|Posted by tmphillips on September 8, 2013 at 1:55 PM|
Friday was the start of the ball rolling. In the morning, about fifty Codexians (an online writers group) met for breakfast in a frenzy of waffles and bacon. It was great to meet new friends and get reacquainted with old. Being part of a group like this is fantastic because even if you arrive at a con alone, you won't stay that way for long. We also had stickers for our badges so we'd know each other around the con. One of these days we'll actually get our own little badge flags.
Shortly after breakfast, I did an interview with Patrick Hester for SF Signal. Not quite knowing what to expect, I was a little nervous. But Patrick is a great interviewer and a good conversationalist. The interview went quite smooth. My one regret here is that I did this so early in the con, I didn't have as many cool stories as I would have liked. This was also the beginning of something I learned throughout the weekend. Not only should you have ideas and opinions on things in general, and especially about the genre, but you should know how to state them clearly and distinctly at a moment's notice. This was especially true for panels and the interview, but it also applied at parties. If you need time to formulate your thoughts, you may lose out on a prime opportunity to express yourself. I don't mean that you should speak in sound bites, but it doesn't hurt to have a cache of well formed thoughts on a variety of subjects.
What I Learned: Even if you're attending your first con, know what you stand for and how you want to express those ideas. Stay respectful and be open-minded but be prepared so you're not left behind in a conversation.
This day also left me a little time to attend some panels. The highlight of these was the Starship Century presentation with Gregory Benford, Karen Burnham, Joe Haldeman and Nancy Kress. The panel discussed how we should be approaching space travel in the next hundred years. I had originally set out to see this presentation at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in Redondo Beach, near where I live. But I had misread the schedule and didn't realize the gathering was at the San Diego store. So I was very excited when I saw the listing at World Con. This was a very informative panel and really addressed viable options in the near future. The book, Starship Century, is now widely available. There was an entire symposium at UCSD, and there's supposed to be watchable video of the event, but I have not succeeded in finding a working link. If you find one, let me know.
I also attended two other panels, one on medical ethics and reproductive technology, the other was about corporations and their role in the future. Both good panels, and both had Lois McMaster Bujold as a panelist. I went to most of her panels over this con, and also had the pleasure of meeting her (more on this later). As she is one of my favorite authors, I was quite earnest in catching her appearances.
In the early evening I had a demo table at Art Night. Being that I'm a picture framer by day, they figured I'd have some good information, which I did. I had samples of good and bad mats and pictures of different framing styles and the oodles of information that's in my head. Unfortunately, the event was not heavily attended and as I wasn't selling anything, people were a little baffled by my presence. I chatted with some nice people though, and hopefully enlightened a few about how to frame their art well.
THEN CAME MY FIRST PANEL. 'Keeping Control of a Long Series' with Elizabeth Bear, Steven Brust, L.E. Modesitt, and Saladin Ahmed. To say I was lowest on the totem pole is not self-deprecation, it was a simple fact. I let Steven and Lee know that this was my first panel, but Elizabeth and Saladin arrived late due to clogged elevators. This was a late panel and parties were already starting upstairs. Despite this, we had a full room. Elizabeth was the moderator and she was fantastic. The panel was conversational, but organized and she led with very good questions. And if you don't know him, Steven Brust is a big personality, but so is Elizabeth. They balanced each other well and respectfully and no one dominated the panel. Even not knowing that I was new, Elizabeth made sure I didn't get left out of the conversation. Once, Steven and I started to talk at the same time and she told him to be quiet so I could speak. On the flip side, there was a point where a question came up that I had no experience and no good answer. A piece of advice that I received from John Joseph Adams about being on panels was very helpful here. He said that it was okay not to speak. Don't talk unless you have something to add to the conversation. So when that question came to me, I simply stated that I didn't have experience to speak to that, and the conversation moved on.
This was an excellent first panel. I learned a lot and it made me very comfortable going into my future panels. In fact, I rocked my first panel the next morning partly due to the confidence this one gave me. I want to publically thank my fellow panelists for making me feel so welcome.
What I Learned: Be prepared when you're on a panel, but also be prepared for your preparations to be useless. Also, don't be afraid to admit that you don't know something. You'll get more respect with honesty than if you spout a bunch of words that don't contribute or make sense.
At the parties that night, I GOT MY SFWA STICKER. I finally found the SFWA suite and when I walked up and they asked if I was a member, I proudly said, "Yes I am." This was a point of pride for me, but I also found at various points during the con, that sticker garnered me a certain level of respect. I was a serious writer and should be taken as such. I'll admit, that felt good.
This night I bounced between the Tor party and the SFWA suite which was hosting the Dell Publishing party (Asimov's and Analog). I talked to a lot of people and even though I wasn't drinking, it's all a bit of a blur. I'm still getting the hang of parties like this, though I would consider this a successful night all around. It also set me up for an awesome party night on Saturday. More on that in the next post, which will hopefully happen in the next day or two.
Categories: SF Musings