Cli-Fi and Creative Santa Fe

Happy to announce I’ll be participating in a symposium through Creative Santa Fe later this month where we’ll be talking about positive ways forward despite our uncertain future at the hands of climate change. I’ll be reading from Implanted, which was shortlisted for the Compton Crook award for best first SF/F/H novel, along with my fellow writer and friend Sarena Ulibarri of World Weaver Press who has done so much to broaden the field’s awareness of the solarpunk subgenre.

Check out the deets below, and if you’re near Santa Fe, New Mexico, please join us on May 22nd!

Cli-Fi: Altered Futures Through Film and Literature
A Disruptive Futures Dialogue
Wed, May 22, 2019
5:30 – 8:00 pm
Scottish Rite Masonic Center: 463 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, NM. 87504

What if we could peer into the future of our landscape in New Mexico? What would we see, and how would that affect the actions we take today?

Creative Santa Fe presents Cli-Fi: Altered Futures Through Film and Literature, A Disruptive Futures Dialogue on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 from 5:30 – 8:00 PM at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center.  This multifaceted evening will include short films, readings by local authors, and opportunities to engage in learning about and taking action on sustainability issues.

This event will explore how our local resources, when combined with the arts, can address the effects of climate change and create a pathway for sustainability for years to come. The first portion of the evening will feature four science fiction short films by directors Suzi YoonessiNanobah BeckerHugo Perez, and Ramin Bahrani exploring the potential futures of water, waste, and agriculture in the face of climate change. These films are collected from the FutureStates film archive. Following the films, local authors Sarena Ulibarri and Lauren Teffeau will read excerpts from their climate fiction (Cli-Fi) and Solarpunk themed stories. Solarpunk is a movement in speculative fiction that seeks to answer and embody the question “what does a sustainable civilization look like, and how can we get there?”

The book and film presentations will be followed by a discussion of an initiative, led by the Coalition of Sustainable Communities NM and Creative Santa Fe, to explore the development of a sustainable technology center in Santa Fe. This center would serve as an intellectual consortium and physical hub for institutions of higher education, national laboratories, non-profit and business partners to advance research, development and deployment in the area of sustainable technology in New Mexico.

The Santa Fe Watershed Association350.org New MexicoThe Santa Fe Community College Controlled Environment Agriculture Department, and other fantastic local resources will engage audience members in activities and education before and after the event.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required, and will open on the event webpage on Monday, May 6th at 6 PM. We will share the registration link at that time through our newsletter and social media. Snacks will be provided and complimentary childcare is available upon early request.

FEATURED ARTISTS

SARENA ULIBARRI is a graduate of the Clarion Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop at UCSD, and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her fiction has appeared in magazines such as Lightspeed, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, DreamForge, GigaNotoSaurus, and elsewhere, as well as anthologies such as The Gamer Chronicles and Biketopia: Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures. She is Editor-in-Chief of World Weaver Press, and edited the optimistic science fiction anthologies Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers (2018) and Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters (2020).

LAUREN C. TEFFEAU is an Albuquerque-based speculative fiction writer, and her short fiction can be found a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her novel Implanted (2018, Angry Robot) was shortlisted for the 2019 Compton Crook award for best first science fiction, fantasy, or horror novel and named by Grist.org as one of seven books imagining a better future.

Collaborative Writing

Over the last few months, I’ve participated in a collaborative writing project with two of my writing friends.

It’s something I was initially hesitant doing. For one, the project is in a genre I don’t normally write in. For another, I wasn’t confident our writing styles would mesh. Plus, the time I spent on the project would inevitably take time away from my own work.

But I did it anyway, and as we’re polishing the initial draft, I can say it was largely a success. How did we keep it from devolving into a game of tug-of war?

Well, for starters, my emotional investment in this project was much lower to begin with. After all, I had to share this story with two other people. So my level of engagement was more in line with the collaborative writing I did in academia—I had a professional desire to get things done and do them well, but I was more than happy to put it aside at the end of the day. In other words, I viewed this as a job or an assignment, not my “art” (whatever that means).

That also meant I was accountable to the other writers I was working with. Excuses that I sometimes use to get out of working on my own projects didn’t fly in this case because I had two other people counting on me to write my portions of the story.

That level of detachment did make it harder to engage with the material initially, but as we got further along into the story, that became less of an issue. The detachment also meant I was also more open to compromise as we discussed the overall story arc and decided on character traits and plot points.

We also stuck to a schedule. We met every two weeks while drafting the story. We started with an initial brainstorming session where we roughed out the plot. Then we would assign each other scenes to write. We would exchange those scenes before the next session, review them, and make big-picture adjustments at the next meeting. Then the process would start all over again. The result was a full draft in less than four months.

It also helped that each writer was assigned a specific POV character, so we didn’t have to worry about handing off that character to someone else and the continuity issues that would stem from that.

Would I do it again? It depends. I learned a lot about my writing through this process and exposed myself to the drafting techniques of other writhers. And it’s encouraging to know that such collaborations can be successful—provided there’s a good mesh of working styles. Plus it was a lot of fun too.

Doing it again would necessitate a time commitment I’m not eager to make at this stage right now. That doesn’t mean some future project won’t be worth the effort.

So if you are contemplating a collaborative writing project, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Find writers you trust.

This means you trust their creative instincts, you trust their ability to do the work, and (it has to be said) you trust they won’t dick you over in the end. It helps that I’ve known the two women I worked with for over a year through our local writing group. Not everyone starting a collaboration will have this option, but the point is to vet the other writers the best you can and go with your gut.

Treat it as a professional obligation.

This means you (and the other writers) need to be accountable to one another. Make goals, stick to a production schedule, brainstorm together—but remember to build in enough leeway so that you can help each other if the going gets tough. Respect each other’s work and each other’s time. Couch story development negotiations in terms of craft and structure, not you own selfish desires for how the story should turn out. There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’ and all that.

Remember that this is a learning opportunity.

Collaboration is a useful skill to have in your toolbox. It’s also a rare one, because of the difficulties inherent in any collaboration. Use this time as chance to look under the hood at someone else’s writing process—you may glean a few nuggets of wisdom for your own writing. You may also surprise yourself at what you are capable of in the right set of circumstances.

Check out On the Art of Collaboration in Writing from Magical Words and Amie Kaufman’s Three Rules You Can’t Break for more insights into collaborative writing. var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”); document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); try { var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-15029142-1”); pageTracker._trackPageview(); } catch(err) {}