Writers Fest Recap (picture heavy)

Last week I volunteered sixteen hours at the Writers Fest. If you’ve been reading my posts, you already know this. I wanted to give a brief recap of the week, along with pictures I took (or had taken of me).

“Eclipse White” by Andre Petterson.

My volunteering hours were spent selling raffle tickets. The raffle was to win a painting by Andre Petterson. I’m not going to lie, it was a bit of a hard sell. I think the painting didn’t really appeal to a lot of people, and I think the people it did appeal do didn’t have any place to put it. Still, during my first shift we sold 11 tickets — that was at the Opening Reception — and according to the volunteer manager I had the best sales all week. I maintain it was my purple beret. It attracted people to me like moths to a flame. (That, or I’m apparently a better salesperson than I think I am.)

The Writers Fest is on Granville Island, which is probably my favorite place in Vancouver. I used to live there, ages ago, and it hasn’t changed much since then. It’s artsy and hippy and absolute hell to drive or park in. There are at least three independent coffee shops. There’s a Public Market. And there’s Arts Umbrella, which is where I spent a lot of time as a kid, taking classes in architecture, animation, pottery, jewelry-making, film, and other arts. While I was walking past Arts Umbrella on my way to Festival House on my first day, I noticed some chalk graffiti on the wall of the building. It was Doctor Who graffiti. I had a squee moment, and took a picture. The graffiti stayed up the whole week, so I got to show the real thing to my mom, too. (Then I convinced her to watch 6 episodes and finish off season 5 before she went up to Powell River this week.)

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There’s one in every group

Quite honestly, though, there is one guy in every group of people who want to discuss feminism at more than a 101 level who just has to bring it back down to a 100 level.

That happened Thursday night.

As a volunteer for VIWF, I have the option to enter into a ticket lottery to win one comp ticket to an event I want to see. I managed to score a ticket for Women and Literature, which was my first choice.

I was super-stoked. This was definitely the one event I really wanted to see.

The event was a panel of four women authors and a woman moderator/interviewer/timekeeper who would ask questions. The authors were Kate Mosse from the United Kingdom, Gail Jones from Australia, Gillian Jerome from British Columbia, and Susan Swan from Ontario. Here is the summary of the event:

In response to the 1991 Booker Prize nominee list, which included not one female author, novelist Kate Mosse founded the Orange Prize to celebrate outstanding fiction by women throughout the world. Now, more than 20 years later, poet Gillian Jerome has founded Canadian Women in the Literary Arts in response to the critical reception of women’s creative writing. In this so-called post-feminist world, does the literary and critical environment reflect what’s really happening? Susan Swan, novelist and past chair of the Writers’ Union of Canada, has followed issues of gender equality in writing for decades. Australia’s Gail Jones, an award-winning author and professor of writing, brings an international perspective to this panel discussion.

When the “post-feminist world” was mentioned, I and several other audience members guffawed. Jokes were made about Gillian Jerome’s binder, because it was full of women.

The discussion was good, and pretty much completely unsurprising to me. Women authors get reviewed less often than male authors do. It’s assumed that boys and men cannot relate to books written by women, but can relate to books written by men. It’s assumed that boys and men must have a male protagonist in order to enjoy the story — and boys and men are socialized to believe this from an early age. Women don’t get shortlisted as often, or win as often, many prominent literary prizes. Women are more generous readers than men — they’re more likely to read books with male protagonists with whom they can’t fully relate than men are to read books with female protagonists — I mean, obviously, women have had to be more generous readers with regards to that, because it’s not as if their stories have been centered in literature for centuries.

And women and feminists say these things, say “This is what is going on, let’s talk about it,” and we get “Why are you so angry? Are you a lesbian? Do you hate men?” in response. Anytime more women authors become visible — anytime women become more visible in any field — it’s seen as a takeover. All male = neutral.

And this discussion was refreshing, because it seemed we were actually able to talk about these things, for once, without derail.

I was too happy, too soon.

There was time for only three questions at the end. I finally worked up the courage to raise my hand for the last question — I wanted to know what their perspective was on genderqueer authors who had lived as women and still were assumed to be women finding spaces within women’s literature, within the circles of women authors supporting each other, etc — but the question went to a dude down at the end of my row instead.

His question had nothing to do with the discussion. It had to do with feminism in general, and he prefaced it by saying “This is going to be a controversial question, and of course I believe in women’s equality.”

Pro-tip: if you have to preface your ‘controversial’ question with ‘of course I believe in _____’, it’s a pretty huge red flag that you actually don’t believe in ___. No matter how much you think you do.

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Day one of VIWF!

It’s here already!

Wow, that was quick. Half the month is gone. Seriously, am I getting abducted by aliens and losing time? It really feels like it.

Today is the first day of the Vancouver International Writers Fest! I’m volunteering as a raffle ticket seller, which means looking nice and convincing people to buy tickets for a raffle of a really pretty painting.

Also, I’m late.

Well, not yet. But I did want to leave by 1pm so I could be there in plenty of time to find a parking space. I’m going to be leaving closer to 1:15 than 1pm. Oh well.

Going to blog as much as I can about VIWF, but I’ll also be really busy. If you are in the neighborhood and you have the time, you should definitely come check out some of the events.

And tonight I get to pick up mom from the airport! She will hopefully forgive me for the house not being super-clean. At all.

Cross your fingers that she doesn’t murder me, y’all, because if she does it means an end to this blog.

Productivity two days in a row? Madness!

I’ve been productive today and yesterday. Granted, a bit less today, probably because I slept for fifteen hours and could have gone back for more (read: I’m exhausted). But I have gotten a lot done.

Yesterday I started the huge task of reorganizing all my books. You see, when I moved here, my mom unpacked my books and organized them as best she could, bless her. She did a really good job, but I am obsessively neurotic when it comes to organizing my books. (And a lot of other things, actually.)

I also started doing laundry because…drum roll please…I have a working washer and dryer! The saga ends, with glorious defeat of the Imperial Stink-troopers, The Emperor of Funky Fabrics, and the redemption of Darth Undies.

That’s not even all the dirty stuff. There’s still a pile in my bedroom, and I’ve already done four loads.

I went to bed at 8pm and woke up at 11am today. I didn’t get right back to work; I sat down and had my coffee and spent some time on Google+. It’s National Coming Out Day (technically international), so I did that officially, as well as linking to my Full Frontal Genderqueer video again. Of course, being that official about it on my author profile was sort of nerve-wracking (especially as #NationalComingOutDay was the top trending hashtag on Google+ when I did), so I had to step back from the computer for a bit. Allay my anxiety.

I decided to continue my laundry and books work.

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