Back from AussieCon 4/WorldCon

We got back from WorldCon at 2 a.m. Tuesday, after one of those appallingly monotonous drives along the Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney that we have grown to know so, so well. This time I didn't mind so much, though: I relished the empty time to start sorting out in my mind what had been a gloriously chaotic and intense few days.

For me, cons are more about hallways than panels. Panels are fun, mind you, and often informative. But what really exhilarated me at WorldCon this week were the constant interactions: with friends and colleagues, with chance acquaintances — even with people who wanted to tell me they liked my writing! In fact, that's how I'm going to lead off my list of my personal WorldCon highlights:
  • Interactions: (a) with friends. I know, I know, these days I can Facebook and Skype and email my friends. It's not like I'm totally unconnected with their lives, or they with mine. But nothing compares with the joy of catching sight of a faraway friend, suddenly magically right here, and rushing up with a squeal of happiness to give them a boisterous hug. WorldCon was full of faraway friends. It made me really, really wistful that life and physics just don't let us be with the people we love all the time. But it made the time at WorldCon doubly, triply, infinitely more precious.

  • Interactions: (b) with colleagues. It's a stereotype, but it's true: writers work alone. Shut up in rooms, or off in corners of libraries, or wherever. So it's a rare privilege to be able to see the faces, hear the voices, shake the hands of people whose thoughts and dreams you've come to love through their writing. It's even nicer to know that there's a particular bond between you because you're in the same business: the job of showing people the deepest, scariest truths you know, by telling them stories. It's a funny kind of job, a solitary one, and it's nice to be reminded that many, many wonderful people have chosen to give their time and love to it.

  • Interactions: (c) with people who like my writing. There were an almost alarming number of these. I don't reckon I've been at this game very long, and I'm never very certain I'm doing it right. But there were enough people telling me they liked this or that story of mine that I'm starting to think maybe I am.

  • Rob Shearman's reading. Well, anytime you run into Rob Shearman is time well spent, we all know this. But I was able to catch his reading of one of the stories from his latest collection, Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical. It pretty much literally gave me chills: very deft, very subtle, very poignant. Perfect. A lot of writers don't spend too much time working on their skills for readings, but Rob has, and the results — well, that reading made me realize just how much more work I, myself, have to do on my reading skills. Plus, the story was terrific.

  • Richard Harland and Jack Dann's reading. These two, both great performers on their own, became the best show at the con when they worked together. They took roles in each other's stories, and swapped back and forth whose stuff was being read during the half hour. Audience participation, cheers, thunderous applause, raucous characterizations (if you ever, ever get a chance to hear Richard read his own character Mr. Gibber, do not pass it up), and, of course, riveting storytelling. I was very, very happy I'd caught this one; it made me smile at odd moments for the whole rest of the con, and is still doing so.

  • The Baggage launch. I love launches. I particularly love launches when the book in question was, at least in part, written by me. (I have yet to find out how fun it is when the whole book is written by me, but I'm very much looking forward to that!) Here's where you can get your copy, if you couldn't get to the launch. It was packed with well-wishers, packed I tell you. Jack Dann (yes, the same one) gave a really good launch speech. The other authors who could be there were some of the coolest people you could ever want to be TOC* buddies with. The cover (by the wonderful Andrew McKiernan) was gorgeous beyond my wildest dreams. The editor and publisher were (and are in general) extraordinarily selfless and dedicated, very happy to let the day be about the writers and the book itself, not them. And there were mountains of food (see "selfless and dedicated" above). Thanks, Sharyn and Gillian and all the people at Borders and everyone else who made the launch so great! It was the very best start to WorldCon I could imagine.

  • Moderating a panel. Huh. Turns out I'm legendarily good at moderating con panels. Wasn't rocket science, really: do your homework, help everyone play nice, make the panelists the most important people in your universe during that hour. It's all about them. (Sometime in the next day or so, I'll do a blog post about moderating panels and how I did mine — it worked really well, so my strategies and tactics may help you as well.) Anyway, the panel was about lyrical and poetic language in young-adult fantasy. A rather obscure topic, and the panel was lightly attended. But the people who were there got a lot out of it, and I feel proud that I was part of making WorldCon better.

  • Spending time with my family. Margaret and Houston (and a family friend) were all with me during WorldCon. That was way cool. We split up a lot to do our individual things, but we also spent a fair bit of time together. Yay!

If you would like to have wonderful adventures like this, become a writer and go to cons!

*Table of Contents.


At 2:03 PM, Blogger Flinthart said...

Ahhhh, damn. I meant to catch Richard and Jack. Bollocks.

Still, I got to meet you in person, and say thanks. That was damned cool.


At 2:24 PM, Blogger Laura E. Goodin said...

Yes, it absolutely was, Dirk -- I was very happy to see you face-to-face at last!

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Houston Dunleavy said...

I dare say you will be interacting with increasingly ore people who like your writing in the months and years ahead. Hope the loins are appropriately girded ;-)

At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The con was quite good although work commitments kept from all but staurday. the Horror wrtiers masque was good fun as well.

Oh and the girl genius radio show


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