Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Orycon29

I attended Orycon29 this past weekend, a local science fiction convention that brings together around 1,500 people for a weekend. For the first time I was on some panels.

Science fiction was my first love as a reader; up until I read a book of science fiction short stories, I read books because they were school assignments. When I read that book of short stories, my eyes got opened that stories could say something about the world I lived in, or other worlds.

Science fiction conventions are a many splendered thing. There are panels of authors, some for science, others on how to create goth outfits, sing filk, etc. There are writing workshops, an art show, dances, a dealer's room, many people in costumes of all types.

If I ever had a kid, a science fiction convention is a place I'd feel comfortable about turning them loose. Very family-oriented people.

I was on a panel about reading fees (which are just about always bad), and two panels on movies. I expected to be on a film panel with Will Vinton, but he didn't show, so me and someone who was very knowledgeable about films chatted and let people in the audience talk about their favorite films. My time at the Clinton St Theater in Portland made me well-versed in the films of Takashi Miike, a Japanese director of odd films, and some very scary, like Audition.

I attended some very interesting panels about the physics of space travel (nothing in physics really suggest a 'doable' path yet.

My girlfriend had some work in the artshow so I helped set up metal and panels on Thursday. We stayed at the hotel, even though I live in Portland where the con happened. It's nice to have somewhere to crash during the day without leaving the hotel.

The local paper did a review of the conference that was nice and balanced, at

http://www.oregonlive.com/oregonian/stories/index.ssf?/base/

My writing weekend is still coming up, and I'm looking forward to getting some work done on my new play.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Writers Weekend

I've set up a writers weekend for the end of this month. Several playwrights will attend, gathering at a house near the Oregon Coast on Friday afternoon. After dinner there's a writing session, where everyone goes off to write. On Saturday, there are three more sessions of just writing. During breakfast and lunch and after dinner a scene or two might be read out loud. After breakfast on Sunday, another writing session. After that, people generally are taking off.

These writing weekends are great for focusing just on writing and getting a lot of work done. The conversations are also wonderful.

I generally take a lap top and laser jet printer and end up printing for people. I can write on a computer, but I really need to see something on the page to rewite.

My first drafts are generally quite rough. I generally know the direction I'm going, but I find out what happens when I get there. And what happens can be different than what I expected. In a writing class I would call this heading North, because I know that by going North a character will find something like redemption, etc. But what that redemption looks like, how it plays out, I have to go North to find out.

I've also written ten minute plays based just on an idea and a set up (two characters in the afterlife in conflict about X), but I've found if I don't have an underlying story to go with the idea and set up, no amount of tinkering will fix that lack of direction and purpose. I've tinkered with some ten minute plays up to a year before I finally got a deeper fix.

Deep meditation is another way I get to that deeper place of what a story is about. I try to lead at least one three hour meditation a month to get to a place of quiet, peaceful mind.

Bill