Going to America

Feels strange that I’m flying to the US tomorrow as I sit here glued to live feeds from Hurricane Sandy. I’m due to arrive in Dallas on Wednesday afternoon, then fly straight to Atlanta. But it probably depends how far inland/south the storm comes. I’m a bit worried as I’m due at a conference at the University of West Georgia, in Carrollton, by Thursday evening. I’m also going to in NYC on Saturday, but with the volume of flights they’ve had to cancel, I wouldn’t be surprised if that one gets delayed.

I’ve never been to New York, and I hope when I get there it’s still intact… I’m feeling for all the people on the east coast, particularly those who may be separated from loved ones. Must be pretty damn scary.

The conference I’m going to is called Systems of Control/Modes of Resistance, and I’m giving a paper called: ‘”All can be and will be commodified”: bottom-up resistance and corporate incorporation in Dana Spiotta’s Eat the Document‘. Eat the Document is set in two eras—the 1970s and the 1990s—and there is a comparison between the way the characters in each era protest or resist corporate power. I argue that while the actions of the ‘radical’ protesters in the 1970s may have failed, the small, peaceful movements of the 1990s characters often only confirm, or conform to, the systems of power in a market-based society. I think the novel is pretty pessimistic, overall, about our ability to resist a culture that readily incorporates, pre-empts and commodifies resistance, but there is one character who remains hopeful, so she provides a contrast. It’s a great read, by the way, I highly encourage you to pick it up (my 2008 review is not very well written, but gives you more an idea of the story). I’m finally going to read Spiotta’s Stone Arabia, too, on the plane over (see James Bradley’s review of that one here).

And that gives you a bit of an idea of what I’m writing about in my thesis, too, something I’ve rarely talked about on LiteraryMinded. I guess because until now (where I have a complete draft of my novel and a very rough draft of my exegesis) I was very much still in a process of ‘working out’. There is also the case that in the academic world, you have to present original ideas to the examiners, so you can’t go spilling them out willy-nilly. When I’m finished, though, I do hope to write some more accessible-style essays for non-academic publications, on the subjects I’ve been looking at. And I’ll write more about the whole process of doing a DCA, here on the blog, when I’m finished in March.

I’m looking forward to the conference, not just listening to the papers (which all sound fascinating), but the Southern accents! And I look forward to eating some grits and drinking sloe gin. I’m sure I’ll have internet here and there, so I’ll send you a missive. I’m back in Aus on the 13th of November.

2010 Emerging Writers' Festival in full swing

ewflogoWith the beaming Lisa Dempster at its helm, the 2010 Emerging Writers’ Festival, here in Melbourne, is in full swing. So far I’ve attended The First Word (the opening night), one of the Fifteen Minutes of Fame Sessions (which received a great write-up here by Thuy-Linh Nguyen), the Page Parlour, and last night’s Wordstock performance – lively, funny, bold and very entertaining.

I haven’t had any time to blog any of the sessions thus far, but I’m looking forward to the Town Hall program this weekend. My panel ‘Writing About Place’ is 3pm on Sunday, featuring Patrick Cullen, Leanne Hall, Sean Riley and Jenny Sinclair. The writers each have a distinct style and voice - from lit fic, to YA, nonfiction, and play/screenwriting. Do come along.

I’m also going to catch panels on writers’ rejections, mining the personal for your work, going physically or emotionally to a dark place for/in your work, and the perils of promoting your published work.

The full program is here.

EWF also has a Flickr album. Note Estelle and I cracking up when we’re supposed to be acting out a serious face-off.

I’m also heading to the artist par-tay tonight… Adventures possibly relayed via Twitter.

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A general update: 2 1/2 months into my doctorate, it’s a MONSTER but it’s going well. I start the fiction component on Tuesday. I’m excited and nervous. I have a three month residency at Glenfern, so I’ll be spending 2 – 3 days a week there writing fiction. The doctorate has been taking up so much more of my time and headspace than I ever imagined. But I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m also preparing for another country Vic workshop, the Australian Booksellers Association Conference and two writers festivals (I’ll announce more about those when the programs are released). I’ll blog about another local event, and my interview with Colm Toibin, soon.

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I’m getting NEW GLASSES. Two pairs.

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Don’t forget to support Team LiteraryMinded in The Novel Challenge, raising $ for folks affected by Multiple Sclerosis. And THANKS so much to those who already have. Good on you.