Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day Two: Uncle Orson's Writing Class (Radness Abundant)

I neglected to mention that yesterday, I ended up in a river. Our assignment was to go out, explore, see the world, and glean some story ideas from the experience. I told my partner, "You know. I'm going to go jump in there." So I did. Did I gain anything? Meh. A little story idea. Not the one I'm going to use. Still, I got soaking wet in all my clothes (an old classic revisited) and I thought that was worth mentioning.

We were also assigned to interview someone and make a story out of something that came up in conversation. I was walking around downtown Lexington, scanning for potential victims when I saw it: a cozy, little shop that sold Celtic stuff. I practically ran through the door (the sign said they were about to close). The result was a half-hour conversation with an Irish woman, her Welsh Corgi, and her Scottish husband. She commented on my name and treated me like one of her own kind. It was awesome. And I'm writing my story based on this. (VERY loosely based on this. I promise you won't recognize it.)

The night went on. Junk happened. I worked until 3:00 a.m.

Now we actually come to today: I skipped breakfast. Not worth it, I was too tired. I went straight to class in a t-shirt and flip-flops. Pretty soon, we were discussing the story cards we had written the night before. My group was really jazzed about mine. People treated me differently after hearing my idea. Handshakes and high fives and stunned silences abounded. Granted, these are supportive people, but even translating it to a normal, sane response-level, I could tell my story wasn't poop. Which was good.

But now I will tell you something completely subjective and arrogant and totally unprovable: I don't think there is anyone here who is a flat-out better writer than I am (with the obvious exception). There are some really good writers, but I never feel outgunned. I never feel talked down to or ignored. I feel, in some ways for the first time, like I am exactly where I am supposed to be, at exactly the right time. Or maybe I'm just having so much fun, it's easy to be positive and confident. But please, don't get the impression that I am saying there isn't a huge bucket-load of talent here. There is. I just feel like I belong...uh...inside the bucket. Too.

Self-congratulation ended. Moving on.

I met a really cool Taiwanese guy named Kenneth Kao. I guess it would be more accurate to say his PARENTS are Taiwanese; he was born in the states. Kenneth has family who are mafia on one side and missionaries on the other. He is younger than me, but he's already a chiropractor with his own practice. Also (drawn bad readers will know why) I COMPLETELY geeked out when I learned he was a co-founder of a parkour gym in Colorado. He has been a consultant for movies on the subject. And he is a practicing pakourererer. Er. He actually does the stuff, I guess is what I'm trying to get across here. I will, and I mean WILL, be calling this guy after the conference to talk about parkour. In the words of Paul, I peed.

I've met so many cool people. One woman built submarines for ten years and is now a consultant, helping the military improve technology for locating enemy subs. Multi-Static, or some such. She had to stop me from asking questions because, no kidding, the answers to my questions were classified. What the crap?! Another guy, Brock, is an airline pilot and a Mormon (I've run into several--they look like the rest of us). He was in my reading card group (so was Kenneth) and we've had a great time talking and cracking jokes. Brock is always the first one to laugh at anything. His sense of humor doesn't have a warm-up period. Blam, there it is, every time.

After supper tonight, Orson Scott Card did a (I kid you not) FIVE hour Q&A session. I asked as many questions as I could with becoming "that guy." I asked him about "Shadows in Flight" which, sadly, he hasn't started yet. We also got to talk about Gloriously Bright from Xenocide. I've ALWAYS wanted to discuss that story and talk about his religion. And we did. It was incredibly cool. Things I had wondered for years, I just asked the man. And I have possibly delayed future Orson Scott Card titles by recommending Civilization: Revolution to him. He has been playing Civilization 2, and swears he won't play the new one because it will destroy him, but we'll see. By the end of the Q&A, there were only like ten people left and we were all so tired that Scott got very personal and real with all of us, about what life is like being famous(ish), about his family, about writers' depressive personalities, about every little freaking detail of his books (any that we asked about; he won't talk about his fiction otherwise) from what the Formics look like to what a mess it is trying to get a book adapted in Hollywood. It was something I will absolutely, never, ever forget.

By the end of the day tomorrow, my story has to be finished. My next blog entry will likely be VERY short, because I will be a dead man. But I'm going to try to approach this story very casually, to just tell it and get it down (much the way I wrote "She Who Lies in Secret"). It probably will not be my best story, but I like it pretty well and it will be indicative enough of my bad habits to be worth critiquing. And that's what its for. Any of you expecting me to come home with a masterpiece will have to settle for just a story. But I'll try to make it fun to read.

Oh, and one last thing: I got a TON of stuff signed by him. It was geeky, but he didn't act weird about it. I actually have the first copy he ever signed of "Recruiting Valentine." He even wrote "1st ever signed" on it. Pardon me, but that is total radness. And David, your book has been signed. Come get it sometime.

That's all folks. I'll see you all later at the end of my life. I mean, tomorrow.


  1. This has even surpassed the "meeting James Earl Jones" level of radness!

  2. Yay! He signed my book! Could he tell that it was a library copy that I kept too long and that they just made me buy? Also, did you happen to ask him which short was his favorite? I'm giddy that you're hanging out with my childhood hero. I'll stop now before I gush.
    edit:My captcha is 'deathcats'. No Lie.

  3. wow! It is like you really know the guy. I'll bet he won't ever forget you. You are hard to forget....I have tried and tried...NO NOT REALLY! I love you, bud. I will see your Squirm in 2 and 1/2 hours...and counting. HUGS.

  4. So glad you are "in up to your eyeballs", B! I am vewy pwoud of ewe. How long will it take to sort it all out, deprogramme and turn it into useful info?
    We're gonna see B.G.O.T. in just two hours! :) Love ya, man! Dad

  5. I'm looking forward to tonight's post. Love!

  6. few notes: not founder of gym, helped co-found COPk. And also was invited to be part of movie casting call, didn't get in--not consultant for parkour. for health, kinda, :). Good to meet you bud. you're an awesome writer.


  7. I believe I am aware of the "old classic" you referenced?