It goes without saying that I’m just sort of sitting here trying to process everything that happened in the last few days. This is going to be a long post, so apologies in advance.
One of the more interesting things about Worldcon is that I wear a bunch of hats while I’m there.
Hat Number One: As Director of Operations for SFWA, I’m working with our events team and suite volunteers to make sure all services are up and running. I would be lost this year without the incredible help from Terra LeMay, Steven H Silver, Cat Greenberg and the many awesome volunteers who took time out of their convention schedules to lend a hand. I also participate in discussions during the SFWA Board and Business meetings and I am so thankful to be working with an amazing group of people filling those roles. SFWA is in very good hands right now and I’m so glad I get to be a part of that. For any members who are reading this and did not get to attend, when we post the minutes of those meetings, I would encourage you to seek them out. We’re doing great things.
Hat Number Two: I’m the Podcast Director, Narrator, and Non-fiction Editor for Clarkesworld Magazine. This weekend, I got to partake in panels that not only spoke to the audio side of what I do, but the awesomeness that is this magazine under the stewardship of Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace and the many people who’ve been a part of it. Clarkesworld Magazine has not only been around for ten years, but I’ve gotten to see it evolve into the badass Pokemon it is for a good majority of it.
Hat Number Three: As you can see on the masthead of the website, it does list writer in there. My writing sort of fell off when SFWA and Clarkesworld took over, but thanks to the gentle prodding and encouragement by a few people, mainly Terra LeMay, I am happy to say that I’m writing again. A goal of mine was to finish a story so I’d have something to offer at my reading at WorldCon, and I’m happy to say that I did. More on that later.
Hat Number Four: Fan. When I was about five, my father under the great disapproval from my mother (who to this day, still mentions it), showed me Alien. From then, every B movie to the classic Heinlein and Asimov stories and novels to the amazing things this community is producing now, WorldCon is still squee central. My work with both SFWA and CW allows me to still have some composure when I come upon people and things I truly love and admire, but you better believe that under the skin, I’m jumping up and down and screaming with joy. So to all those creators and individuals who make those amazing things happen, thank you.
In conversation, I often inquire about convention highlights and it seemed that in general, people had really wonderful things to say. While there were many, the few that have simultaneously energized and to a degree validated what I’m doing in the community were:
- Kaffeeklatch – I was intensely worried that I would be sitting at a table by myself. That was very much not the case. I was so happy to be joined by people, that I started the session asking each person around the table who they were and what they did to make the event even more intimate. If you’re taking the time to get to know me, I wanted to know about you. We had lovely discussions and all the while, I was sitting there practically jumping out of my seat because I could not believe it was happening. I work from home in all things, so while I do get feedback in the form of social media and email, actually experiencing interaction in a live environment is pretty surreal. When someone comes up and says they love my narration or the work I do, it takes me a minute to process that they are actually talking to me. Maybe it goes back to the impostor syndrome some of us experience, but regardless, I will always be thankful to each person who took time out of their schedules to come see me.
- Reading – As I mentioned above, Terra LeMay has been instrumental with her encouragement and guidance in getting my writing career back on track. While I wasn’t expecting a reading at WorldCon, the programming staff offered me one anyway. As soon as I found out, I wanted to share that space with Terra because I wouldn’t even have anything to read if she hadn’t suggested the accountability in the first place. Overwhelmed again that people showed up, I started reading from the new short story. Unfortunately, emotion got the best of me and I started crying. I tried to catch it before I lost it, but I just couldn’t. I got a hug from Terra and Marguerite Kenner, and Steven H Silver got up and grabbed me some water and tissues. I took a deep breath and soldiered on. But the fact that people sat there and listened to me read, from my own work, was pretty friggen awesome.
- People – So many people I love. So brief a time to spend. A hug, a wave, a small conversation, old friends, new ones, drinks around a table — whatever it was, just know that I am so incredibly lucky to have met you and gotten to know you.
While in the Clarkesworld at Ten panel at this WorldCon I said, “It is an awesome time to be a writer and a reader.” I mean that. There will be people for whatever reason that will try to tell you otherwise, that your voice doesn’t matter or that the art you create isn’t worth anything. Please do not listen to them. Write. Create. Make Art. Edit. Publish.
It is important to be inclusive. It is important to validate the things you like and love. It is important not only to call out injustice, but to find and implement the solutions that fix it. It’s is important to continue to do those things despite the threatening and scary calls that come from limited worldviews where change is threatening and scary.
With all the talk of “special snowflakes,” the only other thing I will add is this — a snowflake forms when conditions are just right. Water droplet freeze onto particles of dust and form a myriad of unique shapes. That dust comes from you and I and all the things that make up this tiny blue dot. It comes from stars that once held planets of their own, long before we were ever here.
If being a special snowflake means I get to share this short time with both old friends and new, and my limited worldview expands with it, let us be a blizzard.
So to Marguerite Kenner and Alasdair Stuart, thank you for the conversation and the Flakes. I am often flabbergasted when we part, because you are both amazing. I hope to see you soon either in travel to the UK or if I can make it to WorldCon in Finland.
To Jeremy Tolbert, Beth Dawkins, Al Bogdan, Nick Mamatas, Gord Sellar, Desirina Boskovich, Christopher Kastensmidt, and newly met Molly Tanzer, thank you for a night of just “being.” I rarely get to do that at conventions lately, and I’m so grateful.
To David Steffen, thank you for coming to the Kaffeeklatsch, the reading, dinner, and for being a generally all around awesome person.
To Richard Man, who in requesting a second photograph session for his project gave the reason that the first didn’t quite capture all that I was, your work is brilliant and I can’t wait to see the finished pieces.
To Patrick Hester who has always been wonderful and kind and gives the best bear hugs, thank you for being a friend and still insisting on calling me, “the voice.”
To Cat Rambo, who not only is a kickass SFWA President, thank you for the conversation and advice. I’m very honored to call you friend.
To Naomi Kritzer for being one of my favorite writers, congratulations on the Hugo win and thank you for liking the narration. You didn’t have to mention it on the podium and you did, and I will never forget it. You are amazing and don’t ever forget that. (Also, send us more stories.)
To Kelly Robson and Alyx Dellamonica who both give the warmest hugs and the bestest of advices, I’m so incredibly grateful I got to spend some time chatting with you both before you headed home.
To Scott Andrews and Tina Connolly with whom I got to sit at the Hugo ceremony, I so enjoy your company and the evening was made all the better for getting to experience it with you.
To Todd McCaffrey for engaging conversation and drinks, thank you!
To the many fans of the Clarkeworld podcast who said hello and came up and asked for hugs, we would be nothing without your support.
To Fran Wilde, Steven Gould, Laura Mixon, John and Krissy Scalzi, Mary Robinette Kowal, Lynne and Michael Thomas, Ellen Datlow, Francesca Myman, Rich Horton, Jonathan Strahan, Lily Yu, Terrence Miltner, Robert Reed, Marko Kloos, Jason Sanford, David Klecha, Mur Lafferty, Jim Kelly, Irene Gallo, Sheila Williams, Rachel Swirsky, Charlie Jane Anders, John Chu, Bud Sparhawk, Sarah Beth Durst, David Gallaher, Jason Heller, John O’Neill, Brenda Cooper, Ken Liu, Hao Jingfang, Rosemary Claire Smith, Laurie and Jim Mann, Eugene Fischer, and others that in post-con brain I’m so sorry for forgetting, although our time was but brief, you are all rock stars and I’m all the better for having met you.
To Neil Clarke — You are my best friend and I would not be the person I am today without your continued and unfailing belief in me. Thank you for everything this weekend. From one impostor to another, you my friend, are fucking amazing. (Oh, and I guess I can maybe include Sean in there somewhere too. *rolls eyes*)
Now, I hope all of you recover soon and get back to creating wonderful things.