On Saturday morning I got up bright and early and headed off for the first panel of the morning. However, when I got to the street, I took a right instead of my usual left, on a whim. After a few minutes of walking, I realised I was not heading for the conference at all.
This happens sometimes.
Sometimes you just need to go walkabout (or in may case a small truncated white fella-version of walkabout). I just stopped at every crossroad, had a look and took the road that was most appealing. I found a fabulous bug. I found the city bikes, so I rode around, found the markets and a park, and a few new areas of the city. And eventually, I found my way back to the conference, just in time for a great session on theories of the short story.
The identity of short fiction is something I struggle to define in my own theoretical work, but I often wonder if it is really that important to the process of creative writing itself. Unfortunately, it does seem to be somewhat important after the writing, when you are trying to find a means to distribute it and it doesn’t fit within any clear genres.
Next, I found another kindred cognitive spirit in Maria Christina Dal Pian who discussed some brilliant examples of short fiction in relation to Fauconnier and Turner’s theories of conceptual blending. She clearly used their theory to outline the idea that the short story is a way of communication complex issues, through means of cognitive blending; ie: taking two different ideas and forming a third more complex relationship through the cognitive process of chunking. So happy to see others working in this area too.
After this, my brain and I snuck off again. To wander the streets, buy a few souvenirs for the kids. And generally try to digest the past few info packed days.
Over the week, I heard I missed some brilliant panels – I would have liked to heard what the contingents from India and China had to say, especially after reading their wonderful stories in the anthology. I missed some great stuff on liminality. And I would love to have seen the book ‘bidding war’ that broke out after Paul McVeigh’s reading. Hopefully, next time, in Shanghai, I won’t have so many academic commitments and can go along to more panels just for fun and interest.
But the day was not over yet – and in the evening I headed back into the city to catch one of the five busses headed to the post-conference party venue.
Heurigen was the full tourist extravaganza – fabulous fun in the cutest little village, with tables under trees. Waiters in costume, wandering musicians and piles of food and beer. Merriment ensued and all too soon we were back on the buses to town.
A small but entertaining group of revellers went on the Café Einstein and, after, I headed home to collapse happy and slightly overwhelmed into bed.
I am sorry if this is all too sickeningly sweet, but I really don’t have anything bad to say, except I would have like a bit more time.
Or is it…