Friday, September 08, 2006

Fall, no teaching & no award = squirrel envy

Fall has arrived and sadly, I did not manage to pick up a single teaching course at university for September. In fact, I can’t get most of the departments to even return my calls. I had this vague plan which involved getting one or two of sessional classes like Comp 101 or Entry to Marketing which often have high volume and require a bunch of floating teachers every year. But I underestimated how anal Canada universities could be; there is a separate workers union for teachers of sessional courses, though how one gets into this union for ad hoc university teaching (and thus able to apply for sessional jobs) is yet unknown. Weird.

I just could go up to the university and schmooze myself into the good graces of the department head and then appointed a job, which is pretty standard North American practice (and you thought nepotism is dead?). Well, except that my having a zero schmooze factor was the reason I took my Ph.D in the UK where they respect some intelligence but mostly admire just being able to survive the process (Ph.D failure rate at my UK university used to be 90% - but it has improved slightly). Combined with that, I got an email on Tuesday telling me that I did not make the final cut for the $5,000 Butler Book Prize. Then, six hours later, I received a personal email from the head of the Butler Book Prize with the header “Sorry, there was a mistake in the announcement.” Hope springs up momentarily, only to be crushed once again when the message is about one of the other authors selected (why did you send me a personal email? Do you hate me that much?). So far, I have won every US prize I have been entered in (one) and not made it up from the long list on every Canadian Prize I have been entered in (two). Am I now regretting that whole essay about how much I hate Canadian Lit?

Of course, with my novel Control Group, I am still in rewriting meltdown. Just to clarify, I completely and totally finished Control Group, sent it off to people to read, got some very good reviews but put it aside for awhile. Then, rereading it some months ago I decided that while it might be a good book, it was not a great book. That seemed somehow important then and I replotted the entire book including changing every major character except two and added three new characters. Okay, so now the novel is spread in itsy-bitsy tiny pieces all over my consciousness and I am asking myself, “Was it really that bad a novel?” or more importantly, “When I finish this, and reclaim my sanity, will it actually be a better novel?” I have no idea. I’ll let you know.

In news that surprised even me, I am going to be a panelist at VCON, the Vancouver Science Fiction Convention October 6-8th. The specific panels I will be on should be finalized in a few days, so if you want to see me in person, come to Vancouver. I will even buy every person who mentions this blog (in person) a coffee. But not an expensive Starbucks coffee, just one from a vending machine; cause remember, I DIDN’T win the Butler Book Prize. Also, if anyone has any idea how what I can say to people who ask me what type of science fiction/fantasy I write, that would help. It’s just that when people are paying money to come to VCON, I want them to have a good time and add to that, and right now I am feeling like a big old imposter, since I don’t actually write science fiction (hey, if I saw it during a fever dream, that means it’s real!). Plus, the one thing I used to say in my writing classes was: There is no such thing as Science Fiction. But that was suppose to be a writers Zen riddle.

Everyone is heading off to school and I’m not. It’s making me feel a little insecure. Every morning this week groups of 20+ Canada Geese have honked their way over my head (sometimes only 25 feet over my head) as they head south for the winter. The squirrels, of which I see at least three every walk I take, are very focused, slightly neurotic with all their leaping and bouncing, but still determinedly focused. All the animal kingdom seems to have a goal and purpose. Meanwhile my subconscious, or collective insecurity, is trying to tell me to start a science fiction/fantasy novel in the next four weeks so I have something slightly science fictionish to talk about at VCON. Also, it would mean I get to escape this particularly ugly rewrite. But no, no, being a dedicated writer means doing what needs to be done, even when it isn’t particularly pleasant anymore. It’s just, the squirrels look like they are having more fun – I’d kinda rather be leaping around with them.


kathz said...

I hope things pick up. I remember hanging around for bits of part-time teaching and it was hell. I never worked out how I ended up with a full-time post - lots of luck, I think. But a couple of times I got appointed to part-time posts after term had started when someone dropped out (or worse). I don't know if it works like that in Canada but I hope it does.

Meanwhile, I hope you make the most of the extra time for writing. Vancouver sounds a great opportunity.

funchilde said...

hey chica. hugs to ya. don't squirrels carry lice? i'm thinking you might want to just do what the rest of us do and contemplate your navel over a bottle of red wine and a block of expensive cheese so that the resulting hang-over and gas will put EVERYTHING in perspective. Your talents are greater than your trials.

Yoga Korunta said...

Congratulations on your being a panelist at VCON!

Sober @ Sundown said...

What would make Control Group a great novel?

Keep you chin up, and go fencing.

GayProf said...

I am not heading off to school and I am not at all unhappy about it.

Are you going to wear the ears for the sci-fi convention?