Saturday, December 18, 2010

not being boring

Well, it's not real--yet. But hopefully it will be one day. Right now, Unorthodox! is being sent around for possible second readings and possible production. I've been out of touch for a while, doing job interviews, taking a bartending course, writing, dealing with sick kids (only my own) so it's been a bit hectic over here. However, I still haven't lost track of my writing goals.
I have an acceptance from Errant Parent, who will be publishing an article I wrote in March. I'm also gathering info for an article I want to write on the non-fiction side of things exposing some issues that certain people do not want exposed. That's all I'm saying for now on that.
I was wondering if there are actually people who live normal, stable lives without much excitement, drama and other issues. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to be boring and not be so extreme. And then I wonder if I was boring, would I have anything to write about?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

doing the can-can

Sylvia Plath is quoted as saying "And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." I can't agree more. I keep thinking that the saddest question is "what if I can't?" but I don't think that that's an option anymore. Ms. DeMaria, my second grade teacher, used to tell us that "there's no such thing as can't" and I didn't really understand how that was even possible. In retrospect, I'm going with the idea that we can do anything as long as we believe that we can. And since I have no choice anymore, I'm taking all of the self-doubt and sticking it in a canvas bag filled with rocks and dropping it into the ocean. After all, I keep saying that I'm going to change the world. I should probably exhibit some confidence, or at least have some to exhibit.
Instead of doing my Nanowrimo novel this month like I'd planned, I've been ankle-deep in revising Unorthodox! and creating some new pieces. I currently have seven pieces in submission, not counting plays, and I'm looking for a place to host a staged reading of Unorthodox! or better, someone to take it on and produce it. That will take a bit of work on my end, but I'm willing. I'm also continuing to put together the stories for the short story collection I've been threatening for a year now, and I think that I'm very close to the point of searching for an agent.
As an aside, check out the pictures from our reading at The Creek and The Cave. You can find the link on the side bar of my blog. And friend Erica Sherman photographer on Facebook. She's the excellent photographer who gave her Saturday to do photos for this endeavor. I cannot thank her enough for a job beautifully done.
I also just realized how nice and proper I am on this blog. It's a great foil for the say anything approach I take to writing....

Monday, October 25, 2010

A little bit on the first official reading of Unorthodox!

So, we did it. We had the first official reading of Unorthodox! I say "we" because at some point, this stopped feeling like my personal project and started feeling like we all had something to gain. We were given use of the theater at Long Island City's The Creek and The Cave, readers came out from all over, old friends and new came to listen, to consider, to criticize and to congratulate.
There is something incredible in hearing two dimensional characters granted that third dimension. My readers brought life to my characters and insights that I never would have gotten without their help. Yesterday's reading gave such depth to the issues in the script and really showed me where the problems were. Most of the things they pointed out were things that I did think needed help, however, I couldn't be sure before this part of the process. New issues were raised, new voices were heard. For the first time in my life I felt like I could see the future--and the future is cozy with revisions. And it's all good.
The positive feedback I've received has had me on the brink of tears all day. To be regarded as a serious artist honing her craft has always been my goal. But especially as someone who has always suffered with feelings of self-doubt, to have constructive criticism that didn't hurt (yes, that's why it's constructive, I get that!) and be able to walk away feeling like I can take this higher is an amazing feeling. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why I ever left play writing in favor of straight fiction. It may have had something to do with the pain in the ass margins--but I'm not sure. What I do know is that my teaching career seems to be at a standstill since I cannot find a job. I know that I'm giving a few theater workshops. I also know how much I love where Unorthodox! is taking me. Maybe something new is being born here. I'm just going to ride it out and see where it goes.
I also want to make a point of thanking all of my friends and family who have stood by me in the writing, the rewriting, the planning, the reading, and now in the revising of Unorthodox! I could not have gotten this far without all of my wonderful and amazing people. Their support and love has proven bottomless and I hope they know just how much I appreciate them all, and how in awe of them I stand. I could thank them for days on end and never exhaust my gratitude. All I know is that when we take this thing to the top, I expect to be celebrating with those who were there yesterday and then some. My people are just incredible and amazing, still, after all these years.
Okay, enough, before I get all weepy. Got to get that edge back now so I can pass out and dream up some more insane inspiration.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Preparing for UNORTHODOX!

It's been a while. I've been busy. Yeah, I know. Excuses, excuses. But let me explain.
An old friend of mine has a friend who is a professional actress. She has a friend who is a director. This friend of hers agreed to let me use her theater for the first official reading of UNORTHODOX!, the play I've been working on since April. The original reading, scheduled for September 26, was canceled due to a lack of people up in the boonies by me who were willing to read. So now, we're moving the reading down to a theater space in Long Island City. I'm totally psyched about this. Like, you have no idea.
There are still a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up, and I don't think that any of the people who've been involved in UNORTHODOX! have any idea just how grateful I've been for their support. Friends who've been there from the beginning of this thing and those who are just new to my insanity have been wonderful. I have old friends who've agreed to read, new friends who've agreed to read--it's just incredible how people will come out to support each other.
I've also been working on my theater/improv for educators workshop that I'm scheduled to give in November. And I can't help but be a bit fatalistic. So, when the reading is over and I'm home again planning my next move, then I'll relax and be thrilled that I managed to pull the whole thing off.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

some laughs

This has been an insane week. I say this as I periodically squeeze out a "yow!!!!" from sitting too hard after having taken my first cycle/spin (spin cycle???) class and then a yoga class to follow. At any rate, this week I made a contact at the local college who will post my cast list for his theater students. Tomorrow, I'm going to reserve the small meeting room at the library to do an informal reading of UNORTHODOX! I'm pretty stoked. I'm working on a one page synopsis of the play to submit to get it workshopped and then produced. We'll see how that goes. I also spent a good deal of time this week creating cover letters for a bunch of jobs that can sort of be considered in education. I've found that if I even get acknowledgment of having applied for a particular position, it's like a major victory. If I manage an interview. . . whoa. I think that at this point, if I land a job, I'd be incredibly thrilled. I can see this future scenario:

This Future Scenario

by becTime: The Future.
Place: The old folks' home.
Bec is now old, like 31. (Work with me, people. When have I ever given the correct age?)

Bec: What the hell am I doing here with all of these old people?
Old People: Shut up!
Bec: Old people!
Old Person: You're 91!
Bec: Yeah, only if by ninety-one, you mean thirty-one!
Old Person: Oh, go break a hip.
Bec: Shut up, liver spot.
Old Person: Bectard!
Bec: Speaking of which, I remember back in the Second Great Depression, circa 2010, when I worked my butt off to finish my MA thesis and renew my lapsed teaching certification (which lapsed while I was on maternity/childcare leave, back when I thought I would be a mom forever) and there we were, a family of six and one dog, trying to get by in an America that was economically unfamiliar.
Old Person: Who are you talking to?
Bec: To whom are you talking?
Old Person: To you.
Bec: I was correcting your sentence. You ended with a preposition.
Old Person: I have grammar check for that.
Bec: (sighing) Anyway, so there we were, living in our very modest house, wondering if we'd make it through the year. One day, I get this call from a company. "Would you like an interview? We bought this list from a list of playwrights and writers who came very close to making it big until the country had to close down the arts due to budget cuts and increased homelessness among the socio-economic class formerly known as the middle class who used to support the arts."
Old Person Two: I think that was me! I think I called you!
Bec: Easy, Grannie. Let me finish speaking. So anyway, the call was from Pickle Pushers Incorporated. They wanted to hire me to find new uses for pickles, since there was a pickle surplus due to the inability to sell pickles, which by then had become a luxury item. Most Americans were walking The Path to Starvation. It was a slow path, as many were obese, but it was an effective path. By the time The Second Great Depression ended, Americans were in great physical shape. But I digress. So Pickle Pushers Incorporated offered me a job as a pickle pusher. They felt that with my teaching experience, writing experience, and experience as a camp director and staff developer, that I'd be the perfect person to sell the world on this new product called Pickle Putty. It was a mash of pickles that was supposed to work like spackle. Except that it didn't. But it was a job and it payed the mortgage. And back then, that's really all we cared about. Selling out our ideals in order to pay our bills. Sacrificing good teachers to stupid professions so food could be put on the table.
Old Person: Are you almost done with your speech? I think they're serving creamed spinach in the dining room.
Bec: Anyone wanna go halfsies on a pizza?

©Rebecca M. Ross 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

creatively writing someone else's story

I want to take a second and thank my new readers and followers and let you know that if you are reading and have a blog, to please comment with your url or send me a dm on Twitter and I'll add you to my blog roll, if I haven't yet added you. I may not always comment on other sites, but I do try to read up. And no, I'm not taking any quizzes.
This week, I started a big writing project with an old friend of mine. I'm interviewing her and will ultimately write a play about certain aspects of her life. While I cannot go into detail here, I want to talk about the process.
I'm not sure if I'm shy or introverted, and if I am, I tend to come off as being extroverted and not very shy at all and I'm guessing that's because I overcompensate, making me actually normal in that department. For this project, I'm actually interviewing her on some very personal subject matter, one which requires me to be not shy, not introverted and at times, not very subtle. These are things I'm good at in certain circumstances, but here, when I'm asking about things that most people would never disclose, I have to be subtle yet direct. I have to ask the right questions so that I can then form a play around her story. She's become the stem of a story that I'm hoping will blossom brightly around the stories she's sharing.
I've never worked like this before. Usually the idea is mine, the story is mine and I own my characters. Now, I'm working within a certain sphere of reality where I will have to employ a creative approach to the telling of a story that exists in reality. I have to figure out how to work the stage, how to organize the characters I'm using, and how to actively tell this story and achieve truthfulness and accuracy in the telling.
I had an idea as to how to begin, but as the interview process continues, I'm finding that my original ideas need to be scratched and I'm constantly starting again.
How do I handle this?
Right now, I'm focusing only on the interview process and I'm burying my head in the novel I've been working on. The way it usually works is that if I don't focus on my story, it will come to me. So then I have to wonder, if I don't focus on getting a job, will one fall into my lap?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

in which i take on the world

So I finished writing and editing and formatting Unorthodox! and sent it to my first theater and am hoping for good things, you know, like a reading. I have to query other places, and I've already queried a few, and then I'll get it out there as well. The other day I wrote a one-act called No Teacher Left Behind for consideration at a theater in Albany. My hope is that someone of some influence will see it and give me a teaching job, a writing job, a million dollars, a steady paycheck or any combination of any of those. I'm supposed to be working on my anthology submission (which is due on August 31 for consideration) but I can't get my head in the right place for the topic.
Of course, there are lots of topics that I can't seem to get myself to focus on, one of which is the 150,000 out of work teachers in the US. So the job hunt continues. I'm trying to market myself as an education consultant/staff developer. I also do theater, improv and writing workshops for kids and teens (and adults, if desired.) But, I digress. This teaching thing is a nightmare. Who knew I'd move back from living overseas into the financial hellhole that used to be the US? The only good thing that's come of this is my one-act play. Although, it's been my understanding that playwrights generally don't make too much money which makes me the perfect playwright!
I just don't understand how it is that there are no jobs for teachers anymore. I mean, I understand, but I just don't understand. And what will happen to America as all of the jobs dry up? Will we all live on the streets while our homes sit, empty? Will we, one of the most advanced countries in the world, have rampant poverty? Will my children, the children of parents holding advanced degrees, grow up underprivileged while more and more jobs get sent overseas and our government turns its back on its people like so many other countries?
 I wrote this play, No Teacher Left Behind. I believe it can go somewhere. I still believe that I can change the world. I believe that through my writing, through my teaching, that I can help change things and make the world a better place. I want to speak for those with no voice. I want to bring light to the things that people don't see or choose not to see. I want to make people see things differently.
I will not let this horrible job market and economy discourage me. I'm making my comeback right now. Look out world. I'm taking you by storm.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

with all that has happened this week, how can i not be exhausted?

So, I'm sitting here, once again getting that final draft of my play together. It's been renamed from Hi Hipscher! to Unorthodox! and I can't believe it took me months to come up with a title. But now that I'll be doing some theater workshops this fall, I'm sort of motivated to get my play up and out as soon as possible. Of course, that doesn't explain why I'm sitting here blogging at one in the morning instead of cutting,  pasting, playing with margins and whatever it is that I should be doing to further my goal, but whatever. Sometimes I need to break for some rooibos tea, dried cranberries and babbling.
Anyway, this has been an insane week. I had a wisdom tooth wrested from my jaw. I applied for some teaching jobs. Proposition 8 was struck down, allowing gay marriages in California. People are going nuts about the mosque/cultural center being built in lower Manhattan. (I take the liberal view on both of these issues: yes to gay marriage and yes to building the cultural center.) I've received two rejection letters: one personal and the other one a form letter. I've argued with people over religion, sexual orientation, Judaism, atheism, other -isms. I've started several short stories but haven't been able to get anything out on the theme that I need to work under. I didn't hit the gym as often as I should have. This week, New Jersey decided to close all of Camden's libraries, further closing off an impoverished area from access to education, technology and entertainment. When they claim that all Americans are equal, apparently they mean only if one is wealthy and white. I believe they call that "privileged." This week I learned that twenty million Americans are unemployed and that one in eight Americans is on food stamps. The middle class is shrinking. I am trying to get a teaching job and I am writing fiction about the very true issues of gender inequality and discrimination in orthodox judaism.
So it's been a crazy week. And that's before mentioning the four kids who need attention.
Some angsty graffiti was discovered in one of our closets, written by one of the (now grown) kids who used to live here before we moved in. I think it may serve as the basis of a story. And then I had this idea that perhaps I should start attending open houses with a camera, and then writing about the lives that I think were lived in those homes. Although, who knows? In a few months, I may just have to do that with my own home!
Sooooo, it's been a bit of a serious week for me over here in my writing world.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

in which i am rejected....

Before turning in last night, I posted on Facebook, checked my Twitter account, researched some new markets on Duotrope's, watched Deconstructing Harry (which I highly recommend, especially if you're a writer) and checked my email. In my inbox was a rejection letter from a publication that I submitted to on a fluke (as in whim, not as in fish) but it was the greatest, most incredibly amazing rejection letter a writer could ever expect to receive.
If you're not a writer, you're probably thinking something along the lines of "how can any rejection be a good rejection?" When I first started submitting work, I felt the same way. However, now, after much rejection experience, I can explain. The rejection letter I received was a personal rejection. The editor liked my story, liked the caliber of work, recognized the angst as being realistic, etc. The only problem? My story was not in line with this issue's theme. The editor went on to say that he looks forward to seeing more of my work. At this, my heart skipped a beat, like in high school when you find out that he really does like you!!!!! Okay, sorry for the girly example, but I think we can all appreciate that feeling. I was on the proverbial Cloud Nine (does anyone ever wonder about clouds 1-8????) and I am still happy. Of course, now the real work begins. I need to find one of my stories that fits the theme or write a new story. I've had to step away from writing for many hours and engage in other activities, all the while trying not to think about anything writing-related in order to focus (or not, the way I work) on channeling an idea. It's possible that I have the idea now, and all I have to do is write....
Now, here's some completely good news. I've been selected to give a theater/improv workshop for educators and child care providers this fall at major conference in the Hudson Valley. I am also working on another version of the workshop to be presented to teens at the library. I've been given a contact so I may be able to present at another conference and I'm working on selling this as a program to various community groups. Of course, it would be ideal if I get a teaching position, but this is wonderful as well and a whole lot of fun.
As for Deconstructing Harry, I mentioned before that it was great. I was trying to figure out why I could relate. Is it the angsty Jewish stuff? The writing stuff? Woody Allen? Is it because, like Woody Allen, I just don't believe in anything anymore? (Adam suggested this.) That brings up a whole other issue. But I'd like to point out, that once I cleared away all of the crap, I was able to write to an extent that I never before could. I was able to finally produce whole and meaningful pieces without caring what others would think. Writing well isn't about losing everything. It's about losing one's inhibitions and not feeling the need to answer to anyone.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

being a kid in a candy store is just like being a kid in a candy store....

I spent yesterday wandering around the little bit of Brooklyn that exists in my head. The Brooklyn from 1984, the Brooklyn from when I was a kid, from a time before first kisses, relationships, money, and worries squeezed themselves into my life. The Brooklyn that I wrote about consisted of Maxie's, the candy store that used to be on Brighton Beach Avenue and Ocean Parkway and the few blocks surrounding that most wonderful, candy-filled haven. Going to Maxie's was like being a kid in a candy store. Oh, wait. Yes. That's exactly what it was. It was being a kid in a candy store. This was one of the first places that I learned the value of money and how to budget the few coins I was given. I learned there how to get the most for my dollar, or my quarters, or whatever it was that I was spending. When I walked into Maxie's, I was an adult for a few minutes in my otherwise childish world.
The short story I'm currently working on begins on a child's journey to Hebrew school with a stop at the candy store beforehand. The importance of the candy store as the story unfolds doesn't become clear until the end, but if one were to think of how kids think, of those moments of childhood clarity when the whole world seems to stop for an instant, and in this case, how the very act of getting the candy can have a powerful impact on the plot, then it becomes evident why I spend a lot of time in the beginning describing it.

The other day I looked through my completed work. I realized that at this point, the "short story collection" I talk about writing is nearly written. I had no idea. So far I have eight  completed thematically-linked stories. I've sent some of them out to journals, but what I'd like to do is write a few more and organize them, get a good query letter out to agents and publishers and see what happens.

In other realms, I was selected to give a professional development workshop this fall. I'll be working with educators and childcare providers. I'll be doing theater games and improv and teaching them to utilize these techniques to foster creativity, interest, better communication and listening skills. I"m pretty excited but I really need a full-time teaching position....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

publication devastation

Things are getting exciting over here. I have four stories out to six publications. I might have another story out tonight but I'm still working on the title. I hate titles. You have no idea just how much I hate titles. I can write and write and write, but unless I somehow have the title in advance, it's almost guaranteed that it's going to give me grief. Let's take a little peek into my head, shall we?

The thoughts I think:
One day I'll be a real writer. No, I am a real writer. I'll just be a paid writer. A print publication paid writer. Is this story any good? A title. Oh! Another story idea! Must. Reformat. Play. Oh! Another story idea! I think there's ice cream in the freezer. I need a title. The kids. Where are the kids? Applying for jobs, applying for jobs--Oh! Another story idea!!!! What is that beeping? Is someone cooking something? Wait--right. I was making a sweet potato. I really need a title. Submit. Submit. Play--the play! I have to format this play! Okay, if I don't come up with a title, I'm going to lose my mind. Did I walk the dog? I NEED A TITLE!!!!!!
(Lather. Rinse. Repeat.)

Yeah. That's basically what goes on, I'm sorry to say. But you know as well as I do that if you were to think about your own thoughts, they'd be just as fireworked as those. Or maybe they wouldn't. You know, maybe it's me. Maybe--wait. The point of this post. Oh yes.
So, I have trouble coming up with titles. I can get the story out. I'm not too bad at that. It's the titles that kill me. I mean, titles are tons of pressure. It's like when you're in school and you see this hot guy/girl who you want to like you in the worst way. And you have this one chance to really wow him/her. And you realize that this very moment is THAT chance. So you take a sip of Coke and you inhale just a bit too deeply and the Coke goes down the wrong pipe and now you're choking and sputtering and Coke is coming out of your nose and your friends are just staring at you and the whole world has stopped for an incredibly long second and the person whom you were trying to impress just stares at you with that expression of puzzled amusement, and then goes back to whatever he/she was doing--except now he/she is cracking up and has no idea what an incredible person you are. THAT is what it is to have a bad title. That knowing that the editor will never see past that horrendous phrase that has now just ruined your chances of getting into Perfect Professionally Paid Print Publication.
It can devastate you.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

setting: what's the point????

I'm working on a new story right now. (Yes, in the midst of reformatting my play--except that I've finally found a format I can live with, so I'm finally making some headway.) It's set in Ma'ale Adumim, the town in which I used to live when I was living in Israel. The interesting thing is how easy it is to recall many of the finer details of the place, down to the moment where certain hills begin, the exact spacing of certain fruit trees in certain gardens, the courtyards and the flowers lining the pathways.
I have this insane desire to take my subject and draw the setting in concentric circles around the action, almost so that it echoes outward.The problem I'm currently facing is the subject itself, which is difficult to separate from the setting. I have to wonder if perhaps the setting is what's causing the tension and if I were to take the characters out of the setting, would the conflict remain? I know the answer to this question. Maybe that's why this story needs to be written.
When I used to write in high school and college, it took a lot for me to focus on setting. It wasn't until I merged my experiences as a teacher of literature and writing with my experiences as a writer, did I realize the huge importance of setting. (I should add in that the problem with being a writer, a teacher and an avid reader is that it's hard to just sit down and enjoy a novel without little pop-ups entering my head with "oh, I like how this author did that!" or "that fact has obviously not been verified!" or "nice metaphor! I have to share this with someone!") I've taught my former students that yes, we need to know where and when a story occurs. It grounds us, helps us understand the characters a bit more, gives us greater insight into plot development, etc. Not knowing that Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath (one of my all-time favorite books to teach) takes place during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s as the Joads travel westwards to California would be devastating to the plot. We wouldn't be able to place the story and we certainly wouldn't be able to understand the prevailing mood. In short stories, the setting sets the tone for that one major conflict that may be present. It's also important to note that pulling the characters from one setting and depositing them in another would completely change the story. I keep thinking of "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and how exciting it would be to stick the protagonist into any of Poe's stories....
Okay, enough. So my point is that setting is pretty important. For me, I just never realized the huge weight that we place on what seems like such a minor detail. I remember being a student in Mr. Youngman's "Short Stories and Essays" course and forgetting to list the setting on one of my assignments and thinking that it really wasn't a big deal. Yeah, well guess what...
In this particular story that I'm writing, the setting is almost as important as the characters because of the way it impacts on the characters and causes their reactions to be what they are. I think that this story, set anywhere else, would fail to have the same impact.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

making up for lost time

I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but I submitted a piece to an anthology recently. I also submitted something to The New Yorker and to an audio publishing company as well. I'm looking forward to finding out how I did, although I'm doubting that The New Yorker will accept my piece. I am not doubting that they'll find the subject compelling. But until that particular story is published somewhere, I don't think I really want to discuss any more than that. So I currently have three out.
My play is coming along slowly but (gaaah! cliche) surely. The biggest problem I've encountered is the formatting which, without the proper software, has taken me forever to fix. And then to have fixed it incorrectly, well, I'm totally making headway, but not as fast as I'd like. It didn't help last night that I had a dream that I was staging this new play that I'm anxious to write while I have my head buried in a half dozen writing projects all while looking for a teaching position for the fall. So basically, it's like this: I have theaters that I'm ready to call. I have a play that is written and edited, but needs a format fix. I'm almost done with the format fix. I have a play that is begging to be written but will have to hang on. I'm not messing up this time. I'm now researching play formatting software. I've got short stories in various stages. I've got the once every other week short story that cries to be written in one sitting and edited in the next.
I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining. I'm in complete creative turbo drive and I'm thrilled. Really. Honestly. There were many years that went by where I just couldn't write anything. It wasn't because I didn't want to, but more because I was in a pretty unreceptive place and too concerned with what people would think. I'd forgotten the lessons I'd learned as a writing student, to the point where I was allowing outside influences to stifle my creativity. I am lucky to live in a place where I have the freedom to write what I want and to think freely. Of course, with freedom comes responsibility. (Insert line about not screaming "fire" in a crowded movie theater here.)
While some may disagree, I feel that the work I've been producing lately, whether humorous or serious, is very important. My goal is to empower those with no voice (I'm sure there are many with this same goal) and to give strength to the weak. It sounds pretentious in sort of a Holden Caulfield-esque way, and my ego is not huge and I certainly don't see myself as an out of control messiah figure, but I do know that the best literature is that which speaks to the reader and touches the reader in some way. I want to shed light on issues in our society which often remain hidden from view. I want to open the eyes of those who don't know, to the plight of those who do.
I don't recall all of the titles of all of the books that I've read, but I love when I read a book that spurs me to research something further. I love that curiosity, that knowledge for knowledge's sake, those moments of excitement upon learning something new. (This right here is why I love teaching.) I love learning not because I have to, but because my own teachers passed on their own love for learning. (This is the part where if I continue, I'll break down in tears telling you just how much I love teaching and cannot wait to get back into the classroom, so excuse me while I end this paragraph here.)
Anyway, I believe I was mentioning the goal of my writing. And the truth is, not everything I write about involves repression or oppression. And happily, it doesn't have to. But don't expect happy fairy stories from me. A friend of mine complained after reading "Total Immersion" (I'll let you when it's published) about how I really should stop writing things like that. You know, things that make you think, question, that don't necessarily end with everyone living happily ever after. "Who is going to want to read that?" she said. The comments on other stories (not from the same person) were about having a disclaimer, about warning the reader about the story in advance, about not writing these things. Writers write because we have something to say, because we have a story to tell and because if we don't tell our stories, who will? For a while, I'd forgotten these lessons. Now I'm catching up.

Friday, June 25, 2010

bec: the queen of submission

I'm like the queen of submission lately, so much so, that if I was in porn, that might be my alias. But alas, I am not in porn, well, not yet, and mostly because I don't have the time. Between writing and job applications and taking care of the kids and barely taking care of the house, well, I really just don't have the time. Because, as I've stated before, I'm just the queen of submissions. (As opposed to submissiveness, which, I guess I would have to practice for those fetish circles of which I'm not a part.)
Anyway, so I just submitted a piece entitled Women Infants Children to an anthology. I'm excited about it and I'm hoping it'll get it in but if it doesn't, I do know where I'd like to submit it next. I've never submitted to an anthology before so I'm pretty stoked. Sort of like in a Miss America way: "I know I didn't even make it to the science project competition because I missed on swimsuits, but it was such a great experience just being here!" (What do you mean, there is no science project competition?!!?)
As for "Reunion," which was submitted and accepted to The Chick Lit Review months ago, I am getting ready to shop it around elsewhere, as The Chick Lit Review closed just before publishing. The good thing is that it gave me the chance to review and revise and fix those tiny things I didn't catch months ago. The bad thing is having to start the process over. The good thing is that now my bio has more stuff, so maybe I can get it into a paying market. I really hope so. It will also mean having several stories out there right now, looking for homes.
Something interesting that I've found lately is that everything my professors said about writing is absolutely true. It's totally like a muscle that if you don't use, will totally atrophy. I've been writing excessively lately. Most of the stories I'm writing are for this short story collection I hope to be able to publish. At some point, I must have set an unofficial deadline that I'm working toward, although I'm not really sure when it is, just that I've got to get it all written.
As for my play, well, that's also on its way.
So, I apologize. You won't find me while window shopping in the Red Light District these days. This queen of submission will be submitting to you on paper only.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

the black death. voted best disease of the 14th century one hundred years in a row!

So I've developed an unhealthy relationship with the Bubonic Plague. Yes, the plague. The Black Death. Yersinia pestis. Yes, that one. From the middle ages. The one that spread across Europe like the plague. Oh wait. It was the plague. Never mind.
I'm reading Ann Benson's book "The Plague Tales" and liking it immensely. As a student, I became obsessed with the plague but that was before the internet's arrival. Dare I say it was a good thing, otherwise I would have spent many a night researching it instead of studying or watching TV.... Anyway, I'm not yet done with the book, but aside from some slight details regarding the writing that only another writer would pick out, this book is excellent. There are two major plot lines going on, one taking place in the 1300s in Europa, the other set in the future, in England. Benson paints a frightening picture of a world that has been ruined by antibiotic resistant bugs and a complete depersonalization of the medical and related fields and what happens when the plague hits again. As a fan of the Black Death, I am finding this book to be incredibly goiterlicious.
As far as my own writing, I just finished the first draft of "Last Night." Definitely a difficult story to write, and one that I've been trying to write for years. Yes, this took a long time to develop into something I felt comfortable putting down on paper and it still needs some work. The one problem that I'm having is trying to make time to finish editing my play, apply for work, and continue working on the book I'm writing. I'm not complaining. I consider myself very lucky to have all of these writing projects going on and the creativity to sustain them.
Happy writing, folks.

Monday, June 7, 2010

the play's the thing....

It seems that every time I decided to blog, I also decide to write, and then the importance of the writing outweighs the desire to blog and the next thing I know, I'm engaging in total neglect and all I can think is that I'm glad this blog is not a child.... 
Anyway, it was just suggested to me that we get a lie detector to detect the lies of the kids in the house, but I'll have to decline as I wouldn't want it to be used on me. Not that I lie, but I mean, I write fiction. Technically, I lie all the time. I can't be trusted. I'm like a loaded gun, ready to lie at any time. I can lie on a moment's notice. If you were to ask me what it is that I'm thinking at any given second, there's a good chance that it's all lies. I think about lies that I've told, lies that I'm currently telling  and lies that I have yet to tell. I'm just a liar, waiting to lie.
So, I'm currently at the point of formally finishing my play. It's done, but I'm now editing for format, which would be much easier if I was using a program, but since I don't have one, I have to do it all manually. Yes, it's a pain in the butt. Yes, it's tedious. Yes, I've been putting it off for a while. However, in putting it off, it's given me the chance to write other things and get the play out of my head for a bit. So now, as I'm editing for format, I can read my play with a fresh perspective. You know what? It's hilarious. I actually caught myself laughing out loud. I still have more editing to go, and I'm also fixing minor problems that I come across in my rereading, and I finally have a title. It's exciting. To make things more exciting, I even called a playwright/director/producer/lyricist with whom I once did an intership, and he gave me some sage advice on getting my monster produced. I am going to follow his every word. It's good to be able to speak with someone in the industry and it's even better to have a plan and direction and drive....
I'm making it happen.
The only problem I can foresee with my play is that I have too many characters. I think that they  are all important, however, more characters make a play more expensive to produce. As I do this formatting edit, I'm able to discern what is and what isn't important. Hopefully, I'll be able to cut some corners, although the only thing that makes sense is having some minor characters played by the same people. At any rate, we'll see what happens.
I'm off to finish this edit and then I'll probably spend some time lying.

Friday, May 14, 2010

my meeting with the literary agent

I just finished the first in a series of anti-prayers. Woohoo!!!!! I also just started researching how to get an agent. So let's say I snag an agent. The conversation might go like this:
Conversation between me and the agent
bec: Hi, I see you're interested in me.
agent: Yes. You have some great stuff here. I think we'd be a good match.
bec: Sweet.
agent: You will, however, need to do some editing.
bec: Yeah.
agent: First of all, it's too anti-god. You're going to have to fix that.
bec: Um, well....
agent: And people are going to think you're an antisemite.
bec: I'm not sure I get that.
agent: You should really join a temple. Get involved in Chabad. Buy yourself an Israeli flag.
bec: What? This all clearly against my work! Are you kidding me?
agent: Do you own a wig? Perhaps if you started wearing skirts more often....
bec: What kind of agent are you?
agent: I work with Feldheim....
bec: I see. Well, nevermind then. It's been nice speaking with you.....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


 There's nothing like those "what the hell is that smell" moments. You know, when you're sitting around, doing nothing or something, or something which turns out to be nothing anyway, or the resulting nothingness and somethingness of some kind of nothing and all of a sudden, THAT SMELL twists itself around you like a boa, and starts choking you with its overpowering aroma, or stench, or whatever word you might want to insert there. Sometimes you can blame it on the dog. Other times, it's that scent of a fish tank after years of neglect. (I once had a neighbor with this type of fish tank.) Sometimes, it's the smell of garbage that needs to be taken out.
 Speaking of garbage needing to be taken out, you can probably tell that I'm just writing this to get the crap out. In a bit, I'll be back to working on a set of anti-prayers and non-blessings. For those of you who aren't sure, it's true. If there's such a place, you can meet me for post-death drinks in Hell. I'll be waiting.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I'm totally procrastinating. I'm in the middle now of three things: editing this play, which is still between titles, working on a short story I was writing before Script Frenzy, and working on a new story, which can either turn into a short story, or perhaps a novel depending on where I go with it. I should be making supper. I should go to the gym. But for some reason, I'm totally exhausted. Okay. It's possibly because I spent the bulk of the day working in the garden, which, I should say, is a really great way to escape the insanity of sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end. It's also a great way to ensure fruits, veggies and herbs in a few weeks/months. So that's where my productivity went....
So, yeah, I'm totally procrastinating. But I did spend some time editing. I did. I added a few lines that needed adding. I also started researching how to get my play produced. I don't mean to be anything less than humble, but it's a bizarre comedy and you know what? It's hilarious. I would like to organize a reading for the sake of editing, although I've read that usually if a producer or company is interested, he/she will organize the read through. So basically, at this point, I really need to do a killer edit job. I think I'll start that...later.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Failing Better

Before interrupting my life for Script Frenzy, I was writing several short stories. There was one in particular that I had spent a few weeks researching. I actually still have the pile of books next to me. Several pages were written, many more pages of notes were taken. And then last night, as I was recaffeinating, this thought zaps me in the head. I was wrong. Everything that I had written was just wrong. The flow was off. The whole concept was off. I had started the story too early in the action and had given too much background.
This was all without having read the story in a bit over a month. So I went back into it and I was right. It was awful. So today, after gardening, hanging out with the kids, making chalk outlines on the ground and other strange things, I will be starting over and not just rewriting, but reworking the whole concept. Several years ago, I would have felt that my initial efforts were wasted. Now I'm beginning to realize that these false starts are like the birth pangs of something greater (I hope!). I guess Samuel Beckett was right when he said "Try again. Fail again. Fail better." I'm rolling up my sleeves.
In other realms, I'm trying to get used to Twitter and working on getting a blog roll up here. Bear with me. I haven't had any coffee yet.
I highly recommend checking out The New Literary Agents. There's a great post where you can weigh in on the writing process and write about your own.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Wisdom for a Friday

Welcome to my Friday. I'm not really sure where it's going, but my guess that we're headed soon to an approaching Saturday. If you follow me on Facebook (and you should) you'll know that I'm on the verge of breaking up with Mr. Coffee. I'm waiting for him to finish his job right now and supply me with a few cups of coffee which will invariably become cold in the lag time between adding soy milk and equal and then a few sprinkles of hawaij, a Yemenite spice mix. The main problem with Mr. Coffee is that he's become cold. I mean, how much does one have to do to warm up coffee? I feel like I give so much of myself to him. Some people attribute their creativity to a muse. Mine is to my coffee.
So now he's finally done. My coffee is in my cup. My cup is on the table. My hand would be on the handle if I wasn't presently typing. Can someone explain why my pricey dishes chip all the time, but my dollar store coffee mugs can be pitched at concrete and they'd probably not even suffer a scratch? I'm currently considering replacing all of my dishware with these gems from the dollar store. Yeah, sure they're ugly. But what's ugliness when it will last forever? I mean, who wouldn't want a forever filled with ugly, sturdy things? We can call these things "eclectic." They're not ugly. They're eclectic.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First draft: done!

I just finished my play. 102 pages. 3 acts. 28 days of writing. More of the holy who are really not holy at all. Women who go from pious to pole-dancing. Rabbis who go from gefilte fish to filming porn. People who realize that they are living a lie and try to change that reality. I have a character who looks like Hitler, but is really just a nice guy. And nice guys who are really not very nice at all. It's only just a first draft at this point but several people have already requested a read. I already have ideas of what needs major revision and what doesn't and where I'd like to go from here. Have I mentioned that I don't yet have a title? I'm mentally exhausted but it feels great.
In other realms, I'm trying to use social media for (good and not evil) a bit of self-promotion. So, please feel free to tweet any of my links or whatever. Do it in the name of all that is good and not evil. No, wait. Do it because it feels good. No, that's not it either. Help make me famous. You know, because it feels good and right. And because I'd make a good famous person because well, I'm funny. And I give good interview. And now I'm just babbling with exhaustion.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Accepted and published!

Wow. Scribblers on the Roof just published If I Forget Thee. What an exciting moment! Seriously. When I saw the acceptance, my heart did that little skip-leap-stop motion. And then I had to deal with a headshot. The running joke is that I would have had a novel out already but I couldn't get a decent photo for the book jacket. I'm seriously not photogenic.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I'm officially starting a writing blog. With publishing becoming a very possible reality, I'm thinking that this is just one more inevitable inevitability. This is going to be a separate endeavor from my regular haunt, "lost in bec's world" but both will be equally used. If you're following me on lost in bec's world, feel free to do so here as well, as I'll be updating with publishing info and news on my current writing projects.
For starters, I have a piece that recently found a home on Feel free to read Hair. It's definitely an interesting piece. 
The genre I've been working in lately is probably best described as angsty Jewish writing. I'm not quite sure that's an official genre, but it works. I'm thinking that with my yet unpublished pieces, they'd best sit somewhere between Shalom Auslander, Philip Roth and maybe Woody Allen. Well, at least maybe in the same room. 
I'm currently finishing a play for script frenzy which I expect will be completed in a few days. Between orthodox porn, murder by spareribs and a Jewish Hitler look-alike, well, I'd say readers are in for a bit of an absurd experience. Good luck to all of us. (And especially me, as I still haven't thought up a title!)
More to come!!!!