Temporarily Switching Gears

I’ve recently come across a bit of a hang-up with working out of Abel & Madden’s Drawing Words & Writing Pictures–I’m missing art supplies! Currently I’m missing an Ames Lettering Guide for, well, lettering, and now I need to get myself a nib pen for inking. Rather than let myself get ahead by going through the chapters “theoretically” rather than “practically,” I’m going to switch gears for a few weeks and work on a project that came up for me while I was at the annual conference for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.

While going through AWP’s massive bookfair, I met up with the editor of Poets & Writers and asked if he would be interested in a graphic essay. Last semester I wrote a pedagogy paper on incorporating graphic narrative into introductory creative writing classrooms, and it has always felt awkward being in prose–the essay feels like it needs to be drawn out as sequential art. Even though Poets & Writers does not publish pedagogy papers, the editor gave me his card and said he would be interested in learning more. So as of now, until I can get my art supplies and get back on track with working through Abel & Madden, I’ll be putting together a query for Poets & Writers. Wish me luck. :)

What I’ve Been Up To Lately

A few months ago, I was asked to visit my alma mater and serve on a panel discussing Art and Comics as Literature during their inaugural Creative Writing Symposium. Naturally, I was flattered and immediately agreed. Later on, I found out that it was the first in a series of major literary events to occur throughout the month of February. I maintained my position on the panel, but unfortunately could not attend the whole symposium on account of my other obligations and the simple necessity of maintaining my sanity during an extremely stressful month.

At the panel, I spoke about the need to teach graphic narrative (/sequential art/comics) in introductory multi-genre creative writing classes. Basically–it’s a disservice not to expose up-and-coming writers to the medium, so that at least they can acquire some sort of fluency with its particular vocabulary and functions. I used an outline of a pedagogical paper I wrote last semester to guide my talking, and while the subject matter appeared to be boring to many of the panel audience (mostly undergrad students), a few did come up to me afterward to ask questions and recommend books to me, which was pretty awesome. Overall, it was a great experience, and I’m incredibly grateful.

At my current university, the literary magazine I help manage partnered with various other local entities in continuing education and journalism and hosted our inagural Writer’s Conference. This conference took place the weekend after the symposium at my alma mater (so, not this current weekend, but the weekend beforehand), which is another one of the reasons why some of my recent posts have been so short. I was on the list of speakers for the conference to serve as a consultant for beginning comics writers, but then a few days before the conference, the primary graphic narrative consultant had to back down and asked if I would be willing to take his place. I told him I’d love to, as long as the conference director and the consults didn’t mind. We ended up not having anyone sign up for conferences, which was a relief because I had a family emergency and had to miss most of the day for which conferences had been scheduled. However, due to the family emergency, I missed both graphic narrative panels at the conference. I’m sad I missed them, but I won’t say I regret it–there are always more opportunities.

At the conference there were great readings by incredibly talented master-writers–all of which read work from unpublished material for the very first time. I am so glad I got to meet and talk with them and really network for my career. I also introduced a few speakers at panels–two of my favorite professors from my undergrad came to talk about starting literary journals, and my thesis director ran a panel on screenwriting–and as a surprise was asked to sit at an Editor’s Round Table panel to represent Managing Editors and answer any questions anyone at the conference had.

This coming week is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ Annual Conference, and I’m going to attend! This year it’s being held in Chicago. I’ve already scheduled my flight, made hotel reservations, and packed my bags! I’m incredibly excited. On Saturday at the conference, there are two graphic narrative panels I will not miss, one of which features Jessica Abel and Matt Madden, the authors of Drawing Words & Writing Pictures! I’m a nerd, and I’m bringing my textbook for them to sign. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to interview one or both of them on the spot. I know they just finished the sequel to DW-WP, and on Facebook I asked if they would be bringing a copy to AWP for us to take a sneak peek, but Madden replied and said no, unfortunately they don’t have any advance copies. :( But that’s okay, because I’ll get to talk with them! :]

And one last good-news thing to share:

My first comic publication!

My comic, “Justification,” is featured in the 30th Anniversary Issue of The Southeast Review! It’s eight pages long and printed in full color! I’m thrilled to be surrounded by so many talented writers in a gorgeous issue. If you get the chance, you should definitely check it out!