Saturday, January 29, 2011

Activating

When I got my (great and very helpful) play evaluation back on my Peter Pan play, one of the biggest notations was that a lot of the scenes were all talk, no action. They were full of smart dialogue... but no one ever did anything. And as I was writing scenes for a different play I'm working on, I noticed the same thing. I really liked what was being discussed, but they just sat on the couch and talked.

So I wrote to my teacher and asked him if he had any suggestions to liven up the action. He gave me a few suggestions and I'm going to try them as soon as I get these darned reviews written for my Reading Theatre class.

This is when I wish I had my arsenal of plays with me. Sadly, I only brought three (Proof, Time Stands Still, and Leaves.) The good thing is that they're all talky plays, so I'm going to scour them for ideas as to how to get my characters up and moving.

Any suggestions from my fellow writers?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Waiting...

...is sometimes the hardest part of this process, I think. It's been a little over a month since I sent out my NaNo'10 to a few people, and darn it, I want them back! However, from doing my own editing of other people's novels, I know it can take way over a month, so I have held myself back from pestering them with e-mails reading, "Areya done yet? Areya, areya?" I know the waiting will be worth it in the end.

In other news, my friend and I have been working on our collab novel. I sent him the almost nine hundred words I wrote the other night and he thinks our styles will mesh well, which is good, because I wasn't sure how it was going to work. I've discovered lately that, though I really enjoy both reading and writing drama, I'm mostly a comedic writer. Even in this most dramatic parts of my writing, I throw in som humor. My friend suggests this is because I am uncomfortable with the subject, which is possible. A very interesting thing to discover...

Friday, January 21, 2011

EXCITING NEWS!!!

I'm at school in England right now, and since I'm a new student, I've been finding out a lot of things at the last minute. This past Wednesday, I went to a meeting for new theatre students and some representatives from the student-run theatre group were there. They told us about some auditions (one of which was happening ten minutes from then. I went, but didn't get a callback) as well as this thing called the New Writer's Festival and encouraged us to do both if we had any interest at all. Of course I was interested, so I took down their information and when I got back that night after celebrating my 21st birthday, I sent in my submissions (don't worry, there was no drinking, so it was professional.)

I got a reply the next day telling me that there were a few pieces missing- the reps hadn't told me that I had to fill out some forms with info about each scene I was submitting. I quickly entered in all of the information and sent it back- thank goodness for e-mail, is all I can say! They thanked me and said decisions would be made today.

When I got back from the opera tonight (no, seriously), I checked my e-mail and there were two e-mails from the theatre company. The first was an e-mail that began with saying how it was such a hard decision and everything was so well-written... basically all the stuff that comes with a rejection letter. I scrolled down to the list of the chosen pieces...

And both of mine were chosen!

I think I actually squealed. I AM SOSOSOSOSOSO EXCITED! While I have had a few things produced on a small, small scale (the film company I work with and a few acting schools), this will be the first time it's worked on seriously-and for a festival! People are going to AUDITION for my scenes!

I was asked if I want to direct them... I don't, really, for a few reasons. A) Even though I got great feedback from my directing teacher last year, I don't think I'm that good at it and I kind of hate doing it, and B) I think letting someone else direct it would be a good exercise in me being less precious about how I want things done. They did ask me if I wanted to have creative input, and I think I might like that- to sit in on some rehearsals and workshop along with the director and actors. That way, if they feel changes need to be made to the script, I can do it right then and there. I think it would be good for me.

I'M JUST SO EXCITED! I just wish these scenes were being performed later in the semester so my family could see them when they come to visit.

:)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WIP Wednesday

A very late post (for me here in England anyway... it's technically not Wednesday anymore), but I was occupied all day today celebrating my twenty-first birthday! But here's some Light for you, a scene I just wrote on Monday. Just before this, Lyddie has agreed to go out with Aaron, a boy she's had a crush on for awhile, but doesn't get to tell anyone her good news, because when she gets home, she finds that her sister's engagement has been broken off for seemingly no reason.


That night, Dad returns to work and we can’t coax Julie from her room, so it’s just Aunt Kelly and me for dinner. She whips up some chicken and pasta and we settle down at the table together. There’s no automatic conversation like there usually would be- the events of the day have made us uncomfortable. It feels like we should talk about Julie’s predicament or nothing at all. After a long silence, Aunt Kelly elects the former.

“Do you know how she’s doing?” she asks, keeping her voice low, as though Julie could hear her upstairs.

I shake my head. “No; she hasn’t come out of her room at all.”

Aunt Kelly spears a piece of pasta with her fork. “Well, I guess we just need to give her time. She and Jake may not have been together for very long, but I really do think they loved each other.”

“Then why did he break it off?” I exclaim, surprised at the anger I feel on my sister’s behalf.

“I don’t know. It’s hard to explain matters of the heart.” My aunt sees me roll my eyes and adds, “No, truly. Sometimes love makes people do crazy things, even to the point of calling off a relationship. You may not understand that now, but you will one day.”

I wonder if I should tell her about Aaron- in the commotion over Julie, I didn’t have the chance to tell anyone. Perhaps, since we’re on the subject of relationships, I could ask Aunt Kelly if it’s even worth it to go on with him. But no, I decide. Now is not the time.

Aunt Kelly’s staring off into space, looking deep in thought, and something in her gaze makes me ask, “Did you ever think you would get married?”

My aunt’s eyes instantly come back into focus and she blinks at me in surprise. “Wh-what makes you ask that?” she questions.

I shrug. “Just wondering. I mean, even though we’re not allowed to get married and everything, that doesn’t stop us from wanting to…” I trail off, hoping she’ll finish the thought for me.

“Well…” Aunt Kelly begins haltingly. “I guess… yes. I did think I would at one point.”

I’m intrigued. While I never doubted that someone would want to marry my aunt- she’s smart and certainly pretty enough for someone to go after her- I’ve never before considered that she may have had a relationship before becoming Keeper. “So what happened?”

“What do you mean, what happened?”

“Well, you’re like me- you weren’t always supposed to be the Keeper. You were, what, twenty-eight when you got the job, right? You can’t tell me that you did even date anyone, at least.”

Aunt Kelly lets out a long, loaded sigh and takes a moment before responding. “Yes,” she answers finally. “I was actually in a rather serious relationship in the months before I took over for your mother.”

“Yes?” I prompt.

She twists her mouth to the side, as if considering just how much she wants to tell me. “Well, around the same time that your mother started keeping, I met a guy and we started seeing each other. It was… it was great. I’d never been so happy while dating someone. He was a wonderful man and we loved each other and best of all, he understood about the lanterns.”

“But how?” I inquire. “Outsiders can't know about them, especially a man!”

“It’s difficult to explain,” Aunt Kelly says. “He had obligations of his own, so he didn’t think it was weird that I had a sister who stayed in all the time.”

“So did he understand when you said you had to take over for her?” A bubble of hope forms inside me; maybe, if I get Aunt Kelly’s permission, I can tell Aaron about the lanterns. He’d understand just like her boyfriend did.

Aunt Kelly stabs a piece of chicken. “Not exactly. Before I took over, we had been seeing each other for nearly a year and a half, and he had proposed once already. At this point, your mother was having some trouble doing everything and I told him not yet. I promised him that I did want to marry him, but I had to take care of things at home first. He seemed to understand and told me to take my time. But when it happened that I had to take over completely, I had to tell him that I couldn’t marry him, no matter how much I wanted to. And I desperately wanted to,” she says with sudden passion. But then she catches herself and, giving me a quick glance, continues with, “But there were other things that had to be done, and I had to take care of them. He was upset, but what could I do?”

I push my food around on my plate, feeling a little guilty about being one of the things that had to be done. “So…” I say hesitantly. “Is it even worth it to start something like that? To get involved with someone?”

I expect Aunt Kelly to tell me no, to say that when there is a job to be done, one should focus solely on the task at hand. But instead, she puts down her fork and looks me square in the eye. “It’s always worth it, Lyddie. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end, it’s always worth giving it a try. It teaches you about yourself, if nothing else, and there is nothing more vital to success in this job.”

I appreciate her words, but I can’t help but think that even with the affection that comes with a relationship, if I know it will have to end with a break-up, is there really a point? The last thing I want to do is lead Aaron on, or wore, hurt him because we take it too far. All these considerations make my head start to hurt again, so I finish dinner quickly and head back upstairs, where Julie’s door is still closed tightly, not even a strip of light showing at the bottom.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Finally! Wow, I haven't done one of these in awhile. Here ya go, from The Other Side of Light.


The next day is Saturday, and I plan to spend all of it not thinking about the application. Julie’s at work, as is Dad, and Aunt Kelly’s lantern – ing, so I’ve basically got the house all to myself. Party? I think no. Pleasure reading – yes. I settle myself in the family room with a few of my favorites, ready for a day of my kind of fun. Yes, I’m a nerd. Don’t judge. 


The doorbell rings as I’m halfway through my first book. I have no idea who it could be. I mark my place and and I open the door. Once I see who’s on the other side, I freeze. Because standing there is Aaron Tves, the guy I’ve had a crush on for the past five months. He is beautiful and smart and well spoken and he is standing on my porch. It takes me a second to realise that he’s not alone. Next to him stands a boy of about twelve, who I assume is his brother.


“Hi, Lyddie,” Aaron says, and I get a little thrill because, even though we’ve never talked one on one, he knows who I am! 


“Hi,” I answer. Why do I sound so ridiculously breathy? 


We all stand there is silence for longer than is comfortable until the boy nudges Aaron. “Oh! Right,” Aaron jumps in.

“My brother’s selling popcorn for Boy Scouts and I – he – we were wondering if you wanted any.”


I notice that, by the boy’s feet, is a tall metal canister with some kind of design on it. “Is that it?”


Aaron follows my gaze. “Yes, that’s it. I mean, that’s the one we’re showing to everyone, just to kind of let them know how big it is and everything. You don’t actually get this one – we’d give you a new one, of course. But you can try it if you want. You want to try it?”
 Normally, I would say no. I actually don’t enjoy the weird taste of pre – packaged popcorn. But I’m not going to say that and break his little brother’s heart. So instead, I say, “Sure!”


Aaron reaches down and scoops up the canister, popping off the lid so I can see the sticky mess of multicolored popcorn balls inside. I really don’t want to eat this, but love means sacrifice, right? Even if the love is of the I – don’t – know – if – he – feels – the – same – way – or – if – he- even – knows – my – last – name kind.


So I say, “Wow, that looks… delicious,” reach in, and take a clump. As I’m pulling my arm out, my sleeve catches on the lip and the container tips, sending the gluey colored marbles everywhere. Some of them simply thud to the floor and stay there, but far too many roll across my shoes, all over the porch, and into the bushes.


“Shoot!” Aaron says. His brother is already trying to salvage what he can of the so – called treat and Aaron, after a quick glance at me, drops to his knees to help him.
I don’t want to awkwardly stand over them, so I join them on the floor, collecting as many of the globules as I can.

We throw all we find back into the canister - I sincerely hope that they don’t intend on offering anyone else a sample – and stand as one. More awkward silence.


“So,” Aaron’s little brother finally breaks in. “Do you wanna buy some?”


“Definitely!” I exclaim with more enthusiasm than should ever be exerted over popcorn. “I’ll take one now that I see how they travel.”


What? What does that even mean? And if I don’t know, why am I laughing at this not – even – a – joke? I wish for the roof to fall in. It doesn’t.


“Great,” Aaron says, reaching into his back pocket and pulling out a pen and order sheet. As he hands them to me, our fingers brush and another thrill travels up my arm. I try to hide this by concentrating fully on filling out the form. Just as well – I wouldn’t be surprised if I spelled my name wrong. When I’m done, I hand the pen and sheet to him with extreme care.
 “Thanks!” his brother says happily.


“Yeah, thanks, Lyddie,” Aaron adds with an adorable smile.


“No problem! I was happy to do it!” Again with the ridiculous enthusiasm. “I can’t wait to get it!” Oh, my God. Stop talking now. Aaron will never like you in that way if he thinks you like popcorn more than him. I give them a stupid wave as they turn to leave, but I feel slightly better about my own behavior as I close the door and hear Aaron’s brother say, “Why were you acting so weird?”


I shut the door and lean against it. I feel as accomplished now as I ever have – I had an encounter with Aaron and I didn’t sound like a total moron. For the most part. Not anymore than he did, anyway. But he’s adorable and he can get away with it. Me, I need to watch myself. Deep breaths.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Realizing

So my friend finished reading Remembrance last week. He promised he would have it to me before I left for England and it appeared in my mailbox at ten a.m. on the day I left. I am very grateful to him for doing this. Or maybe I'm just grateful for him for doing it and not judging me. Because I was worried. Really worried. I gave this book to him in July and I didin't stop fretting until... wait, have I stopped?

Besides the dark scenes that scared me when I wrote them, I also read through the book while he was still revising and realised that I don't write like that anymore. That's technically a good thing, since it means I've grown as a writer, but I was afraid of what my friend would think of me. I wanted to snatch my novel back and give him something newer, something more up-to-date with my current style.

I didn't though, and I'm glad I let him finish. Well, sort of- I still feel ashamed of some parts that I wrote. But his editing job was good- he noted not only what he liked but what he thought was terrible... and he used those words, too. Nothing like getting it told straight out :p I think the edits will definitely help me being Remembrance up to the next level, whatever that level may be (though I know that this is not a novel I will seek to publish.)


In other Remembrance news, three things happened to me today involving it. First of all, one of my friend's comments during the darkest scene of the book was, "Getting a little like V for Vendetta are we?" Though I love that movie, I haven't watched it in about two years, so I wasn't really sure how close I was to the film. Extremely, as it turns out- I just finished watching it. It's nothing that needs to be changed, thankfully, but it's funny how some things stay with you.
I was walking through Kensington, London today and made my friends stop for a second while I took a picture of a street because one of my characters, Gloria, lived there (or at least, she would have before it was bombed in the Blitz.)
And then about an hour ago, in a fit of writery-actory-ness, I decided I needed to better figure out why my main character and her two best friends are so uncomfortable in one another's presence at the end of the book. I mean, of course there's already a reason, but I wanted to know each girl's specific feelings on it. I took a bit to write down these reasons, and then I started crying. Because what I realised is that the three girls represent three different sides of me. I know people always say that you always write a version of yourself into each character in some way, but it was still a shock to me. I always considered myself most like my main character... but I still considered her to be very different from me, and I knew I wasn't anything like her friends- until today. And yes, this discovery made me weep.


Anyway, getting off that dramatic subject and onto an unrelated one, if you're not already, you should check out/follow my London blog, where I write about all the adventures I'm having in jolly old England!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Wrap-Up

2010 was a pretty good- and busy- year!

January: With the film company I’m with, Enscribe Studios, filmed a short called Never, which is one of our best films to date. Nearly got arrested while filming it for accidental trespassing. Had a terrible audition at a big theatre; I’m still too embarrassed to go back. Dyed my hair (accidentally) black. Saw Spring Awakening for the first time with my friend Megan. Went to my first theatre festival, which was quite an experience. Started the spring semester of my sophomore year of college, including a lot of first time classes in things like Shakespeare, Children’s Theatre, and Directing. Turned twenty. Got asked to sing in my friend’s summer wedding, something I’ve always wanted to do. Started piano lessons. Read and saw Peter Pan for the first time. Went on a ton of auditions.

February: Found out that my acting type is an ing√©nue, which was news to me. Out of love for my friend, agreed to be in a scene that I hated because I had already done it and didn’t like the play. Started writing a play based on/around Peter Pan. Auditioned a lot. Half of my classes were snowed out for about two weeks. Auditioned for Peter Pan at a huge, you-will-never-be-cast-here scale theatre. Was inundated with schoolwork. Became obsessed with A Chorus Line, helped by the awesome documentary Every Little Step. Saw a casting session from the other side of the table. Was given the duet Sixteen Going on Seventeen in my school musical theatre club, a milestone for me there. Read some awesome plays.

March: Started to go crazy(er) over not having a show. Put on a fun version of The Princess and the Frog with my Children’s Theatre class for a class of sixth graders (and I got to play the princess!) Became a cheerleader. Obama came to my school (I didn’t see him.) Auditioned a lot. Dealt with the mold and mouse problems in my dorm room. Was cast in my first student film playing a murderous teenager; we shot for three days of awesomeness. Filmed an Enscribe teaser for a new miniseries that I was asked to write- action, something brand new to me.

April: Discovered ALL CAPS, which is now my favorite band. Got new headshots taken. My friends Stuart and Courtney visited me at school. My beloved dog Missy died at age fifteen. Auditioned a lot. Did my second student film at my own university. Did my third at a different school. Got accepted into a giant, hard-to-get-into audition. Performed in my first piano recital. Got my first non-acting job.

May: Finished my sophomore year of college. Auditioned for the national tour of Next to Normal. More auditions. Visited Stuart and Courtney at their college. Started my tour guide job. Started to become obsessed with Dr. Who. More filming with Enscribe, which resulted in the usual adventure/us getting in trouble. Got cast as Portia in The Merchant of Venice- my first Shakespearean role ever.

June: My sister graduated high school. Started Merchant rehearsals. Went to the Met. Participated in the ginormous audition. A well-known playwright (one that I love) sought me out on the internet and wrote me a letter. Got a new agent. Was forced to watch all three extended versions of Lord of the Rings in one day. Tried to begin the study abroad application process.

July: Got cast in a play of one-acts at the very first theatre I ever performed in. Rehearsal, rehearsal, work, rehearsal. Had a full-out Shakespeare rehearsal in my backyard. Opened Merchant.

August: Closed Merchant. Blogged Every Day in August (BEDA.) Upgraded cameras. Opened and closed the one-acts. Started and finished Mockingjay, a book that, no matter how I felt about it, hit me harder than a lot have. Moved into school for my junior year.

September: Started out my first full day of my junior year crying in my professor’s office. Declared a creative writing minor. Started a cheerleading club. Auditions. Was cast as Alice in Alice in Wonderland. The school finally let me start applying to English colleges. Saw Time Stands Still on Broadway.

October: Got accepted to Queen Mary University of London, my top choice. Injured my left foot to the point that it still hurts me three months later. My mom got a cat. I bought my plane ticker to London. Got cast in a duet from one of my favorite musicals, Chess. Saw ALL CAPS, among other artists, in concert, which was incredible. Opened Alice in Wonderland. Got a position as a teaching artist with Philadelphia Young Playwrights. Saw The Scottsboro Boys on Broadway. Was cast as Jane Moore in Life With Mother Superior. Dropped out of cheerleading. Dressed as Hermione Granger for Halloween.

November: Closed Alice in Wonderland. Participated in National Novel Writing Month for the third year and won for the second; in the end, the novel was 63,023 words long. Mother Superior nearly fell apart but magically pulled itself together and had a great opening weekend.

December: Closed Mother Superior. Finished the first complete draft of my Peter Pan play, Straight on ‘Til Morning. Saw Time Stands Still again, this time from the third row orchestra. Finished my junior fall semester. Went back to my alma mater for the first time since senior year. Began packing for England. Went to Washington DC with Enscribe. Rang in the New Year with Stuart and his family.