Friday, June 25, 2010

Getting away from it all

I'm a notoriously cranky packer but a great traveler. The second I walk through the doors into Sea-Tac, all thoughts of garden-watering schedules, feline demands, last-minute clothing repairs, and my clients' supposed emergencies vaporize.

I'm on vacation!

I don't know if it's this mindset that makes magical things happen, or if it's just that the mindset makes a lot of what happens seem magical, but travel is fun. (And it helps that I'm traveling with The Scholarly Gentleman.)

The plane to Minneapolis got cancelled, but miraculously replaced, so the four-hour delay was only 40 minutes, and we got to Minneapolis roughly on time. Delta's avaricious baggage checking fees meant that TSG took a roll-aboard suitcase (filled more with books and flyers than clothes) and wore his brown Victorian top hat.

It got some looks, but none more startled that the look from the slim young woman in Arrivals at Minneapolis who was also wearing a brown Victorian top hat. Hers was theatrically outsized, and had an orange wig attached. That, and her Steampunk clothing, indicated she was for some reason channeling Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter from the recent Alice in Wonderland film.

I read Kim Newman's Anno Dracula on the plane, a clever, name-dropping Victorian vampire/Ripper/mystery novel (it mentioned Dodgson aka Lewis Caroll) that seemed to me like a novella that got bundled up in a lot of back and forth extra details. But, then, I think that almost all Ripper books are better at novella length. The ending, however, was great.

Fourth Street doesn't officially start until today, but we got off to a grand start last night with 30 or so of the early birds doing the premiere reading of Jo Walton's comedy "Three Shouts on a Hill." I got to play King Lugh, which involved a lot of stern bellowing.

This morning got off to a very slow start. I sat down at the hotel room desk and wrote a customer profile (as a result of finally chasing down the interview subject, by phone, yesterday evening). It felt great to get that sent off.

The Clarion West Write-a-thon is underway, and I just saw the list of last week's donors to my Write-a-thon page. I was touched, surprised, charmed, mystified — you name it — by the folks who donated to support my work and the Clarion West Writers Workshop. More than 70 of us — Clarion West graduates, board members, and friends of Clarion West — have created Write-a-thon pages with excerpts from our fiction writing and descriptions of our writing goals for the six weeks of the Write-a-thon. (It runs in parallel with the summer workshop, at which the students, many of them able to attend Clarion West only through our scholarship support, are having the writing experiences of their lives.)

In my case, the Write-a-thon is a "submit-a-thon." I've got three or four finished pieces that need me to stop polishing them and send them out to editors of magazines. I was greatly encouraged last week by an award-winning speculative fiction writer who said the reason a story doesn't have to be perfect is that editors like to find some flaw in it that they can analyze and tell you to fix. I'm not sure that's true, but it is encouraging.

Please donate. If my page has brought in $250 in total donations by the end of July, I've promised to match my supporters' gifts with an additional $250 — which about the amount I'll make if one of the stories I submit gets purchased.

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