Another morning standing in line for craft classes instead of breakfast. I am hoping for Cristina Garcia and tomorrow for Ingrid Rojas Contreras. Workshopped by Ana Menendez. Hmmm, a trend has developed. Cultivating my inner Latino (such as it is)? Staying inside my comfort zone?
One chatty breakfast and good lecture (best of the three so far) later. I did get Cristina Garcia, notable to me mainly because I had heard of her before. Top takeaway: Before sitting down to write prose, read a poem. It puts you in a fresh state of mind.
I’ve redone the non-fiction piece again–I’m not doing the Red Dot opening–and really need to find a way to print it up. The computer center will not read the file I brought off my thumb drive, so I am retyping everything. It’s fortunately short. Did I say that I am the lead-off slot in the lgbtq reading? Bright light, podium, likely big crowd? So, no pressure. OK, yes, I did mention that. Super duper intimidating, but going for it. Tomorrow is a slow day and it will be very much appreciated. Nap anticipated.
After lunch. I’m thinking over the waiters reading. It drew a huge crowd, and ironically gave me a bit of confidence. I don’t think my piece is worse than some (most) of those, and they are the big rising talents. Listening to the work, I can’t tell who has a book coming out from a big-five publisher, and who has zero track record.
At today’s publication related event, an editor or agent said something to the effect that the people who have the hardest time getting published in fiction now are straight white men. To a lesser extent, straight white women. Say what? Have things shifted that much, and when? Hello, hello! I’m neither of those. Over here! Over here!
I’m hearing a lot about colonies, residencies, fellowships and so forth. It has cultish overtones. Several people have asked me how BL (I’m using insider abbreviations now, first sign of cult induction) is different from others conferences, or just my impressions. But they then seemed uncomprehending at my answers: it’s more academic, job-fairish, an unfamiliar culture. I am supposed to say its more magical, I think, inclusive, overflowing with love. They really seem very confused. Do they not see that many people here are trying to land teaching slots after their MFAs, and such? Or place articles? Or promote articles and books? I am not trying to be disagreeable, honestly, but I do note that the uncomprehending seem to be contributors with titled slots that come with subsidies: “Waiters,” “Scholars,” “Fellows.” It seem the whole enterprise looks different if you pay for it. It’s not that it’s NOT overflowing with love; it’s more a question of what that love gets you when someone more powerful wants your piece of pie (literally).
The look of sheer, dumb incomprehension is fairly remarkable. It mirrors the one when I mentioned all the NPR stations. I should take a picture. It’s like there was an orientation, and I missed it. Actually, I probably was sent a link and an invitation to ask any questions I had, and I didn’t. Still, I can’t help feel I’ve done something wrong; is it really so necessary to pretend? (Um, yes.)
I check the bookstore, where I placed three copies of the fresh new magazine (Tahoma Literary Review) with my story in it (entitled “Because of Course: An Award-winning Story”). I sold a copy of the book! [It turns out later it’s to my two local friends, but they really liked it, asked me to sign it (and introduced me to Ilya Kominsky, who was so great–his are the poems I plan to read, a la Christina Garcia).]