November 2nd, 2010


WFC 2010

I've been going to World Fantasy Cons since 1975.  I missed a bunch in the 80's and some here and there in the 90's and 00's, but a loose count comes up with 24 or 25 out of 35 (I can't remember if I went to both Tucson cons, or only one), which is a lot of World Fantasies.  Some have been transcendent.  Providence in 1979, Nashville in 1987, New Orleans in 1994, London in 1997, and Minneapolis in 2002 were particularly memorable for personally significant conversations, parties attended, panels heard and spoken on, friendships begun and cemented.  I gotta say, Columbus in 2010 was right on up there.

It's hard to put a finger on why the good ones are so good.  For one thing, it's both personal and unscripted.  All the things the con-com has been laboring so hard to organize--panels, greenrooms, goodie bags, a hotel with good service and a central gathering place--provide the background to that unexpected hug, that drink with an admired acquaintance, that dinner invitation that begins or crystallizes a friendship that will end up lasting for years.  I remember Ellen taking me along to a dinner in Nashville that included Patricia McKillip, Steve Brust, Stephen Donaldson, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, and Suzy McKee Charnas, who accepted me as a colleague and not just a Jenny-Come-Lately with nothing but a couple of short story publications and a novel contracted to Ace but not yet out.  I remember meeting Jonathan Lethem at a Bantam cocktail party (although I can't remember which one--before 1997, anyway), right after Gun, With Occasional Music came out from Tor and talking to him about fandom and books we both liked and the importance of cadence in prose.  I remember Pat Wrede and Mercedes Lackey and I all going out to lunch together in Providence when they were just beginning to publish and I hadn't sold my first story yet and talking about how intimidating it was to be surrounded by all these established writers who'd known each other for years.

From this con, I'll remember a hilarious dinner with Kathe Koja, her husband Rick Lieder, Mette Ivie Harrison, author of The Princess and the Hound, Holly Black, and ellen_kushner , where the conversation ranged from Kit Marlowe and the Elizabethan stage to Arthur Rackham and the illustrators of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to thrift shop trawling to micro-plotting to heaven knows what because we kept splintering into sidebars and cross-table comments and passing bites of our extraordinarily good dinners to each other on bread plates.

I'll remember sitting in the bar with Holly and hunkering down with the beginning of her current WIP and the end of mine and having a useful and intense talk about narrative structure, emotional plot, and the use and placement of set pieces, which has completely upended my writing plans for the next week--in a good way.

I'll remember catvalente lighting up like the Fourth of July when Ellen handed her the ARC of Welcome to Bordertown, and the lovely "Pilgrims and Bustles" party introducing Habitation of the Blessed and M.K. Hobson's The Native Star to an adoring crowd, which gave me the perfect excuse to wear my striped bustle-jacket and the steampunk necklace and earrings I bought from laurieopal .  I'll remember watching matociquala and truepenny hold court in the bar, the bright lights of their generation of writers, sparkling and strong and beautiful, and watching la_marquise_de_ draw a map of the United States forelaine_brennan, and meeting scbutler 's brand-new baby.

Yep, this was one of the Really Good Ones.

We're in Cleveland now, visiting Ellen's parents.  There was a big family dinner last night at her brother's house, with Spaghetti Puttanesca and the best Italian wedding soup I've ever had (Ellen's SIL is a notable cook) and much family news exchanged.  Today, we're going to the Cleveland Museum to look at reliquaries.  Which sounds about right for my current state, which is flat-out mental exhaustion.  Then home for a week, then down to Louisiana for a few days, then back to my Dulce Domum, which, like Mole's house in Wind in the Willows, has been patiently waiting for me to return from The Wide World, and loves me, and misses me.  As I am missing it. 

Plus, I got A LOT of writing to do.