DIY MFA Book Club: What’s Your Storytelling Superpower?

Today’s prompt from the DIY MFA Book Club is: What’s Your Storytelling Superpower? and the idea is to reflect on one’s strengths as a writer. And there’s a fun quiz at DIY MFA to identify what your storytelling superpower is to start that process.

So, according to the quiz I’m a Protector. My characters see their world in danger and protect the world and those they love, at whatever cost to themselves.

At first glance, I wasn’t sure how well that really applied to my work. I think of my stories as being very ‘small’ in the sense that my characters deal with personal issues for the most part. (Although they are also science fiction and take place in a near-future and usually not on Earth.)

But the more I think about it, the more I do see something of the ‘Protector’ in my work, especially a few of my more recent short stories. I have a recently published story that deals with a woman making a decision about whether or not to leave her small, coastal town as the effects of climate change mount around her. And there is another story about a woman trying to escape with her child from a spaceship under attack. (Links to the anthologies those stories appear in are here.)

In both of those cases, there is a sense that the main character is trying to hold on to something that is slipping away, that she wants to protect, but it is something that she may or may not be successful at doing.

Perhaps I’m a failed Protector, in the sense that my characters often face loss and decisions that must be made between bad choices. They may want to protect the world and those they love, but it is not always possible. Events transpire that limit or define their agency. Or, if it is possible to protect something, it is not in the way that they originally thought. (That last idea is explored in a story I have coming out later this year.)

 

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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)