I never know when to leave conventions, and World Fantasy Convention always flummoxes me. Do I stay through the banquet, congratulate the winners, and then leave? Do I leave Sunday morning and simply miss the last day of watching the dead lumber around? Or do I wait until the site goes quiet for the banquet and then take my leave?
It always feels like I’m slipping out of a friend’s house while they’ve left the room for a moment to use the bathroom.
But WFC 2011 is behind us now. Tonight is Halloween, and due to the timing of the con, it will be the first Halloween I’ve done with BOTH kids. And that realization takes a lot of the sting out of leaving. That last hour, however, was still filled with the frantic calculations of when you will see everyone again.
Did I accomplish the business I hoped to do? Not entirely. Did other awesome and interesting opportunities present themselves? Yes, they did. Going to WFC reminds me why one should never set one’s five- and ten- year plans in stone. One should always be flexible. One should always be ready to say “yes” to something new and unexpected without thinking too much about how that project will actually come together. WFC reminds me that, while writing can be a solitary experience, creating is not. As much as I love writing, I do love creating more.
My convention began with a panel on Magic and Metaphysics. Ted Chiang, Kristin Janz, Peter Orullian and I kept an audience entertained for more than an hour at a time past when panels are supposed to be interesting. A number of people stopped me throughout the rest of the con, expressing their appreciation for our discussion and clearly wishing we could continue it. One gentleman actually posed a very interesting non-fiction book idea that, at the very least, might be an interesting follow-up panel. Perhaps at Norwescon in the spring.
I signed copies of Lightbreaker and Heartland at the Night Shade Books table for a few hours on Saturday. I felt very much like the shabby cousin, surrounded by the depth and breadth of the New Voices program that the Shade has launched this fall. So very many gorgeously designed and enticing books. I made up for my feelings of inadequancy among these wunderkind by personalizing the remaining copies of my books before I left. I didn’t just sign them; I left little messages in each. I hope they all find happy homes.
One of my favorite conversations was not about fantasy or science fiction or the business of publishing but about Sir Richard Burton and the terror of William Blake, about the Coen Brothers and David Fincher and their fierce vision of making film, about Thucydidies and Xenophon and how The Aeneid was nothing more than fan fiction (but yes, we’d all read parts of it in the original Latin).
I miss you all, crazy dreamers. But now we must go work through the cold winter.