prusik: Newton fractal centered at zero (Default)
[personal profile] prusik
I may joke that ReaderCon is a Lit Crit conference masquerading as an SF convention and that, at times, it's really WriterCon, but that doesn't mean they aren't true. I also think that, for me, those are two of ReaderCon's best qualities. I love that people take genre writing seriously enough to debate its merits and to have fun with it.

This year, as usual, there are lots of interesting panel discussions. The ones that I found most interesting were the slipstream panels, the fairy tale panel and the "intimidated by story potential" panel. The latter was especially terrific in that it got into (literally) the Zen of the writing process. This, frankly, is exactly what I need right now. I was glad to hear Elizabeth Bear stress the need for mindful practice. That is, at some point, merely writing isn't enough. You really do have to pay attention to what you're doing to make sure all of the lessons you've learned take.

There was one question that I never got a chance to ask because I could never figure out how to phrase it. The panelists in the two slipstream panels agreed that slipstream describes fiction for which convention reading protocols don't apply. It leaves the reader confused as to the state of world and what actually happened in the story. Now, what's interesting is that some of the qualities we associate with slipstream are also the qualities we associate with poorly written fiction. Now, when I read it, I can distinguish between slipstream and poorly written. However, the provision definitions they came up with don't really articulate what that difference is. So, how do we articulate that difference?

I never asked because I hate being a virtual panelist. i.e., instead of asking the panel interesting questions, virtual panelists pontificate. I'm not saying that people shouldn't do that (although I find them annoy if they simply use to run out the clock bloviating). However, I don't want to be one of those people. I don't see why the audience at large or the panelists should care about my personal reaction to what they said. This pretty much means I'm not asking any question with a paragraph long set up. If I want to ask this question that badly, I'm going to do it by writing so well, they ask me to be on a ReaderCon panel on slipstream. (i.e., if I want to be on a panel so much, I'm going to earn that position. However, this actually isn't an incentive to write well for me.)

Now as for what I actually learned...

A two pound palmtop computing device feels like much more than two pounds by the end of the day. I wonder how the people with actual laptops were dealing with it. (A sub one pound device which fits in my pant pocket would have worked out much better than a two pound device which fits in my jacket pocket. I wasn't always wearing the jacket. If I had been, I don't think I would have noticed the weight as much.)

The handheld computing device so absolutely works in this context. Now, I didn't use it to take notes. But that's mostly because I don't really take notes during these things. (I did jot down the names of some magazines I should be reading and submitting to, but that's about it. That went into my moleskine.) But it was terrific because I got to do some writing and editing during ReaderCon. I think if I deferred handwriting recognition, I so could have taken notes with it during any given panel. (I'd defer recognition because the likelihood that it would recognize "velocipede" without me inserting it into the dictionary ahead of time is about zero.)

No one can define slipstream, but we are willing to spend hours trying. I should point out that I thoroughly enjoyed the slipstream panels. They were fascinating hours. They may be because the working canon of slipstream books one panel came up with looks suspiciously like my list of books that I haven't gotten to yet. I always leave ReaderCon with this urge to write slipstream fiction. The only problem is that one of the properties of slipstream fiction seems to be that no one does it deliberately. Or at least no one has admitted to this during a ReaderCon panel on slipstream.

I discovered that there's a lot about writing that I already know. I just need to focus on keeping all of that in mind when I write so that I can make brand new mistakes rather than the same ones over and over again. I think that's the only way I'm going to learn the lots of things about writing I don't know, and become a better writer at this point. (It was also good to hear Elizabeth Bear say that it's ok, actually necessary, to break your really good ideas in your growth as a writer. She suggested that, in ten years, you could go back and rewrite them.)

If I find going to cons an exhausting experience (and I do), then going to a two hour class on improv right afterwards was perhaps not the smartest thing I could do. (However, this was when the improv course started. Oh well, it's not like anything bad happened. I was just not especially participatory.)

Anyways, I spent a bunch of time with [ profile] avocadovpx and a bunch of other VPers which was lots of fun.

I'm definitely going next year. I should probably volunteer.

Date: 2007-07-09 09:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Excellent post! Thank you for the insights. :)

Date: 2007-07-09 11:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, that was so interesting. Thanks for that.

Date: 2007-07-09 03:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Very cool points. Sounds like it was well worth it.


prusik: Newton fractal centered at zero (Default)

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