My First Con

Instead of camping with my family this weekend, I went to Madison, Wisconsin. The 33rd annual WisCon conference was held there over the holiday. It started Thursday night and ended sometime Monday afternoon. There were workshops, panels, art shows, vendors, and parties. As an added bonus, there was also good food and chai tea within walking distance.

The worst part, as expected, was the ride there and back. I'm not a huge fan of hours long road trips. If I'm not driving, I usually read, but since I was a tag-along passenger, I thought I'd try to be sociable. I think I managed for the most part.

But I bet you're more interested in the Con itself.

I found it interesting, entertaining, and exhausting. There were many times when I wanted to voice an opposing opinion, but wisely kept my mouth shut. Well, for the most part. There were a few times I felt compelled to interject my viewpoint or experiences into the conversations. I probably sounded like an idiot, but that's never stopped me before!

I think perhaps the two most memorable panels were on Warrior Women and Marxism and Beyond. The first I found enlightening and disturbing. Personally, I believe you can have a warrior woman and a strong male in the same book. I don't think a helpful male presence automatically disqualifies the woman as a true warrior. I also don't see the need or want of love as an automatic fail either. I think a woman can be soft and strong, lovable and brutal. I think a little bit of emotional complexity is perfectly acceptable and even desirable in any character, even the gun-toting or sword-bearing types.

As the second panel dealt with social constructs and barriers it could have degenerated into a shouting match. People can get very tense when they believe they or someone they know has been wrongfully maligned, something that has apparently happened in previous years. Luckily, the moderator and panel members were excellent at maintaining focus.

Of course, these weren't the only two panels I attended. My days (Friday, Saturday & Sunday) were filled with panels. I attended book readings, academic presentations, and panel discussions from 8:30 a.m. to midnight or thereabouts. I was sometimes amazed and sometimes disappointed.

However, it was also very neat meeting with agents and editors. I was able to ask Jim Frenkel of Tor what he thought the handwritten note I had received all those years ago might have meant. His answer: lumpy gravy. Hm. Interesting. What exactly does that mean? Well, he thought perhaps I had a few too many info dumps in there. (You know I'm going to have to check!)

I also have a couple of business cards I need to follow up on. One's for an agent, the other for an editor at a major audio publisher (think books-on-tape).

I did attend a couple of the parties, but was, dare I say it, rather bored. Not exactly what I had anticipated. This is probably why I was okay with attending the late night panels.

As you might imagine, I was completely wiped out by the time we got home last night. I didn't pull in my driveway until 11:30 p.m. This means we had been on the road for over 13 hours. Egads.