Things I could write about: Why Northwest Airlines sucks (with every flight ended with “we apologize … we hope to serve you better next time). My “white people I hate today” rant. My “I love me some guilty white liberals” rant. The “marionette” story. The “exploding cows” story. “I got a word of testimony” aka “can a brother get a witness?” aka the “Maurice is preaching, someone cut him off”incident. Or why when a British (literary) agent says “what goes in this drink again?” why you shouldn’t go ahead and drink it. Or two more after that. Or “why the hell is Jay Lake making us do the chicken dance?” Instead, I got to thinking about why we go to cons in the first place.

As a friend pointed out, cons are 72 hours of a bunch of introverts pretending to be extroverts. I don’t know why I actually pay for WFC. Though I went to more panels and readings this year than last, all that means is that I went to one panel and one reading. The rest of the time, I, seriously, just hung out in the bar and talked to people. It’s better that way because you know the “fans” are doing the panel/reading things and the pros are … in the bar.

There’s a type of person I want to be and one I don’t want to become. It’s a fine tension we walk. On the one hand, going to cons is about business. You’re there to make connections, writers, agents, and editors. Schmoozing is part of the game, they know it, we know it.

However, there was a point at a dinner I attended when I had to leave because I thought I had crossed the line and became guilty of name-badging people. When I reduce people to “who are you?” “What can you do for me?” When I become strictly about the climb, strictly about my opportunities, then I’m one step from becoming one of those “stab them in the back, climb their corpse” sort of people.

Okay, it was probably a bit of an existential crash that comes while recovering from a night of “incidents” or the “what am I doing here/I’m a complete fraud” angst most writers go through. On the flip side, I was also reminded about why I truly come to these things. Commiserating with family–like John Hay, Alice Henderson, or Bill Gagliani–as we work through our collective writers’ issues. The growing that comes from having friends like Christopher Fulbright, Angeline Hawkes, and Matt Cardin check your faith. Meeting new friends like Laird Barron, Darren Speegle, Shannan Palma. Seeing old ones like Wayne Allen Sallee, the Night Shade guys, She Who Shall Not Be Named, Lee Thomas, Nick Kaufmann, Tim Waggoner, or Catherynne M. Valente.

Of course, no one’s motives are perfectly pure. We are there to network and I talked to my share of agents and editors and have a lot of work to do over the next few months. I just don’t want to forget that cons are also about building relationships, comradery, recharging, and the creative frisson that comes with being with your tribe. That’s what is so reinvigorating about cons.

Now I have to go get some more rest. Monday came awfully early today.

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