On Writing

Surface Tension

“When we fill the glass with water, we notice right away that it can go over the brim of the glass without spilling. This is because of surface tension. Surface tension holds the water together and acts against what would normally cause the water to fall – gravity – because each molecule of water is attracted to the other water molecules around it. This attraction causes the molecules to stick together and avoid spilling down the side of the glass like gravity would like them to.

Unfortunately, the attraction between the water molecules is only so strong. As we add coins, the amount of water spilling over the edges is getting larger and larger until the water just can’t take it anymore! Gravity is pulling on too many of the molecules for their attraction to keep them up, and the water spills down the side of the glass.” – American Physical Society ©2020

Been thinking quite a bit about “surface tension.” I had my molecules spill down the side of my glass last week. I had driven the long way to the grocery store. I was looking for a spot at the far end of the parking lot, when “Life Line” by Harry Nilsson began to play. It was all I could do to park my car. Tears streamed down my face as I listened to the plea to “please send down a life line.” The gravity of life had become too much. The surface tension was no longer strong enough to hold us together.

I was overwhelmed with information – real and imaginary. I was disappointed in people in positions of power and authority who refused to act on behalf of the sick, the poor, the disabled, the elderly, the children and the list goes on. I was weary of trying to sort out the facts. I was saddened by the loss of life which I believe was facilitated and hastened by incompetence, greed and political ambitions.

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Ornamental Cabbage

The onion died. I may have over watered it. Over watering is a common occurrence in Houston. I purchased four little ornamental cabbages and a lavender about a month ago. As of this morning, the plants are thriving on the back porch. While the cabbages need a moist soil and the lavender prefers drier conditions, they are peacefully existing on the same porch, enjoying the sunrise and ending their day by the light of the moon. You ought not eat an ornamental cabbage. While eating it won’t kill you (or so I’ve been told), I hear the leaves are bitter. There isn’t enough salt pork in Texas to make that right.

Just because you give something a name, doesn’t mean that’s what it is. There’s a lot of name calling going on these days. You can read the vilification of men and woman on all social media platforms and hear it spewed from radio and tv stations, read it on websites and so-called experts’ Facebook and Twitter pages. And if you look a bit further, you’ll be informed by no one in particular who is to blame for your troubles.

I suspect many people do NOT comprehend what they read. I suspect many people do NOT understand what they hear. I know many people refuse to question the reliability or accuracy of information, whether in a headline or a stay-tuned breaking news teaser.

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Once Upon a Time . . .

Wait for it. . . . long, long ago . . . . in a place far, far away. And the story begins. I’ve been occupied with re-writes and re-writes of synopses and re-writes of character breakdowns. There were script submission deadlines for contests and then for good measure I sent various “submission packages” to a few theatres. I am a “long-winded” storyteller. There is no short version. There is no “cut to the chase” or “land the plane.” I may, in fact, have developed an even slower pace of sharing my Southern tales as my hair has grayed. Some things in life cannot be rushed. Like a good roux. You can’t hurry it along. Ask anyone from Louisiana.

And that’s were the thorn lives. Compressing a heart pounding, breath holding scene into an intriguing phrase or at best one sentence takes concentration and persistence. It is creating the sizzle. It is what a writer does. Isn’t it? My hope is that the reader of this one page synopsis will want to read more. That “more” means the full script. And with script in hand, the artistic director will not stop reading until she reads “End of Play.”

Then, the story begins.

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Odds and Ends

“Sunday . . . . it’s hard to believe it can be so quiet after a noisy Saturday night . . . . Where did the night go? Already it’s Sunday.” ~~  Rod McKuen and Anita Kerr, 1967  The San Sebastian Strings “The Earth”

 

It was a noisy year. It’s quiet now. Now, I wait. I’ve not been “on fire” about writing these days. The “not on fire” troubles me sometimes. Been thrashing with a new project and adventure. New is the key word. I’m gonna keep at it. I invite you to wait with me.

 

Here are a few musings to close out the year.
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When October Goes

Rosemary Clooney recorded “When October Goes” in her 1987 tribute “album” to Johnny Mercer. I discovered the song in the fall of 1991 while trying to hold tight to my sanity and navigate unfamiliar events. I like fall. Although fall in Houston is a bit different than the fall seasons of the Northeast or Midwest. The high for today is 85 degrees, a bit warm by my definition of “fall.” There is a sense of melancholy to fall. Fall is an in-between season. The summer fruits are long gone from the grocery store bins. I’m a little suspicious of strawberries and peaches innocently offered

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Asleep at the Wheel

I missed the “CONGRATULATIONS” part of the letter. I focused on the “thank you so much for your submission.” Well, at least, the theatre company wrote back I thought. Then I read “we are happy to tell you.” Okay. Start over. Slow down. My 10-minute play, Jornada del Muerto, will be produced at the Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre Ten-Minute Festival in January 2019. My sweet sister, Kate, told me I was getting closer to Hollywood. I like her thinking. I will be submitting another “short” play this month to a regional competition. The winners will most likely be notified in December. Waiting is what playwrights do. While we wait, it is recommended that we write. So I am. I’ve started a new play. I have ten typed pages. I have a long way to go to reach “full length” category. The play takes place in Austin or, maybe, Marfa. Five older women constitute the cast. I’m still developing the characters and then there’s the whole plot and arc thing. The research is a little more involved than I initially thought. But, I do like to be as accurate as possible.

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