Saturday, December 29, 2012

Some interesting bits of an interesting year, Part One

As always, it's been an interesting year. Despite rewriting Hild, a 200,000 words novel, more than once, I managed to do a few new things, go new places, and read new books (most of which, sadly, I didn't have the time to get around to talking about). Fabulously (and, one one occasion, not-so fabulously), I've also been surprised with gifts, and--best of all--found a home for the massive Hild.

I'll split this 2012 roundup into two posts. Gifts and Hildishness in Part II.

New things I did in 2012:

I taught my first one-day workshop, for Clarion West. I've taught short workshops before, but this was was different. Called Exciting Writing: making the reader believe, I designed it to force-feed information to 12 writers so that they could then go away and unpack/digest the lesson at their leisure--and also, hopefully, with their fellow writers to turn to (I designed the workshop in such a way that participants had to learn things about each other). I think it might have worked. I know that one participant has already attended the full Clarion West summer workshop, and I believe at least two others are applying in the future. To me this is what learning should be: tailored, focused, and delivered to willing, able, and eager students. I imagine we'll find out in a few years if it worked long term. (And if the guinea pigs have forgiven me...)

Also for Clarion West I designed and ran the organization's social media strategy for the two weeks running up to their annual Write-a-thon, and for a couple of weeks once it had begun. I love creating and building things; I hate running them for very long. So for me it was the perfect way of giving to an organization--and I'm delighted to say that CW broke all their goals and records for participation and fundraising. So, hey, a win all round. Especially for the people this whole thing was aimed at: the writers. If you're a writer, at any stage, do consider the CW Write-a-thon for 2013. Trust me, it's a great thing.

Probably the most lasting fun new thing of 2012 for me was getting my first ukulele. I had no idea I even wanted one, until a friend from Vancouver literally showed up on the doorstep, said, "Here, I made this for you," and gave me the most beautiful hand-built and hand-painted four-stringed instrument nothing like the cheap and nasty tinkling things I'd always imagined. I fell instantly in love. So, then, of course, I got another (with a low-D, which sounds pretty different).

If you want to hear what I sound like using Jeepster, the original, here are two songs recorded (with my phone) this month:


Another new skill hobby I picked up this year was making pictures with paints and pastels. Art (I use the word loosely) is not something I've dabbled with for decades. This time around, I appear to be obsessed with Bebbanburg, one of Hild's haunts.

If you want to see Art with a capital A, read about Chicago artist Riva Lehrer's creation (I just posed, and threw out ideas) of this most amazing mixed-media portrait of me:


New places:

I've been to Vancouver before, but not for more than ten years. So it felt like a new place. We had a lovely time there.

And I got to go to the UK not once but twice in 2012. The second time was a whirlwind trip to celebrate my sister's 60th birthday. It was fabulous all around, but perhaps the best part was seeing so much of my father--and seeing how much I'm beginning to look like him.

New (to me) books:

I read A Wrinkle in Time for the first time and, sadly, was not impressed.

However, I read an anthology, Beyond Binary, that did what the best anthologies do: became so much more than the sum of its parts. I was moved to do a three-part interview with the book's editor, Brit Mandelo.

And then, after a discussion with a friend who was looking for books for his teenage son, I went on a hunt for sfnal books for boys.

[To be continued...]

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