October 24th, 2008

Ottawa Writer’s Fest–Long-distance post

Hello from the Ottawa Writers’ Festival! Or, actually, a couple blocks away, at a cafe with wireless. I’ve been festival-free so far today, seeing the buildings wherein national power lies (did you know we have a National Press Building?) but you can feel the literature in the air. The fest has been lovely so far–I’ll go back for some poetry tomorrow–including the biographing poets reading, the music-performing writers concert and of course, the short story reading, with Pasha Malla, Ivan E. Coyote, and me! (I apologize for the lack of links in this post, the wireless here isn’t wicked fast).

I can’t really say that I had anything to overcome, since Pasha had the stomach flu and Ivan had been teaching for the previous 6 hours, and both of them read beautifully. But I can’t help but dwell upon the fact that I finally did trip on my way to the podium, something I’ve been worried about since I started doing readings. I didn’t actually hit the ground, but the stagger-step made quite a thump in my boots and I was already in the centre of the lit-up stage, so I found the moment almost as embarrassing as it is in my nightmares. But not quite–survivable, definitely–and as soon as I realized I was going to stay vertical, I made my very cautious way to the podium and got on with things.

Am I allowed to say that I think it was my best reading ever? Well, I do think that, vain or not. I actually usually think that–I am trying so hard to learn to do this–not cough or swallow my words or speak too fast, or choose an inappropriate passage to read–that I do feel an improvement almost every time I go read. Even when my ankle sort of hurts from tripping on the speaker stand.

I did *not* ace the Q&A, but that’s what co-readers are for. Ivan had some fascinating things to say about learning to write a novel from a story-writer’s perspective, and she and Pasha both had interesting comments on the editing process (wow, it’s really boring of me to say they were interesting and not say what they said, but since I don’t have exact quotations to hand, it would seem weird to provide the gist.) And the audience was really responsive and interested and good-question-asking. Too bad I so often found myself with my mouth open and my eyes wide and nothing coherent to say, but I did manage a somewhat gushy but heartfelt paen to Canada’s little magazines, and a few other things that weren’t entirely lame.

And then I signed some books and chatted with the other writers and some of the audience and the lovely Fred and then, whew, there was a party.

It’s fun here, but I do miss South-central Ontario. I’ll be back by the weekend.

Too many angles / too many factors to cover

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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