I blog and update so many sites that I sometimes forget where I've posted what. I've just attended my first AWP conference and was blown away by the amazing people and talent I met and saw. I'm still in Colorado, one last day of 4 cupcake bakeries (meetup today in Denver from 12-3) in Denver and Boulder, plus I'm on some super killer deadlines so sadly can't get to all my thoughts and notes right now, though there are a lot. My panel on Exploitation and Empowerment in sex writing brought up a lot of ideas for me and I connected a lot of dots about all the bullshit cliches about sex writing and realized that the idea that it should be "empowering," especially when talking of sex work but other sex writing too, is much like the impulse to make every abortion a happy story so as to stick to the pro-life party line. Read Jillian Lauren's amazing, amazing new memoir Some Girls: My Life in a Harem for someone who goes there and is very humanly honest--about family, sex work, sex, abortion, and identity. She was who I was thinking of when I mentioned the pro-choice party line connection.
Anyway, I really don't have time at the moment but I'll leave you with some snapshots, including my notes. I was the only one who handwrote them and I did this at the very last minute and perhaps the biggest lesson I learned, the one I maybe need to get tattooed on my freaking skull/tongue/brain/body, is that I don't have to do things the way everyone else is doing them. That sometimes, my slipshod, crazy, harried, carrying-4-bags-frazzled lifestyle works. Of course, often it doesn't (I just deleted a few paragraphs to spare you the many ways it doesn't), but in this case, it did. And I hate making mistakes, but I love learning from them, so I put my copy of Please, Sir: Erotic Stories of Submission, up in front of me, Christine Kessler's corseted cover girl sexy and bold and unapologetic.
When I spoke at CUNY in December, I was so intimated that I thought that would be arrogant. No one wants to see your book; you don't want to look like you're bragging, like you're selling, like you're "too much," I thought. Then at the Truth or Trash memoir panel, I saw Rachel Resnick (Love Junkie) and Melissa Febos (Whip Smart) with their shiny, pretty new books proudly in front of them. They weren't ashamed. The books were part of them, part of their story; Rachel's pink cover got referenced by moderator Kerry Cohen. The books added to their talk, not subtracted. So I learned from CUNY and I did that. I could point to it and say (not a direct quote): "I made that." It felt good to have something physical to share, an object, my wares, my product, what I sell, whether I have it in my hand or not. Mostly, though, I felt good that I had learned something in these few months, especially as I have the LA Times Festival of Books and the Backspace Writers Conference coming up. I posed with the book at the Shewrites meetup when a woman wanted to ask what I like best about writing. I realized that that's the whole point of being here. Well, and to discover the brilliant work of Christian Campbell whose poetry I can't wait to read. Maybe not the whole point, but part of the point. That's an image people will remember. It's something they can look at and say, "Okay, that girl, the one quoting Lena Chen and reading about breakup sex, she edits books like that." So score one little point for me.
So here are those notes:
As for these notes themselves, you kindof had to be there, but I will at some point try to connect the dots, from the panel I attended the day before on women memoir and the idea that writing about yourself makes you an "attention whore" to what I said about how I wandered away from NYU Law School into this crazy world or sex writing.