Breaking Through Bloggers' Block

I've been experiencing the blog equivalent of writer's block lately: I come to, look at this blank box, think "Has anything in my life been interesting enough to write about lately?", then answer myself "Nah," and drift away. This despite the fact that I have been seeing, reading, and doing interesting things: I went home last week to Missouri, for instance -- six good days with my family, not to mention barbecue, cable TV, and a lot of sleep. I saw, in the space of a week, "Across the Universe," "The Bourne Ultimatum," Martha Graham's "Appalachian Spring," and most of the first season of "Arrested Development," all of which I loved.

("Across the Universe" especially is worth checking out -- though not for a complex plot or deep characterization, because it deals entirely in '60s archetypes. Rather you should see it for the visual richness of Julie Taymor's direction and the wonderful, wonderful Beatles music, including a gospel "Let It Be" and a slow, sweet "I Want to Hold Your Hand." This has been a great year for movie musicals, from the traditionalism of "Dreamgirls" and "High School Musical 2" to the realism of "Once" and now the magic realism of "Across the Universe" . . . Fingers crossed for an elegantly creepy "Sweeney Todd" in December.)

Oh, and also I read perhaps the best book on writing fiction I've ever read: Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card (lent to me by the excellent James). Card breaks down the different types of stories and their characterization needs; different degrees of characters and how to create them in balance with your plot; the strengths and weaknesses of first- and third-person voices; and gives lots of good advice on figuring out which kinds of characters and voices are most suited to your story. I was reading this in preparation for writing my character talk for next month's SCBWI-MO conference, and now the current plan for the talk is to open the book at random and read for half an hour, then take questions.* Highly, HIGHLY recommended.

And then -- I won back the Frog! Yes, the famous Killer Klein Croquet Frog has come home to my apartment in Brooklyn, just in time for the fall theatre season and the baseball playoffs. He is glad to be back, he says, and looking forward to "Cyrano de Bergerac" on Broadway and rooting for the Red Sox. Also, you can't get such good cockroaches in Missouri.**

So there are good things happening here, even if I'm not writing about them. Here's wishing amazing artistic experiences and small victories to all of you as well.

* Kidding. I think.
** Kidding. Thankfully.