Archive for June 1st, 2008

5/31/08: Wiscon, and going to my dark place

Word count: 2890 | Since last entry: 2890

For some reason, since returning from Wiscon I’ve been very low on energy and generally feeling swamped by life — certainly too overwhelmed to blog about the con. I mean, yes, it was a con and I didn’t get a lot of sleep, but usually I’m not this derailed by the experience. In any case, I seem to be mostly recovered now.

It’s not because I had the stomach bug, norovirus, WisCholera, or whatever you want to call it. Kate have gas and threw up once, but we think now that it might have been a reaction to some iron pills she had just started taking rather than The Bug. It certainly didn’t lay her out flat like it did many of the other people at the convention.

The con itself was great fun; all of my favorite people were there. In fact, I kept saying “I have too many friends!” because I saw so many of them only in passing. But I had many fine meals with many fine people, and the hallway conversations were varied and stimulating. One in particular stands out: talking with Barth Anderson about the precautions everyone was taking to prevent coming down with the bug and how much they reminded me of the things people did to try to avoid the Black Plague (ring around a rosie, pocketful of hand sanitizer, ashes ashes all throw up). Later Benjamin Rosenbaum and Sean M. Murphy joined us and it turned into a discussion of the appropriate Hebrew prayer for applying Purel. I also distinctly remember Sarah Monette demonstrating the magical utility of her corset by pulling a variety of useful objects out of her cleavage. (I really wish there were something for guys to wear at cons that was as sexy, yet socially acceptable, as a corset.) My best meal of the con for both food and conversation was on Monday, I think, when we joined enthusiastic Australian bookseller Ron Serdiuk at Dotty Dumpling’s for fried cheese curds and one of the best burgers I’ve had in years (mine was bison, but the beef ones also got rave reviews).

I was rather annoyed that we’d failed to snag a Governor’s Club room (we’d waited until a mere ten months before the convention to reserve our room, by which time they were long gone), not only because I missed the free breakfast but also for the hanging out with con people in a quiet and convivial space. The number of times someone said “well, look for me in the bar” (meaning the Governor’s Club bar, inaccessible without the right flavor of elevator key) made me so determined to not repeat this experience that I set an alarm for 8am Monday to make my reservation for next year. Good thing I did; Governor’s Club rooms were gone by 10:30am.

I didn’t attend a lot of programming, but the two panels I was on (“Get Out Your Decoder Rings,” on fiction that requires knowledge from outside the story to understand, and “The ‘Real City’ of Urban Fantasy,” which turned into a general discussion of the value of cities in fantastic fiction) both went very well, with rapid-fire and meaty discussion. The Fretful Porpentines reading (me, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, and Ellen Kushner) was well-attended, although I’m afraid the noise of the coffee maker made it a less satisfying experience for the audience than I’d hoped for. I also participated in the Sign-Out for the first time, as I finally had a whole book to myself, and it went pretty well… I signed about ten books and had a nice time talking with tablemates and passersby.

The best program item I attended was the Mid-Career Writers’ salon on Monday afternoon. This is an opportunity for those of us who have achieved some success to compare notes and complain about the problems that newer writers think they wish they had. One theme of the salon was that everyone described themselves as being in a weird transitional phase (I think this is just the human condition) and that success and happiness are both heavily influenced by the expectations set beforehand.

Since returning home, I have written a story for the Taos Toolbox workshop (for which I leave a week from today, ack). Thinking back to Clarion, I decided to really challenge myself — try new things and risk failure. The resulting story is very different from my usual. It’s the bleakest thing I’ve ever written, a grim tale of despair and honor killing in the wake of catastrophic global warming. It uses thematic imagery (of flood, storm, and collapsing levees), which is something I don’t think I’ve ever done consiously. It’s only 2800 words long. It has an unreliable narrator. And it’s written in second person present tense. Why? Well, I just started out thinking about the main character talking to herself, and her voice kind of took over the narrative. I don’t yet know if it’s the most emotionally powerful thing I’ve ever written, or a complete failure. We’ll find out in less than two weeks.

In other writing news, I got a rewrite request on a story which I think is very likely to turn into a sale. I’ll get to that rewrite in the next couple of days. One of the many things I have to do before leaving for Taos.