It was Robert Burns in his poem To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough who said,

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Translated it reads:

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Which is a long way around to tell you that this past week I too was a victim of my best laid plans going askew, although I was not left with ” grief and pain.” I figured this week would be a week of getting back to serious work on the rewrite of BROKEN WING, but instead, I spent most of the week working on THINGY WORLD!, a play I wrote originally in 1989. But I am not complaining.

In 1989, the then Vermont Secretary of Natural Resources, Jonathan Lash, commissioned me to write a play about trash. After thinking about it for awhile, it seemed to me that trash was the symptom and not the disease and I decided I’d rather write a play about the disease itself, which I thought then and–these 23 years later–still think is American materialism and greed. I wrote a play called, THINGY WORLD! HOW WE GOT TO WHERE WE ARE.

Through archly satirical send-ups of Television Network News, advertising and a Game Show, THINGY WORLD! HOW WE GOT TO WHERE WE ARE exposes America’s self-centered, all consuming materialistic way of life and how it has created a culture of waste and destruction which in turn has helped create climate change and global warming. The play also exposes the ways in which racism and the inequitable distribution of wealth are integral parts of “the environmental crisis.”

After a couple of decades working in Washington, D.C., this past summer Jonathan Lash was appointed president of Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. In April 2012 he will be inaugurated and there will be a series of events to celebrate his inauguration, one of which will be a keynote speech by president Lash’s friend Al Gore, another will be a staged reading of THINGY WORLD!

All this is by way of explaining why I have yet to get back to work on the rewrite of BROKEN WING. I’ll write more about THINGY WORLD! later. For now, it’s back to work on BROKEN WING.

Until next week, I remain,
Sincerely Yours, David Budbill

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Happy New Year, and I hope it is too. 2011 was bummer enough.

Who knows what this New Year will bring? I most earnestly hope it will not bring one of those wacko Republican candidates into the White House. I am still a staunch Obama supporter. I hope the Republicans continue to shoot each other and themselves in the feet, but what irritates me more than the Wacko Repugs are the so called left wing liberals who think Obama has betrayed them, and this includes all those black people who voted for the first time last time and who say they won’t vote again. Obama has had an extremely hard row to hoe these past three years and besides he’s his own person and nowhere near as liberal as liberals want him to be. I hope everyone who reads this will vote–hold your nose if you must, but vote.

In the meantime, I’m back to work on BROKEN WING. One of the ways I survive the holidays is by trying to do a little work every day. It helps.

I’m slogging through this very difficult rewrite, trying to change the verb tense to the present tense, where it’s appropriate, and cut back and simplify the sentence structure. I’m known as a plain and simple writer, blunt. When I first wrote BROKEN WING I was delighted that I was making extremely long and complex sentences, because it is something I never do. Now going back over BROKEN WING, I know why I never wrote long and complex sentences. I’m returning to what I do best. I’m listening to that great advice someone gave once: Simplify! Simplify!

Until next week, I remain,
Fondly, David Budbill

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Dear Friends,

The Holidays are upon everyone, which means for me my work on BROKEN WING has taken a back seat to all the Yuletide preparations, parties and so forth. Maybe I’ll get back to it next year, which means next week.

Two weeks ago Kevin O’Connor from the Rutland (VT) Herald asked me to write a short little something about “suggested first
steps for a fresh start in 2012.” Here’s what I came up with:

The first step for a fresh start, in my opinion, begins with frugality.
Commit yourself in 2012 to living on less: less and less and less.
It’s right there in our heritage: use it up, wear it out, make it do
or do without. And don’t forget the “do without” part especially.

I, personally, can’t wait for all this to be over and the New Year to arrive. I wrote to a Jewish friend earlier today, “This is the toughest time of year for me. I get so down in the dumps it’s terrible. I just hang on and hope I make it to the New Year. And I wonder if Jews get as depressed at this season as I do. Maybe if I were a Jew instead of a backslid Christian, I’d be able to handle this time of year better, although, given my current state of mind, I doubt it.

In spite of all of that, I hope everyone out there is having a good holiday. For the Christians among us, Merry Christmas yesterday.

Until next year, I remain . . .

Sincerely Yours, David Budbill
26 December 2011

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Dear Friends,

As promised, I sent the manuscript for PARK SONGS off to Tod Davies at Exterminating Angel Press this week, then turned immediately to my rewrite of BROKEN WING about which I talked last week.

My friend Katherine Williams, who lives in Washington, D.C., was kind enough to read and comment on a version of BROKEN WING I’d sent her in March of 2009. I am finally getting around to responding to her comments, making changes and working in other ways on the new version of this story. I first drafted BROKEN WING in 2001, which means I’ve been working on this story off and on for more than ten years. Typical.

I’m in the process of rewriting BROKEN WING these days. I’m incorporating most of Katherine’s corrections and changes and I’m also Babar-izing the story. In other words, I’m trying to put all the verbs in the present tense, just as they, usually, are in the Babar stories. I like the immediacy of the present tense. It changes the feeling of the story enormously.

It turns out this is an incredibly complicated thing to attempt. A lot of difficulties arise. It’s a slow process. I’m struggling through it now. I’m still at the beginning. And when I’m done, I’m not sure I’m going to like it, and if that’s true, then I’m going to have to go back and redo everything all over again.

I want to get BROKEN WING rewritten before January 1st–which I can see now is not going to happen–so that after the first of the year, I can go to work on SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH and spend the whole winter on that story.

It’s finally cold here. It’s 3 above zero as I write this on Sunday morning. Our woodstove is cranking away and we are toasty warm here in the house. Unfortunately we have only a small amount of snow, maybe an inch. We need a lot more than that–a couple of feet would be good–to insulate everything from our typical mid-winter cold.

Until next week, I remain . . .

Sincerely Yours, David Budbill
19 December 2011

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Dear Friends,

We have moved into December and still the weather remains relatively warm, from the 20s at night to sometimes as high as the 40s during the day. And still no snow but a dusting occasionally. Climate change at work, I fear.

I’m in the process of reading over the various e-book versions of HAPPY LIFE, which Copper Canyon Press will launch soon. I mistakenly said, by the way, in ablog recently that the e-book versions of HAPPY LIFE were already out; they are not, but soon will be.

At the same time that I’m doing that, I’m reading through yet again the manuscript for PARK SONGS which will be out about this time next year and which I must deliver to the publisher of Exterminating Angel Press soon. Exterminating Angel Press, by the way, is an allusion to the Luis Bunuel movie called Exterminating Angel.

My wife, Lois, and I went to Montreal Friday and yesterday in order for Lois to check in with her gallery there, to visit two young friends, hang out, eat and buy food and visit with our painter friend Susan Scott, one of Canada’s most prominent artists. Montreal is a scant two and a half-hours from here and we have taken to going up more often than we used to. It’s a great break from our work-a-day routine and Montreal is a wonderful city, like none other in North America.

Fondly, David Budbill

4 December 2011

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