Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Calico Summer

Back in the sixties there was a great surfing movie entitled: The Endless Summer. The movie followed a pair of surfers who literally spent the summer roaming around the world in search of the perfect wave. They never found that mythical wave but they experienced so much more on their global tour. While my summer wasn’t global or wet, it was, nevertheless, a summer to remember. As much for what it was as for what it wasn’t.

The year, and especially our abbreviated season in Palm Springs, had seen a sizable curtailment of past activities such as using the Saguaro Hotel for swimming and exercise. I began walking the berm that abutted the mountains every day to substitute for my weights and treadmill.

Sharon and I had both been vaccinated but weren’t brave enough to have a lot of folks over for dinner engagements, playing cards, bunco or other group activities. It was a quiet season but lacked the human engagement of past seasons.

I did find solace in my weekly chats with Ron, the pool man. Our conversations were lively and thoughtful although Ron often leaned so far right that we usually bump into one another’s philosophies in about the middle of the road.

As much as I wanted and needed to workshop several of my plays, I wasn’t about to meet in person and Zoom meetings just weren’t going to cut it. I had literally and figuratively five new plays stuck in limbo until I would be able to have them workshopped and reviewed by qualified outsiders.

The summer of 2021 began with a very clear list of what I could and couldn’t do.

I was able to return to LA Fitness and get back to some trail running.

I was still able to cut the grass and do yardwork.

My great idea of returning to my Coffee and Chat sessions very quickly turned to disappointment when several folks never responded to my e-mail invitations to meet. The real culprit here wasn’t some form of ghosting but instead my own e-mail system that was (unknown to me) dumping my messages into their spam or junk files. Unfortunately most of those folks never checked their junk files and thus they never heard from me. They were as surprised as I was that neither one of us was acknowledging the other.

On the other hand, several folks did decide (perhaps because of Covid) to eliminate our chat sessions all together. It wasn’t until late summer before I was able to figure out what had put the kabash to so many of my C & C meetups. It’s never gotten back to what it was during the summer of 2020 but it’s still very satisfying to meet with my friends when we can.

Unfortunately local book clubs were still meeting on Zoom. ‘Meet the Author’ sessions in Rosemount hadn’t started up again. RAAC had only scheduled two plays for the summer and a lot of other community theaters were still on hiatus until the fall.

Going into that Calico summer I had several writing projects to tackle. These included:

I did manage to finish my latest novel, a suspense mystery entitled: ‘Playground for the Devil.’ Marketing of that book had just begun along with exploring new venues for distribution.

I wanted to complete a solid first draft of my latest play entitled ‘Frenchy’s Eats.  This began as a complicated experiment whose goal was to explore fatherhood; my fathers and my own, father-son relationships, and the Pandora’s Box of my mother’s up-bringing, marriage, divorce and child-rearing. 

While I still believe one of my plays ‘PTV’ was a good candidate for the Minnesota History Theater, Vida found a critical flaw in my present script. We agreed on a new approach which I believe will ring more realistic from an historical perspective.

Continuing dialogue with Vida convinced me that more changes were needed in Polly’s unorthodox relationships. When it comes to sex, the internet, dating apps, out of the mainstream relationships and new approaches to ‘each other,’ my editor is where I turn to for guidance. This new approach will include Polly owning her own sexuality, exploring women’s sexual freedom and so forth.

One of the major hurtles I had envisioned in casting my dramatic musical, music-making play was the need to find older actors who might portray my main characters. Vida’s simple answer was ‘theatrical aging’ or using make-up to age my actors. That one simple (really simple) answer solved my major mental-roadblock. 

By late summer I had completed most of the re-editing and second drafting of those plays. Then, out of the blue, I found a new round of writing projects to jumble up an already crowded brain. This began with a mysterious woman I hardly knew but grew very fond of over time.

Sharon’s frequent trips up to the Arts District in Northeast Minneapolis got me to thinking about  a mysterious woman who used to live there. While I never knew that woman on an intimate level, there was enough of an memory-image and incident-banking that it kept me wondering ‘what ever happened to her?’ long after we both had moved on with our lives.

After writing a blog (Homage to Glady), I began to jot down some ideas for a story centered on two characters; a woman like Glady and one like myself. My love story would be fiction. But it would be based on real people and real events flavored with a liberal dose of creative artistic exuberance thrown to enhance the good story material. I felt I could tell her story in serialized chapter form with a tight story narrative.  It would be posted on Amazon’s new KDP Vella web site.

About the same time, two other writing projects appeared out of nowhere and began to consume a lot of my writing time. One involved a pachyderm and the other a very pious assortment of humanity.

My editor and I began the arduous process of finding an illustrator for a new children’s book that had been percolating in the back of my head for more than thirteen years.  There were specialized web sites to visit, children’s books to study for format, story content, age-specific text and a book festival to attend. More on that in a future blog.

Then an inquiry from RAAC, the Rosemount Area Arts Council, indirectly spurred on the creation of a brand new play. It was loosely based on the main premise of another play that I had abandoned years earlier.

The original play was entitled: ‘Season’s End.’ The main premise of that play centered on a series of age-related conflicts between the generations. This new version of the same play idea included a new set of characters better primed to fit that storyline.

The main story setting (a country club) would be the same but the characters radically different from my original characters. I plan to add new characters, a musical stream of interest and much deeper character development. Again, more on that in a future blog.

Unlike the beginning of my Calico Summer which started in uncertainty and roadblocks, its ending heralded the beginning of a very active writing period leading into the fall. The illustrators have been narrowed down to just a few select candidates. Glady and I are just beginning to get acquainted (again) and the hushed tone at the country club is promising a lot of confusion, drama and laughter ahead.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.


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