jason erik lundberg
writerly ramblings

how interstitial is that?
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confused, and gassy

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There's a lot of discussion (and I mean a lot) over on the Interstitial Arts Foundation section of the Night Shade message board right now, and it reminds me of a conversation I had with Jenn while at the IA party on Thursday night of World Fantasy. And as great as the whole discussion and outreach has been, it still seems like the term is inclusive only to a select number of people. If you look at the current IA website (a new one with massive content is apparently going up sometime in December) and see the people involved in the foundation, the list doesn't significantly differ from the contributors of the Endicott Studio site. The people involved with the whole IA movement that I've talked to are happy to talk until they pass out about the aspects of interstitiality, but don't seem in any way to want to include others within their little group. There are some high ideals here, but the group still seems way too cliquish to be helpful to anyone else at this point.

This is just the feeling I get. The whole mission statement of the IAF still sounds shaky to me, and does not appear to have any long-term goals for the real world. They don't intend to picket every Borders bookstore in the country until an interstitial shelf is represented; they don't want to force publishers to start an interstitial imprint; they don't want writers who write in the interstitial vein to be able to benefit by having this label, other than having the small number of people involved with IAF to recognize your work as interstitial.

I'm all for awareness within the academy, since I plan to be involved in it someday, but this all seems so much smoke-blowing to me. The big Mythic Journeys conference next year seems to reinforce this, where their featured authors and artists are the same old people, however good writers and artists they may be. I have a lot of respect for Terri Windling, Charles de Lint, Charles Vess, and others, but the impression I get is that they don't want to let others into their little group.

Plus, the big concept of interstitiality is the crossing of genres, which has been happening for a long long time, though no one has thought to give it a name until now. Writers who write in the slipstream or interstitial mindset (myself included) don't want to be pinned down into one specific box. But isn't being called "interstitial" another type of categorization?

I don't know. This has echoes of the cyberpunk movement, which is why it's leaving a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth. I liked the fact that even as recent as last year, this was still being referred to as the Amorphous Blob movement, in that no one was trying to pin it down or treat it too seriously. It feels to me that when someone says, "I'm an interstitial writer," it sounds as pretentious as "I'm a New York writer."

This hasn't been really helpful, but it's what I've been thinking about. As soon as we start taking ourselves too seriously and thinking what we do will influence writers and readers for years to come, we may as well go live on an island and all declare ourselves king. I'm going to continue writing the things I write, and worry about what markets to send to later.

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