Friday, July 29, 2005

All the latest

Well, my postings have really fallen by the wayside because of the press of job duties, as well as the recent trips I have already mentioned.
Time to get caught up.
As I already pointed out, July presented some interesting challenges because of my having to spend three weekends in a row out of town.
As I mentioned, I spent the first weekend away on a job-related trip. The next I traveled to Tulsa for Conestoga.
Last weekend I attended a Turkey City workshop in Austin. This was the first workshop held A.S. (After Sterling). Bruce left last year to take a position as an creative genius in residence at a school of design in Pasadena, Ca. It's not like a tenured college professor position; he may return to Austin some day.
But in the meanwhile the Central Texas sci-fi and fantasy denizen have to live without him. The last Turkey City he hosted was last Oct. 30. I remember it well; that was the first writer's workshop I ever attended (not the first Turkey City, the first ever. Period).
Last April the North East Texas Writers Organization held a workshop in my hometown in Winnsboro, which I attended. One of the guests there was Dorothy Leblanc from Louisiana, who - as it turned out - was a member of the panel on Writer's Block I moderated at Conestoga.
So now a seasoned pro with TWO writer's workshops under my belt, I prepared to travel to Austin to my SECOND Turkey City, which was hosted by Lawrence Person. From what I know, he hosted it for many years, and then Bruce took it over, and now it's back in Lawrence.s hands.
The guests this time were Ted Chiang and Richard Butner. The other participants, in addition to Ted and Richard and Lawrence and I were Chris Nakashima-Brown, Howard Waldrop, Mikal Trimm, Steve Wilson, Ryan McReynolds, Stina Leicht, Jessica Reisman and Don Webb.
The workshop kicked off at 9 a.m., so to get there I left home at 4 a.m. I got a little turned around right before I got there and had to call Lawrence. I thought I lost because I found myself in Round Rock, but Lawrence is actually in the city of Round Rock, although he has an Austin address.
We all read each other's stories in the morning, broke for lunch at noon - which, to save time, Lawrence had delivered - and critiqued each other until 7:30 p.m.
Ted Chiang is obviously a gifted writer. The story he brought was an Arabian Nights knock-off. It reminded of what Kipling wrote in "The Conundrum of the Workshops", when he has the Devil say, "It's pretty, but is it art?"
I wasn't the only person who found the tale convoluted to the point that it was hard to follow.
I admitted to the other I have an essential lack of sympathy for stories with Arab settings after what the happy heathens have done to us. I don't think this went over well, but I don't care. Stories set in Germany didn't get much sympathy while the Nazis were galumphing. At this point I'm in the "Nuke 'em till they glow, then shoot them in the dark" kind of attitude.
Chris brought a story that was a ripping cyber-punk yarn (I never thought I'd find a story that would link "ripping yarn" and cyberpunk.
Howard's tale was a dark reworking of the story of Hansel and Gretel. Mikal whipped up a well-written and ambitious story about virtual communicating with the dead. Richard's tale was obtuse to the point I don't think anyone really got it.
Steve's story was a smart and funny take on reincarnation. Ryan's story was another ambitious story about how the unperfected with deal with eugenics in the future. Stina wrote a neat little perfect piece of fantasy. Jessica did a world-class piece of sci-fi world building. Don did a very good story about brain scrambling. Lawrence story's was a hoot which fulfilled the obligatory Chthulu requirement at every workshop.
Overall, top notch stuff. My story? Ah-hah, this is my blog. I don't have to say. Overall, though, when I think about the amount of work I invested in the story, I'm very happy with the feedback. I can probably expand it into three different stories later.
One thing I found fascinating was the range of technology among the participants. Chiang sat there and actually used a lap-top in his lap the whole time. He just leaned back from the table and kept tapping behind the screen on his lap. Never touched a piece of paper.
Meanwhile, I'm sitting next to Howard, who uses a fountain pen to make his notes.
As the workshop ended, I worked my previously-plotted plan, and placed a call to Gardner Dozois at home. I happened to recall it was his birthday. Thankfully, I actually got him on the phone, and after my best wishes, had the assembled members of the workshop sing him "Happy Birthday" as they stood around the table. I later passed the phone to Ted and Howard, and afterwards Lawrence talked to him.
By the time this folderol was all over, I was feeling very woozy. I obviously didn't get much sleep the night before, and all that starchy pizza at lunch wasn't good for my diabetes. A few goofy misstatements in conversations convinced me I would need to stay in Austin overnight.
Lawrence jumped in and was nice enough to offer his domicile - although I would have to sleep on the floor, and hit the hay after the party was over. No problem.
The party started at 8:30 and ran until past midnight. Ted knocked off about 12:30 and I think the last of us were Lawrence, Mikal, a young fellow named Patterson, and myself.
I crashed about 1:30 and slept like a log with a comforter underneath, a sheet and pillow Lawrence provided. Years ago when I was a boy scout I learned how to sleep on the ground, and I've never had a problem with that.
I got up before the others and hit the road before 9 a.m. I was back home by 3:30 p.m.
When chatting with Gardner, he said he's gotten his copy of the September Asimov's in the mail, with "A Rocket for the Republic". I was waiting all week for my copy, finally got it Thursday. Needless to say, I'm happy.
The wife and I are moving to a new home at the end of next week. I've been commuting 70 miles one-way to work each day since June 1st. This will cut my trip down to 8 miles. With the long commute and weekend trips, the Turkey City story was the only thing I've written in the past two months, but that should improve once I get settled in to the new home place.

1 comment:

  1. Nice to have seen you again, Lou! Also nice talking to you after the ever-popular 'crit them till they bleed' session. ;p



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