Posts Tagged ‘WorldCon’

I was approached by a few people who read my last blog post and were concerned that bad things had happened to me on my vacation.

On the contrary, friends. On the contrary. I had an amazing trip.

The plan was as follows: to begin in East London at WorldCon, to move to central London to enjoy a week of blissful London time, and then to end with a few days in southeast Wales. This turned out to be an excellent plan.

I had an emotionally challenging summer. Any time your best inspirational words are “things get worse before they get better,” you know things aren’t going so great at that particular moment, however optimistic you may feel about the future. My hope was that my vacation would give me a chance to clear my head, gain perspective, and get some emotional rest. And it certainly succeeded at giving me all these things.

For me, travel, whether it is recreational or to a convention or a combination of both, takes me outside of my familiar, everyday world. I see people I normally wouldn’t see, I have conversations I normally wouldn’t have, I learn about things I wouldn’t normally learn about, I spend my time differently. Not only does this refill the creative wells, but it also serves in a larger sense as a reminder of what is possible.

I think this is always valuable, but when you are having a difficult time, it becomes even more so because it shows you potential ways forward. It encourages movement instead of paralysis. It encourages analysis with an eye toward positive change instead of hopelessness. It gives new context to old problems.

It allows space to imagine a better world. Or at least a healthier life.

Why is this important? Because you can’t move closer to that life unless you can see enough to know what direction to take. It’s difficult to make choices based on your priorities until you are very clear on what those priorities are. And sometimes they need to be reaffirmed several times before they become truly internalized.

The other helpful ingredient for imagining a healthier life is hope. And WorldCon delivered big time on this one. I cried at the Hugo ceremony. Okay, I always cry at the Hugo ceremony, but this time was different. Kameron Hurley and her double win for Fan Writer and for her brilliant essay “We Have Always Fought” meant a lot to me. This recognition from my community for such important work gave me hope. The respect and support of my colleagues gave me hope. The steps forward I had been making in recent months, however difficult, began to give me hope too.

So yes, it was a wonderful vacation indeed. And I’m looking forward to what’s coming next.

At the Hugos.

At the Hugos.

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I’ll be attending WorldCon in London next week, and I was persuaded to participate in the programming, so here are the details of the panel I’ll be on:


Friday, August 15 10:00 – 11:00, Capital Suite 8 (ExCeL)

Swords that go schiiing! as they’re drawn, hay bales lying around in medieval times, and flames in a vacuum: just a few examples of factually erroneous writing. The panelists will look at the most anachronistic and scientific blunders and descriptions that just don’t make sense, but continue to be used over and over again. Do these obvious errors serve a purpose within the larger context of story? Are they comforts from which an author can build discomfort?

Ian Nichols (M), Andrew Barton, Amanda Kear, Alison Sinclair, Amy Sundberg


This should be an interesting panel, if only because I am one of those readers who often doesn’t care about these sorts of factual mistakes. As a writer, however, I do want to get it as right as I can, because perfectionism, but I also care a great deal about the story and about everything working together in service of telling that story. So perhaps we can find a way to make this panel a little more lively and less predictable than simply a list of all the stuff writers always get wrong. We’ll find out next week, when I will be in all my jet-lagged glory!

In the meantime, I should probably crowdsource and discover more of these factual mistakes that I often overlook  but that drive other people nuts. I’d love to hear about your factual pet peeves in science fiction and fantasy. What would you like me to spread a little awareness about next week? I’m looking forward to referencing Kameron Hurley’s “We Have Always Fought,” for starters.

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I just got home from WorldCon in San Antonio. I’m tired and I think I might be coming down with a cold, so my brain is not cooperating with interesting thoughts tonight.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, I hope they’re right.

In which I ultimately can't resist and take my turn on the Iron Throne.

In which I ultimately can’t resist and take my turn on the Iron Throne.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to my wonderful weekend!

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I’m back from Chicago and Worldcon and what proved to be quite a whirlwind experience. I’m also sick. Alas, using hand sanitizer and taking Vitamin C and eating fruit wasn’t enough to keep this particular miserable virus at bay. And I’m sick enough that my brain is somewhat foggy. So I’m going to table the topic I had planned to write about (which deserves my fully functional brain) and give you some snippets instead.

– I met a lot of people at Worldcon and spent most of my time socializing. And one thing that I find continually fascinating is how everybody has their own story. Some people wear their stories on their sleeves. Other people keep their interactions entirely surface to the point that it’s easy to forget they have  stories at all. And some people gradually reveal their stories to you, one layer at a time. But they’re always there: the goals and dreams, the insecurities, the setbacks and old wounds, the history, the personality quirks, and the bedrock of character.

– Many people seem to have a lot of social anxiety around convention going. There was a lot of talk about various kinds of social nervousness, as well as more than one person talking about trying to let go of worrying about what they might be missing. (“Just enjoy the con you’re at” was the chief advice being bandied about.)

I don’t have any particular insight to share about this because, as it turns out, these are not my particular problems. I tend to get nervous before a con, and sometimes I have a short period of nerves upon first arrival (although even this seems to be lessening more and more), but once I dive in, I’m pretty much fine. And I hardly ever worry about what I might be missing because what’s the point? Besides, I’m usually having a fine time doing whatever it is I’m already doing. This makes me think that perhaps some people have very different goals for their cons than I do.

That’s not to say I don’t have any problems at a con. I worry about when and what I’ll eat (because sometimes food just doesn’t happen, and sometimes I end up subsisting on French fries). I worry about my body holding up through so much standing and walking and lack of sleep. I feel sad that I don’t have as much time as I would like with many of these fabulous people I’m surrounded by. Sometimes I’m too tired to have the conversations I want to have. And sometimes I’ve had enough superficial chit chat and really want a more substantial conversation than what I’m getting. But so far, at least, I’ve found that these are workable problems.

My feet over Chicago.

– I really like Chicago. I love the varied architecture of the buildings downtown, and I love the beauty of the lake. The Art Institute was a real treat, and the pizza was intense.

– My sprained foot got hurt on an overcrowded elevator one evening, which resulted in a fair amount of pain (and possibly some tears, but don’t tell anyone). I was really struck by the generosity of spirit from the people around me. Let me tell you, I was taken care of. Before I knew it (and I certainly didn’t have the presence of mind to make any of this happen myself), I was sitting down with my foot elevated, I had ice in a ziplock bag, I had taken Ibuprofen, I had tissues to dry my eyes, and I was being diverted by kind people talking to me while not expecting me to provide a coherent response. Later, a few friends went to dinner with me in the hotel to save me extra walking, and other friends were visibly concerned, sympathetic, and willing to help. My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who contributed in turning what could have been a catastrophic event into a demonstration of kindness and thoughtfulness.

– Now I want to sleep for a week. Possibly two.

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Here it is, WorldCon week! I am so excited to be seeing so many of my favorite people and getting to spend time learning and discussing such interesting things. If you will also be attending WorldCon, please don’t hesitate to come up to me and introduce yourself. I love meeting new people, and if you tell me that you read my blog, I can guarantee that I’ll be bubbling over on the inside. On a business note, I have scheduled posts for my absence, but the comment answering is going to continue to be slow for the next week or so.

I’m also pleased to accept The Parking Lot Confessional’s Validation Ticket blog award. If you go visit them, you will see that Amy says some very nice things about me and my blog. She also says I’m fearless. Doesn’t that have a nice ring? I’m not sure if it’s true, but I’m going to practice saying it to myself in the mirror anyway.

Part of the deal with this award is that I’m supposed to pass it on to other blogs. Now, back in the day, I was always the kid that broke the chain letter loop, so I have this slightly squirmy feeling about this. However, I thought it would be a nice opportunity for me to highlight a few blogs that I think are worth your time.

Renaissance Oaf: Sean Craven was a classmate of mine at Taos Toolbox, which is how I discovered his blog. He has got his blog voice down, and I love reading about his slightly off-kilter take on many subjects. Speaking of fearless, Sean often ventures deep into autobiographical territory, and he has some fascinating tales to tell.

Theodora Goss: You probably remember that I’ve mentioned this blog before because I really can’t say enough good things about it. In a medium in which all the “experts” are telling you that you have to blog on a single subject, I look at Dora’s blog and think, “Yeah, they’re wrong. This is how a writer blog should be done.” She does have recurring subjects just like I do; she talks often about beauty, about creating and living a creative life, about art. And she has a beautiful voice that pervades everything she writes.

Tribal Writer:  I looked at Justine Musk’s blog originally when I decided to start The Practical Free Spirit, and I thought, “Yes. I want to do something like that. Only by me instead.” Justine writes some fiery inspirational essays; she also talks about feminism, finding your power, being a creative “bad ass,” and how to create your own tribe.

What do these three bloggers have in common? They all come across as fearless adventurers, and as you read their blogs, you realize they’re sharing an essential part of themselves. They are each extremely comfortable in their own voices. And all three of them encourage me to think, to challenge my assumptions, and to see the world a little bit differently.

I’m always looking for new blogs to check out, so tell me: what blog rocks your world? What do you like about it?

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