Last night, I had the honor of curating and co-MC’ing an incredible lineup of LGBT science fiction & fantasy writers. Carmen Maria Machado (who wrote this excellent writeup on the event), Val Howlett, myself, Richard Bowes, Ellen Kushner, and Delia Sherman read a fascinating and diverse range of work; I had been worried about having such an ambitious list of readers, but everyone presented tight, terse, strong work and we kept it moving and the whole shebang of six readers was done in just about an hour!!
[CLICK PICTURE TO SEE US FULL-SIZE]
But the real star of the evening was the crowd. SO MANY PEOPLE CAME!!! So humbling to see so many people I know and love - including people who came from California and the UK for this - as well as so many awesome new friends who are fans of queerness or SFFness or both.
Do you know that episode of I Love Lucy where Ricky is tired of hearing Lucy complain about how much work it is to be a homemaker, and says he can do better, and he tries to cook dinner, and he’s making rice, and he puts in four pounds of rice, so of course it overflows and fills the whole kitchen? That’s kind of how last night was. The community organizer in me has been so anxious about there being any empty seats in the house that I did maybe a little bit TOO MUCH turnout work… and the crowd was incredible. Every seat packed; so many people standing up that no one else could even come in the door…people were standing on the January sidewalk with their noses pressed to the glass because they couldn’t get in!
Here’s a glimpse. This was taken at 6:55PM, FIVE MINUTES BEFORE THE EVENT WAS EVEN SCHEDULED TO START; by 7:30 forgetaboutit.
This event was a great reminder of what a privilege it is to be part of two incredibly warm, tight-knit, supportive communities - the queer community, and the speculative fiction community. And when they overlap, like they did last night, it’s a beautiful thing. I had originally hoped to shout out all the incredible people who I know, but there were so many folks there who I adore and it all became such a blur that I am paralyzed by the fear of snubbing someone. I’ll just say that the audience had writers I adore, editors of magazines and of books that I love, and millions of my devoted readers like me.
Also, it was a terrific advertisement for the Clarion Writer’s Workshop. None of this would have happened without Clarion. That’s where I met Carmen, my classmate, and Delia, my teacher - the nucleus of the reading. That’s where my SFF writing chops got sharpened to the point where I could write a pretty solid story like the one I read last night. And that’s where I realized how easy and meaningful it is to be a part of this incredible community.
So. If you’re thinking about applying to Clarion 2013, which has an INCREDIBLE roster of writer-instructors, you should consider this a strong nudge from me. And if the time and the money just aren’t there (as they weren’t, for me, for years), you should join me in making a donation to the Clarion Foundation. Because, karma. And because wonderful things like this don’t turn a profit - the tuition students pay doesn’t begin to cover the actual cash value of the food and lodging and UCSD facilities access, let ALONE the priceless counsel and guidance of your teachers and classmates.