I'm working on both new material and revisions for my work in progress, which presents a challenge for someone like me. Revisions pretty much have to be tackled at the computer. New material I find easiest to do longhand in a notebook, which I then type into the computer later.
I've been tightening previous chapters to get ready for submission, which takes a certain head space for me. I took a little break from writing new stuff while I did that, but I needed to get back into the story and get chapters ready for my critique partners. We meet every two weeks, which really puts the drive on to produce.
Unfortunately, all the tweaking of my previous material was taking up the lion's share of my creative thinking. But I wanted to get more than a scene to my prolific critique partners, which is about all I was putting out for the last few meetings. This week I was determined to get some new writing done.
Several distractions later and I still hadn't forged ahead very far. But I noticed I was getting somewhere when I pulled out my notebook on the bus and got down to business. So tonight I decided to head to the mall to kick my writing into high gear. It worked like a charm.
First I wrote on the bus heading out to the mall after work. Then I dropped off my film for processing, the initial impetus for going to the mall in the first place. Then I headed for the food court, ordered dinner and continued writing as I ate. I looked around a bit, found some great picture frames at Dollarama, six of which I bought. Then I headed home, which involved waiting for the bus, taking the bus across the bridge, waiting for another bus, and taking that one home.
That translates into writing. Lots of it. Standing and waiting for the bus is twenty minutes of writing. And there's no one to distract me with talking. Riding the bus is more writing. The whole evening was a nice break for myself, wandering around thinking. Looking at stuff and thinking. I go to the mall to regroup and re-energize. Seeing all the displays sparks my creativity. People-watching sparks my creativity. And enforced solitude during travel really gets those words down on paper. There's no one to ask me 'what do you think about this or that problem?' No one to tell me all the things they've been doing. No one to remind me we've got this and that coming up on the calendar. Nothing to use up my time and energy like the dreaded housework.
My evening at the mall was a little oasis of sanity. And I came out from tonight's meanderings with a scene that really gets some momentum going for my female character. Plus when I got back, I still had time to visit with my mom and grandma, do a load of laundry, wash some dishes, talk to my sister on the phone, and take my dog Xena for a short walk. Somewhere in there I have to get some sleep before tomorrow...
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I'm working on both new material and revisions for my work in progress, which presents a challenge for someone like me. Revisions pretty much have to be tackled at the computer. New material I find easiest to do longhand in a notebook, which I then type into the computer later.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Several friends of mine have offspring who want to pursue filmmaking. I find it very revealing that I'm thrilled with their decisions. Currently I'm writing novels because my filmmaking life went off the rails twelve years ago. But like any self-respecting director, I've never let the cold light of reality interfere with my creative plans. I can still see the tracks. I have a number of projects that are idling while my Inner Creative Spirit Crew works to get my film train rolling.
I sent an email this afternoon to one of my oldest friends, whose daughter is interested in going to the Vancouver Film School. One of the women in my writers' group remembered that I went to Ryerson, because her son is thinking of going there. And another longtime friend has a son who already posts his short films on YouTube. 'How wonderful', I think, when I should be warning them off of such a life choice.
If that's what beats in their hearts, of course, it's already too late. I can only hope the very best for them.
I did warn the woman from my writers' group about the financial extremism involved. My own personal experience won't happen to everyone but I feel it's only fair to mention it. My husband and I suffered a massive financial setback when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder the same summer I graduated with my film degree.
Keeping myself employed and being there for him trumped any steps toward the life I'd started to build. Having job experience in low-paying customer service snagged us onto the poverty merry-go-round. I started writing novels because I could get my stories down without needing millions in financing.
But our personal odyssey - seeking my husband's wellness - took all the courage and unwavering faith that normally would go into the filmmaking process. Time well spent. Now we are maintaining health and finances both. We even managed to keep a tiny glowing ember of our creative ambition somewhere. At one point I was certain it had gone cold.
But the Atlantic breezes found their way into the true heart of me. One playful gust was all it took. Now the fire burns steady and unwavering. I write my novels and plan my shots, and in the meantime I work, give thanks for my paychecks and laugh with my partner in crime.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Yesterday's excitement knocked my Oscar blog back by a day. But it can't wait too long. Oscar Night is my second favorite night after Christmas Eve.
My husband had to work so I started taping things from the red carpet, the Barbara Walters special and the main event. Luckily he got home in time for the Big Three at the end - Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture. Luckily, because just as Martin Scorsese approached the podium at long last, the tape ran out.
I'd been distracted during the first half because I was tidying up the living room, knowing the technician would arrive the next day to hook us up to the Internet. And I knew I was taping it, so I could catch up on it later. But by the second half I was laying on the couch, my heated Magic Bag on my neck, two blankets over me and my dog curled into my feet at the other end. I was just in time for the gorgeous montage of foreign film - it filled me with the joy that brought me to study filmmaking in the first place.
I absolutely love the film scores of Ennio Morricone, who received a special Oscar and gave such a stirring and heartfelt speech. I was struck by how much affection and respect Clint Eastwood has for Morricone. I loved how easy it was to get the emotional tone of the Italian speech, even before Eastwood's translation. But I was grateful to hear what the composer had actually said, because his words were poetic and filled with generosity.
The genuine love and comradeship between Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg as they presented the directing award to their decades-long friend Martin Scorsese was the highlight of the broadcast for me. Those four filmmakers have been so influential to my generation, and sometimes people can forget that they started into the biz as friends who shared the same passion. The fact that they have remained friends for over thirty years and have retained their passion for film is a very beautiful thing.
No matter how faithfully the viewing audience has followed someone's career, there is always the private world that only that actor's or director's intimate relationships can fathom. Yet we sometimes catch a glimpse of that inner sanctum, and last night I felt that I'd seen it with that presentation of the Best Director Oscar.
'Film is a collaberative effort' they always say, but revealing to the world that one's life is Film, and that one succeeds only because of collaborating with the best, that illustrates the sort of life that I consider well-lived. Humble acknowledgement of joint effort even in the face of personal mastery - that's my ideal filmmaker. Something to emmulate. Now, to get back to that short subject I've been working on...
Yes, I'm blogging to you from the magnificent living room of my very own apartment. To say this feels strange might give the impression that I'm not giddy with glee. I'm luxuriating in the timeless pleasure of typing my thoughts at whatever pace I choose. No twenty-minute time frame for my break. No hour-long limit at the library. It's glorious.
But I do have an impatient dog here, who believes very strongly that because I've finished eating my supper, it's now time to take her for a walk. I don't understand why she's come to this conclusion. Could it be our mutually agreed-upon pact of several years' duration? Is there no flexibility in our verbal agreement? Doesn't she notice the serene joy emanating from me as I sit and type away at my blog?
She's splayed across her cushion covered by her blanket, looking up at me with an expression that can only be read as coy. Her body language says 'happy to continue splaying.' Her face says 'hey writer - aren't you tired of sitting in front of a computer? I've got a stress-busting walk with your name on it.'
Now she's abandoning that tack for a labored sigh and a put-upon hanging of her head off the cushion. But I know her hunting style, not that she does any of that. But she's adapted centuries of hunting behaviors to her urban lifestyle of play. The more bored she looks while maintaining eye contact, the more she's trying to draw me in. She could spaz out on me at any second, a coiled spring ready to sprint or leap or run circles around me. I won't let her get too worked up or our walk will be like trying to get Jim Carey to keep his interview answers to one syllable.
Now she's circled around behind me, obviously sensing that I'm considering wrapping this up. I guess I'll have to work out a time for my blog that is satisfactory to both of us. Otherwise I may have to go back to the peace and quiet of my work-break blogs.
Posted by Julia Phillips Smith at 8:32 PM
Friday, February 23, 2007
This was written a few evenings ago.
It's nearly 7:30. I'm sitting one table over from our new favorite spot, watching the couple that currently occupies it. There's been a pattern of conversation, punctuated by long silences. Not angry silences, but gaps where it's not obvious who should speak next, or even what they should say.
It's a slushy night, and Starbucks' other tables are filled with patrons. Animated chatter gives the room a contented hum. I sip my African red bush tea with honey, glad to be out of the bone-chilling damp. I wait, hoping the young couple finds the awkwardness compels them to leave so I can snag that spot for our critique session.
Their non-conversation continues. There's not even a lot of glancing over at each other. I'm looking for clues that might tell me what sort of relationship they have, but they're rather mystifying. They sit across the wide table from each other, the one we would prefer over the tiny version that barely holds my tea and my notebook. He faces her but hunches into the table, gazing at its surface or past her shoulder. She sits stretched out with her legs up on another chair, angled away from him. She cradles her cup in both hands and gazes at it, a smile playing over her features.
They don't seem upset or bored or enamoured with one another. But they do spend an awfully long time sitting at that lovely large table, even after my two critique partners arrive. We balance our 8 1/2 x 11 manuscript chapters and our hot drinks on the over sized dinner plate of a table. Our hands gesture broadly, we talk, we laugh, we go over one of the critiques, all hunched forward in earnest participation.
The couple lingers until I forget about them entirely. Until they leave. The other partners smoothly snag the spacious, inviting corner spot. That must be the problem, I guess. It's such a lovely, cozy corner on a damp February night. Not even an ambiguous couple with nothing much to say can tear themselves from its embracing charm.
Posted by Julia Phillips Smith at 3:00 PM
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Until I'm wired into the world wide web, I've been blogging on my breaks at work or stopping by the library for an hour on the way home. Yesterday I planned to blog on my afternoon break, so I brought my bag with my snack and water bottle into the boardroom where my team is allowed access to an Internet-friendly PC.
But I wanted to wash all the grime from my hands before eating. The old deed books we handle coat my fingers in black after an hour or so. I washed up and strolled contentedly back towards the boardroom, to my blog and my snack.
The door was shut and the sign said 'Occupied.' Great. No blogging. No snack. I returned to my scan team work station, grabbed my notebook and used my break for longhand writing instead.
Unfortunately I had other errands to do on my morning break and lunch break. After work was no option because my sister and I were heading over to see my dad and step mom. So Feb. 21st became the Great Blog Thwarting of 07. You see how much drama lurks in even the most mundane of afternoons?
Posted by Julia Phillips Smith at 10:00 AM
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
At one point last night, my sister simply turned to me and said, "You're cursed."
As far as my relationship with technology goes, she is on the money. My software, as is everything about my home computer set-up, is very old. I'd brought my first three chapters over to her place to print them off and get them ready to be mailed out. But there was something wonky about the header. She tried to correct it but there was a ghost page number too near the top of the page that wouldn't go away.
She got on the phone to her boyfriend, and he figured that my old WordPerfect program is having problems being converted back and forth into Word. So he can give me an upgrade, but not until next week. That's okay, because by then we'll be hooked up to the net. New updated software and a printer will be like a magic wand waved over my life. My sister's boyfriend happens to have a spare printer he doesn't need. And my sister needs to move the spare printer out of the house. Talk about win-win!
Monday, February 19, 2007
My husband and I are finally re-entering the cyberworld after a lengthy absence - about ten years would cover it. We had Internet service during my final year at university, but none after that, as student loan payments began. Add several other exciting financial disruptions, and not only did we not have Internet access, but at one point we didn't have phone service for a whole year.
Luckily, here in Canada there are several locations even in rural communities where public Internet access is available, and that's how we stayed sane. Once I began my climb out of customer service positions and into office work, the fabulous perk of Internet access meant I had email and surfing on my lunch hours. This worked fine, even for sending chapters of my work-in-progress to my critique partners, because I brought it on a floppy and attached it to my email. That is, until the Great Virus of 07 hit my work PCs.
Once that got cleared away, bringing data from home was no longer allowed. Our first critique meeting post-virus was no problem, as I was tightening up a submission anyway and had no new material to send. Last week was another story entirely.
I'm supposed to send my material to my partners by the Friday afternoon before our next meeting. I couldn't even do it at the library, because for some reason the libraries here think no one would want to go there on a Friday evening and they close at 5:00. Of course, I could have done that on the Thursday, perhaps, but I was hit by a migraine and couldn't see or think straight. My sister graciously agreed to let me come over to her place and use her computer on Saturday. Friday was used up anyway by falling on the ice and subsequent resting my leg once I hobbled home. So I headed over on Saturday morning to forward my scene to my critique partners.
My sister had given me the instructions on how to use her dial-up service, because she was over at her boyfriend's. I followed them but the dial-up wasn't working. I called her boyfriend who talked me through it - I hadn't been plugging the jack into the wall. I'd been putting it into the base of her wireless phone. Yes, there's a reason I almost didn't pass Film Technology, but that's another story.
So I get through to the Internet, but have to leave by then because my uncle was arriving to take my husband and me to buy a used couch. My step mom saw an ad for it in the Bargain Hunter. That worked out splendidly but took the entire afternoon. After supper I had to go get copies made of some Christmas pictures that I borrowed from my dad, because he was coming to the big family dinner on Sunday and that had to get done. So finally on Sunday morning I go back to my sister's and get the dial-up working, I email the scene and get back home before all the hordes start arriving for the dinner.
The timing couldn't be better for my husband's phone call to me at work this afternoon. He'd just made an appointment for next Monday for the technician to hook us up to the net. We are finally in a position to afford the exquisite luxury of surfing anytime we want, with no hour-long limit, no waiting on a free PC at the library, no travelling to a sister's or cousin's or friend's house to do something online. Sigh.
I'm sure I'll acquire loads of new techno skills in the very near future. I can't wait. I may do my best writing longhand, but ultimately it all has to become bits and bytes.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
After a very warm winter here in the Maritimes, February reminded us that we were still living in Canada after all. We've had such a deep freeze I haven't been able to take my dog for too many walks. But it's been nice for anyone who enjoys skating on a frozen lake instead of a rink. The city where I live is blessed with an abundance of freshwater lakes. A rapid freeze recently left all the lakes encased in a surface as smooth as glass. On my bus ride home I could see hordes of happy skaters gliding to and fro. I was thinking how marvellous that was. I could feel their joy wafting over me across the lake, up over the shore, onto the road and into the bus.
I was just mentioning that fact to my neighbor as we got off at our stop together. Her grandson would probably be going out skating with his friends after supper. And then my boot hit a patch of the very ice that made skating so lovely and walking so treacherous. I was down before I had processed the fact that I was falling.
I came down so hard I actually said, "Oof!" Maybe it was more of a combination of "oof" and "ugh." That part still makes me laugh. But the contact area doesn't. No wonder hockey gear was invented. I wonder if I should invest in some during the winter walking season.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Graphic novels are to mass market publishing as romance novels are to commercial fiction. Comics, sniff the literati. Trash, agree the chattering class.
Multibillion-dollar industry, crow DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics and Fantagraphics Books. Back at ya, cheer Avon Books, Pocket Books, Ballantine Books, Bantam Dell Publishing Group and the Grand Mammy of them all, Harlequin Enterprises. Comics fans and romance readers are far too enthusiastic about their favorite artists and writers to care much about naysayers. While romance continues to dominate 50% of fiction sales, its reputation is undergoing a bit of a shift with the emergence of women's fiction as a genre.
So too with the graphic novel. If the uninitiated were to pick up a graphic novel, the level of 'graphic' and the darkness of the novel would make most people fear for the children. Until they realized that this 'comic' was never meant for children. Graphic novels are more like the storyboards for a film. As with shots composed for film, each story panel must stand alone as a means of telling the narrative, showing mood, developing character. Unlike film, the story panel is a static, two-dimensional surface, which encourages comic artists to create the sensation of movement, depth, energy and mood in a rectangular frame.
Which brings me to the excitement of the upcoming "300". This is the second film based on Frank Miller's graphic novels. "Sin City" was the first, and that captured the look and feel of the graphic novels to the degree that it took film in a whole new direction. So many of those shots set-ups pulsated with originality and a completely fresh way to inhabit the frame. Even before the edits, the images tumbled off the screen and roared over the seats, hopefully into the minds of filmmakers everywhere. And now we have "300", which faithfully utilizes significant story panels and recreates them precisely for the screen.
Directors Robert Rodriguez and Zack Snyder have made the first footprints in the snow. I'm hoping many other filmmakers will take a second look at the way comics see the world. Cinema is a visual medium, after all. There are infinite ways to shoot a script, so many more than long shot, medium shot, close-up, tracking shot. Studying graphic novels gives me more colors for my palette. Since I tend to see the world in vivid technicolor, I welcome any ideas that can translate my narrative into an almost physical experience for the viewer. Of course, being Frank Miller stories, "300" and "Sin City" are not for those who wouldn't welcome the sensation of being kicked in the gut.
I think any story would benefit from heightened visual dynamics, even a love story. Especially a love story. Perhaps the new frontier of romantic film would be akin to feeling a kiss form on a viewer's lips. Dynamic visuals would do that. Let's pull some other shots out of the bag, directors. The 50% share of fiction buyers who love romance would translate into an awful lot of coin at the box office. But we want to feel that lover's breath on our necks, not watch another lucky someone and see her sighing responses. Anyone willing to step up to the plate?
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Last night as I sat on my couch, eating my supper, my dog curled up beside me, a voice broke through the howling windstorm outside and I looked up. His voice is unmistakable. Since I use this actor as the model for the vampire book I'm currently writing, you could safely say his voice rumbles through my head on a daily basis.
But last night it came from outside of my internal creative program. At least, I hoped that's why it sounded so commanding, compelling me to look up. Maybe I'd finally crossed it, that fine line between creativity and madness. But no, it was the commercial for Gerry Butler's upcoming "300", based on Frank Miller's graphic novel.
Because I'm a rabid Gerry fan, I've already seen one promo piece online. But this one had new footage in it, plus I could hear his voice finally, as opposed to reading his lips on the speaker-free work PC. "Spartans - this is where we fight. This is where we die."
Ooo! Shivers of delight! March 9th, all who would take this journey into the ancient world. Lots of swords, chiseled men, and extremely visceral cinematography, based exactingly on Miller's dynamic story panels. Only a few weeks to go. Waiting for a film I know I'm going to love is like exquisite foreplay. Can I take it? What other option do I have?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Don't change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
When these lyrics come up in "My Funny Valentine" by Rodgers and Hart, the sweetheart has been unfavourably compared to the Uber Male. The music itself is actually a bit melancholy. Were the writers lamenting the loss of a dream, perhaps?
It doesn't sound like it when you listen to the song. There's deep emotion inside it, and I always enjoyed singing it when my choir performed it last spring. Of course I would think of my husband and always get choked up at the line you make me smile with my heart.
I found the tune going through my head on the bus ride home yesterday. Then I started thinking about the sentiments of the song. If love is blind, isn't every sweetheart as attractive as the lyrics' perfect specimen?
Personally, I love the title of the song the most, because my valentine makes me laugh. It's impossible to be near him without both of us giggling after awhile. That makes every day Valentine's Day for me. Guess I'm stuck humming this tune for another day. As long as I don't break out into song at work.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
My current office culture, as far as dress code is concerned, is business casual with an emphasis on the casual. When I strolled in this morning in a tasteful navy blue suede-look suit, I may as well have worn a sign around my neck announcing 'Interview For Another Job Today.'
Not that this would be news in my six-person scan team. Especially since I had to ask for help with my resume attachment from two of them yesterday. There is no Cone of Silence around any phone conversations, so my calls from the placement agency surely tipped them off.
I dressed for an interview just in case, because the agent called my home at 4:30 when I was already heading out from the office. She left a message to call as soon as I got in this morning at 8:30. Translation - I should be prepared for an interview. I even had one for 3:30, but it got switched to tomorrow at 4:00. I made a comment to my friend that I had to rummage around tonight for another nice interview outfit. She smiled her secret smile and said, "That's a nice suit."
So tomorrow I shall arrive in the same clothes for the second day in a row. I can only hope that people think I had a wild night on Valentine's Eve.
Posted by Julia Phillips Smith at 5:07 PM
Monday, February 12, 2007
On Friday I got a call from a woman at the placement agency I'd signed up with a year and a half ago. She has a potential job for me and wondered if I would be interested. Considering that the current project I'm working on is winding down, with an end-date in the next few months, I wondered how sweet life could be to send that my way. I needed to update my resume, of course, so I thought I would work on it over the weekend and email it to her today.
Of course, I don't have my own resume on my home PC - why would I? It's on my sister's, and she's been in NY this past weekend. But I have a key to her house, so I went over there Sunday night to update it and put it on a floppy, but it wasn't on her home PC. It's on her work PC, and she wouldn't be back in the office until Tuesday or maybe Wednesday. So I updated it longhand in my notebook and planned to email the placement agent to ask her to forward my old resume to me at work.
This started off well. I updated it on my morning break, emailed it to her, printed off a hard copy for myself, then put the desktop file in the recycle bin. She emailed me to say there was no attachment. Great - good impression when she's sending me for an admin position! So I opened the document only to find I'd somehow failed to save the update changes. I asked my supervisor if he could scan the hard copy for me, which he did, and I forwarded the pdf file to the agent. She ended up asking me if she could readjust my resume with the updates so it could be a Word document attachment instead of a scanned image.
I suppose I shouldn't worry too much if my current supervisor scans my resume for me, and the agent retypes my resume update in order to present me well. I should just be thankful. And I am.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
I've been on a diet for the past three weeks. Not to lose weight, which is a happy added value. Not to look fabulous, because looks have always been a distant blip on my radar. This diet has been an attempt to unearth potential culprits that may worsen my migraines. Three weeks into it, and by Jove, I think we have something.
Migraines and I have been unhappy partners along life's road for far, far too long. When my biggest trigger is a sudden change in the barometric pressure, and my second worst trigger bimonthly hormonal changes, that leaves me with few options. Or so I thought. I've been a patient at the environmental clinic here for the past several months, and one area we're looking into is diet control for migraine triggers. I didn't have much hope for it, as I have had food allergy problems which show up without any question, and I couldn't see any relation to things I'd eaten and my migraines arriving.
But I'm always happy to be proven wrong! The first two weeks of the diet, I had a 10-day migraine. Not a surprise, as my two big perfect-storm conditions were present. But in week three, I've been delirious with joy at having up to six painkiller-free hours per day. That could be seen as horrifying to some, but to me it's sweet news indeed.
How easy has it been to stay on this diet? Shockingly easy. I was not looking forward to having to cook a lot, as I like cooking as much as some people like digging a hole/filling it in/digging it up again as in "Coolhand Luke". But it's been shockingly easy to nuke things in the micro, yummy things like squash, turnip, eggplant, broccoli - I could go on but I won't. Luckily rice is one of the safe foods, because I've always said I could eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner - and I am! Mmm!
There seems to be a surging of energy around me lately, not least of which is the lifting of the veil of pain I've been living under for over a decade now. I feel like a captive being led from a deeply buried dungeon. The weight of my years in the damp, musty cell is easing away with every step forward into the sun.
Friday, February 9, 2007
My sister told me there would be ballet on "Opening Night", a fine arts program on CBC on Thursdays. She'd seen names in the TV listings she wasn't expecting - principal dancers and former dancers from the National Ballet of Canada. So my husband and I were set at 9:00, videotape primed, my pulse beating with anticipation. He pressed 'record' and slipped away for a nap, leaving me to my bliss. It's hard to be married to a ballet fanatic when you're only mildly interested. He's learned to back up slowly and fade into the shadows before I start watching ballet on TV or dvd.
Last night's program was a marvel - a new type of 'musical' where the dancers were in fact actors with spoken dialogue, whose characters broke into dance where the songs would be in a musical. How marvellous! I hope this new format builds momentum. I loved it!
The dancers are all familiar faces, some still dancing with the National, some dancing elsewhere, but all were there when I used to work as front of house staff at their former theatre. Their faces and forms are so dear to me. I was really impressed with their interest in this dance film, because it breaks some new ground for film and for themselves as performers. Ballet dancers are not known to crave spoken word, as their voices are really their bodies. So I applaud them in taking what was probably a scary step forward in their developments as artists.
Rex Harrington, Greta Hodgkinson, Guillaume Cote, Christopher Body and Roberto Campanello - how I have admired your dancing. And now I admire your courage as well.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
After a virus scare at work - computer virus, that is - I was temporarily afraid that I'd brought hard drive damage home to my PC. But my friend from work took one of my floppies to her home PC to scan it for viruses, and I got the all-clear.
I'd been working on my submission to an agent, and I was on the downward bounce off the diving board when the work virus reared its head. A rather uncomfortable position to hold, almost pushing off the board, not really still, not really moving. But now I've felt the springback shoot me upward. I'm heading up. When my submission goes through that slot at the post office and I hear the package hit the bin, I'll feel the water breaking around my shoulders. I'll know I'm wet and there's no going back.
It's an odd position to be in, a 21st century writer unconnected to the web, running Windows 98 with an archaic Norton Antivirus that would be skewered by anything going around these days. But I'm also in the process of getting myself set up with an internet package. So many new beginnings. There must be good things about the Year of the Pig for me. Last year's Dog nipped at my heels until all my scattered lambs were accounted for and safely in their pens.
Which brings me to a lovely surprise at the check-out line at the grocery store a few hours ago. I glanced over at the magazine section to see Gerry staring boldly back at me from Men's Health magazine. That's Gerry Butler to anyone who wonders. His new flick "300" is coming out on March 9th, and he's very healthy in that one. Spartan warrior healthy in a leather loincloth and a billowing cape. Since he's the model for my vampire story, the one I'm sending out of the nest, I took it as a lovely nod from the universe that all is falling into place.
Posted by Julia Phillips Smith at 5:40 PM
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
While I flipped through page after page of historical property deeds at my job, several names popped out at me as they are wont to do. I have lists of great names I've set aside for further writing projects that I've culled from all of these marvellous documents. Hilarious ones, old-fashioned ones, names that instantly have a personality attached to them.
But today for some reason, the names of my own fictional characters were waving frantically from the computer screen, desperate for my attention. Names from two different novels I've been working on for a number of years now. One of them I've recently dusted off to pass by my critique partners. One I left in the dust when the thrill of a brand new character swept me off my feet two NaNoWriMo's ago. That's a writing marathon during the month of November when all you do is write like a maniac.
NaNoWriMo really gave me a wonderful set of characters who brazenly shoved my other stories into the mud. But the others are always on an eternal pause, or more rather like the looping footage on dvds on the menu page. The big scenes loop around in my head over and over, even while I'm working, writing another story, walking my dog, hanging with my honey - no matter what, they wait. Today it seems they became more like the portraits hanging in Hogwarts. They took the initiative and grabbed me by the collar to ask 'what gives?'
I'm coming! Best of all, I'm going to see "Miss Potter" tonight, because that stars Ewan McGregor who is the model for one of those characters. It takes place in Victorian Britain, and that's where my story is set, so you can see how anxious I am to watch 'my' character lurking behind the one I'll be watching tonight. Feeding the muse. Mmm. It's going to be delicious.
Posted by Julia Phillips Smith at 4:53 PM
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
My husband's family has a few colorful figures that make appearances from time to time. Grumpy Gus. Forgetful Fred. Mr. Putoffsky.
Yesterday when I set up my blog on a complete whim, I recognized my own Mrs. Putoffsky. She'd been hanging around so long she'd taken up residency. It was time to enroll her in the witness protection program.
The timing for her swift exit is not very hard to guess. My father is currently suffering through the last stages of cancer. A year ago, he received his diagnosis. After a promising year of treatment, he began experiencing a great deal of back pain over the Christmas holiday. A few weeks after his 65th birthday, Dad got the news that his cancer had spread.
Everyone's heard the phrase 'live each day as if it's your last.' Sometimes we feel a spurt of urgency about certain life milestones, like a 30th or 40th birthday. We might live through a close call. We might come within a hair's breadth of being hit by a car. If you're tossed out of the regular current of life and thrown gasping onto the bank, it's often hard to see your temporary vantage point for what it is. But it's a gift.
There's so much to fill up the hours of our lives. Twenty-four hours is never enough time to do everything. Most people I know have become quite accomplished at jamming an extra four or five hours into their days, somehow. Even with all the juggling and jackhammering, there's often a few cherished goals and desires permanently circling, waiting for the okay to land. I just got my clearance from the tower for my blog.
I hadn't expected to get it from Dad, who's computer phobic. But that's the absolute beauty of a gift like that. Who else would I get it from? His was the hand that let go of my bike that day when the training wheels were gone and I thought he was still running behind me. I stopped the bike and saw him halfway down the block, smiling and waving.
His was the voice that calmly talked me through learning to drive. He was the one to drive me out to my grown-up life in Toronto, and he was the one who had to drive back home, leaving his daughter to find her own way. He drove down that road with one hand out the window so I could see him till he was out of sight.
Dad likes to make sure I'm safely launched and on my way. His recent detour onto his unexpected final journey gave me the push I needed to climb aboard the blog I've been yearning to sail. Thanks again, Dad. I'll always see your hand waving to me out that window.
Posted by Julia Phillips Smith at 5:09 PM
Monday, February 5, 2007
Hello and welcome to my blog. I've been reading a few blogs for awhile now and really enjoy the format, so I'm throwing my hat in the ring to give one and all a piece of my own mind.
The whole concept of blogging is a natural step for anyone who once kept an actual diary or journal, which I did. Also for those of us who relish favorite columnists in newspapers and magazines, or can't get enough of letters to the editor.
It's so far removed from talk radio/phone-in shows/televised debates that I wonder if most bloggers prefer the calmness of the printed word and the silence inherent in reading, or whether bloggers generally listen to chatty radio/TV? After all, blogging and commenting are information sharing on a personal level. I love knowing what other people think, I just can't bear the voices.
Perhaps that's because I'm a writer and I always seem to have several personal channels of my own stories playing inside my mind. That's the best I've come up with, anyway.
This is an exciting day for me because I've been browsing the blogs long enough. I like the view from here and I look forward to meeting all who pull up a rocking chair to kick back with me.
Posted by Julia Phillips Smith at 6:35 PM