DIY MFA Book Club: Day 1!

So, I signed up for the DIY MFA book club (because apparently I wasn’t already busy enough right now!). Today is day one and the prompt is: how did you become a writer?

I feel like I’ve always been a writer. Or at least, I’ve always thought of myself as one. I wrote a lot as a kid. I loved any and all creative writing assignments at school (there were never enough of them) and wrote on my own as well. I still have some of those early, fragmentary stories.

By the time I was in grade three I had the definite thought that I wanted to write books, but I didn’t have any idea about how to get there.

I read. A lot. All the time. All sorts of things.

As a teenager I went through the not-unusual very angsty poetry phase. But by the time I was in my 20s, I was preoccupied with essay writing for school and only the odd poem or short story.

Then I had children and I was busy with that for a while! But I still read. A lot. And went through various genres, but I’ve always loved mysteries and science fiction the most.

But once the children were both in school all day, I went back to writing and this time far more seriously than I had before. That was just over ten years ago. I started to write (a lot) and to take courses and read writing books and such.

Today, I have a stack of first drafts of novels, along with one that has gone through numerous drafts and edits and is just about ready to submit to agents/publishers (I have a short list and I need to decide soon how I am going to approach this).

I’ve had a handful of short stories published (and one upcoming in an anthology later this year).

I started this part of my writing journey writing literary fiction, but these days I am almost exclusively writing science fiction (intersectional feminist science fiction with a definite literary bent) and I feel like I have (finally) found the right writing spot for me.

 

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My writing about writing is on Medium now

After my years of indeterminate blogging about writing, I’ve decided to post those pieces on Medium as articles instead (and continue using the blog here for announcements and less share-worthy pieces).

My first article is about NaNoWriMo and what, if anything, I’ve learned from it:¬†Five mistakes I made in my first (eight) NaNoWriMo(s).

 

Can-Con 2018! Day 3!

And on to the third and last day of Can-Con. I had another commitment in the afternoon on Sunday, but I still managed to attend three panels.

I started the morning with “Odysseys: Old Worlds in New Words” with Amal el-Mohtar, Kate Heartfield, Violette Malan, and Kim-Mei Kirtland (Moderator). This was just a lovely discussion, mostly about Emily Wilson’s recent translation of the Odyssey. Highlights in the discussion included:

  • the changes in the meanings of words over time and how that impacts translations from previous times/places and our impression of the original work
  • a nice bit about the overarching ideas in the Odyssey about trying to home after an enormous cataclysm and whether home will recognize you or you will recognize home
  • and then there was some talk about translations in general and other pieces that could benefit from modern translations and the obvious pitfalls of translations coming from the Western academic tradition

Then there was a panel on “Writing to a Theme” using¬†Laksa Media’s latest anthology, Shades Within Us: Tales of Migrations and Fractured Borders as an example, with contributors Tonya Liburd, Sarah Raughley, Hayden Trenholm, and Eric Choi (Moderator). I love themed calls for submission! It was really interesting to hear the different perspectives from Tonya, Sarah, and Hayden on how they had approached the theme of migration, whether it was to challenge themself to do something different or coming from a longstanding interest or in order to use the platform to explore issues of importance to them. Key points:

  • if you think your story isn’t political, it’s in support of the status quo (Hayden)
  • it can be difficult to find a market for a story written to a theme that has been rejected (I have found this myself, too. For some it doesn’t matter as much. Eg, my story Leaving was originally written for a climate change story contest, but fit the Bikes in Space theme requirements easily enough. But I have a robot dinosaur story… And, also, other more open calls can be flooded by the recently rejected theme stories.)

And then, finally, there was a panel on “Chinese SF: The Literature, the Publishing Industry and the Fandom” (Lex Beckett, Crystal Huff, Derek Kunsken, Kelly Robson, and Adam Shaftoe-Durrant (Moderator)). This was a very interesting panel about the current state of science fiction in China, both from the point of view of Chinese science fiction and non-Chinese writers being invited to China. They stressed at the beginning that this was a very partial look at things. I’m not sure I can pick out highlights from this talk, they would all get very complicated. But the issues — of addressing social inequalities through fiction and how to deal with social change in a society that only allows certain avenues to explore that — are obviously complex and difficult for those outside to fully understand.

And that was Can-Con for this year! Every year, the con seems to get better. There are always far more panels, presentations, and readings than I can possibly squeeze in. And there is just such a wonderful, inclusive, and diverse atmosphere.

Can’t wait until next year! (Ottawa, October 18-20, 2019)