Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fairhope Revelations

I went to the creative writing teachers' conference in Fairhope, Alabama this weekend. This is always an interesting and sometimes nerve-racking experience. I often leave with a different perspective on what I'm doing with my life and how I'm getting there.

Fairhope is a beautiful town, almost Stepford perfect, which is why it was hilarious when I tripped and skinned my knee and both palms on its Stepford-perfect sidewalks after having a few drinks at the pub down the block. The irony being that I can come home from the corner bar, or all the way from Markey's even, managing the holes, dips, rises, and all the other inconsistencies of a New Orleans sidewalk, but I can't walk on a perfect sidewalk in a perfect town?

I guess that fall -- which was witnessed by a shop owner who told me "I do it all the time" -- is something of a metaphor for my entire weekend. How I can traipse along perfectly well in my own sort of damaged, psuedo-successful publishing world -- small press horror anthologies, ebook short stories, sci fi web zines -- and feel good about everything and like I'm doing fine. And then -- BAM! One hundred thousand dollar advances from Random House that other people are getting hit me in the face like the concrete sidewalk. I'm left bloody, sore, and -- worst of all -- embarrassed.

I was wearing flip-flops after all.

We'll make this something of a six things Saturday.

  1. I have realized if I want to write a novel -- a real novel, not a collection of short stories like I already have, not a novella like the several I've churned out and sit on -- that I need to A. sell a novel to get an advance so I can work on another novel (something of a catch-22, since I can't get the first novel written). B. Win a grant to finish my first novel so I don't have to work while doing it. C. Get a part time job that pays enough so I have time and money to finish my novel. Short of working as an escort or exotic dancer, I don't think that job actually exists, so it's not an option. So instead I sit here, one of those English teachers who has "the great American novel" inside her but just can't find the time. Sheesh. Maybe this summer, right?
  2. I should have spent more nights hobnobbing after workshops when I was in the MFA program. But I always had to get up the next morning at 5:30 to go to work, so it seemed an impossibility at the time. Now I realize I might not still have to be getting up at 5:30 every morning if I'd gone to network back then, so you see my problem. It's hard to make up for lost time when you only see those people once a year.
  3. I hate palmetto bugs. I wish someone would pay me to write a chapbook rant about how much I hate them. I know that's a bit off topic, but I had to get it out there. Heck, I'm going to do it and put it on Smashwords. Maybe I'll work on it tomorrow. Would you pay ninety-nine cents for that? I wouldn't, because I hate palmetto bugs.
  4. In my defense, genre fiction is a perfectly fine way to make enough money to buy groceries and pay car insurance while still working on "the great American novel." Really. It is. Did I hear you say, "But if you spent that time writing the novel, it would get done"? Maybe, or maybe I'd want to write about space pirates instead. I like space pirates. There's nothing wrong with space pirates. Really.
  5. I'm pretty certain I can't actually write a novel. I've blamed it on my attention span, wanting to always move on to the next thing, but I think instead, once I get up to twenty or thirty thousand words, I start to doubt the worth of what I'm doing. I need to get over that.
  6. Finally, I have the best friends, family, and fans. Y'all have given me opportunities and feedback that I am completely and utterly grateful for. I walk solid on broken sidewalks because of you.

No comments:

Post a Comment