I’m Baa-ack. Still sleep-deprived and travel weary, but glad to be home with the pups (although Quilly developed a nasty corneal ulcer at the kennel. Poor baby! We’ve got her on meds and go back for a recheck to the vet tomorrow).
The RENOvation WorldCon was overwhelming, and I’m still digesting. The highlights (for me) were definitely meeting favorite author George R. R. Martin (what a thrill!), getting an invite to his private party, the writer’s workshop, attending the Hugo awards, attending the author / editor panels, and the overall experience.
Looking back, I think I expected a lot of weirdness, ‘Trekkies”, and frivolity. What I discovered was that either I’ve become one of the weirdoes, or my take on fans is a cliché. On the way to my hotel from the airport, I sat next to a physicist from Raytheon who told me she’d been coming to the WorldCons since the 1970s. I also met retirees, software developers, costume designers, book dealers, artists, editors, readers from all walks of life, and of course, writers. In fact, the biggest ah-ha moment for me was the realization that most of the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy (and horror) writing are names I’m not familiar with. I have a whole list of ‘new to me’ authors and titles to investigate. Out of the approximately 5,000 attendees, I am certain I was the only person who had never heard of Connie Willis (the winner of this year’s Hugo for best novel, and more than 10 Hugos in her career), Bill Willingham, Michael Swanwick, and a host of others; or read any of the works of Jay Lake, L. E. Modesitt, Jr., or Tim Powers. And I am equally certain I was the only person attending who has NEVER seen a single episode of Dr. Who. And TOAST. What the hell does that mean? Why does everyone else say it randomly, and without having a drink or bread in their hand? These are mysteries I need to investigate.
The Writer’s Workshop was really interesting. I think I gave more comprehensive critiques than I received, but heard nothing new on my FATE submission. Hearing 4 different reader critiques at one time was fascinating. The setting for FATE is clearly stated (on page 2) to be in upstate New York, yet one reviewer thought the story was set in the Midwest, another thought a coastal beach town. The biggest takeaway (for me) was that I need to do some more work on my synopsis, which doesn’t match the tone of the story, and I got some good tips on writing a synopsis that I’m going to try.
My favorite panel sessions were:
· The Craft of Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Stories panel (with Adam-Troy Castro, Connie Willis, Jay Lake, Robert Reed, and Michael Swanwick). All of them have a different method of where they start with their stories. Connie said she builds the world and plot before anything else, Adam Troy Castro spoke of writing the first and last sentence first (as bookends for the story), and of having more than 60 unfinished stories in his ‘to finish’ pile, while Jay Lake (who writes an astonishing 800-2500 words per HOUR) forces himself to finish everything he starts, and works hardest at what he’s weakest at. All the authors agreed that shutting out their inner critic was vital, as well as letting the work sit (for six months if possible) before editing.
· Fantasy and Horror in the New Century panel (with Editor Ellen Datlow of Night Shade and Nick Mamatas, author and editor of ClarkesWorld and Viz Media). This was a terrifically fun session, which helped me to understand how anthologies come together, and what these two look for in good horror. I came away with a whole list of zines to submit my horror shorts to , and ‘new’ authors to look for (Nadia Volgen, Steven Graham Jones, Margot Lannigan’s Blueberry Boy, and Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf, to name but a few). I came away impressed with both panel members, and creatively inspired for writing more horror. So much so, that after this session, I sat down and wrote out the entire first draft of a new horror short story. Fun stuff!
Every single day, I shopped the Marketplace vendors (I bought several books and a neato retro silver rocket pin). Everyone told me to go to the parties, but I’m not much of a night owl. I did make it to George R. R. Martin’s party suite on Friday, but he wasn’t there yet, and I pretty much fold up tent after about 9:30, so I can’t say I ‘partied’ with my idol, but next year, I’m going to pace myself better and take afternoon naps so that I can attend the parties.
Oh yes. I’ll be in Chicago next year. I’ve already paid for my subscription. In the meantime, I’ve got a LOT of reading and writing to do…
Sounds like a great time!! Love the pic with your fav author ;-))