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Andy is a writer and editor of genre and literary fiction.
[Technical note: from 2011 onward the chat logs appear different, because our W2P guest sessions were held in an IRC-based chat room, rather than via an AOL chat room.]
12/19/11 18:57:55 Opening "Chat Log 12-19-11"
thejuliechris: Welcome Paul
W2PSushi: Hi Mr Duncan
thejuliechris: we are discussing my sugar free french coconut pie
W2PSushi: Feel free to announce this meet-up on your Facebook page, etc. The more the merrier.
AndyDuncan: Hi, Paul. I announced it earlier today, actually.
Deluge7: Hello everyone.
Deluge7: We have four people in here besides Q. That's enough to help keep the room open!
thejuliechris: Yup, I've been hanging out indefinitely, but that will change on Thursday.
Deluge7: What happens on Thursday?
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Josiphine1: hi everyone
thejuliechris: I have a job interview in San Antonio...and am taking the laptop, so it can't stay on and hooked up to the internet.
thejuliechris: Hi Josie!
AndyDuncan: San Antonio is a nice town.
Josiphine1: Good luck to you Julie
thejuliechris: Thanks Josie. Trying to get away from the hurricanes in Houston.
AndyDuncan: What work do you do now in Houston?
Josiphine1: You're welcome Julie
thejuliechris: I am a server systems administrator.
thejuliechris: Windows primarily, some Linux
AndyDuncan: I guess you've read Cory Doctorow's story "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth"?
thejuliechris: Nope… Does that make me a bad geek?
AndyDuncan: Highly recommended.
thejuliechris: I haven't read Hitchhikers Guide either.
AndyDuncan: Nothing wrong with having a long list of good things yet to read.
thejuliechris: Yup, my husband likes to say that I don't read books, I consume them...and I still can't manage to get to the end of the list.
AndyDuncan: A popular late-night game among English majors, after too much wine, is to confess which classics you haven't read.
thejuliechris: I just got through Little Women about a year ago.
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MorenoHill: Okay, here I am again, folks.
thejuliechris: Hi Moreno
thejuliechris: Micki says Hi! I got an e-mail from her today
MorenoHill: (((((((((((((((((((((( Julie ))))))))))))))))))
MorenoHill: (((((((((((((((((((((((( Josie )))))))))))))))))))))))))))
thejuliechris: No writer sounds great without editing. Some days I don't even sound literate without editing.
W2PSushi: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to revise and extend my remarks.
thejuliechris: Hugs Adam back
W2PSushi: guess we can get started
thejuliechris: I motion that quorum has been reached
W2PSushi: Mr. Duncan is a very unusual fellow. Not many truckers (trucking industry folks) write, and not many writers are truckers. He is also a college professor, so there might be a test after this session.
Josiphine1: Hi Andy
thejuliechris: Multiple choice?
AndyDuncan: I was senior editor for five years at Overdrive magazine, "The Voice of the American Trucker," but I never got my CDL. Commercial Driver's License, I mean.
Deluge7: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is very light science fiction, although it is possible to see philosophical points in it.
W2PSushi: At a recent SF Con, we had me and Terry Bisson and John DeChancie, three of the four trucking-related SF authors in the whole world.
thejuliechris: Geeks talk about that book like it is the Bible...
AndyDuncan: It's very smart and funny, as is The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Diminishing returns set in after that.
W2PSushi: Depressing ending, IMHO
AndyDuncan: Yes, Douglas Adams dies at the end ... Sad!
thejuliechris: I'm more willing to read a depressing ending than watch one, as silly as that sounds.
Deluge7: <--Just renewed my driver's license. Took lots of documents along. Bureaucrat complained that one document has my address with the unit number on the same line as the street address, and another document has it on the next line.
thejuliechris: There is an inverse relationship between actual power of a position and the power trips the person attempts.
AndyDuncan: A number of sf writers have written trucking-related stories, but that doesn't necessarily make the authors trucking-related.
Deluge7: I was taking all of the Hitchhiker novels as a unit.
AndyDuncan: The late Jack Cady published his first fiction in Overdrive, I believe. Back when Overdrive published fiction, and anything else Mike Parkhurst could scrounge together.
Deluge7: Does that have anything to do with people whose ego expands in inverse proportion to their accomplishments, Julie?
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thejuliechris: I believe it is the same anomaly
AndyDuncan: I dunno about it necessarily being an inverse relationship. Plenty of kings, presidents, popes, etc., have been on power trips, too.
oliviajweston: Good evening.
thejuliechris: Hi Olivia!
Josiphine1: Hi Olivia:)
Deluge7: Hello, Olivia. We're still waiting for Adam.
AndyDuncan: Hi, Olivia.
oliviajweston: I can't believe I figured out how to get in. I've missed you guys. Hello Mr. Duncan.
AndyDuncan: I followed the instructions on the home page, including the download of Chatzilla, and everything's working fine so far.
Deluge7: Some of my past co-workers inspired my comment, Andy.
AndyDuncan: I've had co-workers who THOUGHT they were popes ...
MorenoHill: I've already been here, Chip.
W2PSushi: Hi Olivia~!
MorenoHill: Yoo hoo!!! Here I am!
W2PSushi: I wanted to check out Cady's work, and his books cost a fortune on Amazon!
AndyDuncan: Are Cady's books out of print? That's sad. Libraries, used-book stores, and ABEBooks can help.
W2PSushi: Here is my list. The world's most complete . . . if not the only . . . list of trucker related fiction:
W2PSushi: But please read it later, the session is ongoing.
AndyDuncan: I quite liked The Off Season, but I know Cady mainly through his story collections. I have a prejudice for short fiction.
W2PSushi: Are all of Cady's works considered fantasy? Or are some mainstream literary work?
AndyDuncan: He wrote all sorts of things.
W2PSushi: (I could not find even one 'literary' work of trucker-themed fiction. Short or novel length.)
AndyDuncan: Cady's book "The American Writer" is a non-fiction survey of American literature.
thejuliechris: is trying to figure out who Cady is...
AndyDuncan: I know of one literary trucking novel, because it crossed my desk while I was at Overdrive: "Gonzalez and Daughter Trucking Co.," by Maria Emparo Escandon.
AndyDuncan: Cady's best known story is "The Night We Buried Road Dog."
W2PSushi: Ah! Thank you Mr. Duncan. Will check it out, and place it on the list
thejuliechris: My whole house smells like a macaroon
Deluge7: There are worse smells, Julie.
thejuliechris: Agreed Dale
thejuliechris: What would you consider the toothpick test for fiction, Andy? To put it another way, as an editor, what do you consider the litmus test for fiction?
AndyDuncan: I'm not sure there is one. I do, however, when I think I'm done, read the whole thing aloud, to make sure.
W2PSushi: Your work or another's?
AndyDuncan: My own.
thejuliechris: Either. What about in others'?
AndyDuncan: I don't consider myself a fiction editor, since I've co-edited only one anthology, years ago, and F. Brett Cox did the lion's share of the work on that.
Deluge7: What is the exact benefit of reading it aloud?
AndyDuncan: I don't really believe in litmus tests for anything, except acidity. As I repeatedly tell my students, "It's not quite that simple."
thejuliechris: Sometimes your ear will hear something your mind didn't.
AndyDuncan: Certainly you spot typos that way, that might have escaped attention otherwise. But I write for the ear, because as I read I hear the words in my head, and I assume (perhaps wrongly) that my readers read the same way. So if my sentences, paragraphs, pages, or stories sound good, then they ARE good, I say, and call them done.
W2PSushi: I love to attend author readings, to hear the story 'for real,' as they say
AndyDuncan: As I enjoy performing my own work, I'm also thinking about possible performance pieces as I write ... looking for scenes that would work well in a 20-minute time slot. I love author readings, too. When I was an undergraduate, and later when I worked for a newspaper, I attended every author reading I could find.
thejuliechris: I worry about author readings...If I ever get an audience, I'm dyslexic...listening to me read is like watching a 1st grader read from a chapter book
AndyDuncan: That's still mostly what I attend at conventions and conferences (when I'm not hanging out in the lobby, or the bar, or the pool).
W2PSushi: I need to push myself, and _do_ some readings
AndyDuncan: Plenty of dyslexic writers and performers have overcome that. Samuel R. Delany, for example, and Tom Cruise. One answer is practice, probably. If you memorize it, then you don't have to read it when the time comes.
W2PSushi: Good to hear
AndyDuncan: Check out the honor roll at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_diagnosed_with_dyslexia.
thejuliechris: I don't see it as a huge problem every day....it is just the way my brain works...but somethings are difficult at a stupid level.
AndyDuncan: I've seen Fannie Flagg do readings, and you sure couldn't tell she's dyslexic. But a good reading doesn't just happen, for any of us. We all have to practice, and work at it, whatever our reading abilities.
W2PSushi: How does (did) your magazine work influence your fiction?
AndyDuncan: My journalism experience (newspaper and magazine) was crucial to my fiction writing. As an undergraduate, I dabbled in fiction, but wasn't very good at it, and set it aside.
W2PSushi: I hear that newspaper work is great for the brevity-is-wit department
AndyDuncan: After seven years of full-time journalism work, I tried fiction again, and lo! I was so much better. All those years of writing non-fiction characterization, description, dialogue, and scenes had been helping me write fiction, too.
W2PSushi: I've been hearing a lot about the "10,000 hours of practice" thing, lately. How to gain expertise in just about any chosen field.
AndyDuncan: Brevity, yes, and precision. Sometimes a piece has to be exactly a certain number of words, or a certain number of lines on the page.
thejuliechris: I noticed on your Facebook page that you have two master's degrees in writing....why did you decide to pursue that education?
AndyDuncan: For three years I was a newspaper headline writer, and I took great pride in making every word count. I entered the M.A. program at North Carolina State University because I wanted to work with Lee Smith and John Kessel, and I wanted to try writing fiction and teaching for a couple of years. I figured I'd do it for fun, then go back into newspapers. (Now N.C. State's writing program is an M.F.A., but at the time it was an M.A.)
AndyDuncan: By the time I graduated from N.C. State, however, I was hooked. I wanted to keep writing fiction, and I wanted to keep teaching, so I decided to get the terminal degree, the M.F.A. (Though there are Ph.D. programs in creative writing, too.)
thejuliechris: Terminal degree?
W2PSushi: Interesting. (The writers course is a CIA recruiting front?)
thejuliechris: What do you think the formal education taught you that experience wouldn't have?
"Terminal" as in "as far as one can go in one's field" -- Ph.D. or M.F.A., in higher-education terms. Means you're qualified for tenure-track teaching jobs.
W2PSushi: That's important.
W2PSushi: On SF Con panels, I get to tell everyone how I'm as blue-collar as can be, and somehow dragged myself toward getting published. The very opposite course, in my (pretty unusual) case.
AndyDuncan: I don't think it's the only route by any means -- obviously it's not -- but it made all the difference to me. It made me serious about my writing. It vastly expanded my reading experiences. Critiquing my classmates' work was terrific experience.
W2PSushi: The professor knows the great and relevant works, to assign or recommend. Makes them more interesting than a 'plain' read would already be.
AndyDuncan: John Kessel, in particular, was such a wonderful mentor. Studying one-on-one with him and with other writers I admire -- Smith, Wilton Barnhardt, Michael Martone, etc. -- was invaluable. And most importantly, I was living and working for several years in a community of writers, where we all understood one another and supported one another. The daily conversations, the weekly parties, the writers' groups, the living-room readings ... They changed my life. Writing is a solitary occupation, but being part of a writing community has always been very important to me. I guess it comes from my journalism experience, where the whole staff is working on a project together every day.
AndyDuncan: I should add that I always enjoyed school, was always good at it. Many aren't, so the route I took would be appalling to them.
W2PSushi: I have only published one co-written work, a humorous short story
AndyDuncan: I contributed to a four-way collaboration commissioned by Ellen Datlow at Event Horizon, years ago: Eileen Gunn, Pat Murphy, Michael Swanwick, and me. It was a fun story, but I really don't think of it as mine.
W2PSushi: I'm too politically incorrect to appeal to most editors, it seems. No one's issue but my own, of course!
AndyDuncan: Ellen Klages and I have been collaborating, off and on, for years on a novella. Mostly she waits on me to get around to working on it!
thejuliechris: My book about a porno actress won't win any awards then, Paul
AndyDuncan: Non-fiction or fiction, Julie?
W2PSushi: Julie, you never know!
thejuliechris: lol, fiction. It is a WIP.
W2PSushi: A real shocker, I might add. Not at all what I expected, from the opening scenes.
AndyDuncan: Nicholson Baker's novel Vox was entirely a conversation on a phone-sex line.
thejuliechris: I'm taking 19 days off of work for the holidays....and I'm going to try to get 1000 words a day
W2PSushi: One former member of our W2P group was a phone sex operator, I think
thejuliechris: I bet that would be interesting
W2PSushi: Anyway, her novel was extremely graphic
thejuliechris: I bet
W2PSushi: I will shock people with the daily life of a truck driver. In the strange future. Or at least, not bore them too much.
AndyDuncan: I think a porn star could be a compelling protagonist for a novel, and it could reach a wide audience, however graphic. In fact, it would HAVE to be graphic, because otherwise you'd be accused of shying away from your material.
W2PSushi: When we meet on AOL it's their chat room, open to visitors, so we have to keep it toned down
AndyDuncan: I've never really set out to shock readers, either, but I think shocking them is an honorable ambition for others
thejuliechris: I just want to be honest to the story...if some are shocked by it...oh well. If everyone is shocked by it and gives negative feedback...then I need to reevaluate things.
AndyDuncan: That's exactly the right attitude. Be true to the character and to her story, and you'll be fine. If you haven't already, you might read The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry, edited by Legs McNeil and Jennifer Osborne.
thejuliechris: Is adding that to the list...
W2PSushi: Geez, the title alone could get banned . . .
Deluge7: "Oral" could have a double meaning in that title.
oliviajweston: This has been enjoyable and interesting, but I have to go. My 4 year old fell asleep waiting for me. He's hanging halfway off the couch so I need to get him to bed. See you all next chat. Have a good evening.
AndyDuncan: Thanks, Olivia.
thejuliechris: Night Olivia!
Andy Duncan: How long does the meeting normally last?
thejuliechris: Till 10 Central Time. We are a few minutes over.
AndyDuncan: Oh, well, then. That went quickly.
W2PSushi: Carol sends her regrets, their cable / broadband went out.
AndyDuncan: Dang UFOs!
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W2PSushi: Apparently, Carol's whole neighborhood is having some kind of electrical disaster. They are okay but there are power outages.
AndyDuncan: Where does she live?
W2PSushi: Texas, north of Fort Worth. They get some very dramatic thunderstorms
AndyDuncan: Weather Channel predicts thunderstorms for her tonight.
thejuliechris: They had to delay Monday Night Football because of power outages at Candlestick park
Josiphine1: Going to get......Night Andy, Paul, Adam, Julie and Dale.....Have a Merry Christmas
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AndyDuncan: Well, thank you all for having me. Allow me to put in a couple of plugs: My next collection, The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories, will be out in February from PS Publishing, including a new novelette, "Close Encounters." And another new story, "On 20468 Petercook," will be published in April at Tor.com.
W2PSushi: Cool. Tor is a very tough market
W2PSushi: Thanks for coming
AndyDuncan: That's my understanding. I'm very fortunate to have placed a story there.
W2PSushi: Carol texts me the thunderstorms have passed over. They still might lose power though.
AndyDuncan: OK, I have to go do some packing. Thanks to you all. If you're on Facebook and haven't Friended me yet, feel free.
W2PSushi: <-- just passed 2000 FB friends. Thanks, everyone.
thejuliechris: Thanks for coming Andy...I need to head toward bed as well. Good night all.
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W2PSushi: Dinner time here, good evening all
12/19/11 20:05:21 Closing "Chat Log 12-19-11"
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