Colloquium 2017

This year’s SpecFic spread its tentacles in a new location – 918 Bathurst Street. As long as it is within walking distance of both a subway station & a Starbucks I’m happy.

In her opening remarks for this years SpecFic Sandra Kasturi mentioned that the one complaint the consistently she gets is that there are too many ideas to deal with let alone process. Truer words are rarely spoken as the day’s presenters flooded 918 Bathurst with endless visions of the future & ideas about the present.

First presenter was Julie Czerneda: “It’s a Wrap, Folks” a talk about the writing process itself. How to end a story. She talked about some the traps: i.e. the wrap-up-every-thread ending. Some things can force an ending like word count, submission deadlines. A resolution is not necessarily the ending. Ending shouldn’t be a new plot point unless it is leading to a sequel. If you are having ending issue – ramp up the tension to force one.

She was followed by Robert Boyczuk: “Why You (Still) Can’t Teach Writing” a talk on the usefulness or uselessness of creative writing courses & workshops. One can learn structure & how to have a sharper critical eye but not how to be more creative. He feels sometimes writers spend more time in, looking for, or talking about workshops than they spend writing. My personal experience is often writers judge work by who you’ve studied with than the actual quality of the writing itself. The presentation turned into a discussion about editors & copy writers (maybe something for next year).

The morning sessions wrapped with Jason Taniguchi: “Long Ago and Far, Far Away: Falling Hard for Fictional Worlds” a talk about the lure of alien worlds. This was a great talk about what it takes to do successful world building – something that all writers need to know not just specfic writers. His list of elements included things like ‘it is spilling over with unique specific details’ ‘it has a sense of its own history.’ The importance of representation in world building is becoming more important – what races, genders are in your world? He felt things like Harry Potter or Hunger Games were markedly white & heterosexual.

Unfortunately the day was too damp cold & gloomy for patio lunching. Was glad to get some fresh air with a quick walk to the nearest Starbucks to reap the rewards of my bonus stars – stars it seems one earns merely by walking past a Starbucks – by the time I got back my microwaved sandwich was cool enough to eat.

After the lunch break Sandra read Madeline Ashby: “Abandon All Hope, Eh?: Lessons Learned from the Company Town Tour” – it raised questions such as ‘how can you impose borders on stolen land? utopian for who? the world you are happiest in may ‘not be the best possible world’ What is the future? M feels that to transform Canada we need to move away from resource based economy. We have a skewed sense of what progress really means – is it faster internet connection or being able to live without the internet? Madeline fell ill & couldn’t even Skype – now that’s ill.

This was followed by Vicki Clough: “Alternate Realities in Art” a look at how fine arts are creating a space for epic story telling. I say fine arts – i.e. painting, sculpture as opposed to illustrated novels. She used the work of Kent Monkman & Saya Woolfalk to explore how this is done. Kent reinterprets classic paintings by interjecting his alter ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle into them; Saya tells the story of a species that switches between animal & plant. Kent’s inventiveness made me wonder if writers might be able to do the same thing – could I rewrite say David Copperfield & find a way to insert my p.o.v to add a layer of observational commentary: it was the best of TOpoet.ca and the worse of TOpoet.ca?
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The day wrapped with keynote speaker Cory Doctorow “I Can’t Let You Do That Dave” a, for me, overly tech talk about the dangers of DRM coding that allows makers to control how their devices get used but which also comprises personal privacy & safety. Devices can be hijacked to attack their owners – car computers, thanks to DRM (I think) are vulnerable to 3rd party steering. He spoke directly & passionately about our right to control our data. Check out OpenMedia.ca for how to get involved in protecting our rights.

By the end of the day I was exhausted from sitting, listening & at times, even thinking. 918 was a good venue for the colloquium even though it didn’t appear to be at all accessible. Didn’t spot a wheelchair ramp, washrooms were down flights of stairs. Looking forward next years.

ps: in my loot bag: Playground of Lost Toys: ed Anderson/Pflug; Year’s Best Weird Fiction: ed Barron/Kelly; Buffalo Soldier: Broaddus; The Society of Experience: Cahill; Winter Tide: Emrys; Quaternity: Hoover; Proof of Concept: Jones; Those Who Make Us: ed Morris/Trembly; Dead Americans: Peek; Broken Baloons: Prussky; Lifeblood: Showalter; Dead Girls Don’t: Story; Blood & Water: Trenholm 🙂

Past Colloquium posts:

2014: Colloquium in the Round http://wp.me/p1RtxU-EW

2015: Up SpecFic Alleys: http://wp.me/p1RtxU-173

2016: Ghost in the Twitter Feed http://wp.me/p1RtxU-1F6

rough draft sample

Spoilers

boy gets girl

dog lives

monster vanquished

boy buys right girl

man repents

eviler spirits arise

escape succeeds

money isn’t enough

love conquers all

she feels complete in marriage

success isn’t everything

family is reunited

all is forgiven

things are never the same again

she knows better

he finds a purpose in self sacrifice

boy gets boy

dog learns a lesson

man rescued from loneliness by child

greed is punished

being pretty isn’t fulfilling

he didn’t really want her

the lame horse wins a race

he dies saving others

the truth remains hidden

it was all a dream

the boy was once a girl

there is no escaping

they were ghosts

drugs were a bad choice

bad guy repents

she was a princess all along

the villain was his father

the castle blows up

the space ship blows up

the race is won

marriage means more than career

he is a genius

the plants were evil

Satan is foiled

he walks again

she forgives her rapist

he sees the errors of his ways

his heart is ten times bigger

everyone is dead

Chapbooks available: http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

meandchap

kiss314257567_1162384753819933_3271661288579707843_oon going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Disability after Dark  iTunes

April season 3 FINALS – Friday April 15th Buddies in Bad Times – early show – 7pm start – Featuring Queen Sheba. Slam winner gets trip to Capturing Fire & maybe coffee with me in DC.games

http://www.queerslam.com/season-3-dates.html

June 9-10-11: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 – flight & hotel booked already

https://capfireslam.org

check out these poets from  Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016

August 31-Sept.3 – I have my ticket already

fec17-header

https://www.facebook.com/events/526940540845331/

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winner

http://nanowrimo.org/

money

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

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