Most evenings I wind down the same way as tonight, if I’m lucky. A book to open my mind quietly. A Star Trek episode to watch my mother at her devotions (in a future world, she would have been an astronaut as capable as Lt Uhura). A chance to hear my partner’s breathing ease and snort in sleep. A few more words gathered for my current book or other writing.
And then there’s the mid-afternoon moment of angst. Filling out forms is never fun at the best of times. I can fill out every blank correctly and still feel horrible. The form can be for some kind of GOOD news, and I still feel horrible. It doesn’t help that most of the forms I’ve been filling out are the kind that are meant to discourage people. But luckily I am an old hand at sailing the sea of angst, and will go now for a bag of peppermints and a walk and things will be far less angst-y in a few minutes.
At first thought, there are few writers more different than philosopher Heidegger and Canadian science fiction novelist Cory Doctorow. But there is an area where their writing intersects. That area is what I’m writing about in an article to be presented at the symposium that will be hosted May 7 by Dr Richard Lane at Vancouver Island University.
The title for Lane’s symposium is — The Many Masks/Masques of Heidegger: Technology, Poeisis and Humanism: A Literary Theory Research Group Symposium. And the working title for my paper is “Where Heidegger and Doctorow Intersect in the Creative Commons Licensing of Pirate Cinema.”
It’s great to take time today comparing what Heidegger has written about technology and creativity and entrepreneurial activities with what Doctorow has written on the same subject, not only in his novel Pirate Cinema but in commentaries meant for other writers to read and discuss. And all of these texts are available on-line, at no charge! I’ve been reading and cutting and pasting and doing searches… much as I love printed books, an index is no substitute for a good search engine when trying to find a certain word in an author’s oeuvre.
Here’s where I’m spending the rest of the daylight hours of today: the campus of the University of Victoria. Photos from a plane show the Ring Road of UVic campus to good advantage! The big bay beyond Ring Road is Cadboro Bay, where I usually take my kayak.
I’m in the computer lab in the Clearihue Building, laying out a poster for my book launch this August. Well, it’s not just my book launch, it’s a shared launch with two other writers. We all write science books for children, and we’re all attending a writer’s conference in Calgary called When Words Collide. Our book launch gets to be promoted in the program book, and on posters at the event. Since I have access to computers with programs like PowerPoint and PhotoShop and Paint, I’m the one to make the poster for our launch.
Ever notice how hard it is to line things up straight or set them at the perfect jaunty angle on a poster? Or how hard it is to describe us three science writers in energetic terms that make readers and librarians totally want to flock together to hear us read? At least PowerPoint lines up the book cover images neatly on the poster I’m laying out, so all I have to do is write perky terse prose.
So, I’m making a poster that communicates with our audience, and getting it approved by the other two writers, and getting it to the conference program organizer. And it would help if the poster works at various sizes down to letter-size for photocopying, and if it was a small enough data file to be sent as an e-mail attachment. No wonder my friend Dave Duncan wears a button at these conferences that says, “I just write the stuff.”
One of the writing-related activities I do is teaching community education. Usually this kind of teaching needs some preparation before the actual event, even though the class is not formally structured with grades and credentials. Most often the tools used during my writing workshops are pens and paper. But this morning I’m spending a little time preparing teaching materials for a class that’ll require me to have a computer at hand — and my workshop participants will be watching the screen over my shoulder.
Here’s a photo of the community centre where I’ll be teaching next month — an accessible building in Oak Bay with a library branch and a recreation centre under one roof. In May, I’ll be teaching an informal community ed course at Monterey Recreation Centre, on writing a simple blog. There’s a video I particularly like to use, taken by my partner E.B. Klassen, showing me river kayaking. It’ll be ready in my files, for uploading to a model blog that I’ll be creating in Blogger in front of my students. I’ll also be ready to show it at Langley Library, if the teens attending my Green Paddler talk aren’t impressed by my little folding inflatable kayak on the table in front of them.