Posted in Prelude, Projects

Trip to AWP LA 2016, Part V

I thought I’d finish the restoration of the AWP LA ’16 blog posts by now, but after today, I still have two days left to go.

Today’s post includes nuggets of wisdom for review writing, which is timely, considering I teach that in college now. But before that, of all things, I found a 💪 Lifeview!

Lifeview 🤩 Life’s an Adventure

During the drive home, I’ll pull into the Phillip Raine Rest Stop—which I use frequently, during my monthly trips between Central and Southern California—and I’ll see, for the first time, with the sun still washing the earth with yellow glow, an hour before the Golden Hour, how the ground scintillates with blue glass, a striking and dark color that would hide late at night—like a mosaic in subordination to the natural world—and this’ll dredge up a curious and alien feeling, the “Awe of a New Discovery in a Familiar Place,” which is a powerful and inspiring feeling and, I’d dare to venture to say, one of the feelings that helps us fall in love.

So I’ll fall in love with the rest stop, taking dozens of photographs, trying to capture that moment of wonder before it escapes again.

I travel too often. I went to Humboldt to see my sister last weekend; and next weekend, I’ll go to Orange County to see my father; so I’ve been in all sorts of beds lately, rather than my own. Yet this feeling will only find me here, at Phillip Raine.

Two weeks from now, I’ll go to the Monterey Aquarium to research the setting for my thesis, Why We Fall in Love, (61,000 words,) and also, to get more intimate with the next project I’m working on, I Will Love Like Loki, (which I think is a poetry manuscript,) expanding from the Central Coast to the Central Valley, and to the O.C. too, and even wider, the way my writing wants to do.

But for now, I’ll post notes from my 10:30AM panel.

Meaning Making 🤗 Everyone’s a Critic

Sometimes panels vibrate with tension—disagreements between panelists that are handled with respected yet palpable space—and I think if it’s done right, this discord can actually benefit the panel experience considerably, pulling the audience closer, as we try to understand the gray matter, the gray areas that allow these panelists to laugh together while also sharing conflicting opinions about whatever subject matter they’re presenting; and at the panel, “Everyone’s a Critic,” this sort of magic happened, panelists of lovely balance, juggling part discomfort, part comfort, while offering informative ideas to anyone who came to listen.

Nancy Lord, the moderator, teaches science writing at John Hopkins University, as well as creative writing for the University of Alaska, and her book reviewing experience spans decades, with a specialty in Alaskan voices and literature. She and other panelists, including Valerie Miner, Amy Hoffman, Leigh Newman, and John McMurtrie, enter a vibrant discussion with three centers of gravity:

  1. Should book reviewers specialize in a field, or should they be “generalists,” able to write about several bodies of literature, based on the needs of the review publisher?
  2. Should book reviewers only write “good book reviews,” (which McMurtrie described as, “We’re in the era of shiny and happy,”) or is it more ethical to write honest criticism?
  3. How do you get into book reviewing?

Other subjects are discussed too, like what makes a good book review, (doing it for love, instead of money,) (like all genres of writing,) and whether a review should include the I-pronoun, (depends on the publisher’s preference,) (like all markets of writing,) and whether experimental book review writing is a good thing, (Newman says yes,) (it’s based on each editor’s opinion, though,) (like all slush readers,) (like the world of writing,) but the hour-and-a-half panel revolves mostly around those the three centers of gravity…

Which I’ll visit more next post. 😋


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Posted in Prelude, Projects

Trip to AWP LA 2016, Part IV

The restoration project continues!

Once Upon a Time 😎 Super Crumble

So last Saturday, instead of busing, I take my car to the Los Angeles Convention Center to wrap up my adventure at AWP L.A. I have to check out of my room early, which means I have to move my vehicle anyway; so I figure, I’ll head to the West Wing parking lot, like old E3 times, when I worked for Atlus, a game company with a generous enough heart to comp parking fees.

I’ll parked my car nice-and-close, then waltz into the first wave of panels—in my imagination, it’s a literal waltzing, my feet bowing inward with plantar’s fasciitis, even though my Nordstrom Rack Coach shoes are lined with silicone—and I’ll be five minutes early, spirit in my eyes, the way a person looks after too much soju, too little sleep, and too much excitement.

But that’s not how it happens.

I don’t have to check out of my room early enough to wake up in a timely fashion—so I lollygag with a blue-something-brand tangerine, twisting the skin into a perfect spiral, not paying attention to the clock on my cell, thinking about if I’ve wiped the eye crust yet, (and about different ways I might write the word “eye” in a poem, back when I thought this spur of creativity was going to form into a poem)—then I miss the 9AM panels, just like the first conference day, and my spirited-eyed, super-reality crumbles.

Minor Derail from the AWP Report to Write about Craft

It’s just not a good craft choice to end a scene with the word “crumbles,” not without earning it over several chapters, in a voice that talks big that way.

Meaning Making 🤯 Existential Blogging Crisis

Issue: Purpose of a Blog vs. the Organic Process of Blogging

But if I could think of this blog as a memoir project, where I am constantly engaging in a conversation with the books I read, and the writing I’m trying to produce—and in this way, I could say, I’m developing a voice over several chapters; a voice that might have earned the word “crumbles” already—I’d be set, yeah?

Problem is, I’m not comfortable enough to write under the umbrella of memoir project—not consciously, anyway. In truth, I’m not comfortable with personal essays in general, much as I love to read them. I’m not comfortable with my memory, which means I’m not comfortable with reporting actual events filtering through my memory, and so I write fiction and poetry and whatever else lets my memory off the hook.

I like tricking myself by claiming I’m writing a series of blog posts to exercise different blog writing forms, Internet writing forms, public writing forms—ex., the book review form—and I like thinking that, as I evolve this small blog into a writing project worth attracting a readership, it would move in the direction of book reviews strictly, or some other formal form strictly, like all good little websites should do.

But that’s not how it happens.

Except—

But—

でも—

Doubt is incredible, isn’t it?

Listing 🤩 Saturday @AWP ’16

After a $15 parking fee over by the Convention Center’s West Wing, I run into the 10:30AM panel doing the bottom-of-foot sweat, (which is totally hideable in public, versus the under-the-armpits sweat,) and I eat a basket of $1.99 strawberries from the Hannam Chain Supermarket while starting something like:

  • 10:30AM-11:45AM: Everyone’s a Critic;
  • 12:00noon-1:15PM: Applying for an Individual NEA Fellowship;
  • 1:15PM-2:00PM: Romping around the Book Fair in a completely disheveled fashion looking for literary magazines and friends.

I’ll have a few other panels lined up to check out, like “Why We Innovate: The Case for Hybrid Genres,” and “Worlds Within the Other California,” yet I’ll decide to get on the road early, to head back Fresno.


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Do you enjoy Kourtnie.net?
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such as poetry, postcards, and books.
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