Archive for March, 2012

A Brief Hiatus

March 28, 2012

Judy and I live in a very old house. We’re not sure of its age. All we know is that it came into existence at some point before 1885. Originally built as a flophouse for dockworkers and fisherman, over the years various owners have added and subtracted to the building, usually in a haphazard fashion and without permits. One of the previous owners called the method “bootleg architecture.” People used whatever materials were at hand. Several times over the eleven years we’ve lived here, we’ve had to let construction and repair crews interrupt our lives. (When we moved in the house had no real foundation, the roof leaked, termites had gutted one wall, and so on.) Tomorrow morning they’re coming to rip out the inside walls of the living room. After they’re replaced, we have to paint. Practically speaking, this is probably going to make it difficult for me to get online. (Not such a bad thing, to my mind.) Unless I find a handy solution, there won’t be any posts here for a while—maybe two weeks. In the meantime, I’ll be working on the book.

My best wishes to you all.

Mark

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Progress Report #75

March 24, 2012

For reasons that I’ve explained in other posts, I took a year off from the manuscript to create a detailed outline. When I work on an outline, my objective is to lay out in sequence all the various strands that I think will go in the book. Story blocks. I’m back working on the narrative now and having to reconnect with a different method of doing things. The writing sounds horribly wooden if I simply stick to the order I’ve made of the individual strands. Life doesn’t happen that way, of course. Everything happens all at once. So the task has become one of weaving the various strands together. It takes thought and work, which is largely just feeling my through, going over it until it sounds right. I’d forgotten about this, and I was feeling dissatisfied until I realized that I had to relearn how to knit. I’m back in the swing now, Daddy-o.

A Different Kind of Progress Report

March 16, 2012

Last night my wife Judy Irving screened a 34 minute rough cut of her work-in-progress, Pelican Dreams, for the local chapter of the Audubon Society. She also showed 15 minutes of assemblies (rough sequences) that she threw together in the four days just prior to the screening. So many people showed up that they had to put out more chairs. The film is not being made for “birders,” per se. And it’s not a scientific-type documentary. Pelican Dreams attempts to capture the wonder of these birds. It’s really being made for any human being who loves the natural world. The audience understood that and responded warmly. There was a good feeling in the room.

Judy expects to be finished in around two years—around the same time that I foresee my book being finished. After completion there will be distribution issues—we hope! So yes; both projects still have a long road ahead of them. But eventually the wait will be over and they’ll be ready to go.

Progress Report #74

March 13, 2012

A year ago, at 822 pages into an expansive second draft (I’ve been saying 900 pages, but I was wrong), I saw that it would be smart to stop and create a detailed outline. The reasons are too complicated to go into here, but it’s been clear to me all along that it was the right thing to do. Today I finally finished the outline, which means, beginning tomorrow, I can return to my work on the second draft. My aim is to finish it by mid-July, if not sooner. Then I’ll take a couple of weeks off and begin work on the final draft. It feels good.

This Modern World

March 13, 2012

The phone rings, so I pick it up. “Hello,” I say. Nothing. Silence. “Hello,” I repeat. Still nothing. And so one more time, “Helloooo.” There is a pause of two or three seconds, and then I hear a recorded female voice say “Goodbye” and get a dial tone.

My Escort out of Town

March 10, 2012

I had a vivid experience last Monday that has yet to leave my mind. Last weekend a sudden opportunity came up for Judy to do a film shoot for Pelican Dreams, her new documentary. She had to go to Ventura in Southern California, and I offered to  share the driving. I dropped her off at the dock (she was to spend two days on a boat) and then I drove to Sierra Madre, which is the town just east of Pasadena. A friend had kindly offered to let me use her cabin for the two days I was to spend waiting for Judy to return to shore.

Sierra Madre is right up against the San Gabriel Mountains, and in the San Gabriel Valley there is an enormous parrot flock. There are thousands of them, mostly red-fronted Amazons. It has to be the largest wild parrot flock in the United States. I was told that I would probably see some of them in Sierra Madre, and I did, very early the first morning. Typically, I heard them first, then saw them in the distance in silhouette. Fifteen minutes later I saw three or four about a block away. They were in the sun, which lit up their beautiful green backs and wings as they flew from tree to tree. Throughout my two-day stay in Sierra Madre I would occasionally hear them, but I didn’t seek them out. As much as I love wild parrots, my main concern right now is my new book. I was focused on my work.

Monday morning, I got in the car and headed back to Ventura to pick up Judy. I was driving down 210 in the right lane when I looked to my right and saw at car-top level a red-fronted amazon flying in tandem with me. I watched him for a few seconds, and just before I reached the Pasadena city limits sign, he flew up and over the freeway and disappeared.

The New iPad 3

March 7, 2012

I was in a wonderful old sandwich shop today. It’s probably been around for more than a 100 years, and although I seldom buy anything there—it’s a bit out of my way—I always like going in. The wood is old and dark and the shelves and cutting boards are antique. It’s not affected. It’s just that the owners have never changed anything. I was standing near the cashier when something happened that I’d never seen before. To complete the transaction the cashier had to push a button on the customer’s cell phone. I don’t know cell phones, so I have no idea what was going on. For some reason the customer—a young guy—was quite pleased with this and said, “I feel like I’m in the future,” which made me cringe. I can’t stand enthusiasm for technological gadgets. Then the two started enthusing over the new iPad 3, which Apple had announced just a few hours earlier. Their enthusiasm was mutual and it was real. For once, I wanted just to get my sandwich and get out of there.