Thursday, April 18, 2024

Chicanonautica: Sci-Fi Gonzoing While Chicano in Class

by Ernest Hogan

Once again, I taught a class at (problematic, it was online via good ol’ Zoom) the Palabras del Pueblo writing workshop. I called it “Gonzo Sciene Fiction, Chicano Style” to give myself a excuse to plug my new book, Guerrilla Mural of a Siren’s Song: 15 Gonzo Science Fiction Stories. Self-promotion is important, kids, do it whenever you can get away with it—hell, even when you can’t get away with it!  It’s called professionalism.

There I go, thinking like a teacher again . . .

When introducing themselves, students mentioned the Impostor Syndrome about being writers. I don’t have that problem; my credentials as one of the most successful Chicano writers of my generation are secure. But when it comes to being a teacher, that’s another plate of tacos.

I never wanted to be a teacher. I don't have a degree. I never did like school. All I have is over forty years of bizarre experience.

And there are people out there who like what I write. I guess it all counts for something. 

This was my second time doing this. I may get the hang of it yet.

I presented material from my updated notes. I tend to change my mind about things, and the writing biz keeps a-changing. I wrote a story over the course of the class, all the way sharing my creative process (hiljole! What a pretentious phrase). 

It was strange because I don’t usually think about what I do—I just do it. I find discussing the Art of Writing to be boring and irritating.

Interestingly enough, there were no surprises. I’ve been doing this so long that I know what I’m doing without having to ponder the mysteries of it all. Like I said, experience.

The story is called “Spawn of the New, Improved Tortilla Machine.” I was lucky enough to be inspired by all the craziness going on in the world, combined with the fact that I had promised I would write a story. The process was, and the result is, gonzo.

I’ve never been comfortable in a classroom. I tried hard to make this a non- or even anti-academic experience. Writing is not an academic activity and shouldn’t be.

Once again, I was impressed by the students. They were a diverse group from all parts of the Latinoid continuum. I tend to be Chicano-centric because Aztlán in the second half of siglo XX is where I come from, but I always enjoy other cultures that have been affected by contact with the Hispanic virus. We need to start cooperating on a global level—since we are most of the people in this hemisphere we need to come off as a majority so publishers stop dismissing us as a niche market. We have fantastic ideas coming out of a wide range of cultures—we keep creating new ones—that will make for great fiction that will entertain and enlighten the world.

For the next time—it pays well, often better than the writing itself—I will strive to make it more interactive and focus even more on the wants and needs of the students. Guess I’ll be updating those notes again.

One thing I need to work on is the market—where to send what you write. It’s something I need to do anyway. I’ve been spoiled this century, most of what I publish these days is the result of publishers and editors coming to me—thank Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca for the interwebs! But lately, I’ve built up a backlog of unpublished stories. I need to do some investigating of the mutating world of publishing. No doubt, there will be some hair-raising adventures.

Also, anybody interested in publishing one or more of these stories, besides this blog and Mondo Ernesto, I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Another lesson in professionalism.

Ernest Hogan, the Father of Chicano Science Fiction, is the author of Guerrilla Mural of a Siren’s Song: 15 Gonzo Science Fiction Stories, a guidebook for the weirdness to come.

1 comment:

rhett beavers said...

Nice post. Thank you