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Worldcon part two

I love conventions.

I really do. When I first used to go to them, I found them a little more intimidating, because I didn't know anyone. I knew the names of some of the editors, but I was much less willing to just approach and bother them. But I also had time to spend hours on panels that looked interesting, and in the dealer's room and the art show and at the masquerade and the hugos, etc. I know that some people do still find them intimidating, but that's part of the nature of any large group: when you first enter it, you don't know much. A lot of the people I met in the early years in ones and twos are now people I see regularly, stop, say hello to, chat with (if I'm not running madly to a panel), so it's now a little like coming home. Where home is full of thousands of people.

This accretion of familiarity is the product of a decade or two. Some of the people I talk to now, I met on panels years ago; some used to live in Toronto; some I see at my readings or autographings, etc. The first time I was at a Worldcon and unpublished, I didn't go with the intent to do business, although I did go and listen to agents and editors speak. I don't really go with the intent to do business now, as most of the stuff I sell is done through my agent, and not at convention. But if you went and found it all overwhelming, it's just a first step. Take several more, and you'll find it a much different place.


Okay, I had only one panel on Saturday, so this should have been the relaxing go to panels day. But it started with breakfast (and me complaining about breakfast -- I'm a tad grumpy in the morning, and honest, the coffee was so cold there were no convection currents and the cream just kind of sat there at the bottom), and breakfast segued into a very interesting discussion about writing with sleigh, which I could have continued for, oh, hours. Except that I was meeting a friend for lunch. I had a wonderful lunch at Carole's Cheesecake something-or-other, but the menu was about as short as one of my stories <g>. jediboadicea is always good company, and we hung out together until I had to run off to meet Cory & Peter in the dealer's room. Note to self: Do not wear lots of white if you are going to have pictures taken.

Then off to the panel for Saturday, which was Alien Genres. This was peopled by Tanya Huff, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Sue Krinard and Elizabeth Caldwell (?), and I was in theory moderating. But I'd talked to everyone but Elizabeth before the panel, and all of us had a reaction that could best be summed up as "huh?". That, and Elizabeth had fallen and injured her knees, and was wheel-chair bound -- and the platform on which the panelist table(s) were erected was about two and a half feet off the ground, with stairs on one end. Yes, that's stairs. We ended up pushing the table back so we could sit on the platform and pull the mikes down. Mostly, although I'd suggested it, this was done by people in the audience, so, thank you all.

In spite of the fact that our reaction was "huh", some very good points were brought up, vis a vis genre and story in general. Tanya pointed out that for biologists like Julie Czerneda, function follows form; Teresa pointed out that we would have to assume that aliens even had language, and also that they had a pressing need for story, which is our way of attempting to understand ourselves (yes, she said it better. Why do you ask?). I think I said that story was not unlike religion, and that it also required an alien culture that suffered from imperfect communication and the desperate need for causality. We did also poke a teeny bit of fun at the topic, my bad.

Sylvia Sotomayer, one of Putnam/Penguin's former sales reps, was in the audience, and we went out for coffee after that. I got to see pictures of her trip to Costa Rica (I think -- see above re: geography), and just generally catch up. I like her a lot. I was almost late for dinner. Dinner was the DAW dinner.

I had to bite my tongue through most of it, as one woman began to discuss politics. At one point, sleigh, who was seated way at the other end of a very long table asked andpuff if I were annoyed because I didn't care for American politics; she replied that I didn't care for stupidity, and that I was wearing my really didn't care for stupidity look. But as part of the discussion involved American patriotism, and I'm not American and didn't want to turn the discussion into global anti-americanism (i.e. me disagreeing), I felt it was more socially appropriate to Shut Up. Which was difficult. Yay me. This was unfortunate, as I was sitting beside the person who was now shouting, and Jody Lee, who was perfectly well-behaved. Jody's not the loudest person, and I kept losing half of her sentences to the shouting, and eventually gave up and got down and just wandered around the table talking to other people. Restaurant -- Radius -- was great, though.

After dinner, we all retired back to the DAW suite to talk. This year, we did not end up talking about thong underwear. No, don't ask <g>. And then back to bed, at least for me.


Okay, Sunday, having had the debacle of breakfast at the Sheraton, we went to the Marriott instead, which was much, much better, and which meant less complaining from me. About breakfast. I then ran off to meet with my editor so we could discuss HOUSE WAR and what she thought of the 400+ pages I'd sent her. She'd read enough that we could talk about it, but had had to tear herself away from reading Tanya's new novel (I wouldn't have, but hey, it's not my job <g>). It was a good conversation, and we had enough time to meander about many things; industry things, book things, house things, before she had to go to her next meeting and I had to try to figure out where I was going to be reading.

Oh, and yay to the program ops people -- because I forgot to pack what I was supposed to be reading, and had they not given me access to both internet & a printer, I wouldn't have been reading much. Or I'd've been reading poetry, since I had that on the handheld, and nothing else. I unfortunately frittered away much time ranting about factual inaccuracy in 'political' discussions -- say, about 7 minutes. This is out of 30. So it left me 23, which meant I got half way through the first chapter of House War before I was turfed out of the room <wry g>.

That was at 3:30, and I spent some time just chatting to people before I ran off to meet with someone else. That was a book discussion as well, and that was fun, but I think I was getting just a touch tired; I showed up for Tanya's reading and people asked me if I were sleep-walking. Which was fair, as I sort of was. But Tanya's reading was packed, and although she did read one of her darker stories ever, it was still funny in a very black way. It was also the right length. One of these days, I'll either learn something from her, or kill her <g>. Gave up on dinner, and made my last meeting of the convention, which was for fun, and was interesting because it was mostly industry stuff.

Then I spent a lot of time in the bar not drinking because I ran into Duane Wilkins, another bookseller, and also met Jim Minz of Tor and Sean McMullen (who I didn't know was Australian) and a number of other people as well. Jim Minz was funny, and had the great good taste to pick up the Stephen Erikson novels for the US market, which meant he already had a certain cache for me <g>. When they kicked us out of the bar -- which was sort of impressive because there were four or five obvious security guards waiting to do just that -- I crawled back up to my room because I was dead, dead tired.

I went to sleep. I woke up early. I missed breakfast and made it to the airport, even. And now, I'm home and feeling somewhat under the weather, so I'm closing up and going to bed. Writing tomorrow, with more publishing-business oriented news at that time.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 7th, 2004 10:58 pm (UTC)
I'd love to go to a Con, knowing people or not (although, I probably wouldn't not know people for long ;)), but I can't even afford a used couch right now, and we definitely need the couch more than the Con. ;) But one day . . . .
Sep. 8th, 2004 04:48 am (UTC)
Sylvia Sotomayor
If that's the Sylvia Sotomayor who's created the Kélen language, her trip was to Nicaragua this year. If not, there were 2 of them at the con.
Sep. 8th, 2004 09:18 am (UTC)
Re: Sylvia Sotomayor
If that's the Sylvia Sotomayor who's created the Kélen language, her trip was to Nicaragua this year. If not, there were 2 of them at the con.

See above re: me and geography <wry g>. I don't really remember much about place, and especially place name, until I've met a lot of people in it. It made history a ... challenge.

And yes, that would be the same Sylvia <g>.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 8th, 2004 09:25 am (UTC)
You know, I still find them intimidating. I'm not sure why, or that there's any good reason for it, but something about conventions brings out my social insecurities, and the best I can do is force them down and press on in spite of them. (wry g)

I think -- for me -- I tend to over-plan things, so I have a bunch of things I know I'm going to do before I even step foot in the airport; I'm very happy with one-on-one time, and will often fall into that by default. This makes it much less intimidating in general.

I remember the first couple of conventions were awfully hard on the social insecurity scale for me :/. But at that time, I sort of worried about making a good impression, and I've given up on that because, well, I kind of leave a Michelle impression <wry g>. It offends some people mightily, it amuses some, and it fails to leave any lasting memory on most, which is just fine.

Not worrying about that makes it all a lot less stressful. I worry about things like programming (alternately: will anyone have anything to say, will anyone be bored, will anyone be there or will I have to damp the urge to strangle someone) and less about the things I do on my own, because I have to worry about something; it's genetic <g>.

And then I spend the post-convention period fretting about all the people I desperately wanted to talk to that I didn't even see <wry g>.

(Deleted comment)
Sep. 8th, 2004 02:36 pm (UTC)
I don't so much consciously care what other folks think as have these moments of self-consciousness... but I figure it's one of those things one more or less deals with and through, like the below-the-surface nervousness that goes with public speaking and similar things.

I don't usually care what other people think either -- which is why, in a situation in which I'm supposed to make a good impression, I often freeze, choke on my tongue, or say something Really Stupid. Me and nervous energy are a really bad combination (which is why diginity is not as highly prized in this house as it should be). Oh -- I'm also terrible at talking to anyone from whom I want something. So I'm happy to talk to editors I've never met about their stable, their lines, their opinions, etc., -- but if I want to sell them something? I revert to my inner 12 year old and I cannot think of a thing to say. My brains desert me entirely.

I hate public speaking if I'm supposed to talk about something I have either no knowledge of or no passion about -- but if someone puts me on a panel about which I know something, I'm hard to shut up. Which is what moderators are for <rueful g>.

I've taken to pretending I'm andpuff
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 8th, 2004 12:59 pm (UTC)
Okay, I realize that I talk. A lot. But honestly, you could have said something. Like, you know, Hi, I'm "arend winter" from the mailing list. Sure, I would have been undignified, but in reality, dignity is one of those things I've learned to live without <g>.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 8th, 2004 01:16 pm (UTC)
Debra chided me afterwards. I hadn't told her I was a fan of your work. She told me that writers who come to WorldCon are expecting fans to come up to them! So I did chat with Jody Lee and Kelly Link (I had just finished a great short story by her). Sadly I only had a brief moment to say hi and shake hands with George Martin.

GRRM may be a touch fanshy at the moment because. Well, Everyone really really wants to know when the next book will be out and it's probably a bit wearing <g>.

And Debra should have chided -- that's such a lovely word -- you. But, you know, more severely <g>. If you'd told her, she'd've said something. Because she's pretty embarrassment-proof when it's someone else's <g>.
Sep. 8th, 2004 02:54 pm (UTC)
I'm definitely one of the people who found it overwhelming. Even now I find it hard to put my experience into words.

I saw you a few times in passing but it always seemed that I was on my way somewhere or you were or both. Maybe next con...
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 8th, 2004 05:41 pm (UTC)
Any time you want to continue that conversation, let me know.

Unless, of course, you'd rather discuss politics. :-)


As you're unlikely to claim that Holland and Sweden are socialist countries just like Russia wherein no one has any choice about anything they do in their lives, or that all of the people who came to America in the history of the country came voluntarily (I suppose she forgot slavery) while everyone who went to Australia was shipped there because it was a Penal Colony, I imagine that discussing politics would be just fine <wry g>.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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