Wednesday, June 30, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Some more Remembrance for you!

Fifteen minutes later, Ruthie and Annie stood alone in front of the cinema. A quick check inside told them that Nora was most definitely not there.

“Maybe she went home,” Annie proposed. “She might have thought we left and did the same.”

“Yes, you could be right,” Ruthie said, even though she didn’t believe it. Nora would not have left if she didn’t know her friends were safe. Where could she be?

Annie was keeping a remarkably cool head, given the situation. “Why don’t we go to her house and check? Then we can make sure she’s not waiting at one of our houses.”

Ruthie agreed and they set off. The cinema was not far from Annie and Nora’s street and soon they were knocking on the Savidge’s front door. Nora’s mother answered, opening the door to let the girls step into the foyer.

“Ruthie, Annie, what a nice surprise. Nora’s not here, I’m afraid. Wasn’t she meeting you two at the pictures?”

Ruthie’s heart sank at Mrs. Savidge’s light tone. Obviously she didn’t know what was going on – how could she?

“Are you girls all right? You look worried. Your families are all right aren’t they?”

They rushed to assure her that their families were well, but then both hesitated. Finally, Annie spoke up. “So… Nora hasn’t come back here during the last hour?”

Mrs. Savidge looked between her daughter’s friends. “No, she said the film wouldn’t be over until about half past five and that you girls might get a fizzy drink afterwards.” She saw the girls exchange glances. “Why? Did she leave the cinema and not come back?”

“No,” Ruthie said. “We had an air raid drill in the middle of the film and we all got separated. When we came up from the basement, we couldn’t find Nora.”

Mrs. Savidge had begun to look panicked. “Philip?” she called behind her. “Philip!”

Nora’s fourteen year old brother appeared at the top of the stairs. “What’s wrong, Mum?”

“Have you seen your sister since this morning?” Her voice was begging her son to say yes.

But Philip shook his head. “Sorry, Mum. I haven’t seen her since I left for practice this morning.”

“Oh, God…” Mrs. Savidge cried. “Where could she be?”

Ruthie tried to reassure her. “We haven’t checked our houses yet – she could still be at one of ours. We’ll ring you as soon as we know. Promise.”

Five minutes later, Ruthie hurried up the steps to her own house. “Nora!” she shouted as soon as she got in the door.

Her mother poked her head out of the front room. “Ruthie! Why are you shouting in the house?”

“I’m looking for Nora. Is she here? Please tell me she’s here,” Ruthie said without stopping for a breath, looking around and hoping that her friend would appear.

“No, she’s not here. What is the matter?” Mrs. Halpert now came fully out into the foyer, looking concerned.

“We had – there was an air raid drill at the cinema and we couldn’t find Nora afterwards. I have to call Annie. No, I have to call Mrs. Savidge. Phone – where is the phone?”

“It hasn’t moved from the kitchen, Ruthie. Now, sit down and calmly tell me -”

But Ruthie wasn’t feeling calm at all and she certainly was not going to sit down. She dashed to the phone in the kitchen and snatched up the receiver. For a second, she could not remember the Savidge’s number and her fingers fluttered nervously over the dial. Finally, she recalled it and spun it in. With each whir of the disk, she whispered, “Please... please… please…”

Mrs. Savidge picked up before the first ring had finished. “Ruthie?”

“It’s me, Mrs. Savidge. Have you heard from Annie?”

“Yes.” The woman’s voice grew tighter. “Nora wasn’t there. Is she – is she at your house?”

She didn’t want to say it. Her word was the final one and she didn’t want to give it. But she had to. “No, Mrs. Savidge,” she said, her heart heavy. “She’s not here.”

Nora’s mother let out a little moan on the other end of the line. “Where could she be?”

“Is there anywhere she might have gone?” Ruthie asked. “Could she have forgotten something at school yesterday and gone back to get it?”

“I don’t – I don’t think she did,” Mrs. Savidge said, and Ruthie could tell she was on the verge of tears “I – I have to go now, Ruthie. Thank you for your help.” She hurriedly hung up the phone.

Ruthie stood in the kitchen with the receiver pressed to her ear for a full minute after Mrs. Savidge had hung up, as if she were hoping she could change what she had just said. Only when Mrs. Halpert entered the room and gently took the receiver from her daughter’s hand did Ruthie sit down in one of the chairs at the table.

Mrs. Halpert pulled out the chair next to it and sat down as well. “Ruthie, what’s going on? Tell me.”

It took a moment for Ruthie to find her words. “Nora is… she’s missing.”

Mrs. Halpert was silent as she took this in. Then she said, “Are you sure?” Ruthie gestured toward the telephone, indicating that was what the call had been about.

“Oh, Ruthie,” Mrs. Halpert said, and stood from her chair to embrace her daughter. But Ruthie stood up, too, fending her off.

“I need to find her.”

“Ruthie…” her mother warned.

“No, I have to,” Ruthie said, pacing around in tight circles. “This is not just any missing person, Mum, this is Nora. How can you not understand that?”

“I do understand it, Ruthie, believe me, I do. But I will not having you putting yourself in danger to find her. If Nora has been taken by someone, do you think they will spare you if you get in their way? They won’t, and I will not allow you to put yourself in that situation.”

“Mum -”

“No! And if you try to do anything of the sort, I will make sure you can’t. Your father or I will escort you to school and back and you will not be allowed out of the house. Do you understand me? I am completely serious.” Ruthie was silent. “Ruth Ann, answer me!”

She did not answer her. Instead, she turned on her heel and ran upstairs to her room, slamming the door behind her in frustration. It was not her mother she was angry with, really – she knew that she had a reason for telling her what she had. She was not even frustrated with herself, for if she could search this very instant, she would. It was aggravation with the situation that was making her feel like this – trapped, desperate, short of breath. The trouble was that there was nothing she could do. She had no idea where to go or what to do even if she were allowed to search. She didn’t know if Nora was close or far away – by now, it could be either one. Had she been taken in by someone kind enough to help a girl alone, or was she even now fighting for her life? It was driving her mad not to know what was happening. She wished it were her instead of Nora that had been taken – then, at least she would know what was going on.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Downside of NaNoWriMo

I love NaNoWriMo- it's something I really want to keep doing for as many years as I possibly can because it does the wonderful job of forcing me to write. I'm one of those people who stresses over whether others will like what I'm composing, and whether or not I actually plan to show to someone or not, I cut and paste to make it what I deem "presentable."

But there is a downside to this awesome program and that is this: WORD COUNT.

The 50,000 word minimum requirement to win is a great goal, because that's a LOT of words to string together in a month. But the thing is, what you need to win is just 50,000 words- not 50,000 good words or even 50,000 coherant words. Just that many words and... CONGRATS! You could literally write "I am not actually writing a story here" and paste that into a document until it reached that magical number and you'd get that "WOW!" e-mail.

Now, most- and probably all- of the writers who participate in NaNoWriMo do not do this, since those who do the pasting thing wouldn't really try a thing like NaNo. But my point is that it's all about the word count. It doesn't matter if you write the best short story that's ever been seen- if it's not 50,000 words, you can't say you've (officially) won NaNo.

It bothers me because now, when I work on my novel, it's still partially about word count to me, and it shouldn't be anymore. That was one benefit of the amount of by-hand writing I did during NaNo; when I did that, I was merely creating, having no word counter on the bottom left of my screen to track my progress.

So as I work on my novel edits, I find myself glancing down at the number down in the corner each time I add or subtract a word. I want to get out of the mindset that 50,000+ equals success and less equals failure. I want quality not quantity... but try telling that to my subconcious and my drifting eyes!

As of now, my edited novel is 49, 190 words (I deleted a ton from my "final" November draft- more than 1,500 of that is a scene that I wrote recently). That's not even really a novel... it's a novella. But it's getting better in quality than those 50,223 words I ended with. One day, I hope that will mean more to me than hitting a certain number of words.

IN OTHER NEWS... I am filled with glee over the fact that my paycheques actually include well over $100 and that I get them on a regular basis (humor me... I am an actor. And the one "real" [though technically still "acting"] job that I've had paid me $40 a day even if I worked 12 hours.) With some of these funds, I am aiming to buy a writing program for my computer. I really like Scrivener, which I could have gotten for free from NaNoWriMo... but I am a PC person, so no go. I've been looking at a few, but I'd like your suggestions. What writing program do you use/dream about using? It can't be too, too expensive (I'd set my limit at $50), since I could find out after I buy it that I'm not a writing program person, but I would like something of quality. Leave suggestions in the comments, please!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WIP Wednesday

*slides in in her socks*

I'm here! I'm here! It's been a crazy day (work from 10-5, then rehearsal- full run through of the show, scripts in hand, from 6:30-9.) But I was thinking all day about what I wanted to share with you guys. So I've got another snippet from Remembrance, this time from the very beginning of the novel (which is going through some serious changes... I write a new scene, and then I decide that I hate one that's been in the story for eight months. Also, this scene contains a reference to the Nancy Drew books. I really wanted them to be Ruthie's favorite series, and did extensive research on them, and hooray, they came out in the 30's! Then I got my edits back, only to find out that my research hadn't been extensive enough; yes, the books came out in the US in the '30s, but didn't arrive in the UK until the '70s. Not exactly fitting for my '40s story *sigh*)

“Guess what?!” Noah said excitedly as soon as he saw Ruthie, Annie, and Nora emerging from the gates of the upper school. “A boy from my class is missing!”

“Who?” Ruthie asked sharply. She hadn’t meant it to come out so forcefully, but she was put off by Noah’s apparent excitement at the idea that someone was lost.

“His name’s Arthur Henderson. Miss Andrews told us that his building was blown up last night!” Noah ran in circles around the girls, arms out, making airplane and explosion noises. Ruthie grabbed him by his jacket sleeve.

“Stop it!” she said tersely. Noah halted, looking surprised by his sister’s tone of voice.

“Ruthie…” Annie cautioned.

Ruthie looked straight into her brother’s face. “Don’t you understand what it means that Arthur’s missing? He might be lost forever. He could be hurt. He could be -” She stopped. Her brother looked stricken and she suddenly remembered who she was talking to. She let go of his coat and took a step back as if to undo her actions.

“I’m sorry,” she stammered, hoping Noah wouldn’t start to cry. How would she explain that to her parents? Thankfully, Noah did not burst into tears. Instead, he straightened his coat, glared at her, and marched away toward their home.

“Are you all right?” Nora asked, looking at her friend closely.

“Yes,” Ruthie answered automatically as they began walking again, but then she reconsidered. “No. I am really upset about Jimmy.”

“So am I, but we can’t really do anything about it,” Annie consoled. “Though I wish we could.”

Nora brow was furrowed. “But what can we do? Miss Burns said that people are already looking for him, and we can’t get around as fast as they can. Maybe we should just let them try. I’m sure they’ll find him. I mean, where could he have gone?”

Ruthie was still unsure, but by then the girls had reached Annie and Nora’s street. They said their goodbyes and parted ways. Ruthie could no longer see Noah ahead of her and she hoped he had gotten home in one piece. She walked on, still thinking about Jimmy. As she reached the end of the street, a noise tore her attention away from her thoughts. She looked up in time to see the door to Augustine’s Bookshop close, its bell still jingling after the arrival of a customer. That customer, Ruthie could see through the window, was a boy. A boy that looked very familiar…

She knew who it was. It was Jimmy, and relief coursed through her at the realisation. Jimmy wasn’t missing, he had just been playing hooky – again. She almost laughed. She would go into the shop, she decided, and tell him that he had to let everyone know that he was alive and well so people did not have to worry so.

She pushed open the door and her entrance was announced by the cheery tinkling of the bell. Mr. Augustine, the proprietor, was standing behind the counter and smiled at Ruthie when he saw her there. Normally Ruthie would have stopped and asked if he had any new Nancy Drew books in stock, but today she just smiled back and concentrated on the people milling about the shop. Jimmy was nowhere in sight, but the bookshop was lined with shelves, making it hard to survey the entire area in a single glance.

Stepping into the center aisle, Ruthie checked the sections on either side as she made her way toward the back wall. An old woman was skimming a cookbook to her left and the right side was vacant. Another row revealed a girl leaning against the wall with what seemed to be an encyclopedia in her hands. The next two rows were empty, but Ruthie could hear books being shifted around further down the aisle. Following the sound, she came to the sixth row and turned the corner. Two teenage boys sat on the floor poring over comic books, and there was Jimmy’s dark head bent over the bright pictures.

“Jimmy!” Ruthie cried. “Gosh, am I happy to see you! We’ve all been so worried about -” She stopped as the two boys looked up at her. The dark – haired boy, though identical to her classmate from the back, was not, in fact, Jimmy Henderson. Ruthie stared down at the boys. They stared back. Then the second boy, the one with blond hair, leaned over to his friend.

“Who is that?” he asked, barely bothering to lower his voice.

“No clue,” the tawny haired boy replied. He adjusted his glasses and went back to his comic book.

Humiliated, Ruthie backed out of the tight row. She turned and ran past the aisles of books, past the girl with encyclopedia and the woman with the cook book, past Mr. Augustine and out the door, which joyfully jangled her exit.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Flashback Friday

So because I'm at the part of rehearsals where I'm trying to forget just how much memorization is ahead of me and the fact that I couldn't fall asleep last night, I decided that I HAD to finish my writing file last night. I love boxes and organizing-type things, and I recently bought a new file box and decided to use it for my past and present writing.

A CONFESSION: I am a pack rat. I keep everything because I always think I'll have a use for it later (and generally, I use the excuse that I might need it for a future play/musical that I'm in... which is the case a lot, but not enough to keep all the stuff I do.) It took me about four hours to go through all of my past writing last night and tonight (most of my preseny writing was already filed away.)


And that was only about a quarter of all of the notebooks I threw away. And while some of them were, as the top notebook suggests, academic, most of them (even those in the school category) were filled with writing. In between pages of a+b=c were ten pages of a story I was working on at the time.


Yes, I was rather proud of the name stickers that made it look like my moniker was exploding out at you in a burst of confetti when you moved the cover. These are two notebooks that I kept intact rather than simply tearing out the pages that had my writing in them. I carried these two notebooks with me EVERYWHERE during my last year of elementary school. The turquoise one contains a "Happy 11th Birthday!" message from my best friend inside the cover, a "complete" twelve-page play called Thoughts vs. Reality as well as a props list, cast list, costume sketches. There is also an incomplete play (twenty-two pages) of a play entitled The Parkers vs. the Sytas (I was apparently really into putting "vs." into the titles.)
In the final section of the notebook is eight pages of an incomplete play, untitled, that I abandoned that same year, picked up as a novel the next year, abandoned soon after, then picked up again at sixteen, when I turned it into a screenplay, entered it into a contest, and won an award for it.

In the marble-covered notebook, I have a partially-written story about a girl who really wants to have a carnival (or, as I said it back then, "carvinal"), another half-written tale about a girl who starts a new school in fifth grade, a list of play ideas and titles, a series of drawings I did in seventh grade, and a "Things I Want to Bring to Middle School" list. Also, onc contained in this notebook (though it was torn out for the performance) was a sketch I wrote for the D.A.R.E graduation at the end of fifth grade, in which I played the lead, Natalie, who was peer pressured and had a classic "angel and devil" moment, with one on each shoulder :p

Besides the satisfaction of storing everything away neatly, it was also cool to see my growth as a writer (though I didn't read most of the things I filed away) and also, just to see how much writing I've done in my life, which is, well... a lot. Also, to see what types of composition I dabbled in. In first and second grade, I wrote both stories and plays. Third and fourth grades were strictly stories. Fifth grade was some stories and a reintroduction into plays. Then in sixth grade, I became convinced that I was a terrible playwright and refused to write anything but stories for four years. Eighth grade was stories and some poems I was forced to write for my comm. arts class. Tenth grade was when my friend Katie and I began our feature-length (still in-progress) screenplay and I got back into writing plays in addition to stories. During my theatre-school years (eleventh and twelfth grade), I was almost strictly a playwright. And college so far has been plays, novels, screenplays, and short stories. It's been an adventure, and it's all contained in a purple accordian folder.


I don't know/think that this "Flashback Friday" thing will be a regular to-do on my blog, but it might pop up occasionally, because I think it's cool to see writers' growth... even if that writer is me. And so to kick off this thing-that-might-possibly-never-happen-again, I give you the opening scene (and the only scene I actually physically wrote- the rest was memorized by dictation and rehearsal) of my very first play, written at age seven (with my clarifications in italics):

DIRECTED BY: Rachel & Allison D.

The rouel (royal) anonsment (announcement)

Pupets: Gorge (George): "Crunch, munch, crunch, munch.
"Oh hi I'm crureos (Curious) gorge, and,,,,, [crash he drops the pepper he is holding) Ops, I drop a pepper, ernie is going to be mad!"
ErnieL "GORGE"!
"what are you eating?!"
Gorge: "Nothing"! Well. ah, Ernie I was eating a pepper but juce (juice) din't get anywere or, or, or."
Ernie: "Just be quit (quiet) and let Me do the talking, buster."
Gorge: O.K., O.K. I will be quit, but you have to promies me, you'll let ME do the talking for the NEXT show!"
Ernie: O.K! (go backstage). (sound effecs.) (backstage) CRASH!
Ernie: you broke the tape! That was the tape we were saposed to use!"
Gorge: Oh well."

I know, after reading that preview, you are all amazed that this play was only performed in my basement and grandparents' living room (where we hung a sign reading "we hop you injoy the play!") I had a lot of fun with it though. It was about ballet dancers because I had just gotten a pair of slippers that looked like ballet shoes for my birthday (the puppets were not in the ballet part... for some reason, I was adamant that all my plays had to start that way.) In fact, here's a picture of its final performance at my grandparents' house:



Now, if I can just get that confidence in my writing back...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

WIP Wednesday

That whoosh you just heard? That was my sigh of relief.

I got home from work and the gym around three o'clock yesterday and I was determined that I was going to sit down and work on my novel revisions. I was quite frustrated because I was itching to work on it, but a mixture of fear and writer's block (or perhaps fear-induced writer's block) was only allowing me to open the document and stare at the screen blankly. I proceeded to do this for about four hours until suddenly, something in my mind cleared.

I guess a big part of the problem was that I wanted to make BIG changes RIGHT THEN to the novel. And while I did start planning out what some of those big changes might be, I started out much smaller- fixing a word here, tweaking a delivery there. Getting back in touch with the characters I haven't written about since November.

After working at these small adjustments, finally som of the larger peices started to fall into place. My novel needs to be expanded in the worst way; I'm only realising now how much I only have the skeleton of the story. This is both good and bad, for reasons I think I'll save for another blog. For now, here's the first small snippet of my NaNo novel, Remembrance. This is one of the parts I've not touched yet; I have a post it in the margins that reads "MORE, MORE, MORE!" so I hope to soon be expanding on the points that are briefly mentioned.

For a bit of background, my main character Ruthie has gone into a house owned by a possibly crazy couple because she got a clue that her friend Nora was being kept there with a bunch of other kids. This turns out to be true and at this moment, Nora is acquainting Ruthie with the inner workings of the house.

Nora led Ruthie down a make – shift cinderblock hallway and to a doorless threshold. The room inside was small but not cramped, painted a soft yellow and trimmed with flowered wallpaper. Nora’s hairbrush and a wash basin sat on the small night table. Slippers were tucked neatly under the bed and a quilt lay across the end. The sight of these touches made Ruthie stop short in the doorway.

“Are you all right?” Nora asked, rushing to her side. “Ruthie? What’s the matter?”

Ruthie could just shake her head, leaning against the cold stone of the entrance.

“Ruthie, talk to me. Are you dizzy? Do you feel like you’re going to faint? Here, sit down.” Nora grabbed her arm and tried to pull her to the small ottoman in the corner. But Ruthie couldn’t move. Or, more accurately, she wouldn’t move. Seeing those homey things, those little Nora touches, showed her something she had not expected, something terrifying. She swallowed, trying to calm herself down.

“Nora,” she said slowly, dreading the answer. “When did you give up hope?”

“What?” her friend looked confused. “What are you talking about?”

“This room … it’s like you actually live here.”

“Well … I do. I mean, I sleep here, but – what do you mean?”

“You’ve settled here, Nora, do you realise that? When did you begin to think you might never go home again?” She hadn’t realised it when it was happening, but her volume had risen considerably.

Nora took her hand off of Ruthie’s arm like she had been burned. “Ruthie, you’re scaring me. I know waking up in that room like that was not fun, but you came here voluntarily – to help the rest of us who weren’t so lucky. What are you worried about? They take good care of us here. And if things go as you say, we could be leaving soon.”

Ruthie could have stomped her foot. “It’s not me I’m worried about, it’s you! You talk about Gloria like she’s a nutcase, but looking at this place, you may not be far behind. When did you start referring in your head to this room as ‘my room’?”

“Stop it!” Nora spat. Her concerned look had been replaced by a glare. “You don’t know what you’re talking about at all. You have no idea how things work here. You came here by choice – Danny and Suzanne told you what to expect. You have no clue what it’s like to find yourself trapped down here, realising too late that you were too stupid or na├»ve to save yourself or even suspect what was going on. You think we don’t try to get out of here every day? Sure, the Gradys feed us and clothe us, but we don’t leave this basement. I haven’t seen sunlight since the day we went to the cinema. I have three dresses. We’re all miserable down here, except for Gloria. We all want to get out, but we’ve tried everything. And after weeks of trying every single thing you can think of, you start to wonder if you’ll ever find a way. So I haven’t given up hope, Ruthie, but I’ve started to be realistic. This place is like an interminable prison, and unless you really can get all of us out of here, we just might be stuck down here for who knows how long. I’d love to hear any plan you have after being here for half an hour. Because when you’re here for weeks with no escape possibility in sight, you can’t help but start to think that you might never get out. It’s not like we want to believe it, but when it comes down to it, should we spend all our time crying about not being home? Or should we face the reality and realise that this could very well be it and try to make the best of it?”

Despite Nora’s speech, Ruthie was still dumbfounded. “So you’re just going to forget your parents and everything else and become Nora Grady, just like Gloria?”

“Stop it!” Nora said again, and now she was shouting. “You have no idea what you’re talking about!” She looked like she wanted to throw Ruthie out of the room and slam the door in her face, but that was not an option. Instead, she turned her back on Ruthie and busied herself rifling through her nightstand drawer. Ruthie was still frustrated by Nora’s ridiculous standpoint, but at the same time, she realised that she also didn’t have anyone else.

“Nora?” she ventured.

“Just go away,” came the hard reply.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I'm a bit of a copycat. When I read something I like, writing-wise, I always want to do it myself. While copying, I generally find my own style that encompasses what I like as well as my own style and I go from there, but there's one area where I've succeed at neither copying nor finding my own style: plotting.

I want to be a fan of plotting. I want to be an outlining wizard with notecards and charts and lists. I've always wanted to have a wall like Maureen Johnson's:

Unfortunately, this is not my style. When it comes to plotting, I have no style. I generally play it by ear; what feels right (or... what comes to me at the time) for the book/play/whatever is what I do. Sometimes it's trial and error. For example, I tried MJ's type of outlining* but it didn't work for me. I was advised to try a similar approach to parts of a play I wrote recently, but nothing clicked.

And after trying to copy and just plain trying, I still haven't really found my "method", but I do know that outlining is not for me, LOL. And actually, I'm usually okay with that because that's how the twists and turns happen for me- I start writing and things just start to come to the surface. I don't take all of them, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't even have them as an option if I had outlined in the first place. Libba Bray- another of my favorite authors- said something similar about the writing of my favorite book, A Great and Terrible Beauty... not that I'm copying her ;)

In other news, how do you like my new layout? I loved the other one, and a lot of the newer options offered were really cool, but I thought this one fit what I'm blogging about most.

I got home from work early today and thought, 'Great! Some time to devote some quality time to my novel revisions!' Want to know how far I've gotten? I've had the screen up for three hours now, have scrolled down a few pages and read a few sentences. *wipes sweat from brow* Now that's what I call work! *sigh* Scared, much? It's pretty much the same thing that I (and a bunch of my fellow students) were told in Shakespeare class last semester: "You're stopping yourself because it's easier and safer to fail than to go all the way and look silly while you move toward success."

Also, on the non-writing side, I'd like to ask any of the actors that read this blog if you have any tips on how to memorize Shakespeare. In the trend of copying, I do have my own methods, but I've never done an entire Shakespeare play and will take any pointers!

*Although MJ also recently said on Twitter that she only outlines these days to have something to laugh at later.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

WIP Wednesday

All right, all right, I'm here :p Today I'm giving you a snippet of a play I'm working on, loosely titled Acceptance. Though I have a lot of random lines and moments and most of Act II planned, this is only the second scene I've written. So here goes:

(GWEN and PATRICK exit. AMY turns back to her work, leaving CORA to stand alone in the middle of the room. The silence stretches between them. )
CORA. So, Amy-Bear-
AMY. (sharp) No one calls me that anymore.
CORA. Oh… sorry, I didn’t know.
AMY. Of course you didn’t.
CORA. You look different than I remember.
AMY. Growing up will do that to a person.
CORA. (trying to ignore the sarcasm) You’re really pretty. I guess I’ve just always had the image of you as a little kid in my head. But I guess you’re not really a kid anymore, are you? (AMY makes a non-commital noise.) So how have things been going?
AMY. You mean, what have I been doing for the past seven years?
CORA. Sure.
AMY. Well, I’ve been testing out the only-child thing, since my older sister ditched me.
CORA. (stung) I didn’t ditch you, Amy.
AMY. You didn’t? What do you call walking out one day and never coming back? Thanks for all the postcards, by the way. Nothing like keeping your family in the loop.
CORA. I didn’t want you guys to worry.
AMY. You never told us where you were! One short note every year or two, sometimes unsigned. You could have been dead and we never would have known.
CORA. Come on, Amy-
AMY. No, you come on. When you first left, I ran to the mailbox everyday, hoping for something from my big sister. It didn’t take me long to realize that nothing was coming, that you had left us behind completely.
CORA. (dropping the forced cheer) Oh, please, Amy. Grow up. You were eleven when I left, not three. I thought you would understand that I was a little strapped for cash. There weren’t many money-making opportunities for me where I was.
AMY. You could have had those opportunities if you had stuck around and gone to college.
CORA. College isn’t everything, Amy. Maybe it seems like it right now, but it’s just four years; there are things that come afterwards, and I decided to jump right to that part.
AMY. You could have at least told Mom and Dad you were leaving.
CORA. Yeah, their reaction would have been great. I can just see it.
AMY. Well I had to really see it. They were frantic- they had no idea where you were. You couldn’t have left a note or something?
CORA. Amy-
AMY. You should have told them. Then maybe they could have talked you out of it.
CORA. Has it occurred to you that maybe I didn’t want to be talked out of it?
AMY. Then what did you want?
CORA. I- (she stops, unable to think of anything)
AMY. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Oh, and if you're wondering, that huge audition I didn't work on nearly enough? It actually went pretty well :) Now that that huge weight is off of my shoulders, I can return to my writing!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Running Scared

A lot of people- even those who know me well- are surprised when I tell them that I am the queen of cold feet. But it's so, so true. While outwardly I seem like I know exactly what I want and how to get it, the truth is that I am pretty scared most of the time.

Some of it comes from loving two (possible) careers that are so unstable. Acting and writing- am I insane? But I love them so much that there is no way I CAN'T do them, so I've made the decision that the chance is worth it.

I am incredibly guilty of nearly backing out of things at the very last minute. Most of the time, I eventually decide to do them, but that's less bravery and more my conviction that quitting would let down those who are relying on me. When I was sixteen, I got accepted to an amazing arts school for theatre. I was ecstatic when I got my letter, jazzed for the rest of the school year that came before my enrollment there, and excited all summer. Then the first day of school came. I felt sick. I was nervous. I didn't want to go to this strange school where I knew no one and ACT in front of them. No, I wanted to go back to EAHS and meet my friends at the lockers and be bored in math. Change? No thanks.

My other cold-feet tendency is to just ignore big things. For example, right now- I have a HUGE, incredibly important audition coming up on Monday. I'm terrified... so I'm jusdt ignoring it. This is not good. Sure, I know my monologues back to front, but I need to rehearse them more. This is potentially a huge career step and I'm close to just throwing it away because I'm so scared of failure.

I've been doing the same thing with my writing lately. You probably noticed there was no WIP Wednesday. While I haven't been working on my writing as much as I would like (my excuse has been that I have to use my time to prepare for that big audition, but, um... not doing that either), I did have something to post, but I was too scared. The scene from my new play is very very rough and I didn't want to loook stupid.

But here's what I've been learning:

a) Being scared really gets you nowhere and

b) I need to stop caring so much about what other people think.

I mean, I ended up going to my arts school that day and not hating it. In fact, I loved it- I fit right in, instantly, and I spent two of the best school years of my life at that school. And while I need to buckle down and work on my audition material, I had an audition a little over a week ago for The Merchant of Venice where I decided I wasn't going to care what the director thought about me. I was dramatic, I dared to mispronounce words... and guess what? I got the leading role of Portia.

I need to remember that good outcomes can come from risks; this theory has rarely been disproven in my case and yet I'm still scared. So from now on, unless it's an emergency, I will not be skipping WIP Wednesdays. If I do, you all can call me a coward, LOL.