Post-Con Pile of Thoughts: Readercon 2013 edition

I’m home and somewhat rested, so in between all the things that must get done today (and this week), I’ve got to start my Readercon posts. I wasn’t so good about them last year as I was the year before, and this time the plan is to look–in depth–at what this convention was for me. First up, some notes:

  • The logistics were not good. Travel meant driving to Boston Thursday, and home Sunday, and of the three people in the car I am the only driver, so it was me behind the wheel for 7 or 8 hours each way. Add to that never getting enough sleep at conventions, starting the trip tired since my son was sick all week, and other annoyances, meant it was a unpleasant experience getting to the con and a miserable one getting home. Changes for next year include potentially: staying until Monday so that Sunday can be relaxing, visiting with friends, and getting enough sleep; taking the train (which means driving an hour to the station, and getting from the Boston station to the hotel) or flying (never a non-stop because our airport is small, and still commuting from airport to hotel), or… I’ve got time to weigh the options.
  • The hotel had problems. No bar, no lobby. They lost my books for a day even though I had delivery confirmation and asked the desk staff in person four times. This was after I’d called ahead to confirm they could handle deliveries to guests, had a box of my new collection shipped to the hotel, and paying for faster, Thursday, shipping. The staff finally only found them after I planted myself in the registration area and waited for 45 minutes–while the person sent to look went, came back empty-handed, saw me, sighed, went off again, and then found the box. I called down Sunday for a luggage cart, to be told there was a wait and I should be downstairs 30 minutes later–only to then be told there was no list, no plan, and people should just hang out til one comes by. The sandwich cart they provided a few times a day sold out quickly and they left again instead of getting more food; the promised “pub food menu” didn’t include the chicken strips/chicken wings/other bar staples we usually ordered; internet you paid for in your room didn’t work in the meeting rooms (where panels were held–technically the 3rd floor, and the room internet worked on the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th floors). Oh, and the smaller of the two Sunday brunch buffet options was still $25 a person.
  • I saw nearly everyone I meant to see, and a hundred other people besides. Since most of that was, “Oh, hey, you’re Carrie Cuinn, I wanted to meet you!” as I was walking to one panel or another, I missed most of the panels I wanted to attend. But the conversations were often important, the people were almost entirely friendly, and I got a lot more work done than I was expecting.
  • SFWA was on a lot of people’s minds. I had five different women recognize my name from the online forum and make a point to tell me how much they appreciated my posts there. They all said they felt uncomfortable posting themselves. They worried they’d be shouted down, dismissed, insulted–and they were glad I was saying the things they’d have said themselves. I was floored, and grateful. I didn’t set out to be anyone’s hero, I just wanted to make the Bulletin a more professional publication, and ended up saying the things I thought were obvious, logical, and true, during the discussion of that and other topics.
  • Many, many, other SFWA members and officers took the time to say hello, too, reminding me that the organization is generally a welcoming place, with a smaller percentage of grumpy iconoclasts and a much larger percentage of forward-thinking, open-minded, community-oriented writers and editors. Between hanging out all weekend with my friends Eugene Myers (now our East Coast rep), Fran Wilde, and Wes Chu, an hour-long conversation with Treasurer Bud Sparhawk at the official party Friday night, catching Ken Liu and Mike Allen between panels Saturday and Sunday, chatting with Ellen Datlow, Neil Clarke, and Kate Baker (who had a TARDIS skirt!) at a party Saturday night, and meeting up with Gordon van Gelder, Scott Edelman, Michael Burstein, and Athena Andreadis on Sunday–as well as others who stopped for brief greetings as we passed in the hall… I felt I got time with a good spectrum of the members. It’s nice to be able to point to an event like Readercon as proof that our members are a spectrum–there is no one type of member, or SFWA style of writing, just a bunch of professional writers who all think SF/F is a genre worth promoting.
  • A quick dash into the dealer’s room turned into an hour of chatting with Ian Rogers and Gemma Files, a reminder that I need to read more of their work. I bought Ian’s SuperNOIRtural, and he bought my collection.
  • I took part in Saturday night’s Speculative Fiction Poetry Reading. It was my first time reading poetry aloud, and the piece (a pantoum about a robot, an interstellar treasure hunter, and who we choose to be with at the end) was well-received. Since I only finished it a few minutes before the reading, I’m revising it today. I like it better already, and by request will be sending it to Mythic Delirium.
  • I also sold a flash piece to Mad Scientist Journal–subbed before we left and accepted 3 days later. It’s a token market, but a fun theme, and I had the perfect story to submit. I’ll post a link to “On the Methods of Preserving and Dissecting Icthyo Sapiens” when it appears online.
  • I didn’t get to the posts I was planning to put up last week, and the shoddy internet made working online impossible (even tweeting had issues). Expect those up this week, instead.
  • I also got an essay idea accepted by Strange Horizons, and I’ll be working on that over the next two weeks. It will be my first time writing for them, though I’m also appearing in a roundtable discussion that Daniel Jose Older is hosting, and I’m glad to be getting back into more journalistic/academic writing. I adore fiction, but I’m more than that. I’d like to keep being a fiction writer, but also start writing more about my academic work with Early American Books and Prints, and continue to discuss genre history and community.
  • Speaking of genre history–Thanks to van Gelder and Paul di Filippo, I joined the Fictionmags group, and while I’ll mostly be lurking, I’m excited to learn more about preserving, studying, and cataloguing genre periodicals. Like my work with SFWA, this will be another way for me to give back to science fiction, fantasy, noir, and short fiction what they’ve given to me.
  • As always, I have dozens of story/project ideas, and renewed drive to complete some others already in progress.
  • The print copies of my collection ended up in the hands of many other people, and I’m looking forward to their thoughts.
  • In addition to everything above, the highlights of my con were: random friend sightings; the Good vs. Evil crew shenanigans; chatting with Kay and Bart from Crossed Genres; seeing Kelly Stiles (my acquisitions editor at Dagan Books) and Connie Covington (a friend from NC); a couple of minutes with John Kessel, hanging out at the Pros party with Kelly, Daniel, and Gemma, plus Mike DeLuca, Scott Andrews, and Michael Matheson; a dinner date on Saturday night; learning about YA writing and then playing Cards Against Humanity until 2 am; Sunday brunch with the GvE folks… It was a wonderful couple of days. Having Don Pizarro–who always had a perceptive or funny comment to add, and who himself is an accomplished author, editor, and genre scholar (ask him about Filipino Speculative Lit!)–there for nearly every moment of it all… well, just like 2012 and 2011, he made my con what it was.

Back to work.


One thought on “Post-Con Pile of Thoughts: Readercon 2013 edition

  1. It was wonderful seeing you! I’m sorry we didn’t get to hang out more, but that seems to be the way of cons. I hope you manage to build in a little time for yourself to rest and recover.

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