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?
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
boy gets girl
boy buys right girl
eviler spirits arise
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
on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted: Disability after Dark iTunes
June 9-10-11: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 – flight & hotel booked already
check out these poets from Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016
August 31-Sept.3 – I have my ticket already
November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet