Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reading, Writing (and Eating)

I have a lot to do before I head to Clarion West this summer. Aside from all the normal things one does to prepare to leave town for an extended period (catch up on work deadlines, buy plane tickets, finish home improvement projects, spend lots of time with wife and cats), I have been doing a lot of reading and writing as well. 

I love a good story, and have always loved reading, but sometimes it feels like a luxury instead of something "I should be doing." As an aspiring writer, it's ridiculous to consider reading as some frivolous luxury, of course, but sometimes that old Protestant guilt kicks in. Stoopid guilt. 

One convenient consequence of Clarion West coming up is that it gives my brain plenty of ammo to use against Mr. Guilt. "Hey, I'm doing homework, bugger off!" It's working so far, and I'm knee-deep in a best of Locus Awards collection, a book of Michael Bishop's short stories, and Ian McDonald's Desolation Road. I am enjoying them immensely, and have another pile of books to dive into with wild abandon just as soon as I'm done! 

And I've been writing, too. I was well underway on a short story before I got the call about the workshop, but I hit a bit of a narrative snag. Too many characters, I think, and I'm trying to cull out a few to see if the story sags without them. In the meantime, while in the midst of painting a room we're renovating, another story hit me out of the blue, and three hours later, I had a solid draft I felt great about. A week of edits on the new one and I'm still excited. It's very different from the things I've written so far. 

I usually don't indulge those bolts out of the blue -- after all, it's important to finish what you start. I'll just make notes and leap on the new ideas when I'm done with the old ones. But sometimes a story takes you and throws you across the room and you can't ignore that. My winning entry for Clarion West was a bolt-out-of-the-blue story, and you see where that got me!

On the eating front, my wife continues her 52 Cuisines series for her blog, so that means every week we sample some of the great international cuisines that a big city like L.A. has to offer. It's rich material for the mind (and stomach) and fuels my intense desire to learn everything about everything... a good trait for a writer, I think.