I love going to science fiction conventions. Even after all this time, since discovering them soon after high school, they are still FUN.
My very first one got me hooked for life. By my standards today, it was amazingly lame: the dealer's room was about the size of my living room, there were no media guests, if local writers were on panels I didn't attend since I thought that sort of thing was only for published writers, not Mr. Spock fans. The media track was a tiny room with a screen and a projector clattering away with a Marx Brothers movie, The Big Store. The costume contest had three entries, all of them bad.
It was magic. Life-changing magic. Thank you Larry Herndon, not the ball player, but the much missed owner of Remember When in Dallas. It's all his fault! So thank you, Larry!
Soon as I learned there was to be another convention in the area in a few months and that they'd have a costume contest with cash prizes I went on a money diet to save up for the event. While sewing my first Star Trek costume I was unfairly dubbed a "tightwad" for not spending money at home, but a "spendthrift" for blowing it on stuff at the convention. (You can't please some people. Ever. So ignore them.)
My attempts at costuming were rewarded over the years. My impersonations of Harpo Marx, Wonder Woman, Red Sonja, Princess Ardala, and Princess Leia all grossed cash or other coolness in the end. I worked a job to earn enough to pay for the next convention and had a vague idea I would someday be a writer. In the meantime I had to save and save for my next fannish fix.
That was ***** years ago and the habit is still in place. These days my convention budget is less focused on buying pictures of favorite actors and more on books or an occasional bit of art--oh, yeah, minor things like hotel rooms, food, and transportation, too. I came to learn that those panel talks with writers were fun and instructive, and a danged good chance to find out how things work in an alien world.
By that I mean the publishing industry, not Mr. Spock's home planet, which has the hot climate. (Hot? You call that hot?? Vulcan summers are on a level with a Texas winter when it comes to optimal heat stroke conditions, baby, so don't shake those pointy ears at me!)
I'm not sure just when I traded going to guest actor panels for panels featuring guest writers. There was nearly a decade where I was busy working for a wage and not writing at all, and didn't have money to go to conventions. But there came a tipping point at a local event when I was informed it would be a really good thing to check out a specific writing panel. Robert Asprin and a publisher would hammer out a book contract deal right there in the room.
It was a bit less life-changing than seeing The Big Store on a big screen, but still made an impression. Somehow, my thick skull absorbed the fact that people DO actually get paid for writing and can get paid a lot. The idea of making money by sitting alone in a room talking to myself seemed pretty danged nifty.
Even better--I found out writers could get into conventions for FREE. Okay, that got my attention.
The equation was published writer = free pass to fun at a convention. Hot puppies, where do I get in line?
If you're reading this, then you know that worked out.
And tomorrow I get another "free" pass to a big convention as guest of honor at the 32nd OryCon in Portland.
Wow. Had anyone told me while I was on my way to see that Marx Brothers movie that something like this was in store, well, I was a moron back then and wouldn't have known what to make of it. I am glad it happened, though!
It ain't exactly free, hence the quotes. I'm well aware that a number of people I've never met are busting their butts to put together a very complicated event. Their efforts are paying and paving my way in, and I don't forget it for an instant.
I expect to have an amazing amount of fun, but will be doing my best to earn my keep and justify their trust. They didn't have to invite ME to their convention. There's plenty of other writers out there, so I'm grateful for the honor. I've a busy panel schedule, but guest relations people are already looking after me like I'm visiting royalty.
Conventions are a working vacation to me but that's okay. I'm danged lucky to have a job that where the work is a joy. I love this part of it. Were I to just fly to another city and fend for myself as a tourist, I could manage, but it is more fun to hang out with other fans and talk shop.
Toward that end, I have much prep to do today. It's been a few years since I've gone so far from home base. I've a house-sitter to hold the fort and am cleaning the place up since it's a nasty shock to come back to a mess. No one wants to clean after a long trip. I have to figure what to take, keeping in mind weight limits for baggage and my own strength limits. Experience has taught me that trying to sprint across an airport while carrying 75 pounds of gawd-knows-what in EACH bag is a bad idea.
Don't know if I'll be able to blog or make FaceBook posts while there. I'm no tweeter. But maybe other guests less technically-challenged can keep everyone filled in on events.
And no, I absolutely will NOT behave myself! ;>)