Head down, keep going.

I have ten days remaining to get my submission together for the novel workshop.  It’s coming along in fits and starts, always less quickly than I’d hoped, and with more screaming and gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair.  That said, when it’s good, it’s very very good.  Not the words themselves (those are still awful and messy and new) but the falling into trance-state where your fingers can barely keep up with the story your mind wants to tell — keep going faster faster more more!  And then three hours have gone by and your butt’s numb and it’s time to get up and stretch and pace and plot the next bit.  Like that.  Sometimes it’s hell, and other times it’s the perfect drug, and all you can do is show up at your desk at the appointed time and hope.

I’ll blog the process after it’s done, when I can see it (the novel, the process) clearly.  Both are still fragile and unformed, not yet ready for scrutiny.

Mad drafting (and an unfortunate bout of illness) has kept me away from social networking, and will probably continue to do so, possibly until after novel workshop, although knowing me I’ll start blogging once the workshop itself starts up.  My fellow novel-workshop-goers all seem smart and kind and well-published, and I’m looking forward to spending two weeks of wrist-breaking labor with them.

Below, my schedule for Wiscon.  I’m excited and terrified and I have an insane amount of prepwork to do in too little time.

The Author Is Dead, The Author Is Among Us

Michael Marc Levy, Bessy Gokey, Jeanne Griggs, Eileen Gunn, Brooke Wonders

Sat, 10:00–11:15 am, Conference 4

The “Death of the Author” school of literary criticism holds that the intentions and biographical experiences of the author should not be considered when analyzing and critiquing creative works, that the impressions and interpretations of readers matter more than the intentions of the writer. But, on the Internet, the author is not only very much alive, but may be only a click and a comment away. How do we reconcile this argument against authorial privilege within a community where the author is often a participant in the critical conversation? Can we talk about the author being dead, even as the author sits among us?

Beyond the Genre v. Literary Debate

Richard Chwedyk, Ben Burgis, Jeanne Griggs, Michael Marc Levy, Brooke Wonders

Sat. 1-2:25pm Room 629

Arthur Krystal of The New Yorker harps on the “limitations” of genre fiction; Lev Grossman insists in Time Magazine that literary fiction is a genre just like any other genre, and that lots of genre fiction is actually very good by any literary standard. People, is there a way to make this debate less frigging boring? Let’s talk about what those apparently polar opposites, pulp fiction and literary modernism, might have in common; about what it takes for critics to read genre fiction well; and about the class issue that looms over this topic but hasn’t made its way into either The New Yorker or Time.

Steal Like an Artist

SN Arly, Kater Cheek, Alexander Erin, Michael Underwood, Brooke Wonders

Sat. 4-5pm, Conference 4

In March 2011 Austin Kleon posted a concise presentation on artists and ideas on his blog. The central focus was that there are no truly new ideas, just new and different (and sometimes not so new and different) mashups of old ideas or combinations of existing things. How do you steal like an artist? What’s safe or okay to steal? When is something not safe, off limits or even illegal to steal? How does this make fiction more realistic or believable? When taking ideas or elements from cultures other than your own, what’s okay to use and at what point does it cross the line into unacceptable cultural appropriation?

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Also, a new publication to announce!  My short-story “Memoir” will appear in Wreckage of Reason II, an anthology of experimental women’s writing, out in 2014.  I am tremendously pleased this story has found a home.  It was one of my Clarion application stories, so it has a soft spot in my heart, since it won me seventeen lovely writer-friends plus James.

And finally, my story, “The Entomologist’s Three Ballgowns,” which I read at Wit Rabbit back in September of 2012 (the day after Worldcon ended.  I was SO tired), will go live as part of Electric Velocipede 26 on May 2.  The cover teaser is out, and it’s going to be gorgeous.  I’ll once again be appearing alongside E. Catherine Tobler, whose work I adore.  I feel like I’m following her around the web.

Sheesh, news piles up when I’m away from the blog for too long.  Happy springtime, Chicago!  And now, back under a rock with me.

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