Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bread Loaf 2010: Day 8

Hello, Reader. I'm fading right now. Definitely hitting yet another wall. I think I squandered my optimism yesterday and now I've run out. I accidentally missed a panel with a literary agent and I've chosen readings over other publishing panels since I got here.

Two questions: 1. Why am I supporting people by attending their readings when these people have a. never heard of Neil Gaiman, b. don't even know what I mean when I say speculative fiction and who shudder in horror at the word fantasy (Gabriel Gaarcia Marwhatever is the only author that's okay in their book, synonymous with Magical Realism. Yeah, that's right. I'm not even going to bother googling to confirm his full name, which I can't come up with right now.)

2. I forget what two was going to be. I think two was something about whether or not I want to hear any more about agents and what they want and how it all works. My brain is choking on it all and I feel like nothing is really true and all you can do is write brilliantly and then everything will fall into place(ha).

I'm not literary--in the most common sense of the word, which I define as "contemporary fiction" and whose special club includes Hemmingway, Woolf, Kafka, Chabon, Atwood but not Gaiman or de Lint. Kelly Link and Aimee Bender seem to be the only common ground I can find here at this conference.

However, neither am I necessarily "genre." My writing isn't as fantastical as some--certainly not as racy or thrilling as the current urban fantasy out there.

I don't know where I fit in. One agent pointed out that this is a strength, but it feels like a curse. I think I'm waiting for some agent/editor/well known author to take me under their wing, sweep me around the dinner party and introducing me to all the influential people as, "my incredibly talented friend Jennifer. I ADORE her and so will you."

There is no one to smooth my introductions, stroke my ego. No party, even, to attend.

Maybe there never is a party. Maybe you're thinking that I need to stop making excuses, and stop apologizing for how and what I write. Stop looking for some mentor to pull me up to those heights which are so desperately out of reach.

It's easier said than done, with writing and so many other pursuits in life.

Editors Note, a couple hours later: I sound a bit bitter about attending readings of people who have never ever heard of Neil Gaiman or Charles de Lint (come on, it's weird RIGHT!?) but I want to clarify that I love supporting other writers. I love reading new work, of any style and subject. So if I came off sounding like a cranky jerk, please blame it on the fact that coffee is not allowed in the computer lab, so I was forced to dump mine in the grass outside the door.

Time for a reading and then I'll be doing some reading of my own work! I selected an excerpt from a short story about a middle aged woman who is being haunted by her mother. It's the least speculative thing I've got. Wish me luck!

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