In some ways, World Fantasy Convention was exactly what I'd wanted. In some ways, it was nothing like what I'd expected.
What didn't surprise me:
Going into Canada would involve a couple of odd questions but would not be problematic. Returning to the United States, the country of my citizenship, would involve a bunch of odd questions asked politely by a hostile customs inspector determined to interpret my every answer in the worst possible way. (I stumbled at first. When he asked me where I was going, I answered, "I'm going home to Boston." His response was openly skeptical, as if what he really wanted to say was "You think you are, are you? Well, we'll see about that." I kept my responses impersonal after that. He probably already quizzed other people who'd gone to WFC so the truth that I'd spent my long weekend there seemed more plausible.)
A terrific evening catching up with my friend, Des.
A great time at the con with lots of friends, including the talented and lovely Karin Tidbeck whom I thought I'd never see again. (It doesn't seem likely that I will be able to visit Malmö any time soon.) It was great catching up with Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, Adam Israel, Barbara Gordon, Lily Yu and too many others to mention. Of course, there was never enough time with anyone. (I already miss you all in part because 2013 may be a year where I don't travel to many cons.)
Meeting a lot of writers, editors and agents who I hadn't known and made an idiot of myself in front of some of them. I can only hope that they recognize a fan insensibly squeeing and make allowances. (In particular, Ted Chiang is such a hero to me. His work is one of the reasons why I'm writing. In my defense, I had just woken up from a nap and was groggy when I almost literally ran into him. I think I fared much better with Elizabeth Hand and Aliette de Bodard.)
WFC has a reputation of being where the business of writing happens. Sure enough, the business of writing happened all around me. (It helps to have insanely talented friends who didn't mind me shadowing them.) I'm new enough to all of this that it was pretty neat to see other people conducting business, albeit from a polite and respectful distance.
What did surprise me:
When you become a member of WFC, you get a huge bag of books. Fortunately, I got some friends to drive those books home for me. Otherwise, getting them home would have been cumbersome, expensive, or both. The huge bag of books is apparently something that people just know about.
Yes, WFC is where they make the sausage. I just didn't expect to become part of the sausage. (I mean this in the best possible way.) It turns out that this is a con where people will idly ask you if you write. Also, it turns out that if you happen to have stories forthcoming in Asimov's and Tor.com, people suddenly take you seriously as a writer.
Two agents (unprompted!) asked me to send them my novel when I have one.
An editor asked me for my card. (Then suggested that, now that I'm a pro, perhaps I ought to have a card.)
I may have the opportunity to write an essay for an anthology. (I hope this doesn't fall through as I really want to do this.)
[Ken announced the project on Twitter Tuesday night so I assume it's ok to talk about now.]
I'll be beta-reading Ken Liu's English translation of 三体, the first volume of 刘慈欣's Three Body trilogy. It was already on my To Be Read pile. I'll just be reading it right now, rather than after House of Leaves. This will be a lot of work, but obviously much more work for Ken. However, it's a terrific opportunity. I'm looking forward to reading the English translation before anyone else.
(Technically, this last bit has more to do with an off-hand Facebook comment than WFC. However, it happened during WFC.)
Just to add to the surreal nature of the weekend, while all this cool stuff was happening, rejection after rejection kept popping up in my email. Seriously, from the Wednesday before WFC to the Tuesday after, five editors rejected my work. Oh well, at least I'm in no danger of getting a swell head.
Still, I had a great time. WFC at Brighton in 2013 is probably not in the cards. I have an all event pass for the US Figure Skating Nationals only two months later. WFC at DC in 2014 is a distinct possibility though. (I'm thinking about WisCon and/or ICFA in 2013 maybe?)