The Road to Clarion West – Wigging Out

I spent all last night sorting, washing, detangling, and styling wigs.

I… have a lot of wigs.

I even have wigs I don’t remember ever buying. Okay, I have one wig I don’t remember buying. It’s very nice. I must have bought it for something. I just don’t remember what.

All my other wigs have stories. There’s my Orion wig, a super-long straight red wig that was a chore to untangle, and the various ‘Orion cut her hair and now it’s growing out’ wigs. There’s my short Columbia bob wig that I’ve had for… god… about 20 years now (and it still looks great!). Eve’s wig, Cora’s wig, Elizabeth Hunt’s ‘I’m a curly-haired vampire sheep!’ wig (that was originally for my Breathless Mahoney costume). There’s the gorgeous blonde finger-wave wig I wore for my Lilith-as-played-by-Marlene-Dietrich. The black and purple wig I wore for Ghislaine du Fleur. And on, and on, and on.

So many wigs, so many characters, so many stories. I’m reminded of a story from The Magic House (a book of short tales from the 1930’s that nobody has ever heard of, I think. My parents used to read it to me when I was little). In it, Betty wakes up one night to a strange sound: Ka-chinkity, ka-chinkity, ka-chinkity. She crawls to the edge of her bed and overhears the buttons in her button collection telling the stories of the clothes they came from. There’s a button from Puss-in-Boots’ frock coat, and a button from Cinderella’s ballgown. There’s a button from the boot of Hansel and Gretel’s witch, and a button from Jack-in-the-Beanstalk’s trousers. Eventually, the buttons spot Betty spying on them, and they all scatter and run every-which-way, until they all fall down with a great big KA-CHINK!

I LOVED this story as a kid, even though the ka-chinkity noises my mom made totally scared me. I love that it was a story about stories. A story of the places where things had been. I look back now, and I can trace my love of folklore to this story. My love of archaeology, too, in that material culture has tales to tell for those who know how to listen.

When I go through my wigs and costumes and other artefacts of days past, they are more than just things. They’re wayfinders for past stories.

Why am I revisiting the tales of days gone by? Because I’m getting ready to sell them all! See, I got accepted to Clarion West 2012. This is a six-week writing workshop held annually in Seattle. The instructors change every year, but regularly include some of the biggest and best writers working in speculative fiction (the line-up this year is particularly awesome, and includes my personal favorite Connie Willis, and also George R.R. Martin, Chuck Palahniuk, Kelly Link, etc.) The alums of the workshop are part of an active and supportive writing community, and they include some of the current rising stars in SF/F.

But Clarion West is expensive, and I’m having to take an unpaid leave of absence from work, which adds to the expense (with the caveat that I love my job and my manager for allowing me to take so much time off work!) So I have decided to sell off a large chunk of my costume and wig collection to help defray costs. Old stories must make way for new stories, and what comes out of my Clarion West experience will (hopefully) be a distillation of all the theater and dance and gaming that has come before, and a launch point for a new set of artefacts.

I’m planning on posting the first round of items this Friday, so keep an eye out if you’re interested in picking something up, or if you just want to help me out.

And let the buttons scatter. Ka-chinkity!

If you don’t want to buy anything, but still want to help, there’s a donate button on the front page of my main blog.  

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11 thoughts on “The Road to Clarion West – Wigging Out

  1. Now hold yer mounts there lass…
    I think that yer bein’ a bit rough on us pirates! I’ve known a few highwaymen that were just as much a low-down cur as some of my more barnacled mates! As fer fact, I know of some that would surely not be up fer romancing a fine wench they find along a crossroads!

    I’m just stickin up fer the other fine gentlemanly pirates like meself. We ain’t all bad, darlin. And some of us arrhhh better then them highwaymen. Of course, some of us are worse…

    Arrhhhhhhh…

    *passes the rum*

    • Hmm…and that’s another thing I appreciate about highwaymen that pirates are seriously lacking. A respect for the english tongue that makes them unwilling to murderously dismember it.

      I mean, call me silly, but I find a smoothly delivered, “Sweet Lady, I will be happy to leave you your dear mother’s locket, but in return I’m afraid I must rob you of a kiss” vastly more attractive than a barely intelligible “Arrrgh wench, ‘owd ye be liken to shiver me timber, arrr”

  2. Congrats on the acceptance to Clarion West!!

    I’m not in the market for the stuff you have up on ebay, but I put a link up on the forums for the fantasy boffer LARP I’ve been running. Some of the corsets might work for some of the folks that play our game.

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