Sidetracked

I’m going to own it. I got sidetracked. Squirrel!!

This year’s been bad for my writing. My self-imposed deadline to finish the first draft of my novel by World Fantasy Con was shattered by my headlong plunge into the morass of local politics.

My state had important elections, and I couldn’t just wait for someone else to take care of things. I had to assist. I ended up working not behind the scenes as was my intention but in a more public way I didn’t expect. That’s a different story for a different audience, however.

So I went to World Fantasy Con feeling like a fraud. I wanted to network and tell people about the great novel I was working on. Instead I went and kept pretty quiet. I attended panels and learned some things. If you get the chance to hear David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) speak, just do it. I promise you won’t regret it.  He inspired me to attempt a ghost story, something I never considered until I listened to him dissect the elements of the genre with eloquent passion. I met some literary heroes of mine and discovered that, even though I’m not much into autographs, the convention’s mass signing session is a thing of beauty.

The Con had an interesting way of structuring their panels. Each guest only sat on one or two panels, which not only meant that the guests had time to talk and be talked to, the audience saw different personalities interacting instead of the same people together throughout the weekend. While the same people conversing can be a good thing at times (they get comfortable with each other and discussions may flow better), the interaction of different authors often creates new insights, and the opportunity to hear a wide range of authors speak made me happy.

I hung out with some old friends, met new ones, and ate insane amounts of food. San Antonio’s food scene is worth the price of the plane fare. Mexican donuts – fried donuts hot and fresh with warm liquid cream filling smothered in powdered sugar with chocolate kahlua sauce on the side. Just saying…

A friend of mine told me that World Fantasy Con is a great networking Con. I was a bit disappointed at first by how small it was but soon figured I was wrong and it was perfectly sized. This is a Con for professionals and the people attending spent nearly as much time in the bar as they did in panels or at “official con events.” People hung out having small, intense discussions. The noise in the bar on Saturday reached ear-splitting decibels.

The  Con organizers deliberately designed the schedule so there was plenty of time for dinner networking. Even without a book to shop, I met someone who worked at a small press, who liked the sound of what I was writing, and asked to see my story when I was ready. Maybe it was all smoke, but they provided a definite nudge to get the story written.

I came home reenergized. I had an election to work the day after I came back, and with election season under wraps, it’s time to plan how to integrate the multiple aspects of my life. Time to plan better.  I’m proud of what I did this past year but it came at the expense of my writing and that needs to stop.

Now to pound that manuscript into submission.

 

 

 

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