Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Tuesday, 07 September 2004

Spent the evening working on the providence story. I cut one scene and added another. I made some other small cuts, based on comments from Toby and Dave from their critiques at the Bluffton workshop. I worked on exploring the hero's motivation, using the stuff that I figured out last week at WorldCon. It's very close now, but there's still more to do. One comment I wrote down from that critique session is:

"He realized he was unhappy" is not the hard emotional work of making the decision.

Yeah, that's fair. The hero needs to grapple with that decision, not just slide into it.

Besides the writing, which went very well, it was an ordinary good day. I'm back at the day job after two days of vacation and a three-day weekend. It's okay. I came home at lunch time and had lunch with Jackie, which is always a treat.

The rest of this is a partial con report. I just don't have time to write more.

At TorCon (last year), I went to panels based on the panel topic. I saw some good panels and some bad panels. It was okay. But I decided to do things differently this time. I looked for people that I wanted to see, and then went to their panels, whatever the topic. That was better. I also went to fewer panels, and instead went to more readings. That was also a smart move.

The first panel I went to was a sort of demo of a critique session. Clarion instructor James Patrick Kelly had a story critiqued by a group which included Clarion instructor Kelly Link and Clarion classmate Theodora Goss as well as other folks like Vandana Singh and Gavin Grant. The critique session was much like any Clarion-style critique session (with perhaps just a tiny bit of playing to the audience). It was a good story, with the potential to be a great, wonderfully creepy story with some work.

I saw Jim a couple more times: at his reading and at a panel on saving Clarion. I also ran into him in the dealer room where he introduced me to Ellen Datlow (which I'd asked him to do). So, I got to thank her for the comments she'd been giving me in rejections.

The "saving Clarion" panel was a little discouraging. There was talk about how to raise money. Some of the suggestions were put immediately into practice; Cory Doctorow wrapped up his reading (which was excellent) by auctioning off his reading manuscript, with the proceeds to go to Clarion. Jim was selling nicely produced CDs with MP3s of him reading some of his stories, and he sold those with the proceeds going to Clarion. But I don't really think raising money is going to be the hard part. What Clarion needs is an executive director who can make a plan for the workshop. With a plan, the fundraising part will be easy. The hard part is the work of coming up with a plan and seeing that things get done according to the plan.

I went to a talk given by Vandana Singh (who had also been in Jim's critique group) talking about post-colonial science fiction. That was a great talk, and makes me want to track down and read more of her fiction. As a start, I picked up a copy of So Long Been Dreaming, which includes a story by Tobias Buckell as well. It took a while before I tracked down a copy of the book, and I didn't see Vandana again after that, so I couldn't get her to sign her story for me. I did find Toby and got him to sign his.

Jackie and I went to the First Night extravaganza. There was a lot to see, but we spent almost all our time watching the belly dancers. There were many great performances, but I particularly enjoyed the funny ones. One had three women dancing to the tune of the surfer song "Wipeout," incorporating go-go dancing movies with the traditional belly dance techniques. Another was a traditional dance, but the music was the Buffy theme song. Another really excellent one had the girls costumed with cat ears and tails and included cat grooming moves and mock slashing with claws into the routine.

My mom came to visit, taking a bus to get there from Amherst, and then two subways to get from the bus station to the convention center. I bought her a day membership and she joined us for a couple of panels, a turn through the art exhibit, and a visit to the Esperanto table. Rather than sending her back to the subway station, Jackie and I walked with her to the bus station (which wasn't far, but was twice as far as the first (defective) map we used had indicated).

I did a couple of stints sitting at the Esperanto table, talking to fans about Esperanto. That was fun, but not fun enough for me to want to do my share. There were several other Esperantists, though, so the table got covered pretty well.

I met Marissa! She and Timprov met Jackie and me for dinner on Friday. We went to a Kashmiri restaurant near the convention center. It was good food and excellent company. Marissa has said in the past that people who only know her on-line are often surprised by her in person. I wasn't so very surprised, though, except that I thought she'd be shorter. She looks just like her pictures and talks just like her email.

Jackie brought Singularity Sky along to read during the con and I bought a copy of The Atrocity Archive in the dealers room and took both to get signed by Charlie Stross.

I ran into John Savage on Friday night and tagged along with him to get stickered up to get into the SFWA suite, and hung out there for a bit. Among other people, I ran into Jaime Voss, who had been at Toby's BBQ the last day of the Bluffton workshop.

I went back to the SFWA suite on Sunday night. One guy there was Dave Nickle, whom I had met at TorCon. He remembered me and introduced me to David Marusek. I got to say what an impact "We Were Out of Our Minds With Joy" had had on me. The three of us chatted for a while, and then Nancy Kress came by, and then Ellen Datlow and Sheila Williams joined us. I was in big-name author and editor heaven.

On Sunday I ran into David Barr Kirtley and he mentioned that Toby had a 1:00 panel. I hadn't managed to make it to Toby's reading (saw Vandana Singh's talk, as Toby had suggested) and hadn't managed to fit in any of his other panels either, so I went to that one, even though the topic (writers block) didn't sound very interesting. It turned out to be a great panel, though, with lots of useful info and suggestions and very little tedious wailing and gnashing of teeth. After that we got together for a late lunch and chatted a bit, the whole Bluffton workshop back together.

I went to the Strange Horizons/Small Beer Press tea party, which had been the event at TorCon and was mobbed again this year despite the fact that the hotel wouldn't tell them what room they could use until just hours before the party. I saw Diana Sherman, whom I'd met at the SFWA suite last year, and chatted with her and Simran. Diana had bought some maple candy and gave me one! After talking to her, I found Dora sitting with a group on the far side of the room and got to meet Sarah and Em. While we were talking, a woman went past us, and when she was heading back again, I noticed that she was Samantha Ling. I'd linked to her journal when she went to Clarion West the same year I went to Clarion, but I'd never met her before, so I stopped her and chatted with her. Later, when our little corner group broke up, I found her in the hallway and got introduced to various people, including Jenn Reese, whose Clarion journal I read before I went to Clarion.

Let's see. I met lots of other people without getting a chance to talk much. Geoff Landis and Mary Turzillo were at the Asimov's and Analog table. I saw Hannah Wolf Bowen at Cory Doctorow's reading. I asked Cory about the story he'd read part of at TorCon (about Jewish death rituals and emergent behavior), and he said he hadn't sold it yet.

Okay, that's all I have time for. I'm sure I've missed people. Sorry!


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