Story Lab Chicago Launches & Other Updates!

Hello Friends! So, like Happy New Year!  Boy, is this site due for an update.  October seems so far away now.  And I’ve finally posted all my photos on Flickr of my amazing California trip. To follow up on the previous post, Story Club was an awesome time, if a little mellow due to the cold November rain that evening–which has beauty in itself of course.  Hoping to get back next month to maybe snag an open mic slot.  I have a Valentines Day themed piece that could be good….

In the mean time, I have a storytelling gig coming up on Wednesday January 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm at the Black Rock Pub on Damen and Addison in Chicago. Story Lab Chicago is a new venture by the fine folks at This Much Is True.  SLC features new and new-ish writers/storytellers.  Check us out!  And visit the web site and become a fan on the Facebook.  I’ll be debuting a new story, which is still coming together, but getting there. 🙂  If you see me in Caribou this week, you’ll know what I’m doing.

Other writerly goings on these days….

~ Coffee Boy, the movie, wrapped production at the end of August and was officially released on October 15, 2010.  World wide distribution and domination is pending film festival slots and other goings on.  In the meantime, check out the film’s page on direct0r-adapter-friend Erwan Ripoll’s site HERE.  Also with this project, I have my own IMDb page. I want to think that makes me cooler than before, but I guess not really. 🙂  Still, exciting.  There isn’t much on it, though I submitted the link to this site to be included.  So, visit it and up my “Star Meter”!  (Though I think I’d have to pay for that first….)

~ Battles With Boys took another step closer to reality thanks to a handful of friends and a class room at DePaul University where I was able to share an official first draft of the show as a full length entity comprising of various short pieces.  A discussion proceeded and there is much to think about.  The next step will hopefully reach a wider audience.  More to come….

~ Mining My Life: This past year has been in part focused on organizing all that I Have. Loose pages of high school and college poetry, 7th & 8th grade assignments, ETC, are all in one handy folder in order which works for the chaos of it all.  My 19 handwritten journals plus my private cyber journal are getting the personal indexing treatment (getting there….) so that I can quickly look up things instead of spending hours trying to find it.  My journals have been particularly helpful for my CNF work–and along the way I’ve gotten inspiration for my fiction as well.  Journal #1 will come in handy for an upcoming project landing this Spring (TBA…!)  This all helps my brain process the fact that I’ve reached the age where the past is just as overwhelming as the future.

~ NewTown Writers: Leg work to be done soonly on Solo Homo 9.  Stay tuned….

~ Open Books:  One of my goals for the end of 2010 and into the new year was to do a little volunteer work.  Thanks to the fine folks at Open Books (Chicago’s leading literacy non-profit), I’ve been able to work a couple sessions of the Adventures in Creative Writing Field trip program.  So far, I’ve worked with high school girls on prose, and 3rd graders on poetry.  The little ones were more into it.  I have a couple more sessions this month as well.  If you’re so inclined, you should check out all the volunteer section at the site.  Shown below is a cool photo someone snapped of me and my 3rd graders who make you fall in love with them, then they leave and break your heart just a little.

Well, that does it for now. If I’ve forgotten anything (it happens), I’ll shoot another post.  Cool things abound in 2011.  Can’t wait!  Cheers.

Workshopping “Guns”

This past Wednesday, the 20th, we workshopped my Creative Non-Fiction piece, Playing Guns. That, at least, is the working title. It’s not a very exciting one, I know. It’s a piece I’ve been working on off and on for a while now. It has its origins in the solo show class I took at Chicago Dramatists with the fabulous Arlene Malinowski in the fall of 2005. I started putting something together called The Sounds of Play, which included the sound effects for cars, Transformers, Dolly Pops (I had my gal pals too!), and of course, playing guns. Bang Bang Rat-a-tat-tat and all that.

I eventually took the guns part and paired it with my idea of writing about my grade school friend, Danny, whose hippie parents wouldn’t allow him to play guns. I’d wanted to write about Danny and this seemed like a perfect marriage.

From there, it evolved into musings on war and war stories and my own parents, especially my dad and grandfather (which may be part of the source for my pretty much neglecting the fact that girls played guns too, as pointed out in my class, but with no sisters and pretty much just my guy friends growing up participating, its a very male-centric piece, which I may or may not amend. We’ll see….) I did a major push on the piece this past summer in anticipation for this semester’s class. I was also in the middle of reading David Kenyon Webster’s Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper’s Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich. Webster was portrayed in the HBO film, Band of Brothers, and it was interesting to read moments and dialogue that made it directly into the film–and the liberties that the filmmakers took.

I talked to my dad and did a little fact-checking about the technicalities of his not being drafted into Vietnam. We also talked about his growing up post-WWII and how the family reacted to Vietnam. One of my other projects this summer involved transcribing a cassette tape discussion my brothers had with my grandparents a few years ago. My grandfather since passed away, and though I have some of the facts, I know there are things missing. That missing has made its way into the piece as well.

I eventually hit a wall with it. Couldn’t add or subtract a comma. I needed my class! We had a good discussion. I appreciated the comments and questions. One of the general topics we discuss is what is the piece About? I’m still not completely sure. It’s about a lot! It still needs some focus and shaping. I have all the response essays from my classmates, but I’m not quite ready (nor do I have the time!) to really go through them at the moment. Maybe over spring break (not that I won’t have other reading to do then!) I have my next piece to focus on for workshop #2. Thankfully, I had “Guns” under my belt, but one of the pieces has to come from one our three preliminary assignments. I spent a considerable amount of time this week living in 1994….

One of my classmates suspected the piece’s “performance” voice, and I was like You got me! I’ve struggled with Literary Voice vs. Performance Voice in the past. But the intention for “Guns” will be performance–but I do also want it to feel alive on the page, which I think it does. The plan is for it to be a part of my full length solo show, Battles With Boys, which will include many of the pieces listed on the Solo Performance page. That’s the plan anyway.

Hm, so my point to all this? I guess: Workshopping Good. 🙂 Seriously, though, I love this whole part of the process. I’ve had my solitary loner writing time, and this gets it out there a little, especially surrounded by cool peeps. The next one may be a little intense, I don’t know. It’s not due for a couple weeks. I have a draft done, but I can’t look at it right now. I need these couple weeks to be away from it before I turn it in–and I’m sure I’ll wince at a few things before I do so.

Alright, must get ready for work and read some of my classmates’ writings for next week…..