Thursday, November 18, 2010

I gave a reading at Orycon this year.

As a member of Broad Universe, I was invited to take part in one of their rapid-fire readings. This is where all the interested members join together to share a room and time slot for a reading, and every member gets a few minutes to take center stage.

The closest I've come to doing a reading before was a few weeks ago. The Wordos get together and read holiday themed pieces of flash fiction right before Halloween, and I happened to have a short enough piece that fit the theme. Now, when I did that reading, I'm pretty sure my hands were shaking badly enough that anyone in the room could tell I was nervous. For the Broad Universe reading, I was determined to keep my hands steady and hide my nervousness if possible. In retrospect, I'm not sure that was such a good idea... My hands stayed steady, but I think that the effort diverted blood from other, more important parts of my brain. For instance, the part that translates visual input from my eyes.

Fortunately, I'd practiced the excerpt of "Otters In Space" that I was reading several times earlier in the day. So, some of it was ad-libbed from memory. However, I could hear the audience laughing at all the right parts. Then, afterward, several people sought me out to tell me how much they enjoyed my reading. One man even sought me out the next day!

Overall, it was an incredibly rewarding experience.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

As I said, the last month has been all about writing. See, Elaine started going to preschool five mornings a week this fall. In honor of finally having a couple hours free every day for the first time in several years, I decided to devote pretty much every free minute I have (and some minutes that are not entirely free due to having a child bouncing around shouting, "Mom! Mom! Look at this!") to my writing. So, I've finished several short stories, and I hit the 30,000 word mark on "Otters In Space 2."

This was, apparently, not enough. So, as November -- and NaNoWriMo -- neared, I suddenly outlined an entirely new novel set in the Otters In Space universe. See, "Otters In Space" was originally started as a NaNoWriMo novel. I figured that no one would ever be willing to publish a piece of hard science fiction a la Arthur C. Clarke starring talking animals a la Brian Jacques. So, why not write it super fast as a NaNoWriMo novel? Except, by 15,000 words I realized I was writing something really special. So, I gave up on NaNoWriMo and gave "Otters In Space" the time and attention it needed to develop its full potential.

This means that 1) I have good associations with NaNoWriMo because I got "Otters In Space" out of it, and 2) I still haven't won!

So, I figured I'd try again this year, and either I'd finally win or at least get a good start. So far, I'm not quite 20,000 words into "Learning to Live and Love in a Dog's World," and it's going very well. I was even meeting my daily word count goals... until Orycon happened... which... of course... is when I burned out on "Otters In Space" in 2005...

Which brings us to Orycon...
The last month has been all about writing. Writing, writing, writing.

First off, I joined Wordos, the local science-fiction critique group. This is a group I'd heard about since looong before moving to Eugene. Members of this group win Writers of the Future almost every year. Needless to say, I was a little intimidated. So, even though I've meant to check them out since moving to Eugene, I kept putting it off. Then I finished a short story I started five years ago... This is the kind of story that is so complex and neat that it takes that long to write. Now, I don't mean I was working on it that whole time. In fact, I actually wrote the first few scenes quite quickly in 2005. But then I got stuck. I had the entire story outlined, but the emotional depth was beyond my abilities at that time. Then, three weeks ago, I suddenly sat down and over the course of two days hammered out the rest of it.

Needless to say, when you have a short story that is worthy of five years gestation time, it deserves that little bit extra to polish it up super nicely. So, I finally overcame my fear and joined the Wordos. And, I must say, the critiques they gave of that story last Tuesday were extremely valuable.