Wow…five days is a long time in con years. By the end of the week, it seemed like I had been there for most of my life, and I had trouble imagining a world that didn’t involve name tags with decorative ribbons, beer at lunch, and conversing with elaborately costumed individuals.
This was my first WorldCon, and the first time that the convention had been in Kansas City in decades. There are a lot of things that I am going to remember for a really long time.
- I finally met John Hemry, who writes The Lost Fleet series under the name Jack Campbell. He told me, jokingly, “I’m proud of you, son.” This is the first convention that we’ve both attended. There was also a mix-up in the pocket program. They left the “Jr.” off of my name. This meant that I had a room full of people at my reading, but several of them showed up for military science fiction. Fortunately for me, about half of them stayed for atmospheric horror. All weekend, his fans were very nice to me, and it became a running joke to find out if I was somehow related to Hemry or to influential science fiction editor John W. Campbell Jr. (I am not, as far as I know.)
- I was in THAT panel. The one that you may have read about on one blog or another. THE STATE OF SHORT FICTION! Or…whatever. You’ve read the story. Maybe, you’ve heard the recording. I won’t go in to all of that here. David Truesdale’s expulsion from the con has been addressed fully by all sides and by much more famous writers than me. You can find it all over the internet. I don’t feel the need to add to it, and I don’t think anyone particularly cares what I think anyway. However, I was a bit perturbed that I am a short story writer who showed up to a panel to learn about the state of my craft (expanding markets, shrinking readership, low payments) and got…that. Unfortunately, it was evident five minutes in that I was never going to get the panel that I had expected.
- I was actually on the panel that got Mary Robinette Kowal suspended for the day. It was an innocent mistake. She goes in to it on her blog. She also owned up to it like a total champ. Beyond that, she did an amazing job moderating the panel, even when she realized that she was probably in trouble. I have a ton of respect for her. I love to see people who are so passionate about literature. The panel was fantastic, and I really need to read Northanger Abbey.
- I have better reflexes than I thought. I had a girl pass out on me. Pretty much literally. Being a good person, she’d given blood as part of the Heinlein emergency blood drive and got light-headed. Fortunately, I was able to catch her with one arm and toss the beer in the trash with the other while my friend Laura Croston contacted her mother. She was fine after a few minutes, and her family was awesome.
- Orrin Grey and I had a conversation at the bar about how famous writers aren’t any different than the rest of us. We’re essentially the same crowd, but some of us just get paid more. Everything I experienced this weekend proved that to be the case. Whether a fledgling writer, a New York Times bestseller, or an editor that had rejected me many, MANY times, everyone that I met was great. This a tough industry, but its generally a supportive one. Most of my favorite memories this weekend involved talking to people before or after panels, in the Con Suite, in the hallways, or at the bar. Some of them I see quite often. Some I see once a year. Others, I previously knew only as names on dust covers. All of them made the experience worth repeating. I could go in to the stories and the conversations, but those are just for me.
- The Zen Scavenger Hunt was so much fun.
Cons always recharge my batteries, a bit, but this one also left me wanting more–more cons, more writing, more publications, and everything else that comes along with them. I’m a realistic guy. I know that I can’t afford these things every year. I’m probably not going to make it to Helsinki (2017). I may not make it to San Jose (2018). But I will be back. My first WorldCon was a landmark in my writing career. I can’t wait to see where I am by my second one.
Now, I am going to go lay down. I am so tired…