Thursday, March 27, 2008

Talking to Your Readers

Next to actually having a good day of writing, what could be better than getting to talk to your readers or potential readers. So that makes last night, my first time of book reading, signing and selling at the Westwood Library a fully great experience.

Even when you say you're not nervous, the prospect of being alone in a room when you're hoping to read to the public is daunting. It conjures up every memory of a time when you were stood up or ignored starting back with grade school, when your second grade crush walked right by you without a glance.

But life has a way of evening the score sometimes, so there I was watching the room fill up with both strangers and the friends who surprised me by coming. You get to qvell about your characters, hoping people will find them as interesting as you did for so many years of your life. When they sit there, listening, quiet and attentive, then ask intelligent questions, well is there anything better? Not for a writer there isn't.

And when they come up and plunk their moneys down in order to buy a copy, that's just the cherry on the whipped cream on top of the cake. And not fattening either. It's definitely a good day. And it makes the next writing project seem a little bit more validating, as you sweat over the research, the characters that become frozen, the drama that doesn't feel dramatic.

Such is the joys of writing!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Woman Writer On the Stage with Ed Asner, Keith Carradine, Fran Dresher, etc.

No one but could ever say I had a career in the theater, even though I spent several years in New York studying with Herbert Berghof, Bill Hickey, Lee Strasberg, Allan Miller, also appearing in strange little venues, where the director would come back and say, "Tonight we're doing one for ourselves, kids!" That was because there was more of us on stage than in the audience. Still once, someone came up to me at concert at Cooper Union and told me they had enjoyed me in a play I had been in, so you never know.

But anyway, this weekend I had a taste of being on stage again, as I volunteered to help my friend Stephanie with a festival of play-readings she produced (including two of her own) which benefitted the WGA Support Fund helping non-writers who were affected by the strike. I thought it would be just narrating the stage directions in one or two plays, but it turned out to be all six of them, both days, all day starting with rehearsals in the morning. Geez, I forgot how tired you can get just sitting talking. But the plays were fun and serious and poignant and poetic. People who didn't see it and didn't know about it missed a great weekend of theater. How often does a complete unknown get to share the stage with Ed Asner, Keith Carradine, Ralph Waite, Frances Fisher, Melanie Mayron and Fran Drescher. It made me want to write something theatrical, as well as getting back into my novel.

Oh lord, I'm running out of excuses as to why I'm not writing. Discipline, self-discipline, strict daily discipline. It doesn't count if you only think about writing, only if you sit down and write. Janet Fitch always told us it was a muscle which needed to be exercised every day. So I'm off to write. You too, I hope.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Woman Writer Abroad in the World of Pre-Owned Cars

I'm feeling very pleased with myself today but unfortunately it has nothing to do with writing. I had decided to get a new car, actually a pre-owned one. Notice how no one calls it "used" anymore, it's pre-owned. And for that privilege they charge more. However, as much as I have loved all my Volvos (3), especially the ones that safely crumpled after being hit, I decieded that a Prius, which gets about 45 miles to the gallon, might be the better part of valor, with gas prices surging upwards (thank you President Bush). But buying or even looking at cars is not my thing. First of all I know very little about cars and I always feel that I'm being taken. Bargaining or negotiating is also not my thing because I know I'm being taken.

Still I really think I did okay this time. I knew that Priuses were good, Toyota is good (my first two cars were Toyotas) and I checked out on the internet, what the "pre-owned" ones went for. Then I kept saying no until they came down, agreed to let me test drive the car all weekend, and then the next day agreed to lower the price yet again. I still feel that they must have taken me, because they gave in, but the car drives well and I'm happy, so what the hell. Writers aren't negotiators, they can't do math as Janet Fitch used to say, but with a fully loaded car, 45 miles to the gallon, how miserable should I be!

(Someday I'm going to faint dead away because someone will have actually read my blog and left a comment, even harsh criticism would be welcome. Well, not too harsh).