First, I have been doing a lot of reading about writing. Since this entire blog was the result of reading a book about writing by Carolyn See, I can not believe that reading about writing could be ocnsiderd a bad thing. So I do not slack off this blog with impunity, without considering the consequences, and completely without guilt or anything, but I do so with the understanding that reading about writing is still a legitimate writerly, authorly duty. I am now completely up to date on my magazine reading. Thanks to the good graces of the local public library system (which by the way is an excellent, world class, top notch system. Any good writer is only as good as his local public library system), I am a consistent and avid reader of both the Writer and Writer's Digest. I have been readers of these magazines as long as I have been writer, even longer than I have been writing. This is true. I was working as a part time instructor at a college nearly ten years ago, maybe seven or eight years ago now. At some point, the librarian went through her collection and put out a bunch of magazines for faculty to go through and take. Sort of a culling of the herd, as it were. But part of this collection that she was getting rid of were a few years of both the Writer and Writer's Digest. I considered myself a writer, although I had written very very very very very very very little at that time.Yet I had the dream, and something inside me resonated and I snagged about two to three years each of the two mags. I remember a bookbag absolutely stuffed with magazines. It was a little embarassing, being the hidden, anonymous low key introverted embarrassed writer, sneaking out with this magazines. But I have been reading them ever since, and have found a number of useful hints and tips and strategies and motivations. I like both.
The Writer changed its format a few years ago, jumping from the 19th century directly into the 21st, bypassing the 20th. They are now a slick sheet, with pictures and even color. Writer's Digest had always been a slicker more pop stly mag, with contests and regular little features. Writer changed their format to be more like their competition. Both mags are good, although I find the articles in Writer a little more nuts and blots, directly useful for the budding novelist. I am a big fan of Nancy Kress' column on fiction. She is a sci fi writer, and I am a sci fi fan, but for some reason I have never read any of her fiction. It is a little odd that I appreciate and admire her work in a writing mag, but not enough to actually go out and read one of her books. Now if they were on tape, that would be another story. Unabridged, of course, because listening to an abridged book is like not reading it at all. I figure if I have listened to every word of a book, I can honestly say that I have read it, so an unabridged recording would not count. It's sort of like watching the movie or reading the cliffs' notes. They are not the saem thing. Apples and oranges.
So I am completely up to date with that part of my writing life, through the January 2002 issues of both mags. I also have a book on writing checked out from the library and although I have not yet read it, I am looking forward to doing so. Will keep you posted as soon as I get to it. That should be some time over the weekend or early next week.
On another front, the paper I wrote for a conference that is also going to be published was also awarded the conference's "Distinguished Paper" award. So it is not creative work and it is not the National Book Award or the Pulitzer or anything, but I was very excited by that turn of events. I will go to Chicago in a few months to pick up my cash money and plaque, and have something nice to put on my record for promotion and tenure purposes at the University. It was good news all the way around. Not that there is any connection bewtween academic and popular writing, but it must show some promising writing ability of some type, so I am considering that a good thing. I will let you know about the conference and other writing opportunities, so I am set. Another good thing is that this paper contains 2/3 of the data already for what the natural follow-up article is, so that gives me something to do over the Summer, so I should be able to make the rounds next year of conferences, too. Probably not another article for publication, but who knows? I am hopeful, but I will NOT let it distract from my creative work.