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Pack that on to the schedule

I have reluctantly taken on a few more hours of tutoring this semester. I can really use the extra cash, for several reasons, not least of which because it's looking like I'll need to have some expensive dental surgery in the near future. Despite being told as recently as a couple years ago that they were fine, apparently my wisdom teeth are going to have to come out after all. I'm really unhappy about that, first because I do not relish the time spent out of commission due to how long it takes me to shake anesthetic. I might even need somebody to babysit me as I come out of it, as my history suggests it hits me very hard. The last time I had it when I was nineteen and had to be put under for a minor eye surgery, I was ridiculous and combative when I first woke up, then slept for like twelve solid hours, and then for the next day I was foggy, stupid, and not of totally sound judgment. Ugh. So at least for the beginning it's probably not the safest thing for me to be alone, but I hate to waste somebody's time with that.

And then there's the cost. It's looking to be extremely expensive, and my stupid insurance doesn't take much of a dent out of it. Overall, even before the extra hours I'm supposed to be making more this semester than last, but because of the schedule I'm getting paid on I haven't seen it yet, so this is a way of dealing with things more immediately. I'm not delighted to make my already full schedule even fuller, but I'm grateful that my work is flexible enough that I can do this at a time I need to. A lot of that is down to Bill, my awesome boss, so I'm particularly grateful for him.

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Brain fog

Having a very hard time coming up with a coherent entry, yesterday and today. I tell myself to update my blog with SOMETHING even if I don't have anything brilliant to say, but this week I'm struggling to come up with ANYTHING at all.

It's been busy. Basically I dove back into everything the minute I got home from helping Bernie move into his new apartment in Virginia, which entailed preparing the first week's module of the online class I'm teaching, and Hawking rehearsals beginning again. Both things are going well, but it's been basically running from one responsibility to the next from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night, and I find that exhausting. I've also not been taking the best care of myself, eating too much junk and not getting enough sleep.

I have been writing, though. Because I've been out all day and unable to get home until late, I've been finding places to hide myself between schedule blocks, usually on the Lesley campus, and get a few moments of writing in here and there. So I suppose I haven't been completely consumed by work, but I've had to set very, very low productivity goals just to keep myself generating a little bit every day.

I can rest this weekend, fortunately. And I'm gonna.

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Tonight at 7pm you can sign up for games at this year's Festival of the Larps at Brandeis University!

This is the totally free weekend-long larp convention in Waltham! It runs from the evening of Friday, April 28th, to the afternoon of Sunday, April 30th!

The schedule of signups is as follows:

- Monday, 20 March 2017, 7pm EDT - Sign-up for one game
- Tuesday, 21 March 2017, 7pm EDT - Sign-up for a second game
- Wednesday, 22 March 2017, 7pm EDT - Sign-up for as many games as you want!

You can check out the schedule of games to find a larp you might want to sign up for by clicking here!

I myself am running my five-person mystery larp Silver Lines on Saturday night of the event, which is set in the Mrs. Hawking universe and a ton of fun. It's so small I'm pretty sure it will fill fast, so I suggest you get in quickly if you'd like to play. :-)

As for tonight, I think I am going to use my first signup for Somewhere in the Wild West on Sunday afternoon, as I love westerns, but I'm still making up my mind. There are lots of awesome games, so I really think you should take a look and plan to come and join us at the end of April!

New gallery on Mrshawking.com!

Photography by Annushka Munch
Costume design by Jennifer Giorno
Makeup design by Jessicalee Skary
Set design by Bernie Gabin
Production design by Phoebe Roberts

BI Performance-85

"Base Instruments" Act II
by Annushka Munch


from "Base Instruments" at Arisia 2017



Featuring Cari Keebaugh, Circe Rowan, Jeremiah O'Sullivan, Arielle Kaplan, Eric Cheung, Sara Smith, Matthew Kamm, and Ava Maag.

Click here to view the gallery of images from the show!

The skill in imitation

One somewhat controversial thing I believe about writing is that it's very good to be able to imitate other writers' styles. Other writers and scholars thereof might disagree, failing to see any practical application for it, and protesting that it's more important to refine and develop your own unique voice rather than trying to copy someone else's. (You often hear that argument when people denigrate the writing of fan fiction.) But I maintain it's not only good practice, it's actually a skill worth having for its own sake.

Voice is an important aspect of writing, as it influences mood, feel, tone, and style. But I think an author shouldn't necessarily be limited, or limit themselves, to only one. As nice and useful as it can be to have a signature style, I think it's good to be able to adapt your writing to sound different for different pieces, or even for establishing different characters. If you don't find some way to be flexible that way, you run the risk of making everything sound the same no matter the feel of the piece you may be going for-- or worse, you make everything sound like you, which I find to be a sign of immature work. So imitating the sound of other writers' styles and voices is an exercise in developing your flexibility. It requires you to stretch yourself beyond your natural impulses or current artistics strengths in order to create something that sounds like someone else's work, which broadens the possibilities for what you're capable of depicting. It gives you more control over the voice you give any one project, and enables a wider variety of feels and effects you can impart to your work.

This for me ties into the appeal of fan fiction. I know not everybody is this way, but both when I'm reading and writing fan fiction, I'm looking for more of the story I already love, with more of the things I love about it. So I'm drawn to pieces that stylistically capture the soul of the original. That also means that when I'm writing it myself, that's what I'm shooting for-- something that believably feels like it could be part of what's canon. So I make a special effort to study and emulate the way the original material is written in my fic. The best job I ever did at this was with my piece for the BBC radio comedy Cabin Pressure. I wrote basically a script for an additional episode of the series which, after the fashion of its idiosyncratic episode titling system, I called "San Tropez". Cabin Pressure has a very specific, British style of humor with characters who have highly distinctive voices, and I worked very hard to capture them. If I may say so, I'm really proud of how good a job I did. I've gotten a number of comments from readers saying I nailed the style and voices exactly, and that it's both funny and extremely in character.

But not only do I think it's just good practice for increasing flexibility in other projects. I think it's actually a useful skill in its own right. For collaborative projects, particularly ones that run for a while and have teams of writers, being able to fit in with the "house style" is essential. I have dreams of someday writing for television, and writers' rooms have to have some degree of cohesion to make all the episodes feel consistent with each other. People tend to notice when the "voice" or "style" of a television show gets inconsistent or deviates from what is established, and reactions are usually disapproving. Sometimes it's even at fault for what people describe as Seasonal Rot. In that case it would be a necessity for me to be able to adapt to a certain voice that may or may not naturally be mine.

So it's more than just an amusing little "party trick" for writers of fan fiction. It's actually a powerful developmental tool for a writer to expand their toolkit, and sometimes even demanded by a collaborative situation to keep the pieces all cohesive. So I like challenging myself to play in someone else's sandbox every now and then.

Accomplishment chart, 3/10 – 3/16

Accomplishment chart, 3/10 – 3/16

Writing

- 1 LiveJournal entry
- edited Frasier spinoff pilot scenes into Stranger House ten-minute play

Theater
- submitted Stranger House ten-minute play for consideration for performance with Theatre@First's Festival@First
- had 1 blocking rehearsal for Nathaniel scenes of Vivat Regina

Teaching
- graded 12 essays for Writing and the Literary Arts class
- planning for 3/20 lesson for online Intro to Creative Writing class

Physical
- 2 days helping Bernie move
- 2 two-mile runs
- 2 fighter abs routines
- walked 10,000+ steps 4 days

Media
- saw Logan movie in theaters
- listened to episode 97 of Tom and Lorenzo’s Pop Style Opinionfest

Cooking
- made turkey burgers with avocado and mushrooms
- made eye round steaks braised in marsala sauce with mushrooms and onions and steamed broccoli

Bernie's new place

This weekend I came up to Alexandria, Virginia to help Bernie move into his new apartment. He got a place just a five-minute walk from the patent office where he works, a small but very nice one-bedroom place in a fancy apartment building. I like it very much; it's a real grownup place, and a real change of pace from everything in Boston that all tends to be a bit older and more run down. This is all so nice and new, with amenities like a gym and a swimming pool. I'm spending the beginning of the week in Maryland to help him unpack and be together a little. I hope we can make it nice for him, and I may get to miss the worst of the snowstorm, as the DC area probably won't get it as bad.

I have a lot of work while I'm up here. Bernie's got to work of course during the day, so I guess it's not the biggest problem. But before I get back, I need to grade a ton of papers, put together the very first week of my online class and post it to the website, and prepare for the new round of Vivat Regina and Base Instruments rehearsals. So I can't entirely treat this like a vacation.

Accomplishment chart, 3/3 – 3/9

Accomplishment chart, 3/3 – 3/9

Writing

- drafting for prose project
- broke 10,000 words on prose project
- applied to 1 full-time writer job
- applied to 1 writing fellowship
- interviewed for writing job
- 1 LiveJournal entry

Website
- posted 1 blog entry on Mrshawking.com

Theater
- attended 1 WCSF '17 organizers' meeting
- confirmed performance space for Vivat Regina and Base Instruments at WCSF ‘17

Teaching
- wrote syllabus writing for Intro to Creative Writing online course
- planned 3/6 and 3/8 lessons for Writing and the Literary Arts
- made 5 introductory recordings for Intro to Creative Writing online course

Art
- practiced alternating knitting and purling
- drew portrait of Taraji P. Henson at 2017 Oscars

Activism
- called my reps 2 days

Physical
- 3 two-mile runs
- 2 fighter abs routines
- walked 10,000+ steps 3 days

Media
- read Murder in Three Acts novel by Agatha Christie
- listened to episode 96 of Tom and Lorenzo’s Pop Style Opinionfest
- saw Get Out movie in theaters

Editing projects piling up on me

The most effective way of producing writing for me has always been the "vomit draft" method-- or, if you prefer a less disgusting description, the process by which you just make yourself write some garbage, no matter how badly it's coming out, until you have some semblance of a beginning, middle, and end such that you can by some measure call the draft "complete." I discovered this method in grad school, and it revolutionized the way I worked. Up to that point I was writing constantly, producing volumes, without ever actually finishing anything. I would try to edit as I go and end up spending forever tweaking individual sentences, or not actually writing things until I was certain I "knew what I wanted to do with them"-- which meant nothing ever actually got drafted. Now, whenever I have a project I want to work on, I make as detailed an outline as I can so I have a roadmap, then I just puke something out, and then go back and edit it after it's complete. I recommend this method to my students, or anyone struggling to write things, because you can fix something that's on the page-- you can improve a piece that doesn't even exist.

Lately though I've got a couple of "first drafted" projects laying around, technically complete but still in a state of garbageitude, waiting to be edited. As tough as I find drafting, I find editing to be even harder-- WAH WRITING IS HARD YOU GUYZ. Usually I push through the editing process fairly immediately, due to the fear of losing momentum, but I do find taking a short break from the piece can be helpful to looking at it with a more critical eye to improvement. However, I have to balance that, as I do lose momentum if I wait too long, or I rush it and don't always do the best job.

Right now I have two "technically complete" pieces laying around in first draft form, which is unusual for me. The first is my "Frasier" spinoff pilot, as yet unnamed, which I never dove into editing because something more pressing came up, though I currently can't remember what it was. That one has good bones but is pretty much a mess and will need a lot of fixing. I came up with a lot of things I wanted to do with it, but it's been long enough I'm a bit worried I won't be able to actually remember what they all are. I took some notes, but I'm not certain they're enough. This is hardly a pressing project, as there's nothing I can do with it, but I liked the concept and I'm going to fix it up at some point.

The second is a short story which I banged out over the last few weeks, mostly to get in a little practice as to writing prose. I find prose to be incredibly challenging, probably due to the fact that I've done so little study or practice of it in the last five to ten years while I've focused on drama. This will likely need a TON of work, again due to my inability. When I finished I wanted to take a nice break from it, and fortunately I have no preconceived notions of what it will need to improve, so I'm not worried about forgetting anything. However it will definitely need work before I show it to anyone, and the difficulty of that may make me avoidant over it. I will have to steel myself to get through, given that I struggle to believe my prose has the potential to not suck.

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:



MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3


at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM

and

Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

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