Monday, January 14, 2008

2008 and Today

Today is my first official full day back to work this year.

I work from home, so I suppose it would be hard to tell, but I have been putting family and the house first (a new house that needs personal-touch upgrading) over the holidays while circumstances made it the right time to do that, pushing aside much of my own work until the right time came to return to it steadily. Part of me always resents the intrusion into my work time, even when the intrusion is enjoyable. Breaks are good, however, as long as they don't become too extended.

One of my goals this year, since I do goals now instead of resolutions, is to write every day, on break or on holiday notwithstanding. It may be no more than a couple of paragraphs given the day's circumstances, but it will be something -- something other than blogging and email, something creative. So far, I have done that, and yes, there have been days it was only a paragraph or two, but it was new and creative. Art is like anything else; it must be routinely practiced to have a 'building' effect that causes improvement.

So far, I have finished a short contest entry entitled "Dear Me" -- a letter to myself about what I want to accomplish during the year; I have started a new short story about one of my favorite novel characters to delve more deeply into a time of his life that isn't included in one of the novels in my series; and maybe most exciting, last night I finally finished the complete rewrite of the novel fans are asking for ... the second of the Rehearsal series. It has only taken me a year and a half to do the rewrite. Only. Yes well, it is somewhere close to 200,000 words and in between I've done several short stories and the first 60,000 words of two other novels along with my online job, kids, and moving to a new state.

Today I start the major editing of it. I may be in the minority, but I love the editing process. I love going back and grimacing at some of the strange sentence structures that came from a tired brain and reworking them until they have just the right effect. I love being able to let myself highlight whole sections that aren't really necessary and clicking the delete key. I always save each complete draft, which makes that less scary. Mainly, I love seeing something rough sharpen and lighten and become more for the reader than for me.

Today, as well, my oldest child started college. It's an exciting time (never mind the tuition/books bill) that takes me back to my own college days and all of the vivid memories. It also means she will be out of the house not only for her variable part time job hours but for a set time two days a week that I can count on as being "mine" and mine alone.

Today, my husband is back to work after a long, well-deserved holiday break.

Today, I pushed further into an affiliation with a new organization I am proud to be associated with: Books for Boots.

Today, I also start the revamp of my website to include the info on this association.

Today ... is full of possibilities.

What are all of you doing with your todays?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

P.S. I Love You (no spoilers review)

Gerard Butler and Hillary Swank
P.S. I Love You

Scotsman Gerard Butler came to the forefront in Hollywood with Phantom of the Opera, starred in Shattered (among others), and picked up speed in 300. Anyone who has seen him on Letterman or Craig Ferguson knows he is a true, all-or-nothing, high adventure, charming and seductive Scot. It was said that his newest movie shows the true Gerry. If so, it must have been a lot of fun on the set of P.S. I Love You. Can you tell I'm a Gerard Butler fan?

I'm actually a new fan who was less than impressed with some parts of his rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. It wasn't the voice that bothered me. It was the fact that some of it was out of his range -- the fault of the producer/director, not the actor. He tried, and otherwise it was pleasant and the acting of it was beautiful.

He also sings, this time with acoustic guitar (my favorite way to listen to a nice voice), in his newest film. I was actually quite impressed. I tend to be a music snob. I like many genres but they have to have true music quality, not only cute faces or pounding beats. I would love to have the full versions of Gerry singing the songs he did bits of in the movie. Very nice. Very smooth. Very sensual. Alas, they are not included on the soundtrack, so I will not be picking that one up.

As for the movie, it was nicely done, filmed both in the States and in Ireland, featuring the Emerald Isle's incredible scenery. With most films, I can guess the ending within the first ten minutes. I didn't with this one. I like that about it. I like the true-to-life emotions that weren't overdone or underdone. I like the points made about life and love and loss and moving forward. I loved the fun playfulness of Gerard's character and the way he portrayed it. I liked the bits of Irish customs that were real, not characterized or cliched. And I liked the music.

I write literary romance and that's how I would describe this movie. It's romance, yes, but it has such a nice story and realistic, likeable characters who matter to the audience. It has culture, psychology, relationship issues of different kinds, and a suitable (not sappy) ending. This is a romance at its best.

The only thing I didn't quite understand is what Hillary's character was living on financially. It makes a point of showing how tight money is, but she doesn't seem at all constricted once she's on her own. That point threw it off just a bit for me, as I'm a realist type, but it wasn't a big issue.

All of the actors did a nice job. Hillary Swank portrayed a confused artistic-type wife trying to fit into society's expectations and the world of 9-to5 jobs quite well (which is hard for business types to truly understand), and Lisa Kudrow is always enjoyable, but Gerard Butler made the film worth buying. I will be buying it as soon as it's available.