This morning I decided to walk to the Convention Center, just to see what the walk was lik and to work off the chocolate croissant I had for breakfast. Every morning of the con, they have ‘Stroll with the Stars’ where a bunch of people meet and walk from the Walgreen’s parking lot to the con whilst talking to a handful of the VIP’s.
Well, in my walk I stumbled upon this gathering and decided to join in. I had the privilege of speaking with Lawrence Schoen, Cory Doctorow and Ellen Datlow. Being the long time editor, I asked Ellen the classic question, “What is it you’re looking for in a story?” Though I know she’s answered it thousands of time, probably just this week, she told me that a strong voice was most important to her. She seemed to mean both authorial and character voice. Her answer was concise, obviously locked and loaded but one she believes in nonetheless. And the way she said it did not make me feel like a newbie idiot. That seems to be the general attitude. Overall there seems to be a sense of community and fostering the people that are up and coming.
The Stroll was running a little late and I had to jaywalk and scurry to the Kaffee Klatch with Sheila Williams. It was a very good session. I asked her the same question about what she was looking for and her answer was much more nebulous. I couldn’t put it in concise words here; the closest I could come would be that she wants something that impresses or surprises her. She also talked a lot about process and how she works.
I went to about five panels and while they were all good, I’ll just cover the highlights of my favorites.
Making it as a Full-Time Writer was a full panel with Carol Berg, Tom Negrino, Dean Wesley Smith, Bud Sparhawk and Christina York. It was interesting to hear Dean Wesley Smith speak both about how much material he’s written, but that he quit many times over the years. There was also the idea that it’s okay, even good, to write in small chunks. The biggest message here though, was that discipline is probably the most important factor in being a full time writer. Well, that and perseverance.
Brandon Sanderson and Carrie Vaughn ran a panel on Creating Gods. There was supposed to be one more person that didn’t make it so they called up Matt Rotundo (a great author and fellow Codexian) and this guy who’s been a Wiccan priest volunteered. Then Brandon texted Pat Rothfuss and he joined in a little later. This was a very energetic panel with some great discussion about how to keep powerful characters from becoming too powerful and that disparity in power levels is a good source for conflict. And then once you start putting limits and making rules, how important it is to keep them consistent.
After that, I went to the live Writing Excuses Podcast. They recorded about five shows in two hours. There were some technical difficulties to start, but Mary Robinette Kowal worked with Jordo and Howard Tayler to save the day.
This was all sorts of fun. All of that energy that comes through in the podcast is really there in the room. Though sometimes I was surprised at the seemingly serious expressions they wore even while jokes were flying. I attribute it to them being focused on what might come next. I did discover how little preparation they actually do and was impressed at how easily they handled subjects that were simply thrown at them. If you ever have a chance to go see them work, get there.
At this point, I’m tired. I’ve been there all day, exhausted, worn out, feet hurt. Time to go back to the hotel, right? Well, no. I went to another panel, this one on SF Cover Art. It was good. Though it didn’t cover technique as much as I thought it would. The effects of e-publishing were certainly a big topic.
But then there was the Girl Genius Ball. It was a steampunk dance with many people in costume.
Most of the dances were organized and taught on site. Most set up like square dances. I was curious, so I went. The music was really fun. I have to admit, I didn’t dance. I was just too exhausted. I found a place to sit and spectated for a good long while.
Then I came back to the hotel and collapsed. (You’ll find this is a recurring theme.)