World Fantasy Con (or, how I found a family I didn’t even know I had)

I survived my first con.

In sitting on my mom’s couch in Chicago, drinking a beer, eating pumpkin cookies and trying to figure out what exactly happened these last four days.

It was amazing.

I bought my membership earlier this year because it was local. When I doled out the cash, it was after I applied to Viable Paradise, but before I’d heard back. At the time, I didn’t know anyone who would be there (other than a few folks by reputation) and I figured that even if I didn’t get in to VP, I could at least harness my shamelessness to make an enjoyable long weekend out of it.

But then I got into VP. And all of a sudden, I knew something like 20 people who were going to be there. And after VP, I knew a handful of those folks really well.

And it made all the difference.

I barely went to any readings or panels. I spent most of my time hanging out with other VP alums and meeting friends of theirs. I knew a few people from Twitter and blogs and whatnot, and managed to talk and hang out with every single person I wanted to talk to. I even managed to check every single “famous” person off my “handshake” list. It was fucking awesome.

I even did something I wasn’t even entirely sure I wanted to do, which was go up and talk to Neil Gaiman for 10 minutes or so, since he happened to be sitting directly behind my VP classmate, (and all-around awesome chick) Amanda Clark, and I at the banquet. I blame this entirely on Steve Brust, who instigated the conversation (via a particularly hilarious Tweet exchange, using me as a switchboard).

One of the highlights of the con was when I lured some folks into my car to venture away from the hotel so I could take them to El Zarape and walk them over to the park where they could see all of Mission Valley (where Bart and I proceeded to have a mind-bending conversation about horror, id vortexes, squee and squick – my mind was the one being bent).

Also the random conversation with a random guy I ran into outside of the con bar (which was closed for a private event), which turned into an hour long discussion about philosophy, science and art (Chet: If you’re reading this: HI).

But it was the music gatherings (instigated by Amanda) that I’m going to be turning over in my head for a very long while. Patrick (Nielsen Hayden) is an absolute fucking maniac on the guitar (and the banjo. and the ukulele). I could have watched him play all night. I WANTED to watch him play all night. I’m fucking bummed out I won’t get to watch him play again for a very long time.

I’m not going to go into any specifics about the two evenings spent laughing and singing and drinking (and tackle-hugging a certain Plunderpuss), but I will say this:

I’ve always seen a wall between me and other writers: they’re the ones writing and publishing things, and I’m the one sitting at home, drinking beer, aimlessly stringing words together. It’s going to take some time to get used to the fact that now there’s no difference. VP shattered that wall in my head. And those four days spent at the Town and Country made me feel like I’d finally come home.

It felt like VP all over again, except this time I didn’t have to run back to my room to do critiques. The sleep deprivation is even about the same.

Coming off of VP, having this con to look forward to made it so that I couldn’t get too sad it was all over. And now that WFC is over, part of me is trying to bury the knowledge that I’m not going to get to physically hang out with that many amazing people again for a good, long while (yeah… hi again, tears). But I know this is the start of something bigger. Something I never even suspected existed.

So to everyone I met at the con – I fucking loved meeting and talking with and getting to know you, and I know for a fact I’ve made some new friends that will be with me for life. And if you’re ever in San Diego again, you’ll always have a place to stay.

And I’ll take you to El Zarape anytime you want.

[start cryptic messages]

//I never want to take it off/I am still thoroughly embarrassed/There will be more tackle-hugs in the future/I hope everything’s okay/Hope the shepherd’s pie and gelato was awesome//

//And it’s still fucking surreal to think back on what my life was like a year ago today, or even six months ago/Life is strange and beautiful and made out of magic sometimes//

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8 Responses to World Fantasy Con (or, how I found a family I didn’t even know I had)

  1. Fran W says:

    Dear Kelly, if I couldn’t go to WFC myself (woe!) at least I could enjoy it a little through your marveouls tweets and posts. Which means I can also be jealous that you got to tacklehug Plunderpuss and play uke with the Master of Strings, and hang out with all the cool kids. So, best of both worlds! Sounds like it was an amazing time!

  2. thanate7 says:

    Slightly sad confession: this is actually why I went to VP. No, really– the lectures & perspectives on my stuff & others’ was fantastic, but the real selling point was getting plunked down in the middle of a bunch of other writers in a context where I don’t spend the whole time being shy about talking to anyone.

    Seriously hoping we can tweet back at you about awesome music gatherings at Readercon! 🙂

    • Kelly says:

      Seriously. I want you guys to make me so jealous about Readercon I’m crying in my bathtub 🙂 Though I might come to Readercon still. I’m gonna wait until I get back to SD to decide my con schedule for next year.

  3. Liz Coleman says:

    I’m a little jealous, since I remember my early wide-eyed days. Not that it’s not still awesome, but there’s a certain, “OMG HOLY SHIT!!!” glow that fades a bit.

    And now there’s sure as hell no wall between you and the writers. You’re the one making them jealous by selling shit to a top market in the blink of an eye. 😀

    • Kelly says:

      If it feels more like family each time I go, I’ll be happy 🙂

      And if only it had taken the blink of an eye. The four years of work on that story and 8 rejections made it seem like it took FOREVER

  4. Oh I see how it is. MY cryptic message is a THREAT.

    Also, you are amazing fun and I’m glad you were as entertained by everyone else as they were by you. I could listen to you, PNH, and your little song posse play forever. (As long as I could have bathroom breaks.)

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