Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Mad Scientist at the Podium

By gum, I have SO much to say here. I got workshop news and Yes news and readin' news. I shouldn't've neglected this space for so long.

Let's start with the recent stuff, and maybe go backwards in future posts. Last Friday I gave a reading at CSUN, along with my poet colleague Khiem Nguyen, and I thought it went quite well. You can see video of two of the three stories I read on my YouTube channel, or you can just scroll down a bit.

The first video includes a little of the introduction the GRS leader, Freddy Garcia, wrote about me and then read. (The video cuts in a bit late, doesn't focus right away, and then cuts out the applause and the high-five I gave Freddy when I got to the podium.) He was so thoroughly complimentary that the first thing I could say when I got to the mike was "Holy shit." He said things about me being a mad scientist, Frankensteining genre in exciting ways, finding the wounds of the reader and tracing them without flinching. (I think.) It was amazing to hear those complimentary things about me together with stuff that I knew factually to be true.

Freddy and I are in a fiction class together this semester, and this makes me simultaneously very happy and very sad. I have a big friendcrush and a big writercrush on him, but he is near the end of his M.A. and I'm right at the beginning, so I think this is the first and last time we'll be working together. Also, he's a poet (a good one), and as I've told him, I do not understand poetry and I fail at writing it, so I don't know how much use I will ever be to him as a writer-friend. In any event, that's Freddy, speaking first, and then there's me. The story I read in this first video is "Shade," which you can find in Hobart right here.

By the way, you pronounce my name exactly like it looks, cold-iron, like you wouldn't want to iron your clothes with a cold iron. But it's not Freddy's fault that he didn't know that and I wasn't quick enough to correct him. (I go by Katharine Mason at CSUN because it's my legal name.)

Then I read a second story, "Infinite Space," which you can find nowhere but in this video, because it's racked up 15+ rejections. People kept telling me after I was finished reading that they didn't know why no one liked it, because they thought it was good. I think I see why after reading it and watching this video - it's kind of samey and it ranges without satisfying - but I like it enough as-is that I don't want to pull it to pieces and re-build.

I know these videos are a little hard to watch, with just my face surrounded by a pool of darkness, but the GRS readings always take place that way, the only light at the podium and the reader blind to the 20 or so people in the room. I like seeing people when reading, but it's kinder to do it this way, especially if this is the first public reading the reader has given, which is often the case.

Also, I feel that I look a little like a full-throated bullfrog, but that's all right. I read well, and that's the point. I read a third story, too, the Biff Tannen story, but Matt's phone ran out of juice so it is lost to history.

I really enjoyed doing this reading. I enjoy reading, in general. I get nervous ahead of time, but then it goes well, because I've loved reading aloud since I was a wee girl and have worked hard to be good at it, and then I am happy and can't wait for another opportunity to read to people. Hear that, universe? I'd love to read anytime you'd like me to.

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