Monday, October 02, 2006

I'm shocked–shocked!–to discover pandering going on here!

So another Turkey City was committed on Saturday, of which I participated. Jeff VanderMeer was the imported writer of note for this one, and he brought along the current Ambergris story he's been working on for the gathered throng's collective examination. The gathered throng being depicted below:


First row, left to right, we have Mikal Trimm, Jessica Reisman, Me, Leff VanderMeer and Lawrence Person. Second row, left to right we have Rory Harper, Fred Stanton, Steve Wilson, Howard Waldrop and Chris Nakashima-Brown. Not pictured is Stina Leicht, who left early to attend her sister's wedding, and Lou Antonelli, who actually took this picture (if you want to see the picture with him in it and not me, click here).

The omens did not portend smooth sailing for me this workshop. The night before I was up until 4 a.m.--I kid you not--desperately trying to get a rough edit of "The Whale Below" in place that would smooth rough discontinuities that arose while I was writing the thing. You know, minor stuff such as two characters merging into one halfway through the story, three other characters merging into one, physical deformities switching from one person to another, and blank lines that say "Something happens here." Then I had to print it out, and I tell you, nothing has convinced me that I need to replace my 15-year-old HP 550 DeskJet more than waiting for it to cough out 12 copies of a 35-page manuscript.

In my sleep-deprived state, I mis-set my alarm. I discovered this at 8 a.m. when Lisa woke me up asking if I hadn't ought to be on the road soon? Waking up 30 minutes after I should've left is not something I'd recommend. Fortunately, I managed to avoid any imperial entanglements and arrived a Lawrence Person's house in far North Austin at 9:15. The good seats were already taken, but I was able to pass out my story and get down to the nitty-gritty business of critiquing.


About 10 minutes in, Lou Antonelli says, "Boy. I shouldn't have started reading Jayme's right after breakfast." About 15 minutes later, VanderMeer opines, "I see what you mean about 'after breakfast.'" Some minutes after that, he puts down the story, turns to me and says, "Jayme, this wouldn't happen to be a pirate story by any chance, would it?" "Huh," says I, "Now that you mention it, I suppose it could be read as such..."

The actual critique was an experience I'll not likely forget any time soon. Despite the fact that every comment started with some variation of "Shameless panderer!" the verdict across the board was a unanimous thumbs up. I've never experienced such widespread approval of a story before--usually my work polarizes the group, with some loving it, other loathing it, and the rest somewhere in between. Chris Nakashima-Brown gave me my favorite pull quote by saying I was "Hitting pulp-adventure power chords" ala Pete Townshend in The Who's glory days. Damn, that was awesome. I'm now tempted to swear off Turkey City gatherings from here on out, because there's no way I'll ever experience such egoboo ever again.

Afterwards, I hung around a while to chat with VanderMeer and Trimm, but ultimately had to beg off befor the party got going because of lack of sleep and a significant drive home ahead of me. My loss. VanderMeer struck me as a fun fellow who'd be right at home among the Austin writerly crowd, and I'm looking forward to catching up with him again at World Fantasy next month.

Now Playing: The Kinks Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire


  1. It was wonderful to see how well it went for you. I can vouch for anyone who doesn't believe it that it was a Golden Moment for Jayme. You deserve the accolades and good luck!

  2. Oh, good Lord--I *was* the fattest guy in the room!

    (Runs off to purge immediately...)