Monday, February 22, 2010

A Writer's Army: Supporters

'Lo Peoples,

I grew up in a housing project in Boston. No, it wasn't always rough. But sometimes, just stepping out of your door meant heading into some kind of confrontation, so you'd probably avoid the struggle if you had reliable backup. I'd occasionally get into scraps when I walked alone, therefore, I've come to appreciate having somebody at my back so I get on with taking care of business.

Writing can be like a war. It's a war with laziness, with doubt, and with the internalized naysayers who range from the Highschool English teacher to a form rejection letter. Damn straight, I need me some backup to deal with all that.

So, I got me a posse. I'm dating myself by referring to the Old School lingo for my backup. They range in age, ethnic background, gender, sexual preference, and experience. I'm taking a moment to be grateful for them because they make it easier for me to put word after word together. I'm naming them in no particular order but as they pop into memory.

First, I'd like to thank B. Findlay-Cordova, my sister, an amazing writer in her own right. We dealt with our adolescent trauma by lying around and making up stories so realistic that our Mom routinely questioned us as to whom were we talking about. B- relinquished one of our shared worlds to me so I could go about adapting it for novelization. B- took out a loan so I could go to Clarion West. B- is an excellent plotter while I suck at plotting. She understands motivation like nobody's business.

Next up, I'm going to thank the late Joanne Street Amartseff. Joanne met me through a women's creative group called Spitfire and later encouraged me to join a writer's group she belonged to. Joanne loaned me money to go to Clarion West, no questions asked. I repaid her, in full, two weeks after I returned. I felt so grateful someone helped me who wasn't even blood related.

That brings me to the also deceased Octavia Butler. The whole reason I went to Clarion West 2001 was because of the first African-descended, female science fiction writer I had learned of. Octavia was teaching that year. Ms. Butler once spoke encouragingly to me in an M.I.T, auditorium because she and Chip Delany were my literary heroes. Black people writing about space, aliens, same-sex love, and fantastic cultures? Imagine that! I still can't bring myself to friend Chip Delany on Facebook. I once misspelled his name. For shame, Jarla!

I'm going to thank The Lemurian, my youngest brother, the only family member who ever requested to be put into one of my stories. Realize that writers cannibalize their own lives all of the time. The Lemurian lovingly indulged me. The Lemurian can also tell me when I've gone overboard in upping the body count by slaying innocent characters. Now if I can ever convince the Lemurian to actually finish his Magnum Opus, I will have repaid my debt.

Creative Writing Graduate student, Lisa Vaas, started off as a landlady and evolved into a member of the family. She kindly provided housing while I penned some of my novels and stories, until I finally got a day job that would allow me to co-sign on my own home. Lisa introduced me to the world of public readings for I'd never read my work aloud before.

Jen Johnson, my voluptuous fellow Libran and fellow Spitfire, whose lush and challenging work reminds me that I'm sometimes a poetess. Maybe, someday, I'll get be as facile with the craft as she.

Marya Wolfman is the woman I insist should be my biographer. Marya participated in the same writing group with me and Joanne. Every time I submitted something for crit. Marya understood instinctively what my narrative intentions were, even if I didn't always understand them myself.
Go Marya!

I'm going to shout out at my Big Sister, Nalo Hopkinson. Nalo included me in Mojo Conjure Stories my first professional publication credit. I'm delighted to have shared space with the man of color I call my Sensei in her same anthology: Steven Barnes.

Novelist, Screenwriter, and Handseller-Supreme, Resa Nelson, first met me back in the 90's through Spitfire. Unbeknownst to me, Resa had founded the writer's critique group that I later joined along with Joanne. Resa has demonstrated to me how to stretch and try other mediums or genres in service to one's own technique.

Tom Sweeney, my favorite Big Dude, modeled action-packed, minimalist narratives for me. I met him at the above-mentioned critique group. As an engineer, Tom has a pragmatic mind. I think of him as my canary in a coal-mine. My style of writing used to be dense and required lots of processing power. If Tom was left clueless as to what's going on then I'd know my story failed.

Jack Womack and Ellen Datlow are mentioned together in their debut as Literary Papa and Faery Godmother. I'd never read the Ambient series until Clarion West and then it inspired love from then on. I am a proud owner of two hand-signed, Datlow-edited Anthologies which also propelled me into Clarion West.

I give props to CW2K1, the 2001 Clarion West class that I keep in touch with via Facebook and privately. The years are growing longer and longer between when we see one another, but the love's still there.

Jeff Hecht has to be acknowledged because he started my love affair with used Macs. He sold me my my first Apple computer after members of writing group complained about reading my blotted and fading typewritten manuscripts. Her Tangh-i-ness somewhat entered the brave new computing age!

The case of Lewis Gannett is an example of admiration pursued to a fond extreme. I read a gay Gothic novel called The Living One, wrote an unpublished homage of sorts, then felt duty-bound to locate its author in my hometown. Curious, no?

Lastly, Agnes Novak, ma âme soeur et mon âme frére, David Mynott, also receive mention as a pair. I met them both during my wild years at Mass Art. I once thought I'd be an accomplished painter. Agnes lead Spitfire and David managed the gallery during our shows at the Piano Factory. They are two of my very, very oldest friends. They never blinked when I switched mediums either.

And so, I close my humble and heartfelt thank you to all my backup. Her Tangh-i-ness welcomes new applicants as well. Tobias Buckell and Catherine Lundoff already made the cut. If I forgot somebody, I'm sure I'll hear about it on FB.

Peace...we can never have enough of that either.

Her Tangh-i-ness

Monday, February 1, 2010

Manifesting As Another Creative Art

'Lo Peoples,

I'm taking a moment to acknowledge the importance of "deliberate creation" in experiencing life the way one wants. I've successfully manifested many personal goals when I'd reached the point of faith that aligns everything around me in service to my desires. This will be another recurring theme of mine.

For example, I work with different languages in my short stories and novels. I'm not a Native speaker of any of these languages, yet I managed to find free translation help simply because I stayed focused upon my need and having it met. It's not like I sat down and created a list of all the multilingual people I knew. Rather, in the course of conversations with people, I piped up with my language help request and found there are people who were willing to provide just what I needed.

If I told you, I'd found assistance with French that would probably not raise many eyebrows. There are plenty of online resources, library books, and self-study courses and media productions for French. In my case, I'd become fascinated by Egyptian Arabic. Not just standard street speech which is polite, but also the kind of speech that would make any Native Speaker look askance before answering. I don't read Arabic either. I use transliterated English to represent the nuances of Egyptian Arabic pronunciation and phrasing.

As a genre writer who insists upon including the erotic along with the expected science fiction, fantasy, or horror flavors, surely one can appreciate the sensitivity required in approaching a translator. Egyptian Arabic is thought of as being closest to historical Arabic. I'd agonized privately over being able to find a translator who could handle the prurient nature of some of the subject matter I work with.

Nevertheless, I have been successful. I've been successful too in attracting a plastics expert when I wanted to write about the impact of sound upon plastic for plot reasons. Most recently, an ER doctor kindly pointed out loopholes in some of my medical scenarios. I didn't set an exact timeframe for these research questions to be answered, but I know that I kept mulling over them. Since I kept them in mind, it does not surprise me that sooner rather than later, I would encounter their real-time answers.

I could have made an affirmation to speak specifically to those needs, but it wasn't necessary. I use whatever "deliberate creation" technique I think will get me a desired result. The utmost important technique is to expect a positive and welcome result in the first place.


Her Tangh-i-ness