru (CDdC) drwy ffonio +44 (0) 29 2045 2200 neu ebost: teresa@dramawales.org.uk neu www.dramawales.org.uk/pages/playwritingcompetition.html am ffurflen gais pdf neu word

Dyddiad cau: 31ain o fis Ionawr, 2012

CYSTADLEUAETH YN AGORED I BAWB. PEIDIWCH A DI-GALONNI OS YDYCH YN BYW TU ALLAN I GYMRU- RYDYM YN DERBYN CEISIADAU GAN GYSTADLEUWYR AR DRAWS Y BYD!

www.dramacymru.org.uk/tudalen/cystadleuaeth.html

Diolch yn fawr iawn i Christchurch Theatre Club, Dorset

How I Learned to Drive

Although I had a driver’s license, I didn’t really know how to drive . . . until some Teamsters took pity on me.

Here’s the whole story. I went to driver’s ed like most other high school students, dragging myself to school very early in the morning in order to watch gruesome VHS tapes of “bad things teenagers do in cars that get them killed.” Then, after many weeks of these videos, we were split into groups, put in cars, and forced to run the gauntlet. By which I mean, we tried not to do any of the “bad things teenagers do in cars that get them killed.” Because besides getting us killed, it would get us yelled at by the high school’s Eastern European basketball coach who was doubling as our driving instructor.

After a few weeks of that, and once we’d passed the written exam at the DMV, the Eastern European basketball coach took us out individually for a driving test. I remember him telling me that if he had to use his special emergency break, I would fail. I actually yelled at him at that point. I said something like, “I am FOUR SECONDS BEHIND THAT CAR! I am NOT going to hit anything!” After that, he didn’t talk to me any more. But I passed.

Okay, so if I passed the driving test and had a license, why did the Teamsters need to teach me to drive? Well . . .

I was an adequate driver. Really, I was. But a nervous one as well. I didn’t drive if I could avoid it. In fact, I was relieved in college not to have a car, and therefore not to have to drive. The campus buses were fine for getting around the area. The city buses weren’t terribly reliable, but I made do.

So then I was working on a film set. And I didn’t have a car of my own, but I was also too young and too expensive to insure for a rental, so the production office gave me a driver. Score! His name was Charlie, and he was awesome. He had lots of great stories about famous people he’d driven for, and told me that the set we were on was “one of the worst” he’d ever been on (it was a pretty difficult shoot). He said to me, “If you can get through this, you can do anything.”

And then one day the producer had me drive her Dodge Ram truck, and that made me all nervous. So Charlie and some of the other Teamsters took it upon themselves to buck me up. And they basically re-taught me to drive.

I imagine it was something like a defensive driving course, though I’ve never taken one, so I don’t really know. But I learned to maneuver and such, learned how to watch for other drivers in ways that were effective . . . Not so long ago, my husband said something about how, when I’m driving, I “worry about other people a lot.” But being aware of the other cars is part of driving well–especially since these days a lot of other drivers aren’t watching for you.

What Charlie and his fellow Teamsters really gave me, though, was confidence and a sort of freedom. It was years before I had a car to drive, but when my boss gave me his for a week at one point, I was able to go forth with few reservations. I had survived working on that awful movie set, after all, and as Charlie had said: if I could do that, I could do anything. Even drive.

An Apple a Day . . .

Last night I was looking at Facebook on my iPhone while simultaneously answering Jeopardy! clues from the television, and I saw one of my friends had posted that Steve Jobs had died. When I asked my husband about it, he grabbed his iPad off the side table and checked the online news feeds but didn’t find anything.

Not 10 minutes later, however, Jeopardy! was interrupted by the CBS News Desk in London (why the London desk when we’re in Boston I have no idea–it was, like, 1:00 a.m. over there) telling us that, yes, Steve Jobs had died.

My history with Apple products has been checkered; like many people, I worked with PCs for a long time before switching. In truth, I went back and forth. My home computers were PCs, mostly because they were less expensive. But a lot of places I worked (film production offices, publishing houses) used Macs. At the University of Texas there were computer labs filled with PCs and separate Mac labs used by students who needed that specific software for their studies. I used Macs when learning Quark for book design and production. I certainly prefer Macs for audio and video editing as well.

Only recently did our household switch to Apple. It started with iPhones of course. Gateway drug. Well, no, we’d had iPods for some time before the phones, I suppose. But then we moved on to my getting a MacBook Air for my birthday, to replace my oversized and aging Dell laptop. And a Mac Mini to replace our dying desktop computer. And then I got my husband the iPad for our anniversary. I’ll be getting the updated iPhone 4S soon because I have the original iPhone 3G and am due for an upgrade.

I can’t say I know much about Steve Jobs as a person. I’m just one of many end users of his company’s products. I can say that he and his company created wonderful things, things that have changed the way the world works. That’s an amazing impact to have.

I’ve been enjoying some of the quotes I’ve seen popping up, things Jobs said, like about following your heart and intuition. Right now I’m having some trouble gathering the courage to do some of the things I really want to do–I keep thinking there’s just no way I’ll ever be successful–so these quotes have been a nice bit of inspiration. They give me hope. I’m never going to be a Steve Jobs and change the world, but I can do little things to change MY world and MY life and become the person I want to be. So thanks, Steve, for that.

Teaser Tuesday: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

I’m finally getting around to reading this; I wanted to try it in advance of the film’s US release in December. I’ve never read any John Le Carre (though his name makes me think of being home in New Orleans). I don’t do a lot of spy/thriller reading, though I do tend to go in cycles in which I’ll devour several in a matter of a few months before moving on to some other genre.

Today’s excerpt is from page 212 of a very old library hardback:

He had a penknife ready but he wasn’t using it. Jim would never have cut string if he could avoid it.

I have no idea what’s going on in this scene because I haven’t got very far in the book yet. I’m on, like, page 5?

Score Card

So at last count I had submissions out to a lucky 13 places. One short story and the rest are play submissions. Now it’s the waiting game, which I’ve never been very good at. In the meantime, I will continue writing. Although I must admit it’s tempting to check my e-mail every five minutes or so. And then depressing to find it empty. I should stop checking. It’s only bringing my morale down.