Doings, post-Spring-semester

If you’re looking at this site, it may be because you’ve read something I wrote or run across me somewhere on the internet, and now you’re wondering, What does this person do? Of course, if I haven’t posted anything recently you might then think the answer is not muchBut, dear reader, I am pleased to tell you that this is not entirely true. So, here are some things that I’m doing:

The Bread Loaf Translators Workshop: You may have heard of the Bread Loaf Writers Workshop, which is for poets (I assume they do lines and brawl) and prose writers (who mostly drink and plot) (okay, pardon my puns, I’m out of coffee and trying to subsist on tea, it’s like I’ve got no… oh god forgive me, I can’t help it… filter). Yes, that all sounds fun, too. But what I’m attending is the first Bread Loaf workshop for translators, so for a week I’m going to play around in the mountains with this totally obscure French spec fic novel from 1914, plus a bunch of other writer/translator types, and I think I will learn a lot.

Horror films: My dissertation research involves the early cinema, and lately I’ve been reading a lot about what’s sometimes called psychocinematics and neurocinematics, which is basically thinking about cinema from a cognitive psychology or neuroscience perspective. So there I am, reading an article about eye tracking experiments with film viewers, and suddenly this scene from It Follows popped into my head. You know the one, where they’re doing this 360-degree pan and the follower person is way in the background and suddenly you’re doing googly eyes trying to decide where to look? Yeah. And since my advisor mentioned to me, way back, that maybe I should write a paper on more recent films (he probably meant French ones), I grabbed that wild hair and am chasing it (which would make more sense if it were a wild hare, wouldn’t it? I’ve been looking up this idiom and it makes no damn sense).

The Garden: It’s almost June! My vegetable patch is still full of weeds! I’m not a great gardener, but spring weather inspires a great deal of enthusiasm: the perennials are coming up, those rotten kids are pulling the heads off my peonies again, I’m making quiche with the dandelions and the lambs-quarters… it’s all very lovely and happy, and I try to do a little every day. So for the moment the garden provides my brain-resting activity. That and rewatching Parks and Recreation on Netflix, but I can’t weed at night, can I?

So you see, although I’m not teaching this summer, I actually have a lot to do. I didn’t even mention the dissertation! Once I get this horror film bug out of my system, my main summer project is, of course, the diss. And fiction, always, as that particular bug seems to be a chronic condition.

Words in, words out

One always hopes to have fabulous news to report, but, as for most mere mortals, some of my weeks are more thrilling and report-worthy than others. So, I must be honest: nothing big has happened to me, writing-wise, in the past couple of days.

And yet, isn’t the work really an incremental process? and isn’t the victory or progress really gained in those weeks and moments when one is inching along, putting words on the screen or paint on the canvas or numbers in the database or whatever, isn’t that the actual accomplishment and not the moment when someone else says “Good job”? So why not celebrate, or at least acknowledge, the work that goes on inbetween whatever moments of recognition one is fortunate enough to receive?

This also, conveniently, gives me something to post about on a semi-regular basis, when other things do not offer themselves.

So, in that spirit, I reveal the topic I will post about when I don’t have other stuff to post about. A status report, of sorts.

Words in:

  • I’ve been reading a lot about French balloonists and lighter-than-air flight in the 19th century. Also about anoxia.
  • Read the new issue of The Dark. Quality writing throughout, but I especially liked Sandra McDonald’s “Welcome to Argentia”. Such clean and masterful prose. And interesting to see a story in which the land is the main character.
  • I’ve been reading submissions for Apex Magazine for a few months now. It’s always a mixed bag—some stories I love, some I like, some that aren’t quite there yet. But it’s always interesting, always a privilege.

Words out:

  • In October I started this story about two teenaged girls trying to work things out with the devil. Finished it mid-January (after a few breaks) and have now picked it up again to edit. For some reason this one’s hard for me, can’t get my head around it. But I got a good feeling.
  • The diss grows, paragraph by paragraph. Currently I’m writing about the balloonists.

All right, my little audience. Hope your week is full of victories, large and small.