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WordPressers, day in and day out, you entertain us, you make us think, you make us laugh, and you make us grateful to be exposed to so many voices all over the world. It’s a pleasure to read what you’re writing. Like everyone in the community, we value that feeling of connection that comes from reading something that speaks to you, that resonates, that makes you feel not so alone.
For this edition of Freshly Pressed Faves, we’re looking at three posts that do just that, all around the idea of “busy-ness.” Modern society seems to embrace the idea that unless you’re “swamped” or “super busy,” you just aren’t being productive enough. Free time? Fill it up, preferably with something that pays! This attitude permeates children’s lives, too, with scheduled after-school dance classes and soccer practices and violin lessons and foreign language tutors. The idle hours that once allowed kids to daydream seem to be no more. When’s enough enough, though?
Author Tim Kreider believes ‘Our frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness.’ We feel we are nothing, not worthy, unimportant or left out if we have nothing to do.
But there is another aspect to it. Perfectionism – that shadow from our childhoods. We want to be excellent – because if we are, we will be worthy of love. So we take on anything and everything that is thrown us. Even when we are aware we are overwhelmed, we find it hard to say ‘NO’. Because we fear that if we do – people will think less of us. So we end up doing more than our fair share.
Sofagirl at Campari & Sofa writes eloquently about her own fight with the “busy” beast and the scary personal episode that drove her to question it all. Weaving in others’ research on the topic, she presents a compelling argument for taking a step back — and a deep breath — and for refusing to participate in the tyranny of “busy” any longer. Bet you’ll find it difficult to disagree.
As kids we could come up with 16 ways to put our lives on the line using the jungle gym in ways no designer ever intended. They were days when we simply looked at clouds and imagined animals (or teachers or, for the juvenile delinquents, body parts) hiding in the puffy expanse of the heavens. … We were bored, but no one was ever bored enough to learn something.
Except it appears, according to recent research, that boredom is good for the brain. Evidently, boredom switches our brain’s little buttons and the synapses and neurons start firing on more cylinders, pushing us to creativity and intellectual growth.
John Wegner of Consistently Contradictory harkens back to a time when “boredom” and free time were acceptable and even encouraged, when we didn’t rely on technology and scheduling quite so much, and when we allowed our brains to wander. Are we losing the benefits of this today? Should we re-introduce some “slack” into schools? Read John’s convincing and thought-provoking post and you’ll probably be answering “yes.”
When I was a kid, Dad made it clear that ‘mere play’ was being idle—something lazy people did. And boy, you couldn’t get lazier than me.
Michael Maupin from Completely in the Dark takes us back to his childhood and the lasting effects of not being encouraged to “play.” He explains, “As a shadow, it darkened the room, filling me with anxiety and self-doubt: ‘What am I doing now? Is it practical? Is it useful? Shouldn’t I be ashamed?’ … For years that sound, that shadow, was all around. It blocked up my writing, my artwork, my self-esteem — everything. I was psychologically held at gunpoint by an ethic that carries little currency in my world.”
Not one to be bullied, however, Michael has found ways to protect and embrace his natural tendencies towards “play and reverie.” Read his post, and you’ll be inspired to do the same.
Did you read something in the Reader that you think is Freshly Pressed material? Feel free to leave us a link, or tweet us @freshly_pressed.
For more inspiration, check out our writing challenges, photo challenges, and other blogging tips at The Daily Post; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the Reader. For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.
Screen-Free Week goes from 4/29-5/5. While it might seem drastic and unfeasible to completely unplug, think about what steps you can take to be less connected next week.
I’ve become a little too connected in recent years. I became an e-mail addict freshman year of college. I got a cell phone right after September 11th. An iTouch came into my life… Read More
Go figure. Here I was under the impression that the BBC International Playwriting Competition was on hold or cancelled altogether. Much to my surprise, read on Facebook to stand by since they are about to announce the details of this year's competition.
While this is great news and under the assumption that the competition was cancelled, I've been re-thinking entering "Old Soldiers" as my entry.
"After all that waiting - you're going to abandon us?" Joe would probably ask. The issue is whether or not 'soldiers would be radio-friendly due to the necessity of sound effects.
A while back, I wrote a short play entitled, "The Lemon" focusing on the trials and tribulatiion of a female owning and trying to unload her car, which as the title infers, is a "lemon." A comedy, it's a fun story line and the characters would lend themselves to radio. At present it would run about 20-30 minutes but it wouldn't be difficult to add to the story.
This week I'm going to re-examine The Lemon with a critical eye to see if and how the story can be expanded. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the announcement of the new deadline. Progress reports to come.
By: Faith Pray
Blog: SACRED DIRT
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Because everyone needs a reason to hide secret notes...
I made a mail kit.
It's our Narnian Lamppost.
Our place where the real world transforms into the magical one.
See, Pip and Winnie haven't exactly been excited
about writing time.
They moan and whinge when it's time
to pull out notebook and pen.
But now they have a reason to write.
All manner of small letters, notices and lists
have been appearing in the mailbox, begging for a reader.
Secret message makers, word lovers in the making, I hope.
And if we're not so concerned with punctuation just yet,
still Something is being kindled,
and that Something is what we're going for -
getting so lost in play so that the unseen world
shines brighter within us,
and the ordinary world shines brighter on our return...
This is what I want for myself, too.
To take more time to play
with my words, with art, with the kids
without focusing on how much I get done.
I have a choice every day -
wear myself out trying to blast through my goals,
or find the sweet spots and savor.
Relish the revision.
(thank you Gail Carson Levine and
Molly Blaisell for your great advice.)
if you need a reason to play with your words,
or an incentive for young heel-dragging-writers,
may I suggest a mail box?
Our kit is compiled of:
A domed box (thrift store find)
A cardboard swing arm fastened with a nut and bolt.
I added a mail sack, felt envelopes and flannel stamps
plus a thick stack of paper
for good measure.
My dad's old mail carrier hat tops the cake.
Any mail today?
Books of Note:
The Dove's Letter by Keith Baker
The Jolly Postman, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small
Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie
Letters from Father Christmas - J.R.R. Tolkien
Love, Mouserella by David Ezra Stein
Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly - Gail Carson Levine
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
The Enchanted Chocolate Pot - Patricia C. Wrede, Caroline Stevermer
And an experiment.
I've been trying to set up some freebies for my small writer friends, so here is my first attempt to provide a download.
You are welcome to use this art as long as you credit the artist (Hey, that's me - Faith Pray!) and as long as you don't try to pass it off as your own work, or sell it (That would be illegal). If you are going to pin or webshare this, please credit me as the artist, and link back to this original post.
Thank you for the respect.
My "Old Soldiers" are getting antsy and so am I. A few weeks to go to finish up their story and I'm experiencing a slight case - not full...yet - of panic.
I've been adding dialogue regularly and am satisfied with the progression of the story line. My concern, however - it's always the 'howevers' in life that will get you - is the lack of sound effects. Normally, my focus would be on the dialogue but given the nature of the medium, obviously sound plays an important part. The dialogue itself (IMHO) is good, I'm satisfied with the character development and the scenes are logical. But...
"So explain the problem(s) and/or concerns for us, Eleanor."
The first scene takes place in a pub and sound effects include the buzz of people chatting, glasses clinking, a juke-box producing music. That's it, folks! Suggestions here would be appreciated!
Subsequent scenes focus on the "gang of three" i.e. Joe's friends, studying Joe from afar from their vantage point in a small sports car, Joe's conversation while travelling on the bus and talking to friends at a park.
Haven't decided yet which scenario to follow leading to the finale. There are three possibilities and I can't make up my mind which one to pursue. Another concern is that for whatever reason, didn't note that the play has a 55 page limit and I was working on a 70-odd page limitation. The play as I write it, is taking on a life of its own and I'm not sure it can be completed as a radio play in the alloted time.
"So what's the probability of it being adaptable for a radio play?"
It could go either way depending on which route so to speak, it goes. Meanwhile, there are choices to be made and decision to be taken. Will share more thoughts as they occur.
Playwright is depressed. At this point in time with less than a week to go, my "Old Soldiers" may get a year older. In spite of an intensive thrust or effort to finish the BBC Radio International Playwriting competition entry, there is still some i.e. about 12 pages, work to be done.
"For heaven's sake, Eleanor...this is not the first time you've delayed entering the competition!" my inner playwright/muse is telling me.
Unfortunately very true. One of my main problems is having to add sound effects. It means, at least in my mind, that there has to be a lot going on and Old Soldiers is dialogue-heavy. When re-reading newly added dialogue, there doesn't seem to be a reason or place for a sound.
In any case, let's say...the play was completed at this point. It would not be edited yet and to enter a competition for the sake of entering is not a good idea. All that work and believe me there was a lot of work and focus on writing the play, would be for nothing.
So once again, I'm farklempt, at least at this point, having not reached my goal of entering a play. Perhaps taking a story and converting it into a radio play wasn't a realistic option. Really - I don't know. Unless there is an extension, I'm out of it for this year. Again.
Blog: Scribble Chicken! Art and Other Fun Stuff
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How do you fuel your creative kindling?
With dragons, of course! Janet Lee Carey
, author of Dragonswood
is working shop with thirsty writers this Sunday, September 15
at the Poulsbo library.
How's that to fuel my story sparks?
I've gushed over Dragonswood and Dragon's Keep before
They are among my top fantasy novels.
Janet writes compelling, wholly satisfying tales
so skillfully woven that I want to re-read them
as soon as I finish.
Northwest writers: if you're in the area, come join me
at this Field's End event
Who doesn't need such a creative boost?
After a whirlwind of crazed schoolishness,
I know I do!
Last night was writing night.
I finally sat alone with my manuscript, pen in hand,
distractions tucked away,
ready to blow through with a masterful fury.
But instead of mastery,
I just sat staring into the trees,
letting the wind rush past me
and all my pieces.
No story mastery.
But the space, the air!
It was exactly what I needed.
To get me right first.
Do you ever de-fuzz?
It's the kind of work that doesn't count on your timecard,
but still matters!
Apart from our writing, our desires,
our hankerings to be published,
our accomplishments, our parenting,
our quirks and our failings,
we are all the same.
We are all people who need Love and Shelter
and Bread and Breath.
If you are ever busy, frantic, worried, overloaded,
or just stuck in your story,
try taking it down a notch.
Find a quiet place and de-fuzz.
Do something that doesn't "count" on your timecard.
Twirl. Stomp. Laugh.
Take off your socks and shoes. Wiggle your toes.
Paint with water.
Stretch out on the grass.
Watch clouds. Watch stars. Watch people.
Start a sketch notebook, a Favorite Words List, a Myths List,
a Sayings List, a Thankfulness List.
Play with dragons!
A few fiery tales:
The Deliverers of Their Country - E. Nesbit, Lisbeth Zwerger
The Knight and the Dragon - Tomie dePaola
The Reluctant Dragon - Kenneth Grahame, Inga Moore
Saint George and the Dragon - Margaret Hodges, Trina Schart Hyman
My Father's Dragon - Ruth Stiles Gannet
Talking To Dragons - Patricia Wrede (ill. Trina Schart Hyman)
Dealing With Dragons - Patricia Wrede (ill. Trina Schart Hyman)
(NEW REVISION: 9-13-2012)
Scanning over my files, came accross a newer version of this play. For the record, I've always believed this has potential but for whatever reason (laziness springs to mind), never pursued it. Did some updating and tweaking with the end result posted here. As always, critiques both pro and con always appreciated. If not - enjoy.
by Eleanor Tylbor
SETTING: A funeral parlor - Early afternoon
AT RISE: A funeral chapel. A group of people chat between themselves while waiting for the service to begin. A coffin is situated on an elevated stand in the middle of the room
FELICIA PEMBROOK, wearing a diaphanous dress, sits on the floor next to a coffin examining her surroundings. Slowly, she examines her body, touching her dress
LIGHTING: Dim lighting, except for a coffin in the middle of the room, which is spot-lit with a white light.
SOUND: somber organ music.
(cont’d) 'Scuse me…hello'?'
Man continues to ignore her, focusing and fixing the inside of the
(cont’d) Is this a… for real funeral parlor? Shoot! What’s the matter with me? Duh! This is another of Phil’s dumb jokes. Wait ‘til I get him…
Man continues to ignore her
Don’t bother answering me or anything… Fine – suit yourself. I'll find out on my own!
A male (JOSIAH) enters and stands directly behind FELICIA.
He has white hair, is dressed in a white shirt and matching
white pants that glitter
Perhaps I could be of assistance?
Whoa! What do we have here? A human Christmas tree ornament
SFX: THUNDER CLAP
I beg your pardon?
Do you come with sound effects, too?
A suggestion here and take it for what it’s worth but your choice of words could prove to be problematic
You an agent for the grammar police? Do we know each other?
A little nervous are we, when I mention “po-lice”? Perhaps you’ve dealt with them on occasion?
In my business we deal with all types and police officers are very common in my milieu
Not surprising. You earn your living dressed like… that?
Wigs? Makeup? Do I have to draw you a picture?
I’m not sure of what you’re getting at…
You don’t have to be shy with me. I’m very liberal minded when it comes to life style choices. Different strokes for different folks I always say
You mean what I'm wearing. We all wear white where I come from and this glitter sort-of attached itself to me. Don’t quite know why
Is your family okay with all of this?
They’re very much aware of my work. In fact they rely almost entirely on my input. I’m an important source of information.
You’re not one of those people who – you know - like to get up close and personal with dead bodies.
If you’re asking me if I mind being present among those that have passed…
Damn! Do I have to spell it out for you
SFX: THUNDER CLAP
'Yes – of course!'
(Cont’d. JOSIAH) Please watch the manner in which you speak. Where I reside that’s one of the words considered an offensive term of reference
Something with the ceiling? What is it with you and the way I speak? Hell - it’s none of your damned business
SFX: THUNDER CLAP
That would be another no-no - a real no-no
Pullleeze! God damn hell…
SFX: THUNDER CLAP
You must stop! Is it really necessary to use those words?
It’s my mouth and I can choose what comes out of it. Hell, there have been more than words rolling out but I’ll spare you the details…
SFX: THUNDER CLAP
‘excuse me Sir – I was just explaining the rules…’
(TO FELICIA)… That “H” word is never mentioned out loud, ever
For your information, words are my bread and butter, so don’t try telling me which one’s I can and can’t use. Hell! Hell! Hell! There! I said and I’m proud to have said it
‘I’m trying Sir – I’m really trying! Yes I know but she’s new at this’
(TO FELICIA) At least consider my cautionary advice?
This is some kind of weird funeral parlor. So many damn rules!
SFX: THUNDER CLAP
FELICIA (cont'd) Can’t do this, can’t do that. Can’t swear - I mean, really, and with all due respect, my words fall on deaf ears in the true sense of the word. Strikes me that you’re familiar with the routine so maybe you can explain. I've been trying to get an angle on how and why I’m here but that that funeral guy over there won’t give me the time of day
Mr. Postner, the funeral arranger? I can say with absolute certainty that he isn’t even aware of your presence
That’s obvious. It has’ta be this tacky outfit. I don't even own anything like this, so why and how I ended up wearing this rag is beyond me
I wouldn’t worry too much about these things. In your case it doesn’t make a difference
I don’t want people to think I don’t have anything better. Maybe I should go home and change. Do I have time before the funeral starts?
Trust me when I tell you that the last thing you should worry about is your clothing choice and as for Mr. Postner here, he’s just doing the job he has to do
Considering it’s his business dealing with dead bodies, the least he could do is be polite and answer me. I’m gonna make sure to tell people not to use this funeral parlor. I bet they charge big bucks, too. Maybe I’ll even write this place up in the paper
Sad that many people hear the words flow out of my mouth but don't want to listen. Very sad indeed…
Y’know – just an observation but it’s no wonder nobody pays attention to you dressed the way you are. Doesn't exactly inspire confidence especially in this kind of business. I’m getting the impression that you’re connected to this place, am I right? Don't get insulted, mister Josiah person and I'm no fashionista, but have you considered maybe your sparkly outfit is a little over the top for this type of job? Perhaps a dark suit would be a better choice
Rich and poor, they all end up in the same place…
You're just one happy-crappy guy, aren't you?
That… person who passed on, she never bothered to reach out to anyone. Lived her entire life satisfying her corporeal needs and her ego
So you do know the corpse. I figured as much. Now how ‘bout sharing that with me so at least it’ll answer why I’m here
In due time, in due time. So now, have you led an honorable life?
You sound like one of those TV preachers. What’s it your business, anyway, what kind of life I lead?
I thought being that we’re getting to know each other you wouldn’t mind answering a few of my questions. I’m a very curious person by nature
Some would say nosey. Listen buddy boy – I don’t want to get to know you, got that? I’m here for the funeral and it would be nice to know who in the hell – heck – died. So bug off! Go stand under a Christmas tree or something!
It wasn’t my intention to offend and if I did, I’m truly sorry. I just wanted to get some sort of idea what type of person you were… I mean, are.
I’m a little up tight with this here situation. So you wanna know about Felicia, huh. I’m not ashamed to say I’m a “been there, done that” kind of female. Isn’t that why we were put on this earth? To experience everything life has to offer?
To a degree I suppose, but there’s more to it than that. You’re supposed to help your fellow human. If only people would realize when they have the chance that life is not about accumulating riches or… things. What’s important is what a person gives of themselves to make the lives of others happy
A philosophical funeral organizer, too – I am indeed blessed. Shoot! Lemme make this as easy as possible. You gots your users and use-ees. It’s either use or be used and I don’t take no crap from anyone. Ask anyone I work with. They’ll tell you Felicia’s no pushover
We are all accountable for our actions
I know that I'm gonna be a better person receiving that helpful advice from Mr. Sparkle. Places like this used to give me the creeps whenever I went to a funeral. This one, though, kind of…makes me feel warm. Now don’t get the wrong impression ‘bout me – I’m not one of those funeral groupies or anything that check out the obits for kicks. You know what I mean? People that use funerals as a social occasion? I’m rambling. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m gonna join that corpse soon
Could be sooner than you think
Female wanders in, stopping every so often to check out the surroundings.
She stares at JOSIAH and smiles at FELICIA
Hi! Nice to see another body here and I mean that in the best sense of course.
It’s about time somebody noticed I’m here!
Know where you’re coming from. Just wish I knew how I ended up here
But…you shouldn’t be here, my dear. I’m guessing that you’re a friend of Michael?
Man (MICHAEL) dressed entirely in blue with glittering pants rushes in and
places his arm around female’s shoulder
So there you are! You shouldn’t wander off like that. Come along now…
You must take better care of your charges, Michael! You’ve been warned about losing your souls. You’ve still got two missing souls unaccounted for wandering the earth. This is not good, Michael!
I’ve got a search party out looking for them. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with them? After all – they are…
…better get along now
Nice meeting you. Why can’t I stay and chat with her….
MICHAEL leads female away
Another member of your group, I suppose? So, is this funeral gonna start any time soon? Gotta get back to The Sentinal before those b - bad people steal one of my leads. You seem to know how things are run, here. Can’t you move things along? I mean, those people must have jobs to go back to
Do any of the mourners look familiar?
FELICIA studies group of mourners
Perhaps… a few strike a familiar chord… Hang on a sec - they're reporters for our newspaper. That must mean I know the stiff in the coffin. Or perhaps you do? Is it… Jack McGrath or Pete Winston? Shoot- tell me it’s not! Don't know how many times I warned them both to slow down, but did they listen? Of course not! What does an old broad like me know
It's neither one of them
That's a relief 'cause we're the last three old farts left at the paper. We seen 'em come and we seen 'em leave. Some moved on to bigger and better papers and some left in a wooden box. Just like that poor corpse in there
Don’t worry. You'll know who's in there shortly
This is getting ridiculous! It’s an open coffin for shit’s sake and for some weird reason, I can’t tell whose inside. Take a look at those mourners. A bunch of green kids out of J-school. What do they know about getting a story? People can't write about life without experiencing it and how much could they know at their age? No work ethic. They sit and wait for the phone to ring and take the facts over the phone. Only go after the high profile stories so they can get the byline. Things sure aren’t what they used to be
The young have to learn the ropes the same way as you did but then they have a lot of time. You certainly experienced life to the fullest, didn't you?
Hey - I didn't need no journalism school to teach me. I had the best teacher - good old trial and error. Made mistakes and paid for them all along the way, but I learned – shit how I learned –
SFX: THUNDER CLAP
- perhaps another word would be better …
You mean the word, 'shit!' Hey – I shit, you shit, we all shit – that’s nature at work!
Your sense of humor eludes me
Well ex-cu-sez-moi! They all respect me at The Sentinal, you know. They know better than to cross this old broad. See them newbie reporters using them – whad’ya call them – knee computer crap. Gimme a good, old solid typewriter any day
You never shared your accumulated knowledge with any of them, Felicia. How come?
You gotta be kidding. Hey – I hadda fight every step of the way to get where I am. Nobody was around to lead me by the hand and that goes for them too. They'll learn the heard way
There comes a point in one's life when those who go before must pass on their wisdom to others. You obviously never learned that
The only thing I share is bad breath. Just tell me already so I can go home and change out of this outfit
Somebody you know intimately
That would cover a very long list of guys. Could you gimme a hint, maybe?
You'll know in due course
All this hush-hush top-secret stuff. If you’re one of those - what do they call them now - grief councilors , I don't need your services. Death doesn't scare me none. No siree. I’m ready to go – not yet of course
Part of my duties entails helping people through a difficult period of transition. In fact I've never missed a funeral
What does your wife say 'bout you hanging round a funeral parlor day and night…assuming you're married…are you? Married, I mean
(laughing out loud)
You don't have to kill yourself laughing. It's not such a dumb question. If I was hooked up to someone like you, I'd be wondering about your attraction to a place like this
I'm sorry. It's not your question that tickles my funny bone. Once all is revealed…well – you'll understand the reason for my amusement soon enough
Is it necessary for you to keep talking in riddles? You keep hinting at…like there's something I should know but don't. I'm getting these flashes…a feeling that our paths have crossed …somewhere. It's like… just out of reach of my consciousness
We've had a few close encounters in the past, Felicia, but this is the first time we've met one-on-one so to speak
Strikes me that this corpse wasn't too popular in life judging by the few people who showed up to say goodbye. Then again, real friends are hard to come by
It's actually quite sad. That person believed she –
- so it's a woman -
As I was saying she assumed she never needed people and in the end, seems that they weren't there for her when she needed them most
Mourner moves to front of room, and stands in front of coffin
'Janice? Hey girl, we were supposed to meet for lunch yesterday! I showed up but where were you?' Janice is my closest friend at the paper
JANICE talks to "person" in the coffin
You miserable, lying bitch! At last you made a useful contribution to the world and left it! Good riddance to bad rubbish
‘Is that a way to talk about the dearly departed? Even dead people deserve respect from the living.’ No class but that’s part of who she is and I accept her ‘cause we’re best friends
JANICE touches the coffin and returns to her seat
She's probably pissed 'cause the corpse stole a lead away from her. 'Ya gotta move quickly if 'ya want a byline in our biz. You snooze – you lose. We better take a seat with the rest of them. Looks like everyone from the paper is here so who’s the corpse
FELICIA takes a seat next to JANICE.
ASIDE TO JANICE: You never did have any class, girl.
Turns to the man sitting on the other side of her
Hey Pete-ee! So, how's it goin' with you?
(PETE) ignores FELICIA, talks to the female on his other side
(Cont’d.) Hey - I'm speaking to you. What's with them all, today?
He can't hear you
Oh please! He hears me all right but he's busy chatting up the new reporter, Chloe Starshine. That guy can't keep his zipper closed around the opposite sex, if you get my drift
Has it dawned on you, yet, why you're here?
To pay my respects to someone in the print 'biz. What else? You know…I've covered practically every kind of story but I can't ever remember spending the night in a funeral parlor. This is a new one for me and it's about this outfit I'm wearing. I'm assuming I didn't have time to change 'cause I wouldn't be caught dead in this
(bursts out laughing)
In your state clothes are the last things you should worry about…
I'm happy you find me so amusing. Ssh! I wanna hear the name of the corpse, I mean dearly departed
MINISTER steps behind podium
Voice calls out:
'She didn't have any!'
…we are here to bid goodbye to one…
'Good riddance to bad rubbish!'
…a…good reporter and… a good friend and colleague…
At last I'm gonna find out who this mystery person is. Strikes me she sure wasn't liked, but even dead people deserve respect
FELICIA stands up and addresses everyone
'That's no way to speak about the dead, you bunch of parasites. Show some remorse!'
Is there anyone here who has something positive to say, about the departed? A few words would suffice. Surely there must be one person in this entire room that could say a few nice words about the late Felicia Pembrook? Anybody?
I can speak for myself, thank you very much…What's with this "late" crap? What am I late for? A meeting…an interview… I’m sure I checked my agenda…
No one? Then we'll have a quick service for Ms Pembroke and you can all go back to work
Is this guy for real? Let me make this very clear: 'I'm among you, in the flesh! Look at me! I'm sitting right here.'
I've been trying to tell you…
I know what's going on here. They've all staged this to teach me a lesson. 'Well, it won't work people! I'm on to you all!'
FELICIA stands up on chair, waves and screams
Felicia is here among you! The old witch is alive and kicking. You can't ignore me forever
JOSIAH walks to the front of the room, and stands behind the coffin
I'm the only person who can see – and hear you
You keep saying that and you expect me to believe it? A guy dressed like a Christmas tree ornament?
Believe it or not – it's the truth. Haven't you wondered why no one has acknowledged your existence? You know as a reporter you have to deal with the facts and the facts here are undeniable. This will probably be a shocker to you but you-are-dead, my dear!
You're one crazy weirdo! This is just another nightmare - it has to be a nightmare. Must'a eaten a bad rack of ribs. All right… I'm willing myself to wake up now…wake-up…wake-up…c'mon body – get up!
Come over here and take a peak inside
FELICIA looks hesitatingly inside and jumps back
If this is a bad joke, I don't have a good sense of humor, today. Enough is enough, already. I don't know how you did this, making a person look just like me. It's been a blast but I got things to do, places to go…
Aside to mourners
'Okay you guys. You pulled off the ultimate practical joke. Got me fair and square. I give in…'
It's you in there for real
Who hired you, huh, and how much did they pay to help pull off this prank? Whatever they gave you – I'll double it to get even
Money is of no significance and it's the real thing - or you're the real thing
Is this one of those dinner theatre productions and I'm playing myself? That's it, right? Please say it is!
Trust me when I tell you that you are here in spirit only
Oh I got spirit, all right and it comes straight out'ta a bottle of vodka. You don't happen to have a flask on you? I could really use a shot right now
Go on - check your body out…
FELICIA runs her hand over her body
It's like I'm touching…nothing
There is no more Felicia Pembroke as you knew her. In fact you don't really have a body at all. It's a transitory illusion so you can accomplish your job
She paces back and forth in a panic
This isn't real - it can't be - I don't want this to be real! Shoot! Shoot! Shoot! See – I don’t always swear. When…how did this happen?
Your passing occurred two days ago. A massive heart attack while eating a Big Mickey Trio. Died with a french-fry stuck in your throat
Didn't somebody try and give me CPR or something?
The restaurant staff worked on you but it was your time to go, so nothing helped
If I'm - I can't even say the word, never mind accept it - dead like you say, then what am I doing here? Shouldn't I be…you know…in a heavenly place or something? This sure ain't heaven and I don't hear harps playing anywhere
Only in films, my dear
Why am I still here? I see people…
…but they can’t see you. Perhaps an introduction is in order now. Officially, my title is Josiah, Spiritual Adviser – Disembodied Souls Division – we call ourselves the SADD people – a little inside joke
Just…Josiah. No last names
Okay tell me… Josiah, what I'm supposed to do next? Hang around here and haunt this place?
It's not quite as simple as that. In most cases a person dies and the soul moves on to wherever it's supposed to go. However, we've run into – how do you say down here – a snag in processing your case to its finality
What kind of snag are we talking about? Not major I’m hoping. I still got things to do
Actually, this is a little embarrassing. The Judgment Assembly - of which I'm a member – is in charge of processing the paper work and can't decide on the fate of your
soul. There’s a split among a few of us as to whether you really belong with the people of light or…the other side
You're on the good side, right? That means the odds are in my favor
I'm but one person. Some are of the opinion that your choice of lifestyle doesn't warrant
moving on to the next level
Grabbing a sheet of paper floating down
'Thank you!' Let me see here … At their last meeting, it still appears there’s a split amongst the celestial gatekeepers. The score is five for and five against. A veritable tie
I'm being punished for living a full life? Isn't that what humans are supposed to do?
There is living…and then there is living. Your time here is supposed to be a learning experience but some do go overboard. That's when we encounter problems, like yours
How was I supposed to know what to do with my life? I just did what I figured was good at the time. If I'd known that it would be held against me down the line, I would've…I would've… Know what? I wouldn't have changed one damn thing…
Please! If you value your future, don't ever use that word. Never speak it out loud. In your precarious situation, it's even more essential that you remember
Being that I've never been dead before…
Actually, you have but this isn't the time or place to discuss these ethereal issues
…and I'm not a by-the-book person at the best of times, so you know I'm gonna make mistakes, especially being a newbie at this and everything
Please try holding your tongue when choosing your words - what a peculiar expression that is. Does it help to actually hold a tongue physically, to stop from saying certain things?
I mean, I didn't kill anyone. Well…nobody important. So I accidentally ran over a squirrel or two. Okay, it wasn't that accidental…but there are a lot more of them…
Not an ideal frame of reference
I did get out of the car and move it to the side of the road. That I didn’t leave it there to rot as road kill for passing crows. should count for something.
That and the others also came up for review by the way. There are some who need convincing that you can be redeemed
I’m begging, give me another chance to make up for all the things I didn't do and all the things I should have done, and all the bad stuff I did. Look – I can change! Let me prove it to all of you and you'll see that I'm worthy of rehabilitation
Your time here is over as you experienced it
But you said…
You assumed that life would be the same as before but that's not possible. A temporary soul-free zone has been negotiated on your behalf in the hope that you can improve yourself and your soul. You’ll be a free agent for six months from this day – no more, no less
Drops to her knees and kisses
I'm your humble servant! Your willing slave
No need for that. I hope you mean what you say because you're probably not going to like what I'm about to tell you
Will you look at that. They've all gone. Two faced sons of a…
There is one person who remained
It's just that Chloe Starshine, the air head. She doesn't count. Started working for us - I mean The Sentinal last week. Straight out'ta J-school she is. Believes everything anyone tells her
Do you think she's got potential as a reporter?
Not unless she toughens up. They step all over her and she doesn't even realize it
What if…somebody took her under her wing and showed her the ropes?
That person would have her work cut out for her, let me tell you! Hang on – you don't mean… Forgetaboutit! No way! Uh-uh!
If that's your final decision then I better get in touch with the group…
Do they allow blackmail where you come from?
I'm merely the messenger. I believe I made a joke
So you're not giving me a choice here, are you?
You still have free will. I'm just explaining how things work
It would take a lot of time and even then, I don't know if she's got what it takes to succeed in this biz
Then you'll have your work cut out for you. Just keep in mind how you felt when you first started at the paper. How scared you were…how much easier it would have been if somebody had been there to take you by the hand and lead the way
Cheesh – the kid is crying, for heaven's sake. 'Get a grip, girl!'
CHLOE moves to the front of the room. She touches the coffin,
caressing the sides and runs out exiting
See? There was a person who genuinely cared for you
Go figure and she only knew me for a month. So what comes next?
She's meeting your co-workers at a bar you frequent. "Down Time" I believe it's called…
…I wish I had a cent for all the bucks in tips I slipped across the counter at that place. I would have been a millionaire for sure. A scotch rocks would suit me fine right now…at least I think I’d like it…I'm not sure anymore
There's no more need for - how shall I put it - earthly indulgences
But say if I really felt like a drink…
You'll find your taste buds non-existent
I could indulge, right? And I won't get drunk or hung over?
Hangovers are a thing of the past as are earthly desires
Listen, do I get to choose a younger body, maybe? That would be a big boost to my ego
Don't push things
Are we leaving?
If you'll follow me…
How would I do that, now?
I keep forgetting that newcomers are earth-bound. Close your eyes …
JOSIAH snaps his fingers and they fade into nothingness
By: Faith Pray
Blog: SACRED DIRT
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Peanut shell sacrcopha-guys.
Yes, I know.
I like to think of research as
permission to plunge overboard,
to get lost in your story world
in order to find it.
Some people tape maps to the walls
and wear fuzzy Russian hats.
Others swear by magazine clippings.
Hungarian folk music.
Books on fly fishing.
We wear pipe cleaner headdresses. What's your research quirk?
Can you tell what we're into these days?
It helps that King Tut's treasure is only a ferry ride away.
We said our howdies to the Pharaohs
and hopped home, hot about Egypt.
I buried old pottery shards for a "Dig."
Kids + Dirt = Heaven!
When I was sixteen, my parents took us to Egypt.
Valley of the Kings, pyramids and the Sphinx
all did their dazzling best.
And then there was this old dump,
littered with broken scraps.
At the time, mum and dad seemed so very un-cool
sifting through that Egyptian dump,
selecting a few shards to bring home.
But who's my mummy now?
There has never been such excitement in our backyard.
My fake gold necklace
came in handy
as the crowning discovery.
Hieroglyphs + Clay = Name cartouches!
Our wee coffins
are nothing more than
peanut shells, paint,
and gold pens for a little extra pizazz.
That's it in a nutshell. So many great books to share with you!
The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle - Claudia Logan, Melissa Sweet
Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile - Tomie dePaola
The Egyptian Cinderella - Shirley Climo, Ruth Heller
The Secret Room - Uri Shulevitz
Zekmet, the Stone Carver - Mary Stoltz, Deborah Nourse Lattimore
How the Sphinx Got to the Museum - Jessie Hartland
The Three Princes - Eric A. Kimmel, Leonard Everett Fisher
One City, Two Brothers - Chris Smith, Aurelia Fronty
Exodus - Brian Wildsmith
I, Crocodile - Frank Marcellino
The Shipwrecked Sailor - Tamara Bower
The Jewel Fish of Karnak - Graeme Base
Blog: the dust of everyday life
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By: Peggy Collins,
Well, it just so happens I have illustrated a Dinosaur Book for Red Robin Books, Don't Invite Dinosaurs to Dinner
, written by Neil Griffiths. It came out in Jan 2012.
Blog: A. PLAYWRIGHT'S RAMBLINGS
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A few months ago - seems like longer - I vowed to finish my "Old Soldiers" play, with the intention of entering it (again) in the BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition. The play, based on a short story written a while back, has a magical effect on my psyche and although procrastination has set in, the "gang" is there, calling me.
"So when are you finally going to give us some type of resolution?" one of the characters asks me regularly, just before falling asleep at night."We've been in limbo for years now."
Don't I know it!
The dilemma is deciding upon a plethora of endings and possibilities, and which one would be best suitable for dramatic impact. The characters themselves are well defined and no tinkering is necessary in this area. Then there is the issue of writing for radio.
Radio requires sound effects to propel the story along and although my dialogue is strong (IMHO), not sure whether there is sufficient sound or action. When writing the dialogue, I hear the characters speak and envision their movements but the challenge is how to translate this into audible action.
In any case and for no other reason than to force myself to make a decision, I've decided to choose the ending, good or bad. Since the next deadline would be next April (2013), there is time to work out the details.
The angst of indecision!
Will provide regular updates as to my progress. Where have you read that before?
By: Paula Becker
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Cartoons & Comics
, Illustration Friday
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An illustration for Illustration Friday’s word prompt, “Stretch”. These guys are playing some sort snowman’s version of Badminton, me thinks.
I'm in angst - again.
In spite of a concerted effort to finish my "Old Soldiers" play in the hope of entering it in the BBC International Playwriting Radio Competition, I've encountered a new and unexpected problem. Content is fine.
"Now what, Eleanor?" Joe is asking me. "How much longer are you going to keep us waiting?"
I know, Joe! I know!
Today for whatever reason, I decided to check the rules in as far as the number of pages and characters allowed.
"All scripts submitted must be a minimum of 45 pages of A4 paper (or equivalent) and a maximum of 65 pages (note, a rough guide is a minute per page; please read and time your play before you send it). The play should have a maximum of six central characters (there may be up to 3 small "doubling" characters too, who don’t have more than a few lines each). Your script must be accompanied by a short synopsis which outlines the complete story of the play. This must be no more than 400 words."
The way that I view it, there could be and then again, maybe not, more than six main characters. It's all in one's definition of "main characters." Do main characters re-occur throughout the play? How does one define a "minor character?" There are give or take a character, nine characters in total. The play opens with the four old army buddies, who definitely are main characters. Then there are other lesser characters who come-and-go but contribute to the over-all plot of the play, that add up to more than the three doubling characters. Eliminating one or two in my mind, would ruin the flow of the play. Everyone has a part to play - excuse the pun.
I've reached the 45 page mark, which is in itself an accomplishment. Really in a quandry as to how to proceed. Maybe the best thing to do is to finish the play, submit it and put it in the hands of fate. Do I have a choice?
"So Eleanor - tells us how it's going with your BBC project."
Well - you know there's hesitancy when starting a sentence using the word 'well' - I'm making progress but have encountered a problem.
"Already? What's the dilemma?"
I've been editing the play from the beginning and making changes as I go along. It occurred to me after writing about a quarter of the way through that I should read the play through to the end. This was a revelation in that I realized I hadn't provided an ending to the play since, as I recall, I had inteded to turn it into a full 2-hour play. Best laid plans and all that. In any case, a definite roadblock.
The play itself has potential but has to be flushed out. This is the story of my playwriting life. The dialogue requires some cutting and blending and of course most importantly, an ending. So now I'm trying to figure out how and where to cut and stream-line. In other words - a re-think.
Frequently, when I'm stuck, I mentally go through a process where we i.e. characters and myself, have a conversation in the form of a question and answer period. This helps. We're already communicating to move the process along.
"So do you think you'll be ready to submit by the May deadline?"
Hopefully, I'm making a concerted effort since this was one of my first plays I ever wrote and it has definite potential. Famous last words...
SOME REVISIONS AND RE-THINKING REQUIRED
*UPDATE NUMBER 3
Last night and this morning I did some more editing on "Neighbors." Can't call it a play - yet - since it's still inthe revision stage. I've encountered a problem.
Having reached sixty pages, there is still no resolution. This makes me think as to whether there is a problem that can be resolved or whether there is a problem, period. It's obvious at this point that I'm going to have to do some major editing and change of direction. One of the characters may have to be eliminated since his contribution to the story line really isn't necessary. In other words - the story could survive without the character.
I've got a dramatic ending in mind but this can't be accomplished unless the story line is shortened somewhat, so it can play out. If I should go along with this, the female character would play a major role.
I'm also toying with the idea - strictly at the idea stage - of having something dramatic occur in the bar i.e. a hold-up...something. That means two possible endings. Perhaps one of the characters would save the life of the other, something totally out of character...
Lots of choices and directions to go and time is marching on. But am I?
Perhaps a solution to my dilemma is at hand and it's thanks to John Irving.
As a subscriber to playwriting discussion forums, it's interesting and informative to read other playwright's opinions on the craft. Subjects that focus on how they overcome barriers when working out plots and endings is of particular interest to me, at least at this point.
I've shared...make that bemoaned my 'ending' problem ad nauseum here in this blog, attempting to convert a what was written as a short play into an hour radio play in order to enter the BBC International Playwriting Competition. The beginning moves along nicely until reaching the middle stage, at which point one arrives at the realization that there is no ending. This is the point where I question whether to continue pursuing playwriting especially since none of my plays have been produced.
Reading through one of the forums, there was one of those "eureka!!" moments upon reading the opinion (and advice) of novelist and Academy Award winning screenwriter, John Irving, who shared his philosophy on starting a new writing project:
"I begin with endings, with last sentences -- usually more than one sentence, often a last paragraph (or two). I compose an ending and write toward it, as if the ending were a piece of music I could hear -- no matter how many years ahead of me it is waiting."
This got me excited thinking that perhaps this could be a solution to my"never-ending" dilemma or at least something worth trying. There are two possible plays that I'm toying with submitting to the competition. As aside my two-act plays wrote themselves as did my one and only film script. In my wedding play, it ended with a wedding in an unusual setting but I knew exactly the direction the play should go and how it should get there. Does this make sense? My "Gin..." play on the other hand, had a few changes along the way, while my children"s script wrote itself since it was based on a personal childhood experience.
Perhaps I should put aside what has been written and focus on producing sentences that could lead to moving in a new direction or even a new play. Look - if it's good enough for John Irving, it's certainly good enough for me.
Blog: Jrpoulter's Weblog
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I have found the opportunity to collaborate with illustrators something eminently rewarding, an experience that enriches both participants and results in a more vibrant and much richer work. My first picture book, “Mending Lucille” was also a result of a collaboration. Working with the amazing Sarah Davis was inspirational! I have gone on to collaborate closely with illustrators all over the world to create numbers of other picture books, some digitally published, some in process with print publishers and some I am still researching the right publishing outlet. Finding the ‘right’ outlet is very important. Not every publisher is ‘right’ for every book.
I have had the pleasure of collaborating with first time picture book illustrators, Jade Potts [USA], Jonas Sahlstrom [Sweden], Alexandra Krasuska [Sweden] and fellow Aussie, Jodi Magi [now of Abu-Dhabi] on uTales, and am about to have my latest collaboration, “Little Dragons’ Babysitter” released with Caroline Lee. Utales is non-exclusive which means creators can take advantage of other opportunities for their work as they arise. I have just signed a contract with Flying Books, Islreal, for “Rich Man, Poor Man” the book I did with Jodi Magi. My first digital collaboration is on www.istorytime, “At the Beach with Bucket and Spade” with Sarah Bash Gleeson [USA], whom I met on JacketFlap.com, a wonderful children’s literature networking site along with many other amazing and inspiring folk. Sarah is editor of magazine, “Dream Chaser” which focusses on children’s books and their creators.
Joanna Marple’s mini review of my latest digital book, “Xengu and the Turn of Tide”:
“A Tolkienesque tale, I love it!”
See a review of her first picture book in my last blog post with links to her interview with Darshana Shah Khiani on “Flowering Minds“.
0 Comments on Collaboration – an adventure to be savored! as of 1/1/1900
How often do you play? In your work, I mean? In your writing, if that's what you do?
Most writers start out, I think, by 'playing' at writing - however young or old we may be at the time. In those early days, writing is probably a hobby - perhaps an escape from real life in the form of a dull or demanding job and/or a challenging home life. At the beginning, we are often bursting with enthusiasm and ideas, and what we lack is the space, time and (perhaps) expertise to get them into shape.
If we persevere and have a hefty dose of luck, we may end up earning something for our efforts. In the past, if not so much so today, some writers could make a part-time or even a full-time career out of it. If they were very
lucky, they might even become rich, though of course most never did, however good they were.
The danger is that as our writing careers progress, it's so easy to lose that intial sense of fun and play. Writing becomes the thing we have
to do - either to please a publisher or even just ourselves. I'm all in favour of self-discipline - the 'sit down at your desk at 9am (if only!) so the muse knows where to find you' and the 'minimum word count per day' frame of mind. Mostly, these things work for me. But it's when I lose that sense of play that trouble looms.
I've experienced this before, way back in another life, when I studied for a PhD and then became a researcher and, eventually, a university lecturer. As a student, my research was mostly fun. OK, I was lucky - I know that PhDs can sometimes be a terrible slog. But I happened upon a topic that fascinated me, had a good supervisor and made encouraging progress from the start. My main problem was combining this with caring for two young children. Not easy, but still, on the whole, satisfying and fun.
The fun continued when I gained an EPSRC research fellowhip for three years to do postdoctoral research. In fact that was eaiser, as it was actually a 2-year fellowship spread out over three years, which suited me fine.
The trouble started after that. My marriage broke up, which didn't help. I spent a year looking for a job in the city where my ex worked so my children could see us both. After months of struggling to get by, doing tutoring and gardening and PhD supervision, often all at the same time (well, in the same morning, anyway), I managed to get a lectureship at a unviersity. Perfect - except that I was now so busy, with several hours' commuting each day, a high teaching load, masses of admin, supervising students, giving pastoral advice, etc etc etc - my research slid into the back seat. It was no longer fun - and all my creativity dried up. It became something I had to do - in order to keep my job - and something I had to do well. In the odd hour or so between other commitments, I had to come up with earth-shaking new projects and theories. Hmmm....
The human brain just doesn't work that way. Or mine doesn't. A move south (the children older now) and a new job helped a bit at first, but the pattern was soon reestablished and the commute even longer. What's more, I now had an invalid mother-in-law waiting for me with all her demands when I got home - and two teenage step-children. Then my mother died and my father (110 miles away) became very ill. Something had to give and it was my health. I had a breakdown and was very lucky to be offered early retirement on a small pension, which put me in a position (just) of being able to fulfil my lifelong dream and spend my time writing.
That was wonderful - and still is. But just recently, six years on, writing has begun to feel l