Okay, I can’t not say it. Boundary Problems got longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Along with 88 other books, including collections by Freehand author Rosemary Nixon, 11 more Canadians (like Lynn Coady and Douglas Glover, among others), and 19 SF authors (6 of whom are ChiZine authors). Good luck to everyone!
There. Got that out of my system. So. WisCon. Overwhelmingly awesome and unsummarizable. But I’m going to try. Not quite point form, but almost. (Let’s just pretend I’m practicing for my new twitter account. More on that another time.)
Thursday (Day 1)
Arrived running on two hours of sleep (backstory here), registered, and walked around getting my bearings. Found the conference hotel (not where I was staying), Michelangelo’s coffee house, and A Room of One’s Own bookstore, attended wonderful Guest of Honor readings by N. K. Jemisin and Hiromi Goto, then went back to my room and crashed. Hard.
Friday (Day 2)
Woke up at 11 and slowly wandered forth into the day. Happily, while trying to figure out what I was doing, I ran into Brian Attebery, who suggested going for lunch, gathered an impromptu group, and lunch it was. Great to catch up a bit. Then back to the room to time and prep my reading for Michalangelos at four. A great reading with “A Reading Group is Like a Box of Chocolates,” including a steampunk excerpt from David D. Levine, a story about staircases and enlightenment from LaShawn M. Wanak, and a selection of poems from James P. Roberts. Then things got faster, and the trickle of people became a flood: Simone Caroti, David Edison, Nancy Hightower, and Valya Lupescu (among others). Were there drinks? I do believe there were drinks. And dinner, of course.
Saturday (Day 3) and Sunday (Day 4)
Moving into hyperspeed now, I honestly couldn’t give a full accounting of these two days. There were SFRA papers, random serendipitous conversations with more people than I can recall, and readings upon readings upon readings. A few highlights:
- WisCon readings by Caroline Stevermer, David Edison, Ellen Kushner, Daniel José Older , Nene Ormes, Wesley Chu, Delia Sherman, Richard Butner, and Eugene Fischer
- SFRA Papers/Panels – Sheryl Vint’s GoH talk on Under the Skin, and Taryne Taylor’s panel (along with co-presenters) on Victorian feminist utopias. (Sadly, I didn’t get to as many SFRA panels as I would have liked.)
- Hiromi Goto and N.K. Jemisin’s WisCon GoH Speeches – These were incredibly powerful and more than a little challenging. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m still processing these, and may yet need to reread them. Again. Luckily, they’re available online, here (Goto) and here (Jemisin).
- The Floomp – Such wonderful floompage! So much dancing.
It was without a doubt, an amazing time. Great to catch up with those I already knew (Brian Attebery, Valya Dudycz Lupescu, Nancy Hightower), to get to know those I’d met only briefly before a bit better (David Edison, E.J. Fischer, Marco Palmieri, Mary Anne Mohanraj , Simone Caroti, and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone), and to meet so many new people I couldn’t possibly keep track of them all (a necessarily incomplete selection: Sam J. Miller, Bill Campbell, Ellen Kushner, Nene Ormes, Marguerite Reed, and Scott-met-while-smoking-whose-last-name-I-forget).
…and Monday (Day 5) – The Wind-Down
This is when names fell almost entirely by the wayside. I learned them, then they vanished. What can I say? I was exhausted. In a good way, but still. I do know I had wonderful conversations with Mary Rickert and Catherine Schaff-Stump at the Author Sign-out. And after that, the names just sort of… disappear. But I remember the people. Like the woman who suggested I could nap by the hotel pool after I had already checked out of my room but still had 17 hours to wait until my early-morning flight. Or the people I met at the Dead Dog wind-down, who gave me a bit of a behind-the-scenes glimpse into WisCon organizing. And especially the woman at the Dead Dog who asked me why I was at WisCon, which prompted the crystallization of something I hadn’t previously been able to articulate.
I mean, sure, I was technically there to promote the book, and I couldn’t have afforded to attend the con without an AFA marketing grant to support that. But it wasn’t only that. And my sleep-deprived, over-stimulated, still-processing-the-whole-con mind threw up a running-on-autopilot-straight-from-the-subconscious answer that made perfect sense. To wit: I was there to listen and learn, to start getting to know the (SF) communities of which I would like to become a part.
And really, that same logic could be extended to the tour as a whole. Yeah, it was about marketing – readings, signings, selling books, and all that jazz. No point in pretending that wasn’t a big part of it. But it was also about joining a community of readers and writers of all sorts: CanLit, SF, poetry, fiction, memoir, and so on. Writing may often be a (necessarily) solitary pursuit, but becoming part of a community of writers and readers is an incredible gift.
In retrospect, in a larger sense, I think that’s why I was there. So thanks to all those along the way—whether explicitly mentioned here or not—who welcomed me into their various communities. I count myself very lucky to have had that opportunity.