Summer Stock

It is now August, and I’m at the tail end of what has been a very busy summer.  I managed to move forward a bit with the novel, wrote two short stories, and an essay, and also took two classes toward my MFA degree and will be taking a third one beginning at the end of next week.   I sold one of the stories, and am still tinkering with the other, but have high hopes for it.  It’s a much weirder story than I’ve written in a long time, and so I’m still sort of interested and intrigued by it, because it’s a different sort of weird than I tend to write, hence my own interest in it.  And then I was invited to read at Thurber House, and will be reading at the residency period at Chatham in Pittsburgh this month, too.  Also, like a cherry on top, One for Sorrow was optioned to be made into a film by the director Carter Smith, who won the Sundance Film Festival’s short film category in 2006 with “Bug Crush” (You can watch it by clicking here).  He went on to make his first feature film with The Ruins, based on the horror novel of the same name, and seems to be about to make a film based on the novel, Come Closer, by Sara Gran (loved that book).  He’s also optioned Troll: A Love Story, by Johanna Sinisalo (also loved it), so I feel like his option on One for Sorrow makes a lot of sense, considering the sensibility of his other selections.  There’s never a guarantee that an option on a film will eventually become a reality, but I would be absolutely crazy thrilled if this does go forth some day.

Aside from these literary movements, household renovations and restorations are afoot: a new front porch to match the original (the foundation beneath the porch/patio was eroding due to some factors the original builders, 80 years ago, hadn’t thought of) and plans for a restoration of the bathroom to something along the lines of its 1930s design, much of which was there, just totally screwed up by previous owners who had absolutely no idea what they were doing to beautiful old decor.  Front garden was gorgeous all summer, though the back gardens still need to be redone.  Everyone says that when you own a house, there is always something coming up that needs to be done.  And they are correct.  I wish I were fabulously wealthy, so I could just get it all done and be finished with it for a while, rather than this plodding one-project-at-a-time pace.

Back to Pitt next Friday for a residency period.  Looking forward to being in the city again, though I probably won’t have as much time to explore it as I did during early July when I was there.  The residency schedule looks like it will be keeping me busy for most of the time.  I will make sure to still get out and eat Ethiopian, Indian, (good) Japanese, and Thai as much as possible, though.  I could be made easily happy as a lark, as they say, if someone here in Ytown opened up one of each of those and I no longer had to cook them all myself.  Food options are the source of my happiness.

Even though all of August is still before me, it feels like summer, free time, is over now.  Ah, well.  It was a good run while I was able to run freely.  Next year, it should be even a bit more freer.  Till then, onwards and upwards.

26 to 50

While I was in Pittsburgh, I received news from Japanese translator Yoshio Kobayashi, alerting me to a new website (in both English and Japanese), called 26 to 50. The site will host fiction, reviews, interviews, discussion, news, etc. about the field of fantastic literature.  Right now the site has short interviews with Lucius Shepard, Tim Pratt,Gordon Van Gelder, Alan Deniro, Ben Rosenbaum, myself, and others about a prospective “generation gap or lack there of” in the genre. It looks like the site may be a good place for English language spec fic and Japanese spec fic to change hands, always a nice bridge to cross.  It’s worth checking out, so get to it.

One resolution accomplished

Back around New Year’s, I made one writerly resolution.  From that blog post:

“One of my goals for the year is to write something joyful instead of melancholy, extroverted instead of introverted, playful instead of serious.  I suspect I will have to change some of the ways I perceive things to do so.  But that could be a good thing.  Fingers crossed and intentions set.  Full steam ahead.”

And finally, in May and June of this spring and summer, I think I’ve done it, in a short story.  It’s a more irregular way of writing for me, but it was definitely fun.  My only worry about writing a playful, joyful, less serious story is that there is less heft to such a story.  But then I wonder why play and joy may equate with less importance.  I think it may be more difficult to write this sort of story and also make it feel like the sort of story that lingers with a reader afterward for a long time, because the emotions aren’t the sort that pin a person down to something heavy.  Or this may not be a general issue at all, but simply one of my own issues.

That said, it was fun, and now it’s time to look it over one last time before sending it out into the world.  

One resolution down.  Now, back to trying to finish this third novel by end of 2009 at latest.  Puh-lease, Writing Gods, shine your benevolent light upon me (for an extended period of time). Thanks!

Goings-on

Because I am a lazy blogger these days, I’m simply going to link over to my friend Deb’s blog post about the events going on downtown in Ytown this weekend.  There’s good stuff:  the Artists of the Rustbelt Festival, the first GLBT Pride Day in Youngstown’s history, Jonesfest, and a historic walking tour.  Check out Deb’s blog for the skinny on everything, then come down and show your support.  I’ll be there.

Congrats, Maine

Congratulations, Maine, on being the next state to rise out of the mire of a twisted sensibility. Let’s hope more will follow soon. Until then, I leave you with this really awesome poem by Frank O’Hara:

 

Homosexuality

So we are taking off our masks, are we, and keeping
our mouths shut? as if we’d been pierced by a glance!

The song of an old cow is not more full of judgment
than the vapors which escape one’s soul when one is sick;

so I pull the shadows around me like a puff
and crinkle my eyes as if at the most exquisite moment

of a very long opera, and then we are off!
without reproach and without hope that our delicate feet

will touch the earth again, let alone “very soon.”
It is the law of my own voice I shall investigate.

I start like ice, my finger to my ear, my ear
to my heart, that proud cur at the garbage can

in the rain. It’s wonderful to admire oneself
with complete candor, tallying up the merits of each

of the latrines. 14th Street is drunken and credulous,
53 rd tries to tremble but is too at rest. The good

love a park and the inept a railway station,
and there are the divine ones who drag themselves up

and down the lengthening shadow of an Abyssinian head
in the dust, trailing their long elegant heels of hot air

crying to confuse the brave “It’s a summer day,
and I want to be wanted more than anything else in the world.”

Return of the sun

Very little to say except it is gorgeous outside.  Every day it seems things get a little brighter, a bit greener, and everything is beginning to smell like flowers.  It’s about time.  It wasn’t a terribly snowy winter here this year, but it was cold as usual.  I have a tendency to grow gloomy in the winter after a while, so this year I gave myself a course of vitamins, hoping it would counter the effect that grey prison wall skies have on me, and though I did notice a difference, which was very welcome, there was still a bit of struggle to get through.  I’m going to be spending a lot of time outdoors this summer.  If only you could store light somewhere in your body to use during the dark months.  Scientists, get on it! 

I have one more week of classes to teach, then several days of constant evaluation for grading, and then I’ll have a bit more time to myself than usual.  I’ll be doing some coursework of my own this summer, and working on my book, of course, so I certainly won’t be entirely free to wander through the summer months as if they’re endless.  I’ll be staying in Pittsburgh for quite a bit of time, actually, but it’ll be a bit of a break from the usual, and I’m looking forward to exploring that city more than I already have, getting to know it better.  

Other than this, I have a bit of good news to announce soonish, as soon as some paperwork is filed.  But mum’s the word till then.

Happy return of the sun.

On failing to keep up with Racefail

As I’ve not been reading blogs regularly over the past year of my new full time employment plus second-graduate-degree-taking schedule (I sometimes have very little time left in the day for eating and sleeping, it seems), I have remained ignorant of a great blogosphere debate that had been going on for what seems like it may be a month or two?  Only in the past day or two, as friends have e-mailed and people whose blogs I do try to keep up with from time to time have been talking about this thing that has been named Racefail, have I slowly (and admittedly, reluctantly–but only due, again, to my aforementioned time constraints) turned in the direction of the blogs where all of this apparently went down.  I haven’t read through all of it, to be honest.  There are weeks of posts and comments within posts.  It would be nice if there were a Cliff’s Notes edition to get the gist of the thing. (This is the closest I’ve come to finding that. Not notes so much as links to the occurrence in semi-chronological order?) But what it does seem to boil down to is that the problem of a very homogenous SF world of fandom and writers and editors and the like became a battleground issue.  It’s always been an issue.  If you look at the SF shelves in bookstores, there are few people of color represented on those shelves.  It’s a very white world.  It’s also very male.  It’s also increasingly very middle class and up (but that’s literature in general).  It’s also very heteronormative.  In other words, SF, despite calling itself the literature of ideas, is kind of clueless in terms of diversity, but more importantly in terms of its non-response as a community to the requests of those who feel outside the circle of normal to be let in.  

I’m not sure where people can go to with all of this after it’s come to such a frenzied and very personal place, and a lot of people have been hurt by it in various ways.  It seems now that the major players have gone back to their corners, more talk is going to come out of it.  But what are some things that people can actually do other than talk?  Talk is good.  It’s really good.  But as a local community activist here in my own hometown community, which has a plethora of these same issues at stake in its social structure, I know that the purpose of talk should lead to action of some sort.  A variety of actions.  Whether you’re a fan or a writer or an editor or a publisher, I think one of the things that can be done is to figure out what you, in your particular position, have the ability to do to help enact change.

For example, while editing the new volume of Interfictions, Delia and I were very purposeful in our desires for a balanced table of contents.  When you start trying to balance all of the various identity categories that exist, it does become a bit of a challenge, but luckily we were presented with great writing from people coming from a variety of backgrounds.  Men, women, people of color, LGBT writers, people of varying classes, ages, etc, and people of varying nationalities.  If we didn’t consciously seek to bring all of these variations together, the title of the anthology, which does refer to a kind of writing that is, at heart, seeking to refuse homogeneity in a variety of forms, wouldn’t reflect the anthology’s purpose.  This was one thing I felt I was able to do as an editor, and was grateful for the chance to do it when Delia asked me to be her partner in that endeavor.

There are other ways.  Some people can respond to it as an editor, or a writer in their writing, some people can continue an ongoing discussion in a blog or a blog community, some will be able to actually, hopefully, bring more work by people of color (in this case) into the public sphere.  Everyone has something they can do, if they want to, and that’s the thing needed if change is what any sort of community wishes to make happen.  And the community should also support the idea that not everyone can all do the same thing, and that it’s best for people to do what they can.  That’s a strength, to have people working at the desired change from a variety of angles.  Assess what you can do from your position in a community, and then do it.  And then perhaps these very obvious deficiencies in the SF community (or any kind of community) can begin to really change.

Otherwise, this same argument will only be set up to recycle for years to come.

Oh, wow, just found this, which seems exactly like the sort of thing that is a great response to all of this.

I’m looking forward (though also a little frightened) to searching through this tangled web of blog posts, and finding out more.

A change

Do you get tired of looking at the same colors and fonts and borders of a website/blog?  I do.  The blue of the former template for this site was totally starting to make me feel blue, so I decided on white with browns and greens, wishful thinking toward spring.  Also, for some reason, after I activated it, there was this old header image already in place at the top, one of me in Kyoto at Kiyomizu Temple, where the water is said to be purer than anywhere else on earth.  I feel a bit refreshed now.  I may be making some more changes to the site in the near future, if I get more time to do so.