Pre-Wiscon thoughts for 2011

Various people on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth are posting pre-convention thoughts, notices, and advisories. I thought it seemed like a fine idea, so here we have it —

Hello to all the people I will see at Wiscon in a couple weeks! I am rather terrifically looking forward to seeing or meeting in person a great many of you. I am also looking forward to the panels I am on. I am also looking forward to the panels I want to attend. I am also looking forward to the evening parties. I am also looking forward to quiet reading time in the hotel room. I am also looking forward to great conversations with smart, witty people.

If it seems to you, O Reader, that I am looking forward to a great many things, and that perhaps I might have a wee bit of difficulty fitting it all in, rest assured, I have also noticed this potential concern. I’m not sure what I am doing about it, yet, but I have noticed.

1. This is the first Wiscon I will have attended without my family since my kids were born. This is giving me a vast amount of freedom and opportunity, mentally. Yet this is also the Wiscon with the greatest amount of responsibilities for me so far — four panels and a room party.

2. This is the first Wiscon whereat I am a published author. I have no idea what to do with this fact. Ignore it, mostly, I expect. I am desperately seeking a path among the twisting trails of my native arrogance, my genuine sense that this isn’t that big a deal and not worth mentioning, my ambition to continue writing more and publishing more, and my heartfelt humility at how many stunningly amazing authors there are at Wiscon. I have a weird cognitive dissonance in my head, in which I hold two conflicting views simultaneously. The first view is that having ONE short story and ONE essay published really doesn’t count for much at all, that one isn’t an AUTHOR until one gets one’s first novel published, and that calling myself a published author is rank hubris. (Of which I HAVE PLENTY, THANK YOU, and try to guard against.) The second view is that the world is jammed full of writers who never get published, and getting even just one story published is crossing a vital bar in a meaningful way of which I should be rightly proud.

I can apparently believe both of these things at exactly the same time. It makes my head hurt.

3. I am terrifically bad at names. Oh, so very terrifically bad. I will ask you your name, or try to read it off your nametag. This means that I will introduce myself to you, despite us having talked at the last five Wiscons, because I am hoping you will tell me your name again. (Also, the older I get, the worse my hearing is in noisy places. It’s entirely possible I simply didn’t hear your name.)

4. In any situation where “is this a social hugging occasion” comes up, I will always err on the side of “no, this is NOT a hugging occasion.” Handshakes are perfectly fine, thank you.

5. All Wiscons — all conventions, really — are comprised of smaller tracks or trends that different people experience differently. This year I am hoping to focus on those parts of Wiscon that talk about comics, steampunk, writing, third-wave feminism, and that ever-popular category “things my friends are on or are really psyched about going to.” I am also looking forward to the Whedonistas/Mad Norwegian Press room party I am helping host on Sunday night. I also expect to go to the vidding panel and party, if all works out. The vidding party is a highlight of each year for me. I am not particularly intending to go to the Wiscon that features lots of science, politics, or religion.

6. As always, I intend to broaden my experience of the convention by having meals with people who then tell me about the panels they have been going to and the books they have been reading.

7. There are going to be people at Wiscon who I follow on Twitter but who I have never met. Due to the immediate, personal intimacy-with-strangers aspect of Twitter, I will be meeting for the first time people to whose inner thoughts I already have access. Moreover, a number of these people do not follow me back on Twitter, so the technointimacy is one-way. This means that while I may want to greet a person with a welcoming grin and a “hey, how’s it going!” they don’t actually know me from anybody else. I suspect it gets a little weird at times. I shall err, as I always do, on the side of more formality and distance until a closer acquaintanceship is confirmed.

8. I am gulping down my pre-con reading list. I won’t be anything like done before the con, but that’s okay.

9. Did I mention I am looking forward to seeing my fellow attendees there? I am!