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Back In the States

We’re back.

Actually, we (the kids and I) got back from Indonesia on the 13th. I took a couple days to unpack, wash everything and repack for a trip to my dad’s in Northern Idaho. We spent a week there, came back home on the 23rd, did some crazy last minute Christmas shopping, and bam – Christmas. Daniel made it home around noon on the 25th (direct from Batam and jetlagged all to hell), but we were all here (including his folks, my sister-in-law, her guy, his parents and my mom) for a lovely day together.

I felt like I was holding up pretty well, given everything I juggled over the course of a month, but as the craziness wound down I started picking fights with Daniel. I was feeling anxious about the fact that I hadn’t written anything in weeks. Five weeks, actually. FAR too long.

Turned out, all I really needed to do was ask Daniel for  day to catch up on some writing. After a stupid fight this morning he graciously took over all the kid duties (and doodies) so I could lock myself in my office and do some writing.

It took about an hour to get back in the swing of things, but now it’s flowing. So far I’ve written three pages in my Northern California book. I had originally hoped to finish it by now, but set aside that goal when we got on the plane to Indonesia. Still, I only have 25 pages to go. I’m seriously thinking about staying up late the next few nights and writing my ass off to see how close I can get to finished before the 1st. I doubt I could get 25 pages done in four days, but maybe…?

I also caught up on my Digging Deep blog

. My partner in crime on that one was understandably a little miffed when I told her, out of the blue, that I just wouldn’t have time to post, so it feels good to get back on that horse too.

And then, of course there’s the novel, and oh, yeah, a screenplay I’m thinking about all the time lately. Sometimes I just feel like I’ll never reach the finish line on anything ever again. Which is why it would be nice to finish up the Northern California book as planned.

Oh well. In any case, it’s good to be back.

Here are a few photos, just for fun.

The view from our hotel in Batam

Monkey in Singapore

Visiting the set with Daniel

Snowball fight with Grandpa and Nana in Idaho

Sleigh ride in Idaho

Now back to the writing.

Indonesia, baby.

This is my first post since the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Did I fall off the map, you ask? Kind of. My guy got a call that Saturday, one week ago today, asking if he could come to Indonesia immediately to help out on a film.

Do you remember the scene in Ghost Busters where Bill Murry’s character says “if somebody asks if you’re a God, you say yes.” That’s always been my take on travel. When someone says “hey, would you like to go to ______,” you say yes. It won’t always work out, but I always start with yes – I want to go.

So when Daniel told me he would be gone for the month of December, but would only take the job if we (me and the kids) could come with him, I said yes, only half believing it would work out anyway. And here we are. We arrived Thursday morning after about 30 hours of travel. Talk about whirlwind. I still can’t really believe we got all four of us here for such a long stay on such short notice. And just in case you’re thinking about robbing us while we’re here – let me just say for the record that we were able to find a house sitter – I wouldn’t be announcing all this to the world if we hadn’t.

So far, it’s awesome, though the jet lag has been pretty rough on the little one and (as if that wasn’t enough) he seems to have come down with the chicken pox. We’re staying in a hotel on the island of Batam, just a short ferry ride from Singapore.

The most wicked storm just passed over. I mean, it’s probably just another day in paradise for anyone who lives here all the time, but it kind of blew me away. The thunder and lightning and deluge of rain that came out of nowhere were amazing. Three hours ago we were in the pool and I was worried about getting sunburned through my spf 50.

Because Janet Fitch taught me well, and because I was lucky enough to have both kids down for a nap, I took some time to write about the storm as it built, rattled the windows and eventually passed over, and the process of getting it all down made me miss my fiction so much.

I’ve enjoyed the other writing that I’ve been doing, but there’s something so engaging about writing a scene. Teasing out just the right words to paint a unique time and place – the sounds, the smells, the light. I just love it.

So that’s what’s up with me. I will make every effort to keep up the blogging, but frankly, we have a lot of exploring to do. You’ll have to forgive me if I put aside the cyber world for a while to indulge in a slice of real world that I’ve never seen before.

 

The Vegetables

As has become my Thanksgiving tradition on this blog, I’d like to share a poem by Hafiz.

The Vegetables

Today

The vegetables would like to be cut

By someone who is singing God’s Name.

How could Hafiz know

Such top secret information?

Because

Once we were all tomatoes,

Potatoes, onions or

Zucchini

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Women in Media

Something has been bugging me, and it’s not Gina Davis’s lack of stage presence.

She right. I watch some of the (forgive me) shit available for kids and I am shocked. I had to stop a video of “Hercules” a while back because the female character broke into a song about how she was just a weak girl, and wasn’t it a good thing there was such a strong man around to take care of her. Excuse me? What? Since then I’ve been seeing more things like Gina Davis’s talk here, and noticing more and more the representation of girls in entertainment in general. While some kid’s shows (“Olivia” is a personal favorite), do okay, others have a long way to .

My husband told me about a conversation he had on the topic lately and related something fascinating. Turns out that years ago some feminist group sat down to craft guidelines for what constituted a feminist film. Here are the three things a story must have to be considered feminist. Ready? It’s pretty extensive…

1. Have two female characters with names

2. Those two characters have a conversation at some point

3. That conversation is NOT about a guy

That’s it. And you know what, it SHOCKING how many films can’t do it.

Well I for one will be doing my part to put some entertaining media out there where two named women have a conversation that isn’t about a guy. It honestly shouldn’t be so hard.

I know a lot of you who read my blog are in the entertainment industry in one way or another. I challenge you to think about this the next time you see a movie, and consider how your own projects measure up. Those of us telling the stories are in the unique position of being able to influence how they are told.

Power to the storytellers. Bring it.

 

Step Away From The Computer

There was a great article in Poets & Writers

recently. It was by Ellen Sussman, and she offered up four simple steps to get more out of your writing. Basically it came down to 1. Write every day, 2. take breaks regularly, 3. meditate for a few minutes before starting to clear your head and 4. turn off your internet. It’s criminal to chop up her prose so inelegantly, but that’s the gist.

Number one is taken care of.

I do occasionally sit for a few quiet minutes before I start working, but usually only when I’m making time for my fiction.

I’m 50/50 on turning off the internet. Since I’ve been working so much on the guide book lately and it’s so research intensive, I do leave my internet on, but I turn my email client off. That works pretty well for me.

The thing I most need to work on is taking breaks. Sussman sites studies that show people are more productive if they take a quarter of each hour to step away from their work, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe because my writing time seems so precious, since the rest of my day belongs to the family, I just don’t want to stop. I feel like break time is wasted time.

Still, it would probably be good for me. Just to get up and walk around a bit. Maybe I could get back out in my garden for a few minutes a day. That might actually be nice. But I don’t think I can do 15 minutes every hour. That’s a quarter of my work day.

I’ll start with baby steps. Maybe two 15 minute breaks mid day. I’ll have to set an alarm or something, but I can do that. If it seems to have a positive impact I’ll consider upping it, but that’s all I can do right now.