My Literary Weekend

Here is what I got up to this past weekend, and it was very satisfying:

Dan Raphael reads his work.

Dan Raphael reads his work.

I went to Ink Noise Review at the Jade Lounge, hosted by Curtis Whitecaroll, featuring Dan Raphael, and D. R. Garrett. The evening also included poetry and flash/microfiction by James Grabill, Jared Hayes, Dawn Z. Montefusco, Sarah Wimmer, Billy Dye, and Alexis Plank. A quality lineup of creative writers, and also a really chill Portland bar experience. The next Ink Noise get together will be on June 16th, from what I recall.

Dan Savage widescreen

Dan Savage with an exhibit of Chris Haberman portraits on the wall in back of him– at Powell’s City of Books.

Then on Sunday afternoon, I got to squeeze in to see Dan Savage talk and read at Powell’s City of Books in the Pearl Room. He was promoting his new book, American Savage, which features his sassy evaluation on a number of current hot sociopolitical topics. He has been investigating politics a lot, and talked on the health care crisis, and how many of the “conservative hot topics” of the day, such as reproductive rights, women’s issues, and marriage equality, are in fact intertwined when viewed in the larger context of the Religious Right. He was a very funny, warm, down to earth person, and was able to allay the concerns of even the most cynical audience member. I was pleasantly impressed. He also answered the question about where he sees trends going in the next several decades, to which his answer was: Trans and gender issues. Because, “movements progress over time, as they should, and that is becoming the next progression.” (Sorry for what I am sure is horrible paraphrasing.)

Also at Powell’s, I discovered they have a gender issues section! So if you are inspired to get a jump ahead, at Dan’s recommendation, here is a self-help guide for you to pick up:

MyGenderWorkbook

I should hope all my weekends in P-Town are this illuminating… 🙂

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Write-A-Thon Wrap Up

So the Write-A-Thon closed as of this past week, July 27th to be exact. Overall, we got something like 400 out of the target 500 donors, and over the target amount of writers. And there’s still time to donate! Access all of that info here.

My final count: I have about 3/4 of the amount of stories I pledged. My original goal was to write one piece of flash fiction per week over the duration of the workshop, which works out to something like 6 or 7 stories. I currently have five, a couple of which still need to be tinkered around with. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so it bums me out somewhat that I hadn’t been able to turn up right at the end of Friday with a big shiny smile and a complete roll of completely finished works all ready to brandish at y’all, but hey- I’m working on self- encouragement in the process here too. And I think that, considering the circumstances, I did pretty darn well.

So here are a few things I’ve learned, in the course of this experience, that I can share with you:

-Setting one’s self an external goal, & making one’s self accountable to that goal, really DOES help with motivation! It’s been wonderful to write along with a group, to get support from sponsorship, and to share that positive, synergistic energy. I’m psyched about participating again. (also I am so going to be all about somehow getting into next year’s workshop… Look who’s going to be teaching… swoontacular!!!)

-This is the first experience of my having gotten back into short story writing since, literally, my teen years… when I was avidly reading every new issue of Asimov’s, and illustrating weird ’80’s SF/David Lynchian landscapes in my spare time. It’s just as much fun as I remember! I’m a little guilty that I have to dig deeper to find that natural enthusiasm I began with that makes me say, “hmm, I wonder where this story direction will go if I take it”, but really not much has been lost there. I can still put out (stories, that is…) I’m proud of that.

-No matter how I’d like to pretend otherwise, life circumstances do tend to have an impact on my ability to be creative. I hate this, because it sounds like a bunch of whiny excuses. But I’ve had a lot of other concerns on my mind that blew my life sideways since starting the write-a-thon, including getting laid off work, scrambling to find alternative supports, breaking my foot and having to go in for surgery… and I can tell you right now that, while being on opiates might have been the key to success for the Romanticists… It only turns my brain into applesauce & makes me want to sleep about 15 hours a day. So, productivity took a big hit. My determination to keep going is, well, something that’s been helping me keep going, despite all this.

-Writing flash, or any short/particularly structured fiction, is not as easy as it might look! I’ve been in a wrestling match with a couple of my guys, trying to get them in under the commonly acceptable word count (typically 1,000 words- but some circles like to see flash be even shorter, I’ve discovered.) Not all writing ideas WANT to be ultra-short pieces. I feel it’s better for the integrity of the story that it be allowed to take the form it naturally wants to take. This can get somewhat unexpectedly convoluted, when I thought I had a tasty little scenario, and suddenly I have a short story or a burgeoning novella idea on my hands. Yes, I do a brief outline, or have an idea of what I’m going to write- but no, it’s not watertight before I begin. Nor do I wish it to be. Quite often, at least half the meaning, plot and development forms from delving into the writing and letting it meet me halfway- the results can sometimes be really stunning, and nothing I ever could have come up with by consciously trying to plan something out.

This blog post is already getting too long, so I’ll just say- Sponsors, I am going to be doing another pass through and cleaning up my work/doing a first draft edit, and after that- the story set will be ready to read. I will get a hold of you when this is done for your copies. And thanks to you all- other writers, readers, Clarion West- I appreciate you so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazine Day Photos

I tabled at AmaZine Day at the new Independent Publishing Resource Center in Portland, a couple weekends ago. It is a new event that they will be hosting about 3 times per year, to supplement the enthusiasm for the Portland Zine Symposium.

My table included some back issues of my chapbook and of the Irradiated Poets anthology, as well as advertising for some Clarion Write A Thon sponsorship. Did a little networking, made some sales, and met some very cool people.

Do you like my clever signage? It drew out the conversation in people, which was my whole point 😉

I got a tip off while I was there from one of the other writers, that there may be some intetrest in a poetry- zine crossover project. I will post if I get to learn more…

Write-A-Thon Week One

OK, so I was a little distracted by events in the past week or so… Pedalpalooza here in “Sunny” Portland, Oregon… busy season at work… Pride Weekend… but I did sit down and bang out most of story number one. It is called “Shadows Will Fall.” A fun fantasy/psychological thriller or disturbing horror piece that is shaping up nicely.

… But, it may not be flash! That is, it may want to turn into a full blown short story. Eek!

Stay tuned for more exciting updates… And if you haven’t already, please help spread the word on this ongoing project series.

Write-A-Thon Week One

OK, so I was a little distracted by events in the past week or so… Pedalpalooza here in “Sunny” Portland, Oregon… busy season at work… Pride Weekend… but I did sit down and bang out most of story number one. It is called “Shadows Will Fall.” A fun fantasy/psychological thriller or disturbing horror piece that is shaping up nicely. It’s inspired, in part, by the real-life struggles of someone near & dear to me… although I think he’ll be more than happy he doesn’t have the kind of life challenge that THIS protagonist winds up having!

… But, it may not be flash! That is, it may want to turn into a full blown short story. Eek!

Stay tuned for more exciting updates… And if you haven’t already, please help spread the word on this ongoing project series.