When I attended the weekend last year, I can truly say that it was a life-changing experience. Not because of the events or the panels, although they were lovely. This is a professional convention as opposed to a fan convention, and while the panels were fascinating they weren’t the reason that people were there. The weekend was life-changing because of how people treated me, not because of any particular thing that I did.
A year ago, I was already writing but I wasn’t sure how far I would be able to chase this crazy dream. Last year the authors at the Nebula Awards showered me with so much validation that within twelve months I had started this blog, published one book, and submitted a second to my publisher. Last year I was so nervous that I was seriously afraid that I might throw up on someone’s shoes and this year I was on a panel. The assumption people have about me at this event is that I am a peer, and that writing is something that I can do and that I should do. This assumption shaped my assumptions for myself, just as the work of authors I met reminded me that in order to be a writer, you have to actually sit down and write.
So what’s the weekend like? Here’s a few highlights:
- At the Nebula Awards Ceremony, Toastmaster Ellen Klages made us all laugh with her Scary Ham story and made us all cry by reminding us that we are each other’s tribe.
- At the forensics science panel, we were all reminded that really, you just never should go into a kitchen. Kitchens are scary.
- I was able to interview Sofia Samatar, Nicola Griffith, Bennett Madison, and Helene Wecker, all of whom had brilliant things to say, of course.
- Samuel “Chip” Delaney smiled upon us like a gay, black Santa Claus.
- Charlie Jane Anders hosted Writers With Drinks and made up elaborate, fictional biographies. Now we all want one. I truly feel that if you were to offer me a Hugo, a Nebula, an Oscar, a Grammy, or a bio written by Charlie Jane, I would choose the bio. No question.
- At Writers With Drinks, I stayed up until midnight to hear a tattooed woman dressed in black read poetry about horror films beneath this weird tentacle lamp and I leaned over to Helene Wecker and whispered, “I feel so hip!” Because I’m not, not at all. The poetry, by the way, was disturbing and moving and haunting and was written and read by Daphne Gottlieb.
- I missed the bar tending robot this year, although it was in attendance. However, I did not miss the bacon donuts from Psycho Donuts. WOW.
- I sat on a panel about Young Adult fiction with Bennett Madison, Cynthia Felice, Erin Hoffman, and Ysabeau Wilce. There are few plus sides to having Imposter Syndrome, but one is that when something like that happens, you feel like Cinderella at the ball.
- I signed my ebook! I was a signing author at the book signing! Number of people I signed the book for…one. Still a fun, fun time.
- After a year of Internet drama about inclusion in SFWA (the cover of infamy, The Insect Army, etc), it was especially moving to see that the Grand Master this year was a gay black man (Samuel R. Delany) and the fiction winners were all women, including two women of color. The world is changing, y’all. As Ellen Klages said, “Keep trying, men! Someday, if you work hard enough, you can make it! you may have to publish under female pseudonym at first, but you can succeed!”