Sunday, September 27, 2015

FenCon Recap: Beating Back the Brain-Hamster

Okay, so this one's a little bit out of the blue. I didn't post about FenCon last week, because I wasn't even sure I would go. I didn't make it onto programming this year, which isn't the end of the world, but stings when it's one of two conventions in your own hometown (and one that's had you as a guest before.)

Yeah, I know. It's just one con, and it's not like I haven't had my share of airtime this year. I wasn't crying myself to sleep. It's just one of those irrational things that feeds the evil brain-hamster - you know, the one that runs on its squeaky little wheel of insecurities, and every squeak-squeak-squeak is another you suck, you suck, you suck.

Despite vast plastic piles of evidence to the contrary!
Well, that little bastard was only going to get louder if I sat at home, so I went to the con to drown him out. (Hamsters, being solitary, skittish, nocturnal creatures, flee in the presence of other humans. Or at least mine do.)

And man, I am so glad I did. It was so much fun to remember what conventions were like before I turned them into tax-deductible platform-building calculated marketing maneuvers. It was great to just open up the program book and see what I felt like doing - to sit back and enjoy a panel, a reading, a dealers-room stroll - to see my friends again and shoot the breeze.

Then I started to feel guilty, because I'd spent money and writing-time to be there, and I shouldn't just go to amuse myself. A local con is a valuable opportunity, and I should try to make it worthwhile for my team - among others, my agent, my publisher, and good ol' Willie Siros there in the dealers room, who lugged copies of my books all the way from Austin to sell them here. (This is the great thing about having a team, by the way: you can't blow off the people who've invested in you, no matter how fervently the hamster assures you of the foolishness and futility of your efforts.)

Basically this.

So I screwed up my nerve, mustered up my cute, and moseyed into ops to ask ever-so-sweetly if they'd had any last-minute cancellations who needed a wonder-fabulous last-second replacement.

And oh, the delight! Oh, the enthusiasm! Those beautiful people could not have been kinder or more gracious. Robyn and Meredith and Julie loaded me up with a full slate of panels and a fancy-fresh name-card and sent me straight out to play. Can anyone ask for a greater posse than the FenCon crew? I would submit that they cannot!

And somewhere in the middle of all that was an absolutely beautiful wedding up in Olympia, a little overnight sojourn in the Portland airport (planned, that is - so much better than the other kind!), and a rocket-fueled return for the end of the convention.

DID YOU KNOW that small airports are creepy as hell at 2AM? True story!

And now that I'm back home in the stillness and the quiet, the brain-hamster is running that wheel again, trying to tell me that everything I did was haphazard and self-serving and mostly-fruitless, that instead of choosing one thing to do well this weekend (go as a fan, go as a pro, skip the con altogether and go to the wedding), I ended up doing three things badly. If I hadn't asked for programming, I could have gone to my friend Shawn's first-ever reading (among other things!) If I hadn't skipped town on Saturday, I could have probably sold more books, and definitely seen more people. If I hadn't tried to work the con in around the wedding, I could have stayed for the whole nine yards - the rehearsal dinner, the after-party, around-town adventures with the fam the day after.

And if the happy couple hadn't plied us with pies, I wouldn't have had to... well, let's move on.

But when I look at it objectively, I got to enjoy a wonderful lunch with my friend Jeannette, two readings, five panels, a dead-dog drinking session, my first-ever airport sleepover adventure, 250 miles of quality car-time with my mom, and a once-in-a-lifetime barnstormer of a wedding party. Even the hamster has to admit that that's a pretty good haul.

Anyway, but enough about him. Life is good, people are wonderful, and it's time for me to buckle back down and finish this book. Big love to everybody who's folded me in to the fun (and who's been waiting eagerly to do that very thing!): you are heavenly people-grease for a chronically squeaky wheel, and the silence is delightful.

And one day we will die and our ashes will fly
From the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see

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