WorldCon - Aug 6-10

From WorldCon I went into preparation mode for a weekend spent at the cottage with friends. I did some writing and read a book to review (more about that in a later post) but I haven't felt like blogging about WorldCon. The experience was too overwhelming to sort out in a week. I got lost in the sheer size of this convention. What inspiration. What overstimulation. At WorldCon, nobody has to justify his passion for "what if" stories or her enthusiasm for social critique. Speculation in fiction is why we're all there.

Every day there were back-to-back workshops and many of my favorites occurred at the same time. I failed to meet Mur Lafferty of the ISBW podcast or take any of the three workshops on podcasting because of scheduling conflicts. I went to every workshop I could on writing and publishing SF and a few interesting readings and launches. The only disappointment was a panel on race in SF that never really got down to the nitty gritty.

I enjoyed buying books and won a couple as well. A stack of new novels looms down at me from my dresser, threatening to smother me as I sleep - and that's not including any horror titles.

I enjoyed speaking with all sorts of writers, fans and editors at the parties Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening. These were, in many ways, both more fun and more important than the sessions in terms of learning about the SF & F book industry. I loved every minute of it.

I will be attending AdAstra in Toronto whenever I can from now on. After going for the first time this year, I have a few activity ideas for next year's organizers. Space themed karaoke anyone? How about a real-time writing experiment with duelling computers?

I came away from WorldCon full of ideas. I write most days and jot down short story ideas most mornings. I'll never live long enough to get them all written into stories, but that's fine. I'm starting to recognize which are worth developing, as far as I can tell. I haven't submitted a short story in a long time but as soon as my current manuscript is done, I'll take a break from it and look through my new idea file. A couple of weeks of short story writing should help me get into a fresh mindset before I start editing.

I managed to meet a few of my writing goals at WorldCon. I got my work critiqued and came away with a better sense of how to make it better. I was also invited to join a private LiveJournal group of writers who also got critiqued at WorldCon.

It wasn't exactly a goal but I was happy to meet a lot of interesting people at the convention. My friend R. introduced me around and we also met up with people I recognised from AdAstra. R. seems to know everybody on the Canadian SF & F scene.

My big goal was to pitch an editor and have him agree to read my novel when it's finished. I did explain my novel concept to an American editor, badly because I didn't rehearse my elevator pitch. He was encouraging and gave me a favorable response in terms of my topic and approach. He also gave me a few tips on how I should have pitched a busy editor! This occurred on Sunday Aug. 9, the last evening of the convention. The other highlight of that night was the Hugo Awards.

I wasn't sure I would like the Hugos. The room was so big we had to sit halfway back and watch the action on jumbo screens they had set up on either side of the stage. It was amusing to hear the winners announced in both French and English, despite the winning entries being English language books, films, television shows, short stories etc. What really made it for me was the excitement of those around me. Somehow I managed to sit near a group of Toronto insiders, many of whom I had met at Ad Astra and who had worked at Toronto's well-loved Bakka SF bookstore at one time or another. This group of writers, booksellers and fans were dressed up for the after parties and pumped up for the awards. It was more exciting than the Oscars, for me at least.

I care more about books than Hollywood movies. I've never been an autograph hunter or a fawning fan. That kind of behaviour is demeaning and disrespectful. If Will Smith walked down Yonge Street in Toronto, despite admiring his work and thinking he's pretty cute, I'd do the polite thing and pretend not to notice him. I didn't line up to get autographs at the convention either, although I did buy a few autographed copies of books at the parties. It's fun getting a book autographed at a party by someone who still enjoys signing. What I don't like is waiting in line for a popular novelist like Neil Gaiman. He has so many fans by now, one more can't make a difference to him.

Here are the winners according to the Hugo Awards Website:

And the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (presented by Dell Magazines): David Anthony Durham

Happy reading!

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