Saturday, April 27, 2013

Almost There

There's a copy of my novel already on my coffee table. It's a proof--it will be a few more weeks before there's one on yours, but I hope you have enough interest to check it out when the time comes. Believe me, I shall let you know, here, on my website, on amazon dot com--and everywhere I can including the surrounding rooftops when it's ready.

I just got through the grueling process of process of reading, reading, finding little errors and big patches that needed rewriting. As I noted in the last post, my daughter looked through a proof copy like this one and gave me a list of places I must change. She also gave me a list of "should rewrite" sections. Most of these I've incorporated, but some will never happen. Exhaustion and an overwhelming burnout has got to me. There are times I wish I never had to think about the characters in this book again.

I hope I get my enthusiasm back by the time the perfected copies reach the bookstores. I hope I'll be able to give inspiring book talks, visit the haunts named in the book, talk with old people who remember what I do. This depends on the reactions when That Was Tomorrow comes out in paperback.

The surprising part of the process to me was the rewriting, based on typographical and careless writing errors. Just last night, thinking it was done, I employed "Find" on my Word document of the original copy and searched the word, "indeed." It turns out I used that word over 15 times in the novel, sometimes twice on the same page. I had already submitted a list of 55 errors to be corrected, but I revised the list adding at least 10 more (I decided a few of the "indeeds" could stand).

You never know what will come next. All these corrections may mean a new submission of the interior of the book, corrections made, or perhaps the designers can do it. With this many, I expect it to be the former. The book is already in electronic format--that is where several readers informed me of the corrections necessary. I'm afraid readers of that version will find a lot of "indeeds" as well as a jungle of misspellings and missing punctuation.

But the new book will be clean--and according to reactions so far, including my perfectionist daughter, a good read.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Outta New Paltz

I'm writing this from Montreal, where I have time on my hands. I suppose that's what it looks like from somewhere or other, but I haven't seen that view yet.

I came at the invitation of my daughter, Alison, who commutes here and back from Kingston. She is pursuing a degree in French studies at Concordia University, and rearranging her life in hopes of becoming a Canadian citizen one day. Or maybe not.

It's a rather long drive to do once a week, but if you only do it occasionally, as I do, it's beautiful and a refreshing change. Alison and I had a lot to talk about this time. I prevailed on her to proofread my novel That Was Tomorrow and she presented me with her proof copy stuffed with notes and corrections--55 in all. This book has been read and proofed by others already and I certainly didn't expect many notes and corrections. I am as impressed with her eagle eye as she is with my ability to come up with new projects and usually complete them.

She's an excellent proofreader, and a good book critic. She has spent a lot of time on this trip exhorting me to put the book aside a few months, incorporate the corrections, and rethink it altogether to make it a better work of art. She says with a little polishing I will have a real gem.

I'm probably not going to do that. I've spent a couple of years with That Was Tomorrow, rewritten it almost from the ground up a few times, struggled and strained, and finally I think it's about as good as it's going to get. I'm proud that she took the time to do me the favor of reading the book, and even prouder that she's so perceptive about it, but, though she says she understands my eagerness to be done with it, I get the strong feeling that she doesn't. I feel as if I'm copping out on this, but I love my little book and feel it's a good first novel. If I never finish it there will definitely never be a second.

She is out now, taking a final exam for one of her courses. She won't be back for at least two hours, by which time I'll probably be sound asleep. I have a book to read, can do a little noodling around on the computer, and ponder mother-daughter relationships. Tomorrow we drive back home.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Movies, Plays, and Plays About Movies

A lot of my life has been spent at the movies. Just about as much has been spent at plays--reading them, directing them, watching them, acting in them, and just plain relishing them. I relish the movies almost as much.

Imagine my delight at having been selected to participate in "The Movie Plays," a short play festival to take place in Rosendale the weekend of July 5, 6, and 7.  First come the plays, nine of them, to be selected and produced for the three nights. Submissions are now being accepted, so if you're as inspired by the movies as I am, now's your chance to write a ten- to twelve-minute opus about the movies and have it considered for the program. The only other requirement is that you have to live at least part-time in Ulster County, NY.

Small casts (no larger than 4) and very simple settings are requested.  Our space is limited, there will be three directors pulling the show together, and in ten minutes there's not a lot of reason to try to produce an epic. With the common theme of the movies, the plays will naturally work together well, and we three directors have vowed to work well together too.

The 10-12 minute requirement will be strictly adhered to (this is around 12 pages of standard script format, in 12 point type) and lengthier plays will be rejected.

I'll bet you have an idea already. If you want to work something up, the deadline for submission is a postmark by May 10th, 2013. Please mail 3 hard copies to: Rosendale Theatre, attention The Movie Plays, P.O. Box 545, Rosendale, NY 12472.

The winners will be announced on May 24th. Then the fun really begins--casting, working out sets, costumes, and props (minimal, I warned you), and rehearsing the plays individually before putting them together. If you're not a playwright and don't even want to be, maybe you belong backstage or in the cast. More information will be forthcoming here when those details are worked out.

But, for you writers: manuscripts can be returned if a SASE is included with the submission. Questions should be directed to Susan Einhorn, the Artistic Director of the Festival, at I hope you're one of the winners and I'll get to meet you in person!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

All You Can Do Is Be

Searching for Sugar Man, Finding Rodriguez
I went to the movie in Rosendale almost reluctantly. It had been an ordinary day and it would have been easy to pour a glass of pinot grigio and unwind in front of another night of mediocre television. But I have an extraordinary little movie house nearby, the Rosendale, and when they're showing a film I feel I should see, I go. Operative word, should. That explains my low expectations.

I never heard of Rodriguez. I had heard that Searching for Sugar Man won an Oscar for best documentary, and I had seen the trailer, which looked intriguing to say the least. I respond to the search for lost souls, and this seemed perhaps to be that. I was open to it, and walking into the theater I felt the crackle of anticipation in the air. The parking lot was almost full, to my surprise, and the theater itself was too. I arrived just in time for the feature. Patrons of the Rosendale are devoted, and they love an intelligent, highly-rated film.

The movie unfolds as a story of a late 1960s/early 1970s poet-musician living on the margins of Detroit. His music is playing, his early promoters are rhapsodizing about his talent, people who knew him are describing his persona and his shadowy existence. He impressed the music bigwigs, they backed him and got albums and cds made. The songs were first rate, the singing haunting. But the albums and cds mysteriously didn't catch on. They didn't sell. He disappeared from the business and the people in high places, who to a man admired him as much or more than any other singer-songwriter of the period (yes, Bob Dylan's name came up every time), were baffled.

There are a couple of twists to the story, heart-lifting twists that I won't reveal as you'll enjoy the movie so much more if you don't know them. In the end we get to know the heart of an American original, the poet-singer-songwriter Rodriguez, whose name will probably never be a household word but who transcended what we usually define as success. His life is special as a saint's, his way of being in the world is simply that: Being. Big things make him smile, but little things count too. He is as natural in the world as a waterfall or a horse--dignified, elegant, beautiful, pleasing.

Searching for Sugar Man made me see things differently. It even made me feel things differently. It made me want to learn how to be more like Rodriguez. And it made me happy to be alive.