Last night, I returned to Melbourne from the Canberra science fiction convention, Conflux. I've been gradually getting better over the last few days, despite the temptation to dance and party in the evenings. I even had some good vibes and energy for the disco on the last night - at which Sean Williams did the DJ thing with his usual enthusiasm.
It was great to catch up with lots of people from the sf/fantasy part of my world, especially Ellen Datlow, whom I hadn't seen since 2003 (though there are never enough chances to talk at these things, at least not unless you're better than a relatively shy and non-pushy person like me at grabbing people and making time).
The reading on Saturday night was a highlight. Ahem, shameless self-congratulation follows. I sometimes forget that my own fiction, which I tend to be modest about, does have its strengths. The textures, images, and rhythms come out strongly - at least for me - when I read it aloud. I wonder how many of my readers ever actually notice how much trouble I go to in that sense. I may draft and redraft a paragraph literally dozens of times to (try to) achieve the effect I want. Jack Dann is about the only person who has commented on the rhythms, though Simon Brown has been very kind about my attempts to make characters pop out of the page. That's what you want as a writer - to use language to make character, and the viewpoint characters' streams of inner experience, vividly present to your audience. Make it real, and make 'em care.
But perhaps it's not such a good thing if readers are too consciously aware of the linguistic construction by which it's achieved - as long as the poetry of the language is working for them at some level.