Apologies and Vomiting Bats

Hi all, bats

Apologies for my absence. You see, every year, I put on this event.

I set a date, get the venue, then send out emails to authors asking them if they’d like to attend. This usually happens in November, for an event the following summer.

From November on, I work on marketing, on sponsorship, on getting books ordered and programming. I write, design, plan, pull hair, cry, smile, shake hands, plan, plan, plan.

The weeks before the event are chaos. Who is coming, who has dropped out, are all the sponsors doing what they’re supposed to, can I print everything without having to reprint everything later, where do I need to get the authors to and when, and how long does travel take from place to place, who do I need to pick up from the station, who is staying at my place, who isn’t.


The event is this weekend. It starts Friday night with an author dinner–some have met, some haven’t, so it’s an ice-breaker evening. Then I’m on the radio at ten at night promoting the event (you can listen live through the internet, if you’re so inclined). By the time I go to bed, I’ll start feeling like I’ve been run over by a VW Bug.

Saturday morning I’ll be rushing around with a billion rabid, vomiting bats churning in my stomach. Authors will show up at my place and we’ll head into the city for lunch before an afternoon of readings and discussions. Then we’ll head to the after party for nibbles, drinks and general frivolity. By the time I make it home from the after party, I’ll feel as though I’ve been run over by a large bus.

Sunday morning we’ve got the first ever pitch panel, where I’ll listen to folks tell me about their books. (I’m actually very excited about this). Then the publishing panel kicks off on Sunday at 11:00. Those rabid, vomiting bats will be made extra rabid, vomitous and now energetic by the amount of coffee I will have imbibed. The panels finish, and we head to the author/reader lunch. Once there, though I’m still chatting and ‘on’, the tension will begin leaving my shoulders and the release will bring on a migraine. By the time I make it home after the lunch, I will feel as though I’ve been run over by the tram, repeatedly.

That, dear readers, is why I’ve been quiet on my much cherished blog. My demonic butterflies are starting to hatch, and I’m sleeping on the couch every night because I can’t turn off my mind. I’ve had a minor disaster with a sponsor this year, and even now, at the very last minute, I’m still dealing with it.

The event is fun–the authors have a good time (I think), the readers have a good time (I think), folks interested in publishing have a good time and get some good info (I think), and it always goes smoother than I think it will.

And I’m so thankful I’ve got a trip to Spain coming up.

Thanks for hanging in there while I’m in a quiet phase. (and if you’re coming to the event and you’re a regular blog reader, please corner me and introduce yourself!).

See you on the other side.

Semi-Transparent Walls

transparent wall

The other day, S and were talking about a situation I’m involved in, and without thinking, I used some absurdly long, fairly obscure word to describe my behavior. She looked at me blankly for a second and then we both burst out laughing. Having a large vocabulary does not mean you always need to use it. Because, frankly, you sound like a toss-pot if you do.

But this links slightly to a strange feeling I’m having about my professional life right now.

There was a time when I felt like I was on top–I was around people who got me, I knew what I was talking about, and folks could come to me with questions that I felt I could answer in some kind of accurate fashion. We were on a par.

But now, I feel like a minnow surrounded by whales. And not just regular whales either. Prehistoric sized whales. With horns and wings and halos.

horned whale


The horned whales of success


And this isn’t only at University. I mean, at University you’re bound to feel like that because you’re learning, right? So you’re not necessarily supposed to know everything. But I admit, I feel rather at a loss there too. “You haven’t heard of author X?” “How can you not have read author Y?” Or sitting there while the group around you laughs at some literary or philosophical reference you have no clue about. It’s daunting, and I admit, it feels somewhat defeating.

How will I ever be as smart as these people? How will I ever figure out how to move forward in the profession like the people around me have?

And I’m also surrounded by a rich, varied and lovely collection of writers and publishers. And the same thing happens: references to people or books I’m fully unaware of as the room titters away. Folks talking about issues author X faced and how they would deal with them. People who walk around the room blowing air kisses at one another’s cheeks and nattering about the old days as I stand against a wall because I know…no one. Do I introduce myself a bit? Sure. But even then I can see the person’s eyes looking past me as awkward pauses clearly indicate someone else would be pretend smooching his face and asking about his domestic details.

Am I really that uneducated? That unworldly? How do I possibly catch up when I don’t even know where to start? How do you enter a community of people in a professional environment when you’re just the unknown outsider? Will I ever become the respected go-to, or will I forever be the mediocre lackluster wall-leaner? At what point do you become less ‘upwardly bound professional’ and more ‘irritating boot-licker’? Why do I feel the need to be as good, to do as much, to be a horned and haloed whale too? Why do I feel inferior because I’m not?

At the moment, I feel like a pretender. I’ve built a facade with peeling paint and semi-transparent walls. Any minute, someone is going to figure out I’m just that dirty little city rat with delusions of being the noble stallion. I’m far, far outside my comfort zone, and wondering just how far I can go before realizing there’s no ground under me after all, and those watching were always shaking their heads, knowing I was never going to make it because I didn’t have any foundation under my dirty bare feet.

Song: Last to Know by Pink

Book: Difference and Repetition by Deleuze


A Girl’s Story

Once Upon a Time… 

There was a little girl. She didn’t have a lot of friends, though she never knew why. No one teased her or called her names, no one bullied her. They just kind of stayed away. She developed a small few friendships that stuck for pretty much her whole life.

So, instead of hanging out with friends, she found other interesting things to do. She walked the neighbourhood with the old woman who salvaged cans from apartment building dumpsters and played soccer with that lady’s grandchild. She rode her bike to the corner store and back, though she didn’t have any money. She kicked the soccer ball against the wall with the mailboxes as fast and as hard as she could, liking the rattle of the ball striking metal. She walked out into the desert with a book and spent the day lounging on a warm rock like the lizards around her, reading the sun below the horizon.

And she spent time with her grandmother and her aunt. Her grandmother liked to be thought of as sexy and always simpered when a new man was nearby. Her aunt was independent and sarcastic, and she always took the girl to the horse races with her and let her bet two dollars on any horse she wanted. They taught her to play backgammon and bet with pennies.

The best times were the holidays. Her mom and her aunt and her grandmother loved the girl very much. Holidays were full of food and drink (too much drink) and music and games. Decorations were everywhere. Christmas brought huge trees and presents nearly as big.

There were no friends about for most of these events, but that was okay.

The girl grew up. She moved. And moved. And moved again. Her aunt and her grandmother passed away and she felt their loss keenly.

She moved away, across the ocean. She married a new family, a big family. Her mom had a small new family too. The girl made new friends, people who invited her places, who wanted her around. Thanksgiving didn’t exist in the new country, and she missed it terribly; she missed dinner full of silliness and food and alcohol and bowls full of unshelled nuts with a nutcracker and grandmother’s pumpkin pie and yams.

So the girl had a holiday dinner anyway, with new friends sat around a table eating the strange international foods. She served yams, and mashed potatoes and pie. She was thankful, and she remembered her family, and whispered silent prayers to them all.

The girl is thankful. For a life filled with love, a partner who supports everything, interesting people, challenges and people who care. For diseases kept in check, for friends always ready to go for coffee or to the theater.

For the whole kit and kaboodle, really.

How about you?

Book: Medea by Christa Wolf

Song: So Close to You Right Now

Just follow the arrows

My life has been non-stop since the beginning of June. 

I’ve taught a six week editing workshop, I’ve had repair men out to fix my washer and my dryer four times (each), both of which broke down the same week.  They still aren’t fixed. One sounds like it’s trying to escape my kitchen, because I refuse to stop using it.

 I’ve been laid off.

I’ve been editing against deadlines I’ve allowed to become too tight. I’ve had long conversations with unhappy authors.

I’ve been marketing, designing, contacting, booking, ordering for the book event in August. I’ve sent hundreds of emails, designed and ordered give-aways, written articles, developed a blog for the event, made friends through contacts, contacts, contacts. Designed the program, printed the program, contacted sponsors…etc.

Up And Down Double Arrow Clip ArtWe went to the Olympics on Tuesday, came home Wednesday, I’m editing Thursday and Friday (washer guy coming on Friday), I have my final lay-off meeting on Friday morning, I’m dropping the books off at the club on Friday night, and the two-day book event starts on Saturday.

Monday we’re driving back North for the Olympics.

Tuesday we’re driving home.

Wednesday we’re going to the Olympics in London.

A few days at home, and then we’re off to the coast to attempt camping. In a tent. In the wettest summer we’ve had since cavemen, apparently.

And then two weeks after that we leave for Florida.

I’m not really sure how to get the things done I need to get done. Like my PhD work, of which there’s been none since June, and which I need to have done in September. Before we leave for Florida. There are also two novels that need to be fully edited and ready for copy by September 1st.

I need to replace the job that laid me off.

There are also those new relations to continue relating to.

Buried. Totally buried. By good stuff, yes, without a doubt. But buried nonetheless.

I can’t wait to see how this turns out, as the saying goes…

Sam and I on the BBC, at the Olympics. USA v North Korea, Manchester.

Song: My Give a Damn’s Busted

Book: The Lighthouse by Virginia Wolfe

Blog: BSB UK Event Blog (lots of good blogs by the attending authors)

A Lifetime of Reruns


We all have one. We get up, scratch, stumble to the loo, brush our teeth, check for new zits, find the least wrinkled thing in the closet and get dressed in the dark so you have an excuse, flop into the kitchen and grab a candy bar for breakfast before heading out to drudge your way through work. Then you come home, fling off your shoes, microwave your dinner, pick the bits that missed your mouth off your shirt, eat them, balance your dish on the tower of mouldering dishes in the sink, shower, and fall asleep in bed with reruns of Southpark lighting up the bedroom walls.

And do it all again the next day.

So my question is this:

What motivates you? What keeps you going, what makes you focus on your passion, what makes you strive for more? To be more? What keeps you from the soul crushing routine I’ve described above? What makes you want to learn about new things, or try new things?

Is it self-respect? Is it adrenalin? Is it the need to show other people? Is it a narcissistic desire to be the best, ever, at everything? Or is it because it brings you inner peace?

So tell me: what juices up your life, and what does it inspire you to do? You tell me yours and I’ll give up mine. (There’s a reason I’m asking…)

Song: Valerie by Amy Winehouse

Book: Trumpet by Jackie Kay (seriously. Frigging amazing.)

Lesbian Book Fest, Last Day

The final day was quiet, warm and full of good reading. Everyone has gone their separate ways this morning, and it will be another year before we see the BSB family again…