Back home from a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Author's panel

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

So I went for Ursula Le Guin, who so troubled my young mind when we read her in middle school and in high school with the 1974 short work "The Ones who Walk Away from the Omelas" (who was decidedly fabulous, sharp as a whip, and reminded me a great deal of my grandfathers), and came away with a collection of short stories by Ted Chang. Sorry to say I wasn't especially interested in Nancy Kress's work, but consoled myself with a raspberry ale. I love berry season.

It was so energizing to be around writers - spent about an hour chatting with a couple of gals afterward who were in a writing group together & one had gone to the College of Idaho I went to but about 5 years later than me. How quickly we were talking about Berger's Nazis and the Final Solution course, practically required to consider yourself a CoI alumni. Also got to see some friends I had not seen in six months as (partially) DH finds them too old and geeky to hang out with. Which does piss me off more than a little. They are lovely people and no more than ten years older than us, surely, which makes them great role models. I see them at Browncoat events and was thrilled they were at this author's panel too. But I have let the DH's dis-interest in them as being too much "my kind of people" for his taste dissuade me from encouraging the friendship. And really that's not his choice, that's mine to fix if I choose.

I guess I did a lot of connecting tonight & found a surprising number of my statements validated or further discussed in a way that added to conversation. Which was so cool. I felt like somebody other folks might want to hang out with -- and it was more than the raspberry ale talking, because many of these exchanges took place before the single glass of alcoholic brew.

On a more intellectual note, felt a similar vibe from these authors as they spoke about the publishing industry as I felt when I went to a panel of local newspaper editors a couple years ago. Diminishing pool of readers, how publishers try to engage folks who don't buy books, the increase in YA fiction (and our table's speculation that it was more adults reading it than kids). Well the increase in YA fiction didn't come up the newspaper panel, but definitely the talk of big business and that trying to adapt to public tastes wasn't really congruent with the goal of the industry. Fiction publishing hits a different niche than serious reporting (and with the level of awareness that the panelists had of current events there may be far more of an overlap than I give credit for), but the thing is that both are about a search for truth - be that through disciplined art or disciplined investigation - that results in a product that just doesn't do a return on investment that continually/reliably grows. And both have an uncertain future. We just don't know how the upcoming generations will treat or esteem these professions.

As Le Guin pointed out with the essay she read, the capitalistic system measures its health in growth. Nothing helpful in nature keeps growing indefinitely but the few things that are often destructive - she pointed out cancer and the trend of childhood obesity in the US - and what on earth is so bad about finding a healthy medium and maintaining it, about merely making ends meet in a responsible adult manner? Must we continually plunge forward self-interestedly for higher and higher self-profit?

As the news of the American economic recovery's continually sluggish growth and declining stock markets spark the population with fresh worry and renewed disapproval of the presidential leadership ... I wonder again how this capitalistic system is supposed to work in a nation that prides itself on tolerance. We've got to get at least leadership that can agree on priority values and cut the hard stuff. Why should education suffer and not the military? Even if it were reductions across the board and everyone has to tighten their belt ... but hey, I don't know how to solve this. All I do know is that there is no unity in the US, if there ever has been. Our sense of civic duty is splintered, our faith in politics wilted if present at all, and we can't seem to teach enough of our children a sense of justice and responsibility.

Speaking of kiddlets, Girl Scout camp was pretty fun last weekend -- I learned I simply don't have the patience to teach archery (rock climbing is much more my strength as an child instructor), but the DH is awesome at it. The DH got to see me in action and was impressed with how I handled my responsibilities as a presenter, master of ceremonies at campfire. It has been strongly hinted to me that I ought to step up as director of next year's camp weekend and I really should do it. As long as I plan it all out and don't wait until the last minute or try to fly by the seat of my pants, I'm sure it would be a confidence builder and a great experience for me. And I could help bring some great experiences to the girls, too.

Had an AHA moment tonight. Talked to the organizer of Can't Stop the Serenity the past few years and found she's not the best at remembering the little things either - which made a ton more things seem possible for me in terms of being able to earn respect in my own eyes... What I enjoy so much about the Sims is the ability to set little goals and know what steps to take to achieve them and in about how much time it will take me (though I often underestimate). How much better would it be to stop having simulated social goals and actually start having real life goals? Things like inviting people to join me at social events ( I don't have control over wether they decline or not, but I can control who I ask and if I ask) a certain number of times each month. I know, it's duh, but AHA moments usually are, right?

Like this one that I am going to be dragging if I get to work as early as I need to tomorrow to finish all the little things I didn't get done today before my shift officially starts. Hate that I didn't do like 6 things I told customers I would do before end of business; not sure how to fix that without getting a time turner from Hogwarts. Gonna go cuddle with doggie now and sleep :) Goodnight.
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