Les Semaines

October 31, 2004

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: old journal

 §

Happy Hallowe'en

Yet another hectic week. I almost should stop bothering to say that, it's so constant. But this was worse than normal, as I was only home three days before having to get ready to leave again, this time for World Fantasy Convention in Tempe, Arizona.

There's so much going on at work and I had some frustrating problems there and should have got lots more done. But I didn't. And then I left for the convention.

Typing this on the plane on my way to Tempe, trying to get myself into convention head. The kind of high-powered social skills required for these things doesn't come naturally to me and I find myself dreading it, but wanting to gear up. I have the smae trouble when I go to parties--small talk doesn't come easily to me and I prefer smaller groupings of people. A convention is like a really large party. In past years it's been hard to fine a role for myself above wannabe writer. It helps that now I have my role as Clarion West workshop administrator now, but I'll feel more like I have a place at these things when I have a novel published. [Please do notice I say "when." I look at Gypsy Davey and feel like I'm going to be able to sell this book. I may need to trim it because right now it's looking like it's going to be about 120,000 words, which is 20,000 too long for a first novel, I think. But I do believe that even if the publishing situation gets worse this book can sell. I'm probably a naive optimist, but if so that's what I am. Better that than a pessimist and to feel that I'm wasting my time, which on bad days is indeed how I feel. But it's true that if I saw this book on the shelf that I would read it, so that's something.]

Typing this in the plane on the way home now. It was a convention: lots of people, talk talk, not enough sleep. I bought books, heard readings, attended a couple of panels, listened to music, talked to several of our wonderful Clarion West graduates and instructors, and other acquaintances. I had some of my usual small talk blockages but mostly did just fine. These things always become a blur when they're done. I remember the really quite pleasant hotel with its huge inner courtyard full of palms and orange trees. The racket of the grackels settling inthe trees one night when we talked to an excellent (though expansive) pan-Asian restaurant. The first night I noticed the sky an amazing dark turquoise colour just as the sun set. The sunset tonight while waiting for our flight was pretty orangely gorgeous, too.

Really, the best part of it all is the visiting. This is what make it worth it for me to go to this every year. I got to see Terry Bisson for the first time since he was my first-week Clarion West instructor in 1996. Had interesting book conversations with Jacob and Therese and Ted. Saw former students Ling, Emily, Diana, Simran, Wendy, Daniel, Tempest, Charlie, Anna, Jeff, Marsha, Ernie, and Debbie. So wonderful to talk to them again. We really do have some incredible people who come through the workshop. And time to spend with Leslie outside the pressures of Clarion West, thogh with the convention time pressures. Still, we had several good chatting moments.

I even talked to an agent who was interested in hearing more about Christina's mystery novel.

Overall a good time had by Neile.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

Hardly heard a thing.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Geoff Ryman's Air is brilliant. It's the story of a woman in a small village in Karzistan (a fictional stan country, a mixture of Chinese and Turkish and native people) who encounters a new communications technology, Air, that will connect the entire world. There's a preliminary test of the system, and there are problems so it is delayed for a year, but Mae has already connected with it, and through it with a neighbour who died during the test. Her life is in turmoil, because of this and because of the modernization of her village. As she learns more about technology and the world and about Air and its abilities, her life and society change radically. This is a fascinating, complicated story involving human, village, national, and international politics and the human consequences and benefits of technology. I can't recommend this one too much. I loved the way this novel worked like Air, letting me into Mae's world. I was sorry to leave it.

Charles de Lint's The Blue Girl is a teenage novel about two high school girls who become friends. One of them has just moved to a new town after having hung out with some really tough people at her previous school. She's making a new start and becomes friends with a girl who has lived quite a restricted good girl life. They are both good influences on each other, though they are bullied by the popular gang in the school. The new girl notices a guy following her who had an uncanny ability to disappear, and it turns out he's a ghost. And she finally forces him to talk to her. He's lonely and hanging out with the fairies. She doesn't believe in fairies, but suddenly she starts having a series of alarming dreams, in which a being who was her invisible childhood friend tries to give her cryptic warnings. This was a thoroughly delightful, absorbing read, though the girls' world was so high-school focused that it didn't have much of a Newford feel.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Had a Wednesday evening writing session with all four of us at a rather busy coffee shop. It was distracting, but I did make some progress. The lunar eclipse was pretty distracting, too.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Still on hiatus.

last week's old journal § next week's old journal

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1981 people have wandered through this week with me