I'm home from WorldCon and getting back into the swing of things. I had grand good intentions of blogging while I was there, but it just didn't happen. By the end of the day, I could barely string words together. There were about 4,000 people there in a large convention center. I was averaging about 3 panels or other events per day that I was on. Just about everything seemed to be standing room only except for a couple of events in very large, very remote rooms at the beginning or end of the day. So it was all-day crowds at a very high energy level. I made myself do at least some networking, so for dinner I went to the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America suite, where I could get a meal and chat with people in a quieter environment. That seemed like a good compromise when my instinct was to get takeout and hide in my room. But that meant I was getting back to my room and getting in pajamas at around eight or nine at night, barely catching up on e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc., and then collapsing.
But the reason it was so draining was that it was good. I went to a lot of panels, even ones I wasn't on, so there was no real "down" time during the day, and I have a notebook full of notes. One particularly interesting one was the director of the Vatican Observatory talking about living in an absolute monarchy. He's mostly at the convention to talk about science stuff, but he did this presentation for fantasy authors, since the Vatican is one of the remaining absolute monarchies that functions a lot like the realms in fantasy worlds. There was a great panel on "Nifty Narrative Tricks" that got the wheels turning in my head, as did the panel on playwriting techniques for novelists. I attended some sessions on business planning and author branding, though I'll have to look again at my notes to see if there's anything I can use there.
For the panels I was on, I got to sit next to David Gerrold on a Star Trek panel. There was a great discussion on steampunk at another panel, and a fun panel on adults reading young adult books. I'd been worried about the YA Beyond Borders panel, but it turned into a fascinating discussion that continued in the hallway. I moderated a panel on beta readers that I hope was useful for the attendees.
I did feel a little bit invisible at the convention. For someone who's been publishing in the field for eleven years, with 12 published fantasy books (that's not counting the years and books in romance), and with six Worldcons under my belt, I'm still kind of a nonentity, which can be frustrating when you see newer people with fewer books (and not necessarily bestsellers) more or less eclipsing you. None of my books were available in the dealers' room, not even the new Rebel Mechanics paperback. My autograph session would have been pretty much a bust if not for some of my friends and for some people from my Japanese publisher stopping by. And getting to sit next to William F. Nolan and chatting with him about Logan's Run. On the other hand, I did have an almost full table for my kaffeeklatsch and a decent crowd for my reading (and I didn't even know all of them).
I'm not really sure how to become more visible in that world. The hanging out in the SFWA suite may help. I'm trying to do more follow-up with people I met. I'm terrible at networking because I assume people won't remember me, so I hesitate to contact people, but it's easy enough to follow people on Twitter, and that's a start. I'm going to make more of an effort to participate in the SFWA message boards. I know there's been a lot of controversy lately about the Hugo awards, with a lot of resentment about ideology, and such, but I have to say that even apart from ideology, it does look like there's a "cool kids" club that feels entitled to the nominations, and even if some outsider group that was as perfectly inclusive and diverse as the cool kids club prides themselves on being showed up and managed to get a toehold in the process, there would still be a lot of resentment and outcry from the clique. There's a lot of talk about being inclusive and accepting, but there's a definite insider vs. outsider sense of cliquishness there that can't be fixed while it's not acknowledged. It really is the jocks and cheerleaders vs. the rest of the school, except I don't think even talent can break you in. The back handsprings won't get you on this cheerleading squad. Most of the time, I can ignore all this and just get on with my work. It's only at the big conventions that my invisibility field kicks in with people who should be my peers, but I get the feeling if I tried to join their group, they'd close ranks or get up and move.
I saw almost nothing of the city, but the downtown area was nice, and the famous library whose parking garage looks like a giant bookcase was a few blocks away. My travel went pretty well, aside from the bus breaking down on the trip to the airport (I was glad I planned for taking one bus earlier than I needed) and the thunderstorm that hit when I stepped off the train from the airport on the way home (at least the plane landed before the storm hit). I got to hang out with friends I see maybe once a year and reconnect with some fans who've been with me from the very beginning. I had some interesting conversations, and I'm motivated to get back to work. The one thing I can absolutely control is what I produce, and the only way to really increase visibility is to keep writing more and better books. I have to get Enchanted, Inc. book 8 (which needs a title) to the copyeditor in mid-September, so I have work to do.