Worldcon: Psychological Report

September 5, 2012

I am returned from Chicago’s Worldcon.  So much name dropping I could engage in.  I met and talked to so many great people, which is really the whole point.  I only bought one book — a steampunk antho, shocking, yeah?  And I also bought a print from the art show, a Patricia McCracken piece.  I also learned something about myself this convention, so here’s some writer psychology for you.

I have a secret to tell:  All those smiling eager writers and artists and pros you meet at conventions?  They are all seething puddles of anxiety.  Every convention is like the first day of school, every time:  will I know anyone, will any of my friends be here, what if I look stupid, what if everyone hates me, what if I say something stupid?  We are generally introverted insecure monkeys, and a convention feels like walking onto a stage, where Simon Cowell is always walking behind you whispering horrible things into your ear.  Don’t get me wrong, we have a great time at cons, we love talking to readers and buying books in the dealers room and drinking and partying and checking stuff out.  But boy, it’s rough sometimes.  Especially early in our careers —  like when I went to my first Worldcon and I just had a couple of short story sales, I was a raving stress monkey all weekend, because I didn’t know anyone, I was trying to meet editors and things, I was trying to be cool, and everyone else was so much cooler than me, and I was so intimidated.  I was working so hard not to screw up, or to not appear like I was screwing up, and I second guessed everything I did.

This Worldcon was different for me.  Really different.  As in, I spent a chunk of the weekend being relaxed.  Enjoying myself.  And I think I know why.  I wasn’t actually planning on going to this Worldcon, originally.  But then Ty and Daniel got nominated for the Hugo, and they are my very good friends, and they supported me last year so I went to the con to support them this year.  I arrived at the convention with no expectations, no agenda.  I had a bunch of people I wanted to talk to — because I wanted to talk to them, not because I thought I needed to.  I was just going to go do my stuff, meet people, have fun.  I used my cell phone to make sure I always had people to go to meals with.  I spent hours just sitting in the lobby talking to people.

I had an amazing fabulous time, with very little anxiety.  I went through the middle bit of the convention in a state of amazement because I was so laid back.  Instead of worrying about party hopping and being where I thought I should, I pretty much spent the whole weekend at just a couple of parties.  I felt no need to prove myself.  Being cool, or appearing cool, is something I actually have no control over, and I was way more concerned with getting my next rum and Coke and continuing the conversation I was just having.  It felt great.

I was also fighting a cold the entire convention, so I spent a couple of days feeling crappy, but that was only physically, not emotionally, and if I’m okay emotionally I can fight through anything else.  (I would take responsibility for bringing the con crud to Worldcon, except I think just about everyone from Bubonicon caught something and brought it to Chicago.  So it wasnt just me.  And as long as I remembered to keep popping the Dayquel, I was fine.)

I’m going to try to remember this, and how much more pleasant the convention was, and hold on to that feeling of spontenaity and not being so anxious so I can be this easy-going and relaxed at every convention from here out.

Oh, and the Hugo Awards Ceremony was great, because I had this moment of thinking, I am part of Hugo history forever, because of last year’s nomination, and that is awesome.


4 Responses to “Worldcon: Psychological Report”

  1. wm.annis Says:

    This was my first ever Worldcon — and my first con as an adult — and I had more than one occasion to (internally) squee like a little anime girl and go thank authors gushingly for their books which I love — not behavior I would have expected from myself just a week ago. I’m the guy who thanked you for Kitty’s gay friend, in the elevator.

    I’m hoping for a little more dignity next time.

  2. Carrie V. Says:

    Excellent! That’s what cons or for.

    I think I reached some kind of critical mass of people recognizing me in elevators this convention. It happened on probably 3/4 of my elevator rides.

  3. Kathy Nerat Says:

    As far as I can tell, everyone’s first worldcon is a marvelous jumble of wonderland emotions. Mine was ChiCon in 82, phew,long time ago but remember like yesterday. That first time you see the faces of authors who have transported you, made you laugh, cry, think, shriek, even reassess the world the universie etc… it’s worth a gush or two and I suspect the authors don’t mind receiving those thanks and maybe even recognize that first-time glow. CV: loved your observations and the joy of being relaxed at a world con.

  4. Janice Says:

    I love this post. I identify well with the ‘introverted insecure monkeys’ part – and I don’t have the stresses you encounter in your work. Thanks for sharing!

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