Archive for July, 2008

7/30/08: Launch Pad, day 0

Travel day today. Awoke 5am for a 6am cab that actually arrived at 5:50. I don’t think anything was left behind in the resulting mad scramble, though I did forget to empty my water bottle, which was duly confiscated by the TSA. Grr.

Uneventful flight to Denver, where I said goodbye to Kate, who is going to spend the next week relaxing and enjoying nature in the vicinity of Pikes Peak. Jay Lake and I had lunch, then wandered about the airport for some time looking for an unobstructed, working electrical outlet with something resembling seating nearby. We settled for sitting on the hard marble floor behind some garbage cans. What is it with airports and electrical outlets, anyway?

All the Launch Pad folks arrived by 4pm except for Nancy Kress, whose flight was delayed. We piled into a van and were driven to Laramie, where we were treated to dinner at the dome-topped Library restaurant (though we had to pay for our own drinks — no alcohol on the taxpayer’s nickel!). After dinner we had a whirlwind tour of the campus, then checked into our rooms.

The dorm is a lot like Clarion West (as it was when I attended, not the sorority house with personal chef those soft kids today have). Hard little beds, hard little chairs, bathroom down the hall. But it’s only for a week, and there’s Ethernet.

And the stars are gorgeous, even when seen from town. Which is, after all, why we are here.

7/27/08: Why can’t I be more like me?

Finished revising the global-warming/honor-killing story and sent it off. I fixed some of the worst probems, but I’m still not completely happy with it. The characters are deliberately unsympathetic, which will probably kill the story for many readers, and I still don’t think I’ve succeeded in establishing their motivations for a couple of key reversals. But the world of the story is so grim that I don’t want to spend any more time there, so off it goes. It may not sell, but at least I took a risk and tried something different.

Next up is revision of the magic-lesbian-plumber story, which should be much more fun.

I picked up a copy of Dozois’s latest Year’s Best and discovered that “Babel Probe” (Darker Matter), “Moonlight on the Carpet” (Aeon) and “Titanium Mike Saves the Day” (F&SF) all snagged Honorable Mentions. Go me.

One more thing before I go and take a nap: I found the following in a two-year-old email and decided that it’s worth sharing.

I saw a stupid TV show on MTV the other day, called something like “Why Can’t I Be You?” In this show, a person who isn’t happy with their life contacts the producers and says “I wish I were more like X,” where X is some former classmate or co-worker or random person on the street. In this particular instance it was some uptight barista who wanted to be more spontaneous, like this guy he knew in high school. The producers found the guy, put the two of them together, and told the guy “we want you to take this barista along with you everywhere for 48 hours and show him how to be like you, while we film everything. We’ll give you a thousand bucks.”

The result was only mildly entertaining and somewhat appalling, but it got me to thinking: what would I do in this situation? Which led me to ask myself which of the two roles I envisioned myself in. After a while I realized I could see myself in both roles. Which made me think of the show in this way: if the me who is depressed, angry, and antisocial came to the me who is happy, flexible, and outgoing (for I contain both people, as I’m sure most people do) and said “I want to be more like you,” what would I tell me to do?

It’s an interesting way to approach the question of how to make my life more like what I want it to be. No answers yet, but taking risks and reaching out to friends are part of it.

“Babel Probe,” “Moonlight on the Carpet,” and “Titanium Mike Saves the Day” all received Honorable Mentions in Gardner Dozois’s latest Year’s Best Science Fiction.

7/25/08: Where I’ve been, where I’m going

Wow, it’s been almost a month since my last post. Apologies.

The first week of that time was spent in Cleveland, at the annual gay square dance convention. Convention was fun as always, though as I commented on Sunday night “the more friends you have, the shorter Convention gets.” We had a great time at the Cedar Point amusement park, riding roller coasters. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an excellent museum, with clear informational signage and videos answering not only the question “what is this?” but “why is it important?” As for Cleveland itself… this city makes me realize just how good we have it in Portland. It’s a rust-belt city with crumbling infrastructure, the restaurant situation is dire, and the downtown area seemed almost completely unpopulated even in the middle of a weekday. They’re trying, Lord knows, with much new construction and investments in mass transit, but it feels desperate. I wish them luck.

The following week we put together a new issue of Bento. As usual, we went from “omigod we have nothing, what we do have sucks, this is never going to come together in time” to “hey look, it’s a zine!” with head-spinning rapidity. It’s back from the printer already, even. We’ll be handing out copies at the Worldcon and mailed copies will be sent shortly thereafter.

Planning on the bathroom remodel continues apace. We just signed the contract and will have the final walkthrough meeting (with the ceremonial handing-over of the first ginormous check) next Tuesday. Teardown starts shortly after we return from the Worldcon. We have only the one bathroom. We’ll manage somehow.

At the moment Kate is in Kennewick, helping our niece with Project Destroy Grandparents while Kate’s sister is in Sweden for some kind of martial arts thing. Yes, Sweden. Who knew it was a hotbed of kendo?

I’m batching it (should really be “baching it,” I suppose, but that doesn’t suggest its pronunciation) here in Portland for the nonce. I’ve been working on revising a short story but it’s going really slowly. I hate revisions. Too bad I have a lot of them to do right now.

Kate returns Sunday. On Wednesday we both leave for Denver, where we will disperse: me to Laramie for the Launch Pad astronomy workshop, Kate to a rustic lodge near Pikes Peak. We’ll rendezvous back in Denver the following Wednesday for the Worldcon, where my schedule is as follows:

  • Wed 11:30: Launch Pad: Astronomy for Writers
  • Wed 16:00: Reading: David Levine
  • Thur 10:00: Short Fiction: On its way out or a way to break into the market?
  • Thur 14:30: Have blogs and listservs replaced fanzines?
  • Fri 10:00: Clarion West Writers Workshop: How it Helped My Career
  • Fri 13:00: Signing (45 minutes)
  • Fri 14:30: Kaffeeklatch
  • Sat 11:30: Clarion West Student Readings, the 21st Century

And, looking a little further into the future, I’ll be giving a reading in San Francisco on September 20, part of the SF in SF reading series. This does mean skipping out on Saturday evening of the West Coast Gay Advanced and Challenge Square Dance Weekend. The perils of living in multiple fandoms.

Oh, one more thing: The signed and numbered hardcover of my collection Space Magic is now available from Wrigley-Cross Books.

7/1/08: Off to Cleveland

Sitting at the airport waiting for our flight to Cleveland for the annual gay square dance convention. Internet connectivity may be spotty for the next week.

I haven’t done any writing in the past week and I’m probably not going to do much during the convention. I think I am blocked by the story I need to revise. It’s the bleak nasty one that was (deservedly) given a fairly tough critique at Taos. I dislike revision at the best of times, and this story needs a lot of it. Also, to revise this story I’ll have to force my head back into a very uncomfortable place.

I could revise the other Taos story instead, the one that’s fun and light and I think people will really enjoy, but I think if I do that one now I may never get to the other one. And I think the other one is worth revising. It may never be published, but if it is I think it may piss people off in an interesting way.

Everyone have a great Fourth of July!