Off to NYC on Thursday and not a minute too soon. After all these years I’ve learned not to publicly blab about work stress and the reasons for it, but suffice to say a vacation is overdue.
If I ever win the lottery, I finally have a plan: to become a Broadway (or at least off-Broadway) producer. Every time I go, I pick my shows in advance, often before they open, and so far not only have I not picked a turkey (not since years ago when I walked out at intermission on Nathan Lane in “Forum”), but the shows I pick go on to become raging critical and sometimes even commercial successes. This time around I have tickets to “4000 Miles,” “The Lyons,” “Harvey,” “Peter and the Starcatcher,” “Tribes,” and “Silence! The Musical,” which looked like it would be closed before I got there but lucky me, it’s extended! Put the fucking lotion in the basket! “Tribes” and “Peter” both opened after I bought my tickets, to rave reviews; admittedly “The Lyons” and “4000 Miles” had already had well-reviewed off-Broadway or out-of-town performances.
Some art shows I want to see as well, including “The Steins Collect” and the Cindy Sherman and Weegee shows, but this time around I’m taking it easy – not going to try and pack every minute full. I need the rest.
Another thing that’s different this time around is that instead of going to NYC to try and get motivated to start something artistic, I have nearly all of the first part of a novel in the bag. I’ve fallen down on getting the last few pages of the conclusion done b/c of work stress as well as the dismaying realization that the agent’s assistant I contacted last year is gone daddy gone – for some reason in the middle of the winter, in an episode I can’t recall, I deleted all my correspondence with him and the mail I sent two weeks ago received no answer. But no matter: the important thing is I am writing again, and however easily dismayed and defeated I get, I haven’t been off writing for more than a week or two at a time. This time, NYC isn’t needed to try and kickstart a dead creative engine, only to recharge a good albeit depleted battery.
Looking back I know what I need to fix in part 1 – one, there needs to be more Alex, and he needs to be more of an emotional confessor for Caroline. The pain of separation needs to be convincing. Her dad is in my opinion a great character (the dad I wish I’d had) but their relationship is mostly cerebral. And two, I need to paint a convincing picture of why she’s isolated. I know that a lot of the kids in Davidson Academy, the real-life smart kids’ school here in town, were isolated before they got there, bullied and mocked for being brainiacs, but most of them have found real and lasting friendships in their new school. So why hasn’t Caroline? I need just one scene at school or with schoolmates that makes it convincing – not just social anxiety disorder but a real, deep sense of aloneness that keeps her from connecting with people. I need to tap into my own pessimism and distrust of people and their motives to show how someone so bright could be so alone.
All the same, I’m happy with part 1 otherwise. My plan in NYC is to take a Circle Line cruise around the island, which I did once before years ago because I was too hungover to do anything else, and just sit there and think for three hours. I need a plan for part two, and I don’t have it yet. And I’m okay with that; part one needed to become what it was before I could build an outline for part two. The outline thing really is the greatest; there were mornings I didn’t know what I would write, then I looked at the outline I’d worked up on previous days and said, oh okay, I can do that.
So back on the horse after vacation, with something in the tank to help me take on the problems with the book so far, mostly the emotion-confronting shit I really hate in work as well as life.