October 31, 2016
Got home from the convention last night and ended up on the sofa, in pj’s, eating a bowl of chili, and that turned out to be the perfect way to unwind. I don’t know why I’m still surprised at how exhausted I get after conventions.
Which is not to say conventions aren’t fun. I like them a lot. I like catching up with people and seeing what new things are out (I picked up a copy of Connie Willis’s new novel Crosstalk). My favorite Italian restaurant (Fiocchi’s) is near the convention hotel, and I got a group to go to dinner with me.
This particular convention: I was only on three panels, but they were some of the best panels I’ve ever been on/participated in. Packed rooms, great audiences, engaged discussions. I think the best panels are ones where the panelists have conversations with each other, are super-engaged with the topic, and aren’t afraid to express their enthusiasm. Every single panelist I shared the stage with this weekend understood that being on a panel isn’t about self-promotion, holding up your own work and trying to sell it. It’s about entertaining and informing the audience. If you are entertaining and informative, audience members will want to seek out your work. (In fact, I first started reading Connie Willis after seeing her on a panel and being so impressed with her wit and enthusiasm.) But if all you can talk about is your own work — that’s actually off-putting.
In the best panels, it’s delightful getting to share in the knowledge and enthusiasm of my fellow panelists. All well-read and insightful about the topics, each bringing their own perspective to the table. It turns out, excellent writers are also excellent readers. I’m not sure anyone can be a good writer without having an ingrained love of reading — and a love of talking about what they’ve read/experienced.
And I will be forever grateful to Van Aaron Hughes for introducing me to the existence of Attar the Merman, a series of men’s adventure books written by Joe Haldeman under a pseudonym. It appears to be James Bond meets Aquaman. I am intrigued.