Sunday, April 20, 2014

What's left when depression clears

There could be a question mark or a full stop at the end of that title - either would be appropriate.

I keep sitting down to write a blog post about the depression that has been keeping me prisoner for the past eighteen months or so, but I can't just yet. Words are still just creaking out in an unpracticed, reluctant way, and I need to save those words for other things right now as I work on finishing the novel. It is getting a lot better - I have bad days, but I'm on the way out.

Depression is like a dull, heavy object placed on the lawn (bear with me, I have been doing some gardening lately), blocking the sunlight and rainfall. Gradually, everything underneath will dry up and die under the weight. Over the last couple of months, I've been pushing that heavy object away, but, now that it has gone, emotionally, I'm the patch of yellowed grass left behind. Arid. A bit of a mess, feeling some growing pains. Improved, but still recovering and getting green again. Trying not to get too frustrated and angry with myself that it hasn't sprung to life again all at once. Because it will.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Writing retreat in the Texas countryside


A gorgeous weekend away at a friend's family farmhouse has left me (and the three other lady writers who came along) refreshed and productive. I have finally almost finished Part One of the book (as in finished finished, not a draft) and am planning to be done by tomorrow night. And Part Two is drafted! So things are looking up. It's amazing how helpful it is to change one's environment and shed all other roles and obligations. And how helpful it is to switch off one's phone and stop checking email and social media constantly - a terrible habit.



















And a gratuitous picture of Mo impeding the packing process.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Amplify Austin: the Austin Humane Society


Another little plug, and another that is very worthwhile! I volunteer at the wonderful Austin Humane Society. Currently, the organization is participating in Amplify Austin, a day of online giving with the goal of raising $4 million for Austin charities. The Humane Society is trying to reach $35,000 today. Visit their Amplify page to donate - every little helps!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Assassins: halfway there!



We have already reached half of our fundraising goal! Hooray! But that means we have a little way to go before we reach our target. I say 'our,' even though I'm not actually directly involved in the show, because I love these people and I FEEL like I'm directly involved. Click the link above to watch Soubrette Productions' Kickstarter video and learn more about the project. Every donation helps, no matter how small.

Monday, March 10, 2014

'Assassins' by Soubrette Productions



My dear friends Philip and Aaron are producing the Sondheim show Assassins here in Austin this April, and they need your help!


The cast in rehearsal.


To quote the men themselves:

"We believe that high-quality theatre is essential to a thriving arts community, and simply put, high quality theatre costs. Below are just a few of the non-negotiable costs inherent in producing a show:


  • Venue Rental: the lovely Boyd Vance Theatre is one of the highest quality spaces available for rental in Austin, boasting a fly system, stadium audience seating and plush, comfortable seats.
  • Rehearsal Space: rehearsal space in Austin, regardless of cost, is a hot commodity. We booked our space 5 months in advance, and we're thankful to have space that is both adequate for our needs and affordable.
  • Production Rights: musicals, especially popular ones like Assassins, are far more expensive to produce than non-musical plays, with the cost of rights often running into the thousands of dollars.
  • Musicians: while our cast is full of gifted singers, voices alone don't make the music of a musical soar. Professional musicians are necessary for professional-quality performances.
  • Costumes: Assassins features a cast of over 15 actors, some of whom play characters that require period clothing. Others will have multiple costumes.
  • Props: In a show called Assassins, the most obvious props necessary are guns, but there are quite a few others as well. Props may not seem like a high priority expense, but they are the details that elevate a production from 'good' to 'great.'

  • We want to make sure that Assassins reaches as many people in the community as possible, and as a result, our ticket prices are an affordable $25. We know, however, that even $25 can be a stretch for students, and to that end, we'll be offering discounted tickets for students with a valid college ID. For some Austin Community College students, tickets will be completely free.

    We're partnering with classes in the history and theatre departments at ACC and visiting classrooms to discuss the material and themes of Assassins, as well as the experience of working on the show. We know that time in a theatre can be transformative, and we want students to have that opportunity.

    Every dollar you give will go to creating a truly unique experience here in Austin. The completion of this campaign goes a long way towards our goal creating a high quality production that engages the audience and enriches the community. Thank you for your support!"

    View their Kickstarter video here and please think about donating, even if it's only a dollar. I really appreciate that they have set out to pay their professionals well (sadly a rarity in any artistic industry) and that they have pledged to keep their ticket prices low and to let certain students see the show for free. I can attest that the team they have put together is absolutely top-notch and, if the last Soubrette production is anything to go by, all this bright and juicy talent will be funneled into a show that will be one of the highlights of the Austin theatre year.

    Thanks so much for reading!

    Sunday, March 09, 2014

    Quotes of the week!

    From Jenna Avery:

    "Shame researcher BrenĂ© Brown says that there’s nothing more vulnerable than creating something that has never existed before.

    She’s right.

    I’ve also heard it described as being like taking down your pants, in public, very … very … slowly.

    It’s no wonder so many of us hesitate when it comes to completing our work.

    It’s all about the fear — and the old wounds.

    So many of us have been so wounded around our creative expression, it’s no wonder we hold back when it comes to “shipping.” Shipping, in case you’re wondering, means completing and delivering our work, whether it’s a website, book, ebook, script, painting, or widget. I can’t tell you how many people I see never shipping their work, full of excuses, not realizing it’s really fear that’s stopping them. It happens with so many different kinds of projects — getting almost to the completion point and then deciding we’re “stuck” or “bored.” Websites that never go live. Ebooks that never get published. Scripts that languish in endless revisions. It’s all just smoke and mirrors Stuck is a smokescreen for fear.  Bored is a smokescreen for fear. The fact is, we are terrified. Getting to the end of a project stirs up all our issues around being seen, heard, scrutinized, read, listened to, failing, succeeding."

    From Laini Taylor:

    "Writing a novel is like summoning a demon. You (the sorcerer), in attempting to call it forth, must bend it to your will and force it to take physical form. It exists in another plane of being, where it is a creature of boundless energy, a being of pure light or maybe pure darkness, lightning or fire or will. Maybe it shapeshifts as fluidly as dreams, maybe it fills the entire sky with its magnificence and creatures drop to their knees to worship it. In its true form, in its plane of origin, it is a thing of extraordinary power, not constricted or restricted by the bounds of corporeality.

    But to live here, to come here and do your bidding, it has to have a body. Lungs, a mouth, eyes, hands. Legs. All the bits, in all the right places. It will hate this. It will resist. The thing you are turning it into is ... clumsy. It pinches, it can't fly. It no longer fills the entire sky with its crackling lightning. Why would it want to come here and be your slave, when before it was an ethereal being of terrible power and beauty?

    That's the book, of course. Its plane of origin is your mind, and in summoning it to the page it can feel like this, like you are flattening it into a two-dimensional thing that just loses so much of the beauty you dreamt into it to begin with. No matter. Make it this promise: you will improve it. You will render it into the most beautiful and compelling and fascinating book that you have it in you to create, and then you will take a deep breathe and make it even more beautiful and compelling and fascinating, until both it and you are satisfied."