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HollyB
09-06-2004, 10:30 PM
How I spent my Labor Day vacation:
A newbie’s thoughts on her first Worldcon

I just finished three days at Noreascon Four in Boston (the con lasts five days, but I could only swing three). It was a great experience and I highly recommend it for any new writer to see first-hand how the world of SF/F revolves. It’s a small world, after all, and a bit intimidating if you don’t know all the in-jokes. But everyone was welcoming and friendly and willing to share the joke.

One of the best parts of the con was putting faces to names. It was possible to see, if not meet (due to my shyness and not their inaccessibility) an unimaginable array of SF/F glitterati. I tackled Uncle Jim after a panel to thank him for all he does here at AW, and he was as kind and gracious as you’d expect from his posts here. I’m a habituated lurker on Making Light, and much like her online persona, I found Teresa Nielsen Hayden clever, intelligent, and engaging. Shelia Williams looked so much like an old friend of mine it was difficult not to stare at her (I realize this is transference). I met Ellen Datlow halfway down the stairs, and my brain screamed, “tell her you sent a story to her slush pile,” but my tongue seized, and all I could utter were directions (which are all she wanted in the first place).

I haven’t even mentioned famous-author-sightings. I literally bumped into Greg Benford at the art show (my clever and witty repartee with him consisted of “oops, excuse me, sorry.”) In a panel on titles, Terry Pratchett noted his next book is called Plod; a short title leaves lots of room on the cover for “by Terry Pratchett.” At the panel on the Golden and Silver ages of SF, Brian W. Aldiss delivered an intelligent discourse of how SF arose as a product of an industrial age, then remarked that he was hung over (I can’t even think when I’m hung over). Robert J. Sawyer talked about his own method of world-building, how he creates the entire world before he begins the novel. An audience member described his house: rooms covered with maps, charts, pictures, timelines, even skulls!

The programming was amazing; one of those times you wished for a clone so that you wouldn’t miss anything (thank you, Priscilla Olson!). At the Tough Love for New Writers panel, Gavin Grant said an attainable goal for a new writer was to “write, don’t get published, and die.” The panel members also said that becoming a card-carrying member of SFWA will not ensure eternal happiness. Joshua Bilmes, at a panel on how he sold his first novel, revealed that he met both his agent and his editor at cons. At the Rejection Letter panel, Charlie Stross said that his first novel took two years to be accepted, then another three years to be released. Finally, as an interesting side note, at the Alien Genres panel, Teresa Nielsen Hayden observed that “Teletubbies are alien literature.”

One of the most wonderful aspects of the SF/F community is the degree of respect exhibited to everyone: writers, fans, and wannabies. As a group, they respect their origins, and I heard references to the great writers of the SF golden age all weekend. Fandom is revered as a participation sport, as evidenced by the costumes, fanfic, fan art, filk music, etc. And people were enthusiastic and encouraging when I confessed to being an unpublished SF writer; I even managed to hook up with an organization of established female SF/F writers called Broad Universe, despite my lack of credentials.

Everyone was incredibly friendly; every smile was returned, every stranger you sat next to struck up a conversation. I met so many interesting, intelligent people. The people-watching was glorious. Many of the attendees celebrated their originality, and in this age of suburban homogenization, that was a beautiful thing indeed.

I could go on and on, but I’ve probably taken up too much bandwidth as it is. Bottom line to other newbies out there -- there are cons happening all over the country, all year long. If you can swing it, by all means, go!

ChunkyC
09-06-2004, 11:08 PM
Sounds fabulous, Holly. There's a con an hour's drive away from me in Calgary every year, I have got to go to the next one!

ShinyPenguin
09-07-2004, 02:26 AM
I wish we were able to go ( my husband enjoys that stuff too). I was looking up the Hugo winners for an article I had to write and I noticed that there was babysitting offered. I'll have to remember that for next time...not even our family would be willing to keep our little "demons" that long. :eek

Yeshanu
09-08-2004, 07:27 AM
Thanks for the report, Holly.


There's a con an hour's drive away from me in Calgary every year, I have got to go to the next one!

:jump When? :jump Maybe I'll come out for a visit, CC. :jump

ChunkyC
09-09-2004, 05:07 AM
Right here, Yesh. It starts on a Friday, Canada Day.

Westercon 2005 (http://www.calgaryin2005.org/)

That would be fab if you were out here! Mrs. Chunky has no interest in that kind of thing, so I'd have a buddy to attend with.

Yeshanu
09-09-2004, 08:08 AM
Thanks, Chunky. I'll see how the year goes...

keltora
09-15-2004, 09:16 PM
I was there, I had fun. I was on panels, did autographings and readings.

Spent much time at the table of my publisher playing harp when I was not needed elsewhere.

Boston is beautiful.