so i attended readercon down in burlington, ma, this past weekend. this was my first convention and a very good experience. as i understand it, from the literature and other comments in the con and online, readercon is a more literary-focused than many cons. it has a clear sf/f angle, but the conversations are quite wide ranging, as are the authors.
all the panels i attended were very interesting, including some seeming long-shots which turned out to be excellent surprises. i was able to sit in on several readings, as well. all in all, it felt like a very good intro for me. i learned a number of things about giving readings, presentations, etc., both in panels and in the readings themselves, and it was great to have the range of content present.
i think i did an excellent impression of a wallflower this year, but who knows what next year may bring.
one particular panel struck home, with that ‘well duh!’ affirmation of self-evidency that makes me feel like an idiot so often. this one was ‘waking up sober next to a story idea’, and the panel included kay kenyon, jennifer pelland, jeffrey carver, paolo bacigalupi, david anthony durham, and allen steele. describing, essentially, how to deal with those moments in writing when the story suddenly feels like junk, without any legs, and incapable of sustaining itself, when it felt so brilliant to begin with, the various authors touched upon all the main fears (self-doubt; self-pity; fear of marketability), and the tools for overcoming them (putting it away for a while [days/weeks/years]; bullying your way through, sentence after sentence; taking an entirely different tack [change pov/location/etc.]).
as i said, none of these things was unusual or earth-shattering (though all of their anecdotes were good fun, at least in the retelling), but i have to admit it was the affirmation of their shared experiences, not unlike those i’ve been feeling in starting this next book, which made me feel viable again. i had contemplated not going to readercon, mostly because i was feeling useless and unproductive and unoriginal and uninteresting (a lot of ‘un-‘ words). this panel helped me out of that funk. again, i know all these things, intellectually, but i clearly needed someone else to say them out loud to remember them.
to wit, i owe my wife an enormous apology for not hearing her when she’s said the exact same things.
anyway, it’s monday morning, the 21st of july, and I’m off to start writing another book. thank you, readercon!