This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the inaugural Canadian National Steampunk Exhibition (Twitter) which occurred just outside of Toronto.
(Steampunk in a nutshell is a revival of Victorian-era sensibilities, often with a rebellious (“punk”) edge. It manifests itself in fashion, music, and machinery, as well as in fiction.)
Unfortunately, I was only able to go on Sunday, so this is not a comprehensive review. From what I was able to see, the convention was well attended, the programming excellent, the dealers many and varied, the guests well dressed and very friendly.
I’ve always preferred to color outside the lines. No matter how awesome the box, I’m not good at staying inside it. I can’t march to anyone else’s drum. (Can’t really march at all, but anyway.) Perhaps it’s no surprise I’m awful at cramming my writing into a genre.
As a reader, I find genre highly useful. I know what I’m getting when I grab a space opera, a military SF, a cozy mystery, a Big Fat Fantasy. I want some surprises, of course, but I also want to know what I’m getting into. That what I’m picking up is the sort of book I’m going to enjoy.
That’s as a reader. As a writer…I have a serious genre-problem. I can’t help it—I like to cross lines. At the Alamo, I’d have been doomed for certain.
I play a game with myself at work. My bosses play a classic rock station on the radio, and I try to identify as many songs and artists as I can. What’s scary is that I’ve been able to identify almost all of them.
What’s interesting is that they evoke so many memories for me.
For instance, any song by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons brings up memories of my childhood at our old house. It’s summer. Dad’s working on one of his cars. Mom’s in the kitchen cooking. My sister and I are in the living room dancing to Dad’s Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tape (yes, this was before CDs and DVDs). I remember vividly “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Rag Doll,” and “Sherry.” There are many more.
Sometimes, in order for my writing craft to excel, I have to take a break from it. Which is why, at least once a year, I break out the assless chaps and hit a writing conference.
Writing conferences are great. While the free-love atmosphere and mind-boggling variety of mind-blowing drugs are not to be dismissed, I have to admit my favorite aspect of writing conferences are the booth babes.
I find myself in an interesting position now, and I suspect my Turtleduck compatriots are feeling much the same.
Never before have I really thought about where a story will end up while I’m still in the planning or writing stages of a project. It’s always been “I’ll write this, and worry about what I’m going to do with it later.”
I’ve long been interested in all kinds of dance and music. Over the years I’ve taken piano lessons, played in school bands, sung in choirs, gone to concerts and dance performances. More recently I’ve taken a variety of dance lessons, looking for the kind of dance that would speak to me.
Hip hop and salsa weren’t it. Flamenco was closer – all that drama and Spanish guitar, and the close attention to technique. Belly dance held some of the same attraction as flamenco, but I didn’t fall in love with either one.
Then I discovered contra dance.
I have a problem.
No, I mean…I have a Problem. A big problem. An I-need-a-12-step-program problem, only I wouldn’t go because I don’t want to recover. It’s fun. I like it.
You see…I want to know everything. Ever.
Oh, not gossip, or basketball scores, or how many hairs are on my arm–I want to know all the cool stuff.
All of it.
Did you know there are no rivers in the northern half of the Yucatán peninsula? The whole thing is karst! Local people access fresh water from the cenotes.
Love is a wonderful thing…most of the time. But sometimes, love goes bad. It becomes something horrible and wrong. It hurts more than it uplifts. It haunts you. It taunts you. It becomes a nightmare.
I’ve been in love enough times to be intimately familiar with both sides, the dark and the light. The happy and the sad. The wrong (too many times) and the right (once). In fact, it took me 30 years to find The One after many near misses (one ill-fated engagement that ended badly and one actual marriage that was right at the time, but hurt too much to continue). I’m happy to report that I’m happy and I’m in a solid, healthy relationship with the best husband on the planet. It took me quite awhile to get here, and the journey is what lead me to write Without Wings, my second chapbook, which is releasing on April 1st.
My first story was Snow White and the Seven Pygmy Pole Dancers. With hindsight, I realize that perhaps my fourth grade Show and Tell audience wasn’t ready yet for such a work. This lack of readiness was demonstrated by the relentless teasing I underwent at recess for the next week, something that did not end until I hit upon the strategy of telling individual tormentors that the character of Stumpy was based on them. At that point, the taunting turned into beatings. Severe beatings. And not the good kind – I was on the receiving end of these beatings. This was pretty much the template for my life through grade school and high school.
Is it any wonder I ran away to New York City, where I was sure my literary skills would be recognized and appreciated?
They lurk, unseen, waiting for you.
They can be anywhere. You can be sitting on the couch when one strikes. You can be walking down the street, at the store, in the shower, even in your own bed.
Then, they strike.