WisCon Report the…

WisCon Report the 2nd:

The nicest thing about being Guest of Honor is that people keep telling me how cool I am, or how much they like me and/or my work. Being GOH is like a little spotlight shining on you, telling people you deserve compliments. It's splendid. Everyone should be GOH once in a while!

The convention is already starting to dissolve into a blur -- when I try to remember what I did after lunch yesterday, I'm like, what? I had lunch? But I'm going to try and force my fuzzy memory to work, reconstructing with the aid of the program book.

The Gathering was after lunch, and when I saw there was a Fiber Arts circle, I grabbed my knitting and took it down with me. I hadn't brought the best project for that kind of thing -- I'm working on a stranded colorwork hat for Kavi (with elephants!), which means I need to pay close attention to the pattern + I hadn't even printed the pattern, so I had to take my laptop down with me and have it open, all of which got somewhat in the way of conversation. And the room was huge and echo-y, and the circle was very large, which made it hard to talk. But eventually we did manage it, pulling into a sort of smaller circle. And I got two rows knitted, and I can see the bottom half of the elephant finally emerging from the pattern, which is exciting. And it was all good. I didn't really get to see much more of the Gathering, but on my way out, noticed that there was someone teaching lock-picking. So cool -- hope she does it again next year.

After that, I swung by the art show and finally signed my work (on the back, because I think signing on the front kind of destroys the integrity of the work, even if Picasso and the other famous painter men did it). And then to the dealer's room, where I talked Alex into buying three books I was pretty sure he'd love (Naomi Novik's first Temeraire book, Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, and Lois McMaster Bujold's Curse of Chalion). I love leading people to fabulous books. Then I hung out for a while with many old friends -- Greg van Eekhout and David Schwartz and David Moles and Gavin Grant and Ben Rosenbaum and Jenn Reese. (There are normally more women in that group, but they were off doing something else fun.) The cool kids, is how I tend to think of that bunch -- the next generation of fabulous writers. Also known as the folks we first published at Strange Horizons when I was running it. :-) That was maybe the best part of running the magazine for me, getting to publish these guys, meeting them at cons, and finding out that I not only really liked the way they thought and wrote, but I really liked them. I didn't realize starting a magazine would find me an entire circle of excellent friends. Bonus.

Then I did come back up to my room and work on my Guest of Honor speech some more. Draft 5, and I'm reasonably happy with the first quarter of it now. Will work on it some more today, and undoubtedly tomorrow -- I wouldn't be surprised if I'm revising right up to the last minute. Then down for the official People of Color dinner, which was awesome. I still remember that first WisCon (1999), when there were five or six of us. At the whole convention. Yesterday there were something like fifty people at the dinner, plus a bunch of people who didn't even come to the dinner. It's just feels so much better, being at a more integrated con. It's hard to explain why that matters so much, but it does. And even cooler was going around the table doing introductions, listening to all the interesting things those people are working on -- blogs and academic articles and storytelling and writing stories and books and activist work and volunteering. It was seriously impressive. Yay, us!

Then I hung out with Jed for a bit, then Opening Ceremonies, where I carried around little pieces of paper on a stage briefly, then the Rabid Transit karaoke party, where I sang The Gambler very badly and very loudly. I was deeply frustrated at first that I was singing it so badly, but a) I'm just not that good at karaoke, b) it was in a horrible key for me, either too high or too low and nothing to be done about that, and c) you're kind of supposed to be bad at karaoke. Or at least some folks are. Someone came up to me partway through the party and told me that I "embodied the spirit of karaoke." Yes, I can sing badly and loudly while laughing at myself up on stage. It's a skill, people.

I also met Alex's new girlfriend, Lisa, who is beautiful, funny, and smart -- very happy for him. And I did a bunch of dancing, fun! Wish I could have stayed for more, but I had a panel to get to.

The Feminism, Craftswomen, and Art panel was great, with Elise Matheson and Laurie Toby Edison saying all kinds of smart things. There was clearly way too much stuff to cover in one panel, but we crammed in as much as we could. It did turn into almost an impromptu therapy session for me, as it turns out that I am just dripping with insecurities and denials and hesitations about my art. (See, even now, I almost put art in quotes just there. Sigh.) People not only told me I was being silly, but gave me some actual reasons why they thought these collage-y things I do count as real art. And someone who had bought one of my pieces in the past talked about why she valued it, and almost made me cry. And someone else came up to me afterwards and told me I undervalued myself as a cook too, because she was a professional cook, and from listening to my reading of Monsoon Day, she could tell that I knew what I was doing, and also that she had bought A Taste of Serendib, and from reading it over she had already determined that it was a really good cookbook, for a whole set of reasons she proceeded to delineate.

So I went to bed last night feeling entirely pleased with myself. WisCon is so great. And being Guest of Honor rocks!

6 thoughts on “WisCon Report the…”

  1. I saw you at the Rabid Transit Karaoke Party — you were awesome! I loved that everybody was laughing and singing together. Singing karaoke was one of the fears I faced this WisCon and watching you guys laughing and having so much fun really helped bolster my confidence. Being almost completely ignored when I got up for my turn helped too. (Honestly!) I didn’t feel like I was being scrutinized, so I could just belt it out and enjoy singing. I think I’m hooked now. 🙂

  2. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Karaoke totally freaks me out, even though I love singing. I’ve done it solo three times that I remember. The first was terrible — I was totally off-key, didn’t really know the song as well as I thought, and felt miserable and embrassed. The second time, I picked “The Lady in Red” and nailed it. I knew that song better than I thought, and the key it’s in for karaoke is comfortable for me. Yay!

    But then this year, I sang “The Gambler” which is a fun karaoke song because everyone knows the chorus and comes in with you, and it doesn’t have too many endless repeats, which get tedious. But sadly, it was out of my range — either too low or too high for me, so I couldn’t sing it well. Frustrating — but on the plus side, I entered more fully into the spirit of karaoke this time, and tried to just be enthusiastic and have fun, rather than be upset that I wasn’t singing it well. Was a much better way to go — more fun for me, and for the audience. 🙂

    I think what I’d really like is some time alone with the karaoke list and the machine so I can figure out which songs are going to play in keys I can actually comfortably sing!

  3. Karaoke totally freaks me out

    Me too! The first year I tried to do karaoke, I didn’t even get inside the room. I just stood out in the hall for minute, then left. The second time, I made it into the room, then freaked out and went home. This year, I saw someone go sign up right after Opening Ceremonies, so I decided to sign up before I had time to chicken out!

    Maybe I just got lucky with the song I picked for my first. Next time I’m going to try something peppier though. I almost sang “I Wanna Be Sedated” but decided to go with the safe bet instead.

    They were talking about needing donations to get more music — maybe we should just go get a couple karaoke CDs, pick out and practice songs, then donate them for next year. 😀

  4. There’s the occasional curveball [1], but usually the karaoke version of a given song will be in the same key, arrangement, etc. as the most famous version by the performer indicated in the catalogue. I sometimes try singing along at home first to see if it’s in a key I can manage.

    [1] I once went up for what I thought was the Harry Belafonte version of “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and ended up with the Raffi version. Another time, I got an arrangement of “Any Dream Will Do” that wasn’t anywhere near my range. But usually the above does hold true, to the extent that I’ve been able to sing “Minnie the Moocher” at multiple venues with the reasonable expectation that they’d go with the Blues Brothers arrangement. (Being a call-and-response song, it’s of vital importance to know what the prerecorded responses will be in advance. And I doubt Calloway ever did it the same way twice…)

  5. Ugh. That story sounds like a nightmare, Jed. (And I can’t imagine submitting a song for somebody else. People do that? Are they insane? I’ve never encountered that before.)

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