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World Fantasy, Part 2

Friday 29th October

Actually, this is probably inaccurate, in that I may very well conflate Friday and Saturday.

I wasn't feeling entirely well for parts of the convention, and Friday was the day of Pain and Discomfort for more waking hours than not. If it weren't for the intervention of papersky, I think I would have spent the day curled up in bed in my room, which was definitely not what I had planned for this convention. Although I have no wish for papersky to be in that much pain at a convention, I hope I can return the godsent favour in at least as helpful a fashion sometime in the future.

I was fine when I woke up in the morning. I am not a morning person. kateelliott is a morning person, no matter what she might say otherwise. Her son is less of a morning person than I am. She went and worked out in the morning. And came back chipper and cheerful. While I was sleeping. I can talk in my sleep at need, if it means that I can keep on sleeping.

But my stomach does that "feed me" thing, so I fell out of bed, managed to dress myself so that the labels were on the inside of my clothing, and followed her out of the room in search of breakfast. We met up with Jennifer Roberson; I'm almost positive that sartorias was with us, but it could have been Melanie Rawn. I remember Jennifer clearly only because I was sitting across from her and I remember much of what she said; I was already sliding into that unhappy gap that pain and being asleep while talking often causes.

We left the hotel and found a coffee place that served breakfast, and ate there; the poor saleshelp was utterly overwhelmed by convention goers. I think she finally asked what was going on, because they weren't staffed for that kind of busy. But I had a breakfast crepe that was good, and I got coffee, which was good, and I tried to wake up.

We talked about the difficulty of expectation -- both our own, and our sense of what our readers expect from us. How, when we start out, our goal is publication, but the delight of what we're writing, even combined with the dread of rejection, is so prominent. It's the delight that's easy to lose; the sense of magic and the yearning for the fantastic that started the whole writing process in the first place. Fear does that. And as we become better writers (the thing I most dread about the reprints of the Sundered books is having to read the page proofs, because I'm afraid of what the book is actually like), we become aware of just how many ways we can fail. Or have failed, in past books. We become aware of the deficit of genius, especially when we can see genius so clearly in the works of other authors we admire.

It doesn't get better with time, the fear -- at least not for us; it gets worse. I think I'm better at ignoring it, but only because the fear of other things -- like, say, not making mortgage payments, is also a huge goad.

But we finished our very cheerful breakfast when Jennifer said it was good to be here, to remember, to feel a bit of that excitement seeing things in the art show and the dealer's room; to get back in touch with the community. We went back to the hotel, and I ran into papersky and zorinth and she asked if I had lunch plans, and I said No, which meant Yes, if you don't and I can eat with you. So we made plans to meet at 1:00, and then I went back to the room and sort of hid under the pillow until then.

Lunch was at a restaurant that I cannot remember the name of; I don't feel as bad about this as I generally feel about not remembering the names of people, though. It was a nice place.

Let me pause for a moment for a small rant. No, trektone, this is not the rant; I did, as you asked, come back with a rant from WFC, which will come later; this is just a small digression. The one thing that drove the east-coaster in me nuts was the restaurant service. It's not that it wasn't friendly -- it was almost universally friendly -- but that it was … very relaxed. As in, with three people at a table, the waiter would come back with the food and ask "who ordered this?" and wait until someone confessed. At dinner on Thursday, it was the same -- although we had 12 people. It seems to be accepted practice to take orders, bring food, and then just hold it up and shout "Who wanted this?" until someone claims it. I'm very, very not used to this. And I found it irritating. At dinner on Saturday? They got two orders confused, so that the small steak (mine) was sitting with the baked potato (Melanie's), and the large steak (Melanie's) was sitting with the not very good French fries (mine). How was this resolved? By switching the damn steaks. Okay. I'm under control again.

The food at the restaurant whose name I can't remember was good. The company was much better. papersky is different from sdn, but she has this quiet presence, and this wonderfully assured way of speaking. Even when asserting that she wasn't going to win the WF Award because Fudoki was going to win, and deserved to win because it was such a wonderful book. She didn't speak disingenuously; she clearly believed this, much to the mild aggravation of zorinth who said her name in exactly the way adult children will often say "mother". He was very grave when doing this, as he clearly felt she needed some guidance or correction <g>. And, since he was proved correct by events, it's hard to begrudge him, and I wouldn't have, in any case. He was both proud of her and fond of her, and seemed in many ways -- to me -- to be much older than he is.

We also talked about writing, and her books, and I, ummm, was somewhat typically me when she spoke of her third novel, Prize in the Game. I loved that book, but I think the cover for it was the wrong cover. I go into bookseller mode without thought; it's like this little button that's very pressure sensitive. And she mentioned a game called Credo, which I saw some very little of (because I had, of course, misread my plane departure time, and thought I had 45 more minutes of convention time than I actually had). I'm trying to find a copy of it for my husband now.

The last event of my Friday evening was meeting up with MaryTheresa Hussey, my Luna editor. I misunderstood something that was said about dinner -- which is to say, that I assumed that as it was a Luna dinner, the Luna authors present would all naturally be invited. She had planned separate meetings with the various authors in ones and twos. But we were all waiting. This is the DAW author in me; DAW has a big dinner, and all the DAW authors present at the convention are invited. If they can't attend, they don't, but they're always invited.

So, this was my idiot moment. And she carried on without a pause, did not break my arms, did not even act as if I were a clod; we all went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. I was with a new author, Maria Snyder, who said "You don't look as animated as you did this afternoon", which was true. It was not, however, due to embarrassment; I was kind of sagging with the great desire to curl up and just be in pain. Friday dinner was not the highlight of my social time in Tempe. Not that I'm enormously social to begin with.

We did ask a few questions about the line; I think dancinghorse was doing much of the more pointed and useful asking; I didn't get to talk to her as much as I would have liked because I haven't seen her in years, but she was looking great. MaryTheresa reminds me a lot of Denise Little -- which is a good thing. The food was decent; it was a noisy place, though. Sue Krinard was there with her husband, and there was another Harlequin writer present whose name I -- surprise! -- don't remember.

I had drugs. I took drugs. I felt, slowly, better. Which was good, because Friday was the WFC mass signing. They arranged this in an interesting way -- they held it outdoors, in the courtyard. Authors were given a free drink ticket, and the women were also given roses, which were very nice.

This is the first time I have sat down to sign books at a WFC mass signing. Usually I take the opportunity to run around the tables to talk to the other authors I know when they aren't busy; it's always been my feeling that -- did I mention my internal view of my own publishing stature? -- people are not actually there to see me. But last year, while I was running around and being social with other writers who were being more responsible, someone came up to me and asked me quietly, "aren't you signing?" and I could see that they had, in fact, brought books. Which I, of course, signed.

This left a residual sense of guilt, and I was determined to be a Better Person at this and future WFCs. So I got my name card, and I found a place beside janni, and sat down. And there were actually a lot of books to be signed. And this was good. Rebekah Jensen (I think -- I know her first name, and I know her husband's first and last name, but I've never actually read her name tag) also brought things for me to sign for her husband, and this has sort of become a convention ritual for me <g>. She was on the panel about YA books as well. And everyonesakitty introduced herself to me there, which was also really nice, and a reminder to myself that I'm not antisocial.

After it was over, I went to bed.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 2nd, 2004 04:56 am (UTC)
"papersky is different from sdn...."

This made me laugh. Because, well, yes.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 5th, 2004 03:22 pm (UTC)
In context, the comparion does look a bit odd <wry g>. I had sort of -- in my writer's mind -- meant it as an adjunct to the internal sense that papersky and sdn dominated the convention for me. In a good way. I realize, however, that what I meant to say and what I actually said were not even in the same country, metaphorically speaking.
Nov. 2nd, 2004 08:43 am (UTC)
And as we become better writers (the thing I most dread about the reprints of the Sundered books is having to read the page proofs, because I'm afraid of what the book is actually like), we become aware of just how many ways we can fail. Or have failed, in past books.

And we also realize that we were pretty damned good and our work holds up well and that we'd forgotten we'd written such a clever bit of description and that the final resolution still makes us cry...

Now repeat after me: The cup is half full!

::sighs deeply while realizing, after all these years, this is probably a lost cause::
Nov. 5th, 2004 03:25 pm (UTC)
Now repeat after me: The cup is half full!

::sighs deeply while realizing, after all these years, this is probably a lost cause::

I'm forgetting -- are you one of those writers who doesn't get an ulcer reading page proofs? I mean, of the books that aren't even out yet?

I know you used to pick up the published book and read it when you got it (while I'm one of the writers who picks up the book, opens it randomly, finds an error that I missed on the first page I see, and sets it right back in the box while I work on that ulcer).
Nov. 6th, 2004 04:42 pm (UTC)
I'm one of those writers who sucks as a proof reader because I keep getting caught up in the story. I have to keep forcing myself to slow down and actually pay attention to the details.

Did I tell you what happened when Orbit was proofing the Blood books? I got an email from the copy-editor that essentially said, "If Vicki has no peripheral vision, how can she look out of the corner of her eye?" Missed for almost twenty years... I think even the guy on death row in SC who wanted to be my proof reader missed that one.
Nov. 2nd, 2004 09:22 pm (UTC)
That was a micro-rant at best, so I'm sure the real one you brought back with you was, um, worthy of you. As for waitpersons calling out, "Who's is this?" It is also not an acceptable West Coast behavior for decent places, unless it's an intentional characteristic of the restaurant (and not just because the staff is hired for poor memory). I confess I did it a couple of times when I was a waitron, but I apologized profusely and felt like an idiot.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )