Post-Wiscon: The Haze and the Clarity


I think my liver is going to forgive me. It was touch and go there for awhile, and it will probably be petulant for several more weeks, but I think it is going to stay. Friday night broke a few people. This was the first time I didn’t actually try all of the Scribe Brew, mainly because I just couldn’t . . . bring myself to touch an open container.

I saw and hung out with a number of people who are becoming old friends and, like John Klima says, the separation is getting easier and the mood between visits is more ebullient and filled with energy than it is six months of moping and another six of depression. While part of me is still dazed, another is filled with a fierce determination to get things done. Wiscon is the convention where I also get a few days with the agents, and it is the place where I get the To Do list for the next year.

This list this year is pretty long.

I got the news that New York was passing on SOULS in the Cincinnati airport, during my two-hour layover on the way out. I spent most of that time trying to find enough Blackberry signal to get the details of the pass, which made the time seem less interminable, at least. I knew that this weekend was going to be make or break date for the book and, in some ways, was glad that I found out early because it meant the rest of the weekend could be spent focusing on other things instead of trying to catch this editor’s eye. And, while the agents were positioning the book for its next round of submissions, I could focus on promoting HARRY.

Which turned out to be easier than I thought.

It is very nice to have fans. This is my first convention where I have had fans and, to all of you who graciously took instruction and $20 from darinbradley about doing double-takes and the squeal of “Oh! You’re THAT guy?!”, thank you. It’s nice to see that it is getting read (and obsessed about even, in some quarters). There was an impromptu reading (well, put together earlier in the week because we had posters and name badges) on Friday where I read selections from HARRY, and that seemed to go over pretty well (my first reading, by the way).

I read a couple of nodes, including barthanderson‘s favorite, Labyrinth (see here for his discussion about why it made him make THAT noise), and as a mindfuck for him, I rewrote Part VI just for the reading. So it doesn’t entirely vanish into the ether, here it is. Like Part V says, it is both a clue and a diversion.

When you are lost, how do you know if you are in a labyrinth or a maze?

You touch the nearest wall–that security of a border, that comfort of the oubliette that keeps your confusion from becoming panic–and you follow that wall. You could be blind–you are blind–but the wall is an infallible guide. The wall is the secret key to the contorted map of the maze or the labyrinth.

But who built the wall? What was their intent? Was the architect echoing the infinite with the ordered halls and reflexive tunnels; or was he burying the Broken Tongue with the restless chaos of dead-end channels and aborted passageways.

There are no mazes. There are no labyrinths. There is only the path.

Somewhere, I managed to find the clarity to spend a couple of hours thinking about HARRY and have come home with THE PLAN. I checked the placeholders for the rest of the story (you do know about the placeholders, don’t you Barth?) and was pleased to see that they work with what is coming. Nothing like building a framework in a vacuum five months earlier and having it actually work. That’s been one of the secret pleasures of HARRY: how much of it has been subconsciously generated and yet still connected later when I figure it out (but, then again, that was part of the whole design, in a way). So, I am once again much further ahead of everyone else which means there will be time for some serious deviousness during the latter half of the year.

As well as time for the next book. SOULS has passed through enough hands now that we’re getting requests for the Next Book. I’m dusting off INSTRUMENT, and injecting 80,000 words of mean into it, because that’s just the sort of book it is, and just the sort of mood I’m in.

I saw dawn Monday morning. The sky lightening; the crows waking up and flying into the sky; and Jason Williams of Nightshade Books, in his black suit and blood-red tie, hair curling with either electricity or that mad passion he has for books, doing his best Mephistopheles impression. Three hours later, I was trying to pack and find my way out of town. The registration for next year’s con was being done in cuneiform on wax tablets and took FOREVER, making me late for the airport shuttle. Who was waiting in the van? The New York editor who passed on SOULS. It was one of those lovely full circle moments (in that hilarious ‘here’s a bit of closure’ way, not the ‘oh god, how embarrassing’ way), and then I entered into this twilight zone of travel where I wasn’t really sure I was going to make it back to Seattle without getting abandoned in an airport somewhere as every airline employee conspired to fuck with me on the way home.

Still, home. Recovering. Fingers burning. That’s what the cons are all about.