Fireworks? What fireworks are these? I hear fireworks from my sweltering top-floor room (uncooled, and less importantly at the moment, unheated) but cannot see the explosions.
I now feel the conference is more gold than dross–a switch from the early days, when the simultaneous sameness/alienness was hard to rise above–though the vast bulk is in between: using your noggin to learn things. Mainly in the workshop with Anna Menéndez and fellow Deepak Unnikrishnan, who have turned out to be the perfect match for me. Anna Menéndez is a dead ringer for a good friend of mine, so much so that I have to keep telling myself she is not Petra. Deepak Unnikrishnan is of Indian background but grew up and lives in Dubai, making me wish I had submitted pages from my India novel, or at least a short story set in the Gulf, of which I have two in a drawer somewhere. Hang on–the pages I submitted WERE set in India. So the folks matching writers with workshops have done a great job. Reading about them before coming, they seemed too perfect, so it’s a surprise to find that they actually are. I’m very excited. Both write in the same multinational drift that I do, and both laughed when I said that in the throes of graduate school I used to go to the airport and hang out to relax. After a good night of sleep, things are better.
Today I am seeing that, though the hierarchies and challenges are as I described, this is also a reflection of the ways we have available to put together a writing life. The academic way predominates, but many other ways are present as well, and inside the writers’ heads perhaps the differences are less stark. There is some pretty telling pressure to be positive. Love you, love your work.
OK, off to the 23rd reading of the conference, 10pm in the barn!
Oops. Got so wrapped up in trying to print my pages for the reading–which meant retyping them from scratch–that I missed my editor appointment. I think I actually walked right by the guy–an editor from a small press–at more or less the right time. I thought it was tomorrow. Perhaps a subliminal message from the old psyche: I am just pretending to have hope. I also talked informally (seated next to each other at a reading) to the agent I will be meeting later and I was not nervous at all. It was pleasant because at heart I know it doesn’t matter. Maybe this is what I’ve really come here to learn.
Yeah, I don’t like the sound of that at all. Pleasant: good. No mattering: not good.