There is never enough time.

I just sat down at my second-favourite Second Cup (my favourite closed), on this Thursday evening, to at long last do the rewrites to a script which I can’t yet talk about. I brought my Macbook with me to work, because I knew if I went home first, I wouldn’t leave: dishes, laundry, washing of bathtub, cat, even cooking my own food would keep me from writing. So I opened my bag…and discovered I was so busy this morning getting ready for work, I forgot the script with the handwritten rewrites I need to make on screen.

This is symptomatic.

I will shortly have a guest post here. It took me nearly a month to finish it. I typed part of this post into Notepad on my iPhone, on the bus, on my way to complete a full day of errands, back on SUNDAY. My every weekend is taken up with visiting my family — I want to, but I also NEED to — and chores, because no matter how often you do them, there are always more. Saturday nights and often Sunday afternoons I must see shows. Again, I want to, but it’s also part of my…”job”. Which doesn’t pay me. (More tomorrow. If I get the time.) I have a day job, and making myself food and going to the bank and paying bills and all the itty bitty things I think won’t take up much of an evening DO, and I’m left with barely enough energy to brush my teeth before I need to go to bed to make sure I’m human for my paying job. And then it’s the weekend again. And I find I have not written anything of my own in three weeks.

There is never enough TIME.

This Guardian article has been making the rounds. It’s wonderful and true. However, it’s not the writing that’s killing me. Believe it or not, even if what I’m working on is utterly sad, I’m happy. Truly. No…what kills me is the research for theatres looking for what I write- which will all reject what I write. It’s nights like last Saturday, which I’m only writing about NOW, when I was so burnt out that I went to meet a friend to see a show…and discovered we were seeing it next week, and I nearly fell asleep on the train ride home. I genuinely don’t know where the obviously brilliant and committed Mr Rhodes finds 360 minutes in a day to do what he needs to. My every minute is spoken for and I don’t even have a family — more later, should I ever find the time. And the time I do purposely book off, like now, is wasted because I’m so strung out for time I forget the bloody thing I needed this time to work on. This Onion article is meant to be a funny read. I cried.

I’ve realized I don’t have time to work, write, take Spanish and spend time with my family and friends. But nor can I give anything up. Because that would kill me too. I NEED to do all these things…and there is not enough time.

Not good enough…YET.

FIRST. Everyone in Edmonton: go see Let the Light of Day Through at Theatre Network. The best play to have been done here in ages. I mean it. GO!

Now.

I got another rejection letter. Yeah. It was a theatre in New York City, which wasn’t adverse to seeing scripts which had been produced before (many are), so I sent them Take a Bite. This week, I got the polite no-thank-you letter.

And I admit to feeling side-swiped. Even though we tried previously to get a tour going of the show from 2011, even though I’ve tried submitting proposals to other theatres to re-mount it, and not succeeded. I don’t quite know why I’m so surprised, so disappointed.

One of the hazards for a writer in the beginning is self-doubt. “Maybe I’m just not that good. Maybe I really don’t have anything interesting to say…”

That’s where I was, until I went to Scotland, and I re-wrote, from memory, a play I had put in my proverbial bottom drawer, and thought I had burned onto a disc, but hadn’t. A play that I thought, on finishing it, was pretty amazing. It had a workshop in Edinburgh, and everyone loved it…but no one would look at doing it. Once again, like had happened to so many of my plays before, I could feel my own enthusiasm for it draining away. I thought “NOT this one!”, and produced Take a Bite myself at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August, 2007. In a sea of 1,500 shows, when you get good word of mouth, and reviews from The Stage like this, and you start selling out in your final week, and you KNOW three jury members for a major award have come to your show…you might start to think your show is good. (I still beat myself up about that last one…we didn’t win, in the end, and part of me wishes I hadn’t found out about the jury coming…and part of me is glad because I know that play is that good…!)

When I came back to Canada, Take a Bite wouldn’t leave me alone. So after sending it out hither and yon, and getting nowhere, I produced it again in its Calgary and Edmonton Fringe incarnation, in 2011. Read the reviews. The audience were blown away. And it was nominated by the critics in Calgary for best new play–not Fringe play– with Lunchbox Theatre<, One Yellow Rabbit (!), and Karen Hines, whose play was done at ATP.

So now my problem is that I KNOW I can write. I know this play is good. So why do I continue to get rejected.

Seeing Let the Light of Day Through made me think “I wish I’d written that.” It’s the kind of play which anyone would read, and say “I can’t live without seeing this.” It’s very easy to see why a director would read that script and move the earth to do it. Any theatregoer who read it would clamour to see it onstage. It is so much better than good. It may sound weird to anyone who knows Take a Bite that I would compare it with this play; I’m not exactly comparing. It’s just reminded me that I haven’t written anything that good yet. The only way I ever might, is to keep writing.

Thermometer.

It is snowing in Edmonton, Alberta, today. 29 April, 2013. Temperature high of zero degrees Celcius. Which made me think of Bill Bryson.

If you’ve yet to read anything of Bill Bryson‘s, DO. He’s awesome.

The most recent book of his I’ve read is called A Short History of Nearly Everything. Among other fascinating things, he talks about the Tambora eruption in 1815. News travelled much more slowly then, but the entire world felt the effects eventually — it changed the weather. The average temperature the following summer — the growing season in the northern hemisphere — dropped by two degrees, which meant nothing would grow.

I genuinely don’t believe I’m being hysterical when I ponder if that’s why spring is taking so long to arrive. How many volcanic eruptions have there been the last few years? We can’t even agree on a plan to control the pollution we put into the atmosphere ourselves: what on earth will we do when an eruption like Krakatoa happens? How long would the growing season be delayed, and how many people would it effect?

Just thinking out loud…

Defiance.

Following on from yesterday. What to do about firearms? Bombs? Weapons of mass destruction? Protesting against them isn’t stopping them from being used.

What to DO.

What I have is done is what I mentioned here: registered for the next MS Walk here in Edmonton on May 26, 2013. What on earth does that have to do with countering explosives? Nothing. It’s about the exact opposite.

My aunt has had MS for years, and it’s robbed her of so much I can’t contemplate it, even though I’ve watched it happen to her. I’m starting off very slow. I’m not a runner — I’m a 38-year-old with a tricky ankle and I nearly coughed up a lung the one season I played Gaelic football. So I’m doing the 2km walk, and have set the recommended goal of $125. I’m sure there’ll be no objections if I happen to raise more. My hope is, now that spring has (hopefully!) arrived, I can get out more, get more fit, and do more at the next event.

The point is to support LIFE. Instead of trying to take on guns or bombs head on, in my teeny tiny way, I’m defying them. That’s not to say petitions to stop explosives are pointless. However, at the same time, wouldn’t it be cool if every person did something — volunteering at a hospital or school, donating blood, or helping with a fundraiser — and every time a lobbyist argued for more spending on weapons, you could look them in the face and say: “I’m raising money for cancer research because tax money’s being spent instead to shoot people.” Then just walk away and keep doing your work to fight cancer. With a smile.

Every time something horrible happens, yes, be sad, and say out loud that it needn’t have happened. And then knuckle down and keep helping someone else to LIVE.

Instead of being angry and frustrated, I’ve going to say instead to anyone who just wants to hurt people: ” I DEFY YOU. “

How DO you change the world?

It’s been a crappy couple of weeks in the world, what with this and this. But then it’s been a crappy few…years, in Syria and Bangladesh.

This photo made the rounds on Twitter shortly after the bombing in Boston.

Everyone agreed it was a beautiful thing to do.

Like everyone on earth, I was glued to the news for the entire week ending April 20. For almost two days, a major American city was in shutdown, while everyone there waited anxiously for it to be over, and then everyone was relieved and happy when it was over. Everyone knew it was going to end.

And I can’t be the only person who thought; for those guys in that photo from Syria, what happened in Boston for those two days happens every day. But it has no end.

Then this week, again, a horrible building collapse in Bangladesh. Hundreds of people killed because their bosses told them to keep working in an unsafe building to cheaply make clothes for…me. And it’s happened before. And it is happening every day in sweatshops — that’s what they are — in China, and Mexico, for example. There are too many more.

I had the notion to start an online petition, telling governments to stop selling weapons to other countries, since that’s partly what’s fuelling the war in Syria — and I found dozens of petitions asking for that already in progress, as well as others against landmines and the sale of assault weapons in the US. There are protests too, at every G8 summit, against the way our economy currently works — partly against sweatshops. But they continue to operate.

What to do? I’m trying to think.

I need to do spring cleaning–picking out the clothes I don’t / can’t wear anymore, washing and donating them, and bringing the things I wouldn’t foist on anyone for recycling. And then…there are some lovely-looking consignment shops on 124th Street I could check out. Re-using rather than buying cheaply-made clothes. If everyone did that, would it help?

And as for weapons…ugh. I’ve written before on what I think about firearms. I don’t know that there’s anything I can directly do about that. But I have an idea…which I’ve just tweeted about, if you’d care to have a look on the right.

Take a Bite for yourself!

I have just had my Critter-nominated play Take a Bite listed on Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Ready to Stage site. $10 and it’s immediately yours. Have a look!

Liana Shannon as Vera, Isaac Andrew as Dion.  Photo by Heather Morrow
Liana Shannon as Vera, Isaac Andrew as Dion. TAKE A BITE, 2011. Directed by Amy DeFelice. Photo by Heather Morrow

Quietly excited. QUIET.

Because I haven’t posted about theatre or writing for some time, and I want to. But just now, CAN’T.

This is me desperately trying to keep a lid on my own excitement.

NOT gabbing endlessly about a project I really want to happen, which appears to have several pieces in place, but not all of them, and there’s still a long way to go.

I have a script. I have a director. I have other very cool people interested in this thing, who would be very important to this thing actually happening.

And I must not blab because nothing is FOR SURE for sure yet, and of course when I say anything out loud, the bubble will burst.

This is me telling the world I AM NOT EXCITED AT ALL.

How I broke my hand and fell in love with Edinburgh

I’m taking a page from fellow blogger Andrea Beca’s virtual book—-I will be posting now and again about my adventurous four years in Scotland.

I lived in Edinburgh from November 2004 to February 2008. I was about to turn 30, and absolutely hated where my life was at, so I applied to film school, and for a UK Ancestry Visa. The visa is the one I got. I quit my job, gave away or sold all my stuff, and flew one-way to London in June of 2004. It amazes me now to remember I was THAT crazy.

Not completely crazy—I had the first two months there fully planned out before I left. I spent a week in London, took the train to Edinburgh, and after a week there I meant to visit some distant cousins (whom I’d never met!) in Belfast. On my third day in Edinburgh, I trudged up Arthur’s Seat, got caught in a rainstorm, and on trying to carefully pick my way down an extinct volcano of sheer granite, I slipped and did…something to my left hand. Understand that I had never broken a bone before in my life, and had no clue what it felt like. So when in just a few minutes I lost feeling in my hand and it swelled and, I thought: “You’re in a foreign country. BE a hypochondriac and find a hospital.” So I tracked down the double-decker bus and made my first of several visits to the Royal Edinburgh Infirmary, where they confirmed I had broken TWO metacarpals, the thin bones below my pinky and ring fingers. My visit to Belfast was pushed back, and I had a cast on my hand well into my Fringe job that August.

When I was told at the hospital that I wouldn’t be able to get on a plane to Northern Ireland until they had done a second X-ray, my reaction was kind of odd. (And yes, I was actually thinking about my own reaction at that moment, because it was so odd.) I was told I couldn’t leave Edinburgh, and I immediately thought: “Okay.” I had come to the UK with an Ancestry visa which would allow me to work there, but I by no means had a job lined up, or any plans at all, for after summer. But I had been in Edinburgh at that point for 10 days, and had already decided I never wanted to leave. My hand’s broken, my plans and job at a Fringe venue might have been screwed up, but I was “stuck” in Edinburgh, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Am I a Penelope?

Last night I saw The Penelopiad at the Citadel. I’m not sure about the play, but I loved the idea; what was it like for Penelope those 20 years Odysseus was away? And why DID he kill her servants? What was the point?

After what happened the last few days, writing anything pertaining to ME seems trite. This, however, could be about half the human population of the planet. And, like most of my ideas, it’s been gestating in my head for ages and seeing Penelope deal with her life the only way she could have has caused this idea to burst out. It will, to some, sound catty, or old, or like I’m man-bashing. Not at all; I know lots of wonderful guys…all of whom are married or gay.

I am 38. I was hoping, nay expecting, to be married and have two if not three kids, a house, a minivan, a dog, and a cat WELL before now. I did a solo show earlier this year speculating in part on why it might be that I am still single, when I am apparently still nice-looking, smart, fun, and interesting.

I’ve quit beating myself about it, though. For years I listened to the voices saying I wasn’t pretty, thin, or fun compared to other women around me. Being made to feel that you’re constantly competing with the women around you is wearing. One Christmas my sister – my SISTER, who loves me – gave me a copy of the book He’s Just Not That Into You. A book whose message is essentially “Hold out for the guy you deserve. He WILL show up.”

More than once, I have held out. I have been put on a string of women by a guy, so he could pick and choose when he felt like it. And I put up with it because – despite his behaviour being obviously disgusting—I liked him. And…I wasn’t getting any other offers. I’ve also held out for truly amazing guys who kept saying they wanted someone like me—and then waited patiently for them to go through every Helen-of-Troy-like dough-head who wasn’t me, sure that eventually, one of these guys would clue in and pick me. None ever did.

So I vacillated between two thoughts last night while watching Penelope: 1) “Did that. Did that. Learned that a long time ago,” and 2) Being really angry at her for putting the disposable slaves she did care about in harm’s way, so they’d get used instead of her.

Recently I ran across two bits of information which have finally convinced me it’s NOT my fault I am still single—I KNEW this, but to see someone else state it was like being doused with ice water. First, there’s this, from The New York Observer. (WARNING: Don’t read at work!) In summary: there are many handsome, successful men who would rather hire escorts than establish relationships with women. Then there was this, from The Atlantic, which explains that one reason so many obviously desirable women are still single, is that too many men have been rendered “unmarriageable” – there are LOTS of bright, beautiful women who can support themselves, but the number of such men has dropped like a rock. And yet we desirable single women put up with these deadbeats, or guys from article one, who can’t do the smallest thing for themselves. We want families…and if this is all we have to choose from as mates, we accept it.

Now. The thing that really hit me about the article #2 was the assertion that a number of men from, say, article #1, upon deciding they DO want a relationship, start champing at the bit for one. BUT, they don’t decide this until they’re at the age when WE WOMEN, who WANTED kids, can no longer. It seems that for too many of us, too many guys decide they want us when it’s too late for us to get all we want.

I’ve given up actively looking. I refuse to compete with any other woman anymore. I’ve decided that if I’ve been made to wait this long, any guy who wants me had better make it worth my while. I am nobody’s Penelope.

Because I don’t know what to say.

Because somewhere in the world, every day, a bomb goes off somewhere – a landmine long forgotten, a shell fired at someone miles away so the firer doesn’t have to see who he’s killed, a homemade bomb in the London Underground, an explosion at one of the most famous public events in the world.

And whoever that bomb kills, if I say I’m sorry it’s meaningless. If I get angry it’s pointless. If I get sad it’s selfish…I don’t know who you’ve lost, I can’t know how you feel.

I’m writing this because if I don’t say something, somehow, I’ll scream, or throw up, or punch a wall. And none of that will help either.

I’m writing because there is nothing I can say. I wish I could hug you instead.

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