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If I Could Solicit Some Questions from the Audience? - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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March 9th, 2009


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09:35 am - If I Could Solicit Some Questions from the Audience?
My boss says a colleague of hers once said there were three ways to tell you'd Made It in your career:
  1. You have direct reports.
  2. You have your own office.
  3. You're asked to be on a panel.
I'm still working on those first two. And I don't know if this counts for the third, but, uh, I was asked to be on a creative nonfiction panel at this year's American Medical Writers Association annual conference. The woman organizing the panel liked the story I read last year and was told about my song parody the year before. It was suggested that I may very well have talents in other genres.
The session will be 90 minutes, so I think each panelist (probably 3 total) will get about 15 minutes. What I'm imagining is that you would choose a piece of writing that you'd like to talk about in terms of its process---what compelled you to write it, what you learned/changed as you wrote, how this piece of writing connects (or doesn't connect) with the other aspects of your life, like the medical writing part. If you want, you could also talk about other writers who inspire you or give ideas to jump-start others in their own writing projects.
I don't have any creative nonfiction to talk about! Even if LJ stuff counts, it's not what I want to talk about in public and have my colleagues hunting me down online. I don't even really know what constitutes creative nonfiction. What do I write about? How do I write it? Are there any good examples I can look to for inspiration? Help me out here, you guys, I AM GOING TO BE A PANELIST WTF.

Also, I'm going to be teaching a three-hour introductory workshop on cancer pharmacology. This year's conference is shaping up to be very exciting and stressful.
Current Mood: surprisedflattered
Current Music: Rainer Maria - Make You Mine

(33 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 9th, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
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Maybe you should tell the story of your 2001 birthday?
You REALLY want me to play the 9/11 card? Who do you think I am, Giuliani?
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 9th, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC)
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Oh man, that's actually a very good idea! I didn't think of that, but you're right, that would make for some funny stuff. The only caveat would be that I wouldn't be able to show it to my mom if she wanted to see it since I am a SECRET SEAFOOD EATER.
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From:incidentist
Date:March 9th, 2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
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Awesome! Does working from home count as having your own office? ...no, I didn't think so.

It was suggested that I may very well have talents in other genres.

Welllll I think that's putting it a bit strongly. I'd say there's a possibility that, conceivably, you could perhaps have something resembling pseudo-talent in other genres. :P

I have no idea what you should write about, but whatever you do, don't write about the process of thinking up something to write for this panel.
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From:punzerel
Date:March 9th, 2009 05:12 pm (UTC)
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omgyay! That's so exciting. (Teaching a workshop is also exciting! I gave a 45 minute workshop to our interns 2 weeks ago and I was flipping out over teaching people my age - but it was also kind of extremely thrilling. I am a huge nerd.)

I don't know what "creative non-fiction" means. Could your science writing pieces from a few years ago work? Those were pretty awesome + not LJ-y + related to American Medical Writing?
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 9th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
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No, the science writing pieces are articles. Unless you mean the blog posts. Which are...I'm not sure. Maybe those count. But creative nonfiction is mostly essays and memoirs and stuff, I think?

I'm going to be teaching people who are mostly OLDER than me. Which is ridic.
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From:ebongreen
Date:March 9th, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
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You have listening skills, you're sincere, and you're funny. Being on a panel with those attributes is a cinch. Relaaaaax.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 9th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
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Aw, thanks.
From:dotificus
Date:March 9th, 2009 06:14 pm (UTC)
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Congrats! That sounds like fun, of a somewhat nerve-wracking kind.

When I think of creative nonfiction, Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe come to mind. Or memoir type essays like Anne Lamott. I also think reviews count, whether of books, food, movies, TV.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 9th, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC)
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I have not read any of those authors! Although I think I would like Anne Lamott.

Reviews count, really? Because I have gobs of those. What distinguishes creative nonfiction from regular nonfiction? It's not boring? (For instance, would Genome be creative nonfiction? Or the other science-y books written for popular audiences, like Big Bang?)
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From:squaringkarma
Date:March 9th, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
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Ooh congrats!
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From:electricmonk
Date:March 9th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
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That is way freakin' cool. You're a star, buddy.

I think the stuff you've written here absolutely counts, and I agree with the suggestions that you can rework something into an essay and not mention the whole blog part.

Also keep in mind that ideas or tactics that seem obvious to you may not be obvious to people who seek out information at a panel such as this. (Just today, the guy who volunteers at the front desk here asked me how you keep a journal -- like if there was any particular format, or requirements, or what. I told him to get a notebook and write down things he thought of. He was grateful for that advice.)

As for examples, what springs to mind is Joan Didion's "Slouching Toward Bethlehem." Those essays are more reportage than personal memoir, but they're really literary and... uh, creative.

In other news, I don't even know what "direct reports" means. I have not Made It.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 9th, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC)
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(Just today, the guy who volunteers at the front desk here asked me how you keep a journal -- like if there was any particular format, or requirements, or what. I told him to get a notebook and write down things he thought of. He was grateful for that advice.)
Ha. Yes, every entry must start out "Dear Diary..."

In other news, I don't even know what "direct reports" means.
Direct reports are people who report directly to you. That is, you are their boss.
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From:scripted22
Date:March 9th, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)
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Your LJ entries totally count as creative nonfiction! Many of those are essays in their own right, and very good ones at that.

I like the idea of reworking them a bit though. I think you could hand them out as is, but if you did, someone could potentially Google something in your essay and find your LJ. Although if you handed them out as is, you could always temporarily flock those essays just to be on the safe side.

Yay for the exciting panel discussion! How cool is it to be you?!
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From:rowanceleste
Date:March 9th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
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CONGRATULATIONS!!!! As for the first two, believe me, they just mean more work and the more money you get is dwindled away by the 'more work' since you'd be salary ;)
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From:seawench
Date:March 9th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
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The best example I can think of is Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. It is science and medicine made accessible and enjoyable.

For me, the distinction is the story. While it may not be a conventional narrative or follow traditional structure, a piece of creative nonfiction has a story to tell as well as facts to impart.

Reposted because of italics FAIL.
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From:soleta_nf
Date:March 10th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC)
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Very cool! Congratulations! I'm a little confused why she would invite you to speak on a CNF panel if she isn't aware whether you (and you say you don't) actually write it. But you would definitely be great on any writing panel!

CNF is what I write, and read a lot about, so I would be happy to answer any questions if you want. I would suggest asking her what she would suggest you talk about - if she knows you don't write CNF, maybe she has a different idea, like you write your first CNF story, then talk about what you've learned, etc? Otherwise perhaps you could talk about personal life-story writing without naming LJ. That would be harder to do, but possible. You could say you're working on a manuscript, or something.

Good luck!
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From:soundingsea
Date:March 10th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)
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I'm thinking travel writing!

Also, if you have 1) and 2), the direct reports keep showing up in your office, which makes it much less "your own".
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 10th, 2009 02:51 am (UTC)
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Ooh. I have some nice pieces I wrote when I went to India a few years ago. And they're a little shorter than my shoulder story. Good call!
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From:paraleipsis
Date:March 10th, 2009 04:32 am (UTC)
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How exciting! As far as using LJ material, you might consider retooling material you originally posted here and moving it to other bloggery elsewhere with your legal name attached to it? One of the things They recommend for protecting one's fannish (or whatever) online identity from at least the casual RL-identity-based search is making sure you have a well-established web presence for your legal name. And if people at the conference like the work you share and what you have to say about it, they'll want to know where they can find more.
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From:glasseseater
Date:March 11th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)
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I don't know what you should write about but I do know you should totally wear this
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 11th, 2009 02:16 am (UTC)
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Hee!

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