Thursday, August 18, 2011

WorldCon 2011 -- Day 1

Hello, officially now, from WorldCon 2011 -- Renovation.

Such a busy day and so many great memories already, it's hard to reign in and talk about any one, focused topic. So I guess I'll just have to throw a bunch of thoughts out there for you to dissect as you please.

Okay, so the first break-my-mind moment of the Con was walking through the door. I found the convention center and I found the entrance and I walked inside...

...and found George R.R. Martin packing up his stuff at a table near the door.

I did a quick double-take and then stepped over to shake his hand and ask where registration was.

Yes, I asked George R.R. Martin to point me toward registration. Yes, I am fully aware that that is an obvious ploy to speak to the man. I'm kind of okay with that, because I like to think that I was at least polite enough to monopolize his time while he was trying to leave for his next event.

WorldCon is off to a good start, I thought to myself as I reached the line for registration. (It was a long line.)

First disappointment of WorldCon? Checking Twitter and finding out that Brandon Sanderson had been delayed and wasn't going to make it to his first panel (which happened to be the first panel I was planning on attending).

Disappointing, but not enough to ruin my day.

After making it through registration, I walked around the exhibit hall before settling down at a table to read through my convention information.

That leads to the second break-my-mind moment of the Con.

While I'm sitting there, reading my notes, a middle-aged couple walk up to the table and ask if they can join me. I glance up and do another double-take as I welcome them to the table and ask, "You're Dean Wesley Smith, aren't you?"

The man says that he is. We shake hands. And I just inwardly shake my head at the improbable odds and amazing community that is WorldCon.

(For those who don't remember, I read through Dean's series of blog posts on "Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing" earlier this semester. He's been updating the series lately, preparing the chapters for publication, so you should go ahead and give them a look if you're at all interested in the professional writing life.)

So, back to the story. Dean and his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, sit down at the table -- having just come through registration themselves -- and begin looking over their own convention schedules. Periodically, the three of us exchange some conversation between frantically trying to figure out the overwhelming amount of information that the convention staff has thrown at us.

To make this short: they're really nice. They were both friendly, helpful, willing to offer advice about attending my first con and what I should be looking for as a writer at my early stage in the business. All that good stuff. I'm really hoping that I'll have a chance to meet up with them again later in the week and have another chat.

Of the other people I'm excited to have met, there's only Howard Tayler, from Writing Excuses and Schlock Mercenary. But he was behind his sales desk, so probably not the ideal situation to meet him under. Tomorrow is the Writing Excuses panel, so I'll be able to at least see him and Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells and Mary Robinette Kowal at that, and hopefully get to talk to them later. George Martin also has a panel tomorrow (I'm pretty sure), so I'll get another chance to interact with him as well.

But that's tomorrow.

Today was a fun selection of panels.

"Tourists: Creating Characters and Stories in an Existing World" featured a wide selection of writers with vast experience and was a lot of fun.

The panelists included Dean Wesley Smith (who, if you don't remember, has written for X-Men, Star Trek, Men In Black, and others), Melinda Snodgrass (one of the producers for Star Trek: The Next Generation, and co-creator with George Martin of the Wild Cards shared universe), A.C. Crispin (who wrote the Han Solo backstory trilogy and recently finished a Jack Sparrow backstory book), and Paul Cornell (who writes for Doctor Who). Again, Brandon Sanderson was supposed to be at this panel, but he was delayed until later in the day.

The group talked about a lot of the ups and downs of writing in another person's world (or, in the case of Melinda, managing a world with many writers). There were funny stories, useful insights, and jokes made at the expense of both George Martin and Jon Scalzi.

After that was a fairly dry (by comparison) panel on the business of game design. One of the first, most apparent differences was the simple fact that game designers work in such a vastly different field than writers do. With writers, it seems like they're all just one, big happy family attending a reunion with each convention (of course, like all families, they have their disputes and less-reputable members, but The game designers, however, don't really talk to each other. And that's simply because each type of game design and each company of game designers are so vastly separated from each other that they don't really get a chance to form many connections outside of their company. (I suppose this has a lot to do with the solitary nature of writing versus the communal nature of gaming, but I digress.)

My favorite moment from the game panel was when Tom Lehman mentioned that he had designed the game Pandemic and half of the other panelists gasped and near shouted "You wrote that? I love Pandemic!" They had no idea!

Following that panel was the opening ceremony. Which...was a lot of pomp and presentation. But still nice.

You may remember that I was planning to attend a panel called "Revenge of the Nerds" after the opening ceremony, but I decided to run up to Wendy's for food instead.

Once I got back, I attended the back-and-forth discussion between Steve Jackson and Jon Schindehette before going to a highly entertaining and informative panel on using Nevada as a setting for fiction, with Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Connie Willis (the two of them together are hilarious), Mignon Fogarty (AKA "Grammar Girl"), Colin Fisk, and Susan Palwick.

That's about all I have for now. Saw "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" with my father and brother after my convention activities were done for the day. (Short answer: Dumb title; good movie.) And now it's time to rest for tomorrow's packed day.

Thursday Convention Schedule
11:00 -- Collaboration in Game Design: Designers and Artists
12:00 -- Writing the Space Novel (maybe)
13:00 -- Making It as a Full-Time Writer
14:00 -- Short but Containing the World: A Look at Novellas (probably)
15:00 -- Creating Gods
16:00 -- Writing Non-Human Characters
   or    -- Writing about Politics in Speculative Fiction
17:00 -- Writing Excuses Podcast
18:00 -- cont.
19:00 -- Many Ways to Tell a Story: Narrative and the Visual Arts

Now that's more like it. Conflicts!

1 comment:

  1. Hope you didn't forget to grab your Wendy's ahead of time;)