The contents of this post may contain some swearing, which is not my usual fare, and will contain obscured identities unless otherwise noted.
I knew I had to go to WorldCon ( a.k.a. ChiCon ) to get some perspective and wanted to have a good time. Both desires were achieved in a way I had not thought possible. There is a laundry list ( not to be confused with Charles Stross’s The Laundry Files ) of people that should receive whatever cornucopia of blessings this paltry realm has to offer them. You know who you are. And yes, there is enough to go around for everyone. Hopefully I have done a good job expressing my deepest gratitude for the friendships made and the reality check I sorely, sorely needed. This, to be blunt, was the greatest gift anyone has offered me in a long, long time. The second, which currently has me tearing up, was the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received on my work. People want to read more and that, more than anything, will propel me into a maelstrom of stories waiting to be told and projects I’ve been too afraid to put out there for fear of a frosty response given what I want to write about.
Perspective is an impossible thing to get if you are holed up in your little cave working your ass off. The internet does not offer you this. It cannot. Some conventions can provide you with this, but the more fans and readers attend, the harder it is ( for those of us who want to do this crazy little writing thing for a living ) to find the time to interact with one another. This convention absolutely is essential to anyone who is either considering a career in writing or is already immersed into it. If nothing else, it is a gentle reminder that this is an industry filled not with personas, but with people.
The reality of being a writer is mechanically simple but socially complex. Write what you want to write, as much of it as you possibly can, and submit it to the proper markets. Many much better at giving writing advice than me often say this is essential to building a career. In truth, the concept truly is that simple. But the social aspects of this career, “your” ego, and this insanity of having a life get caught up between “you” and “your writing.” Regardless of what you think about publishing, it is a community like any other. Some stick around for a long time to publish the stories they love, others come and go, and a few light up brilliantly like sparklers on the fourth of July and fizzle out well before the morn.
While it was a tremendous and overwhelmingly positive experience, there was some bullshit at this con. I’ve been waffling back and forth whether or not to say anything at all, but I feel that I have to. In part, I am bolstered by the incomparable Jo Walton who shared a panel with me on the Ethics of Reviewing. She reminded the audience that she was a person before she started writing and she’s still considers herself to be that same person who just happens to write.
I may not be famous. I am most certainly not Jo Walton. But I am a fucking person. I was repeatedly dismissed, ignored, and morphed into carpeting by a particular author I was trying desperately to connect with within the time limitations I had. I have never met this person either before, during, or after the show. Am I being a drama queen? No, if it was just that, that I was reading into a situation, I would not be so angry. Besides ignoring my request for a signing, this person even went so far as to blow me off when the person they really wanted to talk to was trying to introduce me for the first time.
This, my friends and fellow authors and readers, is fucking inexcusable behavior. Did others say: “Sorry, I have to go meet ‘X’ or ‘X’?” Yes. Am I mad about something like that? No, absolutely not. I may have the maturity of an eight-year old some days but I am a grown-up and understand full well that many come here to be with friends long-forgotten or missed dearly. I take zero issue with someone who acknowledges my presence and does not have time for me at a show like this. To put this into perspective? George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Joan de Vinge, Ellen Datlow, etc. etc. etc. did not act like this to me. I repeat that: the most luminary and well-respected people in this industry ( including dozens of others not listed there ) did not treat an unknown author like garbage. But? The person in question chose this behavior because suddenly the word “popular” applied. Fame is a fucked up and awful thing to have to deal with in any way stretch or shape of the imagination and I give a lot of slack to anyone who experiences that moment under the spotlight. This was obvious, ridiculous, and I will not forget it — though I will never talk about it again either in private or in public nor will I seek another meeting. I am worth more than that.
Having been treated this way has reminded me of an invaluable lesson I once learned. If I ever get a taste of fame… If I ever become hit by proverbial lightning… You have my permission to set up a private meeting with me and settle the matter like an adult. Fuck. Even during this show, when I had issues with a couple of people I had never met before ( but shared something in common with ) they heard me out. After we dealt with the matter at hand, we moved forward like grown-ups do. End of discussion. No anxiety needed. And we go on with our day either with mutual respect and admiration or a friendlier, kinder relationship. Case closed.
I don’t know where I’ll end up, but I will never, ever forgive myself if I am not true to my own heart and what I want to do while being cognizant and respectful of those around me. There are over seven billion people on this planet of ours and I know full well I am only one of them.
Word to the wise: there are considerably less people in publishing.
- Mood: Exhausted
Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Well, I’m no longer shaking. So…
Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Minutes? BAH!
In My Ears: Princess Leia’s Theme from Star Wars
Game Last Played: Crap.
Movie Last Viewed: Double crap.
Latest Artistic Project: Triple crap.
Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press