Theater Masks

Theater Masks

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How I know school has really started

We're a week and a half into the school year, and already I see the changes. I don't have the energy to crack a book like I did during the summer (I've read maybe 30 pages since then - I would have finished two books in that time a month ago). My writing has slowed to a page or two a day. I know it will pick back up again. It always does. It's just this month, while my sleep schedule readjusts and my mind readjusts I can't get myself to focus as well as I could.

The sad thing is, I realized this summer just how out and out dedicated I can be to writing given the time to do it.

The good news is my kids this year are pretty great. I'm enjoying this crew so far. My favorite moment: a kid last year gave me this flip chart thing for my desk where each page has a different emotion like crazed, wonky, hunky dory, emo etc. The kids LOVE it - they love flipping through it and picking out what I'll be for the day or the period. One seventh grader who I've already picked out as a favorite (teachers don't have favorites, no, of COURSE not!) came up to me during study hall and said "Mr. Flum, can I play with your emotions?" She knew exactly what she was saying as she said it too. How could I NOT appreciate that?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My WIP, Man of La Mancha, and 9/11

I know, broad categories there, but it's stuff I've been thinking about, and let's face it, if I titled each post like that every post would have the same title.

I'm stretching toward the 20,000 word mark, which, to me, means I'm in for the long haul on this one. I've had plenty of attempts at books that faltered along the way, but none that I've gotten this far with. I don't see the end in sight yet, and that's a good sign as well.

What I have noticed that I commented on to Caitie earlier is that this book seems to be writing itself rather than me consciously making decisions for the characters. As it's a mystery, I do know the ultimate "solution" but getting to it is anyone's guess. For example, I have a character who is being accused of something. There were four witnesses who said he did this thing -- but the main character knows there were five other people there. I have no idea why I chose four when I wrote it, but it's led to an interesting twist I couldn't have foreseen otherwise.

And that's why I don't outline!

Man of LaMancha
We went to see this last night in Bucks County with a couple of our friends. I know that a particular theater critic with whom I penpal HATES the show. I've seen it before (Caitie's first time), so in addition to enjoying the score which I LOVE, I was trying to figure out what it is that my critic friend hates so much. As for the score, there's little there to dislike. I feel the songs are very strong, attractive melodies that serve their purpose in the show well. The songs are memorable and character driven. There are some shady lyrical spots ("I am I, Don Quixote..." The extra "I" always bugged me) but most of it is pretty solid writing.
Take for example, my favorite song in the show. It's short, so I've put the lyrics below. Look at how simple and pretty the imagery is here:

"To each his Dulcinea
That he alone can name...
To each a secret hiding place
Where he can find the haunting face
To light his secret flame.
For with his Dulcinea
Beside him so to stand,
A man can do quite anything,
Outfly the bird upon the wing,
Hold moonlight in his hand.
Yet if you build your life on dreams
It's prudent to recall,
A man with moonlight in his hand
Has nothing there at all.
There is no Dulcinea,
She's made of flame and air,
And yet how lovely life would seem
If ev'ry man could weave a dream
To keep him from despair.
To each his Dulcinea...
Though she's naught but flame and air!"
-- Joe Darion, Mitch Leigh

It's a lovely idea and a beautifully worded sentiment. I think it speaks to the whole message of the show of individuality and the strength of imagination, certainly an image writers should be able to relate to.

There are troubles with the book, though, and I wonder if that's where Peter's problems with the show are. It's uneven in its handling of the frame story (which I like, but seems to interfere at strange places rather than consistently), songs go to random characters which is odd, and some of the intros to songs are "And here's the next song" type. The villain, as Caitie pointed out, is weak, though I don't think that matters quite as much as the story isn't his. There's also the problem that at the end we see Aldonza yelling at Don Quixote about how he's driving her crazy -- and the very next scene she's begging him to remember the quest. There's no transition for her, and that's a problem.

Still, I feel the songs carry the show through whatever problems there may be. It's one of the few cast albums I have that I can listen to the entire score without wanting to skip a track here and there.

Have you ever seen Man of La Mancha? If so, what are your thoughts?

Yesterday was 9/11, and the thing that struck me the most about yesterday was almost how casually so many people are treating the day. It's become a forum for debate on whether or not to have a holiday (my vote is no), how we should remember it, and to what point things should be planned on the day. I live in NJ and my stepfather was across the street from the towers when they came down. We didn't know where he was for a good six or seven hours that day, and it was absolutely terrifying. Like everyone else, I'll never forget that day that stands out in such vivid detail.

I think that the day should of course always be remembered. I think a national day of remembrance is suitable. It doesn't FEEL like it should be a holiday any more than Pearl Harbor Day should be. We should continue on with our livelihoods on those days -- it's only appropriate that we do. I saw signs around my neighborhood for yard sales yesterday - and why not? It's one of the last Saturdays that it will be warm enough to do that. Yes, seeing the date will forever set a flag off in my mind (as I'm sure it will everyone else's as well), but that's no reason to stop doing what we always do.

I do draw a line at making a profit off the day. Check this out:

I don't think any comment need be made other than that it's no wonder we have so much problem with kids today showing respect.

Anyway, I've rambled on enough for now. Caitie is turning on MarioKart, so time to go procrastinate some more :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's been a year

September 7th marks one year since I started this blog. I've had 75 posts in that time. Not too bad. It would, admittedly, be nice to have some more followers, but I appreciate each and every one of you who do read the sometimes random things I have to say. I suppose I can make it a goal to try to double my followers in the next year.

I suppose in the last year the most incredible thing for me is that I actually FINISHED two more books, and have a very strong start on a fourth one. Three years ago, I never would have thought I'd even be able to complete one book, let alone three!

Caitie and I are going to be starting a Disney column for -- look for that in the coming weeks!

I'm still waiting on a couple of possible agents. Every time I get an email or the phone rings, I get a little bit hopeful...

School starts with the kids Tuesday - have to admit, kind of looking forward to seeing them again and meeting the new seventh graders.

Here's to hoping this time next year Caitie has landed a job as an agent's assistant (or whatever else she wants in the publishing industry), I've landed an agent and am on the path to getting published, and we're all happier than we've ever been before!