It has been a whirlwind of a week starting with the delayed flight to NY last Wednesday to the superb conference in Boston over the weekend, from job searching and sight-seeing to discovering my own little corner of Manhattan. I think I have mashed potatoes for brain matter right now.
(picture across Boston Commons from my phone :)
There really is a lot to write about this conference (so I may chop it up a bit), and I do highly recommend it. Grubstreet has a very small staff, yet they were very well organized. The selection and variety of workshops and the conference speaker selections were fabulous. Bookmark this for next year folks: Muse and Marketplace.
I'll just start from the top, and forgive me if I ramble. I'm so eager to put all of this into action; my muse is waiting patiently for me however: She knows I need to find a job first before pampering her.
FIRST, on Friday night before the Muse and Marketplace, I also got the opportunity to meet with a bunch of super writers at the Dire Literary Series in Cambridge; I even had the chance to do an open mic reading (The New Eve, which I had to hand-write in my hotel room, copied from Elimae's website...because once I arrived in NY, discovered my printer's inkwells were dry...ain't that the way?). Anyhow, among the talented crowd (with whom I socialized for pizza afterwards) were the series' head honcho Tim Gager, Sue Miller (GUD), Rusty Barnes (Night Train), Matt DiGangi (Thieves Jargon), and Kenneth Ryan and Nadine Darling (writers extraordinaire).
Saturday morning I had the pleasure of having sex with Steve Almond, writing workshop, that is. "Sexing the Story."
So, I found him better than what I expected. That is, there has been so much hype about him that I didn't set my expectations high, perhaps, because that's an easy set-up for disappointment. However, he was extremely good with an audience, helpful, informative, and I think very intelligent. One of the things he had us do was to write as BAD of a sex scene as possible in five minutes or so, and several people read theirs - some got 'awful' down to a tee.
Try this and see what happens. One of the most striking things was that the sentence structure, even though written in porn or romance style, began to emerge as if it were good. The pacing and frenzied energy of sex will become apparent even though its language is atrocious. It's that urgency that we are [supposed] to build in a good scene.
Another point he made that really hit home was that sex is in many ways a conflict or danger. When used as a characterization tool to illuminate fears and desires, sex is wonderfully "showing."
Finally, he passed out some examples of "good sex" scenes and we discussed how it's often the "what's not said" or internalization (mind play) that reveals the consciousness of the sex without overtly stating the physical actions and body parts.
I am very very anxious to try out a sex scene now, as I've always shied away from them; they always seemed either stilted or overblown.
Steve Almond is very active in the conference circuits from what I can tell, and I urge you to take see him if possible, ESPECIALLY if you have a sex problem.
So, discuss. How do you feel about writing sex? What are your promise and pitfalls with incorporating it into your fiction?
Please do go check out Tuesday Shorts as well. We've had three weeks of great stories so far, all under 100 words, and now an open call. Check us out!