Saturday, August 16, 2008

269. In Preparation for Shelly Lowenkopf's Lion's Den at the Montecito Library with "The Scale of Gigi" and "The Tragedy of Celebrity" at Hand

Above is just the FIRST PAGE of the short story. Here is the PDF for "The Scale of Gigi."
"The Scale of Gigi" written a couple of weekends ago in hot and smoggy Riverside, California. That weekend I lost a tooth and received two ridiculous parking tickets. The parable was a response to a SEED (science magazine) contest to which I missed the deadline doublefold: the article was supposed to be 1200 words in length and I was supposed to submit it August 1st, 2008 by midnight eastern time. Oh well. I ended up writing a parable that might be useful for other magazines. After review, I need to send this article out to at least five potential publication sources. Must do today or the energy is lost!
My father edited the story TWICE and we took out the "I" and "me" to a mystical, enchanted scientist character by the name of "Uabwa" who was transported through time to be a scientist from the past to a scientist of the modern day. If I had the opportunity, I would post the "I" and "me" and "us" and "we" version of the "Scale of Gigi," but it's best not to do so. I reread the Uabwa-version and started to realize that I needed to weave the character a bit more deeply into the beginning of the story to make it work.

First page of "Behind the Scenes" subconcious thoughts of a writer when writing a story, in this case "The Scale of Gigi." Here is the entire PDF file: Mostly I am obsessing about my own grammatical/tense consistency. I worked to create a "matrix" or cognitive map of my story before writing out the details. I worried about who is to edit the essay. And lastly I started to think about "who is my audience?" and "where will I place and try to publish this short story?"

First page of "The Tragedy of Celebrity," edited by my father, Richard Minnich. I submitted the piece to The New Yorker--as suggested by my father. Long shots are always good dreams. I already received two, vague fuzzy responses along the lines of "Sorry, can't take your work, but has nothing to say about its merit." I don't end up with publication, BUT I do end up with some positive feedback and compliments from The New Yorker. I feel good! The truth is I only read one email fully. The other email was a more lengthy response, I think with an attached article. Hey! I am stimulating response here! No one is remaining apathetic to my writing! Wow! Pat on the back. The PDF file for "The Tragedy of Celebrity" edited by "Bub" is here:

I prepared these two articles for today's reading, though if I were "on time" with life, I would have had prepared "The Elephant and the Oak Tree." Dxmmit. And "The Myth of Sisyphus." Well, that's next on the to-do list. Maybe back to Shelly's next week.

I am a bit nervous. But I am also excited to have the chance to share my work with a very well-respected writer. Dr. Lowenkopf's blog "Writer's Notes to Himselves" is found here: It's really nice to put a human face to all these prestigious names of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference website!

I think this writer's group in Montecito (and others around) is the best possible audience I can have! The two criteria of an audience I desire is (1) one that is capable to think and question, and if you do not do that, my writing is designed to be koan-esque and shock you int thinking and questioning (e.g. my koan of the day "is anorexia a 'mental' problem or an 'environmental' problem?" I told Hector, Willard, and Bruce over lunch at Peabodys. Bruce said, "Yes, that is the motive that will make me turn the pages.") and (2) a non-scientific, non-university audience. I need an audience that can be affiliated with the university but not drowned with it. Thirdly, I would say it would be nice to have an audience that is into book reading, but I am not particular about that anymore, because I decided myself to ADAPT to this multi-media society so I can even hit the teeny-bopper-ipod-addicts with some koanesque music and short films. Multi-media is all derived from writing.

It had only been my dad editing my writing over the years. Plus my good grades on my lab reports from courses. But I need to expand outside the box. I have to write stories that hit scientists and environmental stakeholders directly in the stomach but do it with an accidental, indirect, parablesque, allegoryesque cloak. And I need to make university outsiders ENGAGED and INTERESTED. For example, today, I told the Peabody's lunch group (how ultimate and elite! To have lunch in Montecito, California! First time ever! I am not into wealth, but hxll, to be conscious of an experience within the Mecca of the Globe?!), "Everything I am writing to the university outsider is like a 'rediscovery of the common sense' because most university outsiders already have some level of big picture understanding of reality. But when it comes to university bureacracy and reductionist scientific research, people are so pin-headed that they have lost sight of any larger picture, especially in concern of human-environmental relations. They are clueless! So, I am re-discovering purpose and common sense, based on a synthetic view of knowledge, derived from my own experiences weaved with the more universal context of accumulated academic knowledge." Okay, so maybe I didn't speak that eloquently. The first instantaneous response came from Willard Thompson (self-publisher and author of Dreamhelper), "Before, when I used to be an editor for a magazine, I was involved on an article on the overall condition and management of the Sacramento River Delta. It was splendid and amazing to be surrounded by brilliant scientists! But--you talk to one scientists and he or she would know anything and everything about this one little fish and know NOTHING ELSE about the river system. Then you go to the next scientist, and he or she would know everything about this small set of plants, but would know NOTHING ELSE... about larger issues on how to even more optimally manage the delta and the crisis with the salmon! So, based on this, I already know what you are talking about." I also hooked Bruce, who is an insurance agent (mind you, Bruce, Willard, and I are ALL left-handed!) in concern of the crux page-turning question of my book: "Is anorexia a mental disorder or an environ-mental disorder?" Can an experience so personal lead to conclusions quite universal? The main character of the story had to rationalize herself out of a life-threatening condition of anorexia. And instead of taking pills, out of desperation, she had to re-invent and re-organize Reality in her mind such that she can find purpose and the will to live in this modern society. I think I managed to hook Bruce and Willard really fast....

So, as you can tell, I ended up going to the Lion's Den Writers group with Hector in Montecito, California. I ended up liking it a lot! I already vaguely knew Shelly--in addition to knowing Christina Allison (playwright) and Penny (both whom are veterans of the first ever-Santa Barbara Write-off Reality show competition). There were a few other characters in the group I did not know, which of course made the whole ordeal very exciting! And to me (and soon to be my father's delight), 5 out of 8 people attending the workshop (Shelly excluded), were LEFT-HANDED. Talk about a SOUTHPAW MECCA! Wow. This group is the bomb. And everyone is very professional and has a bit of very good reputation!

I didn't get to read today, but I am actually very GLAD that I didn't. I sat and listened and took lots of notes. I like the way how Shelly critiques. He doesn't attack nitpicks of the writing structure but he attacks the overall gestalt "big picture" of the story. The underlying motives that ultimately drive all strings of the matrix of reality to weave together in a complex web. Shelly has the method down PAT and through his exposure I am finally writing out the method as well, and as an environmental writer, how I am "tweaking" the method that distinguishes creative science/environmental writing from the rest.

It was nice to be around a bunch of people and have lots of pebbles of ideas being tossed and turned and swished around in my brain. Lots of dislodgement! Things had been too "settled" and I needed something that was equivalent of a "chaotic quarter system" but in a mild-to-moderate dose. I soaked up everything like a sponge, I was so hungry for Novelty and Breaking the Routine! Thanks Shelly! I think I will add his website to my blog list.

I am scheduled to read next week. I have a HOT one-week deadline to work with. Toastmasters. Meet up with Hector to do a reading of the stuff I couldn't read today. Blue Horizons presentations. Shelly's reader group kick off. And to put a face to Lauri MacLean's office (as well as Current TV and Meatrix producers) offices up in San Francisco. I am going to go sampling agents/publishing houses up in San Francisco. I decided to stay west coast. For logistical reasons. Plus I need to visit Zac. Sooo exciting! Go, go, go!

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