One wonders if it is worth the trouble to document Armadillcon 31 at this late date. I tried to keep nightly notes in my journal. My program book is full of scribbled notes. What did I learn from the experience?
In many cases, the experience was a restatement of what I’ve heard before:
I took a page and a half of notes during my workshop critique. Later, during the convention, I spoke to one of the workshop coordinators about one aspect of the critique that surprised me. The professionals wanted areas of the story to be longer. (My story was around 3500 words. Really short for me.) I had received exactly the opposite reaction from the pros in my New Orleans workshop. What advice to take? The coordinator, Stina, advised me to take what advice felt right to me. No one else knew the story as I did. One of the editors nearby echoed her advice. That, and keep writing stories. How many stories had I written? he asked. Keep writing stories.
Earlier, the panel had advised that if you can stop writing, by all means, do so. Writing is best done by those who cannot stop themselves from writing. Steely laughs echoed down the table.
So advice #1: at the end of the day, trust my own judgement.
Advice #2: keep writing
Yes, I knew that. Kalamu was insistent that we continue to write poems even we had no market in mind. When the opportunity came up, we would have a poem on the shelf waiting. And writing is a muscle that requires exercise.
I know that. However, I need encouragement and reinforcement at times. This con was good for that. It’s why I need a “fix” of attending a literary con occasionally.
By the way, one of the dealers mentioned how he missed the NOSFF. I agreed; a lot of the writers at Armadillocon are writers who used to come here for NOSFF in June.
And it was interesting to hear some details of the business. I never realized that stories gathered and edited for a collection (i.e. the Year’s Best Fantasy) might be edited again by the publisher’s editor. It’s obvious that CD music is arranged so that one song flows to the next in a seamless order, but I didn’t realize that stories in a collection are done the same way. I didn’t know that there are different levels of YA books. I didn’t realize that YA included college-aged kids.
It was fascinating hearing Joan Vinge mention that she had converted to Reform Judaism—partially because that branch of Judaism treated women as equals. (I wanted to run up and hug her. We’re sisters!) After listening to her panel discussion, I finally realized that she is married to Jim Frenkel, the editor who asked how many stories I’ve written. It was a small convention in that sense.
So, I had a good time. Stina practically adopted me during workshop and stopped to talk to me in the halls often. I hope that I was decent to folks in the workshop. I know that I grew animated at times when giving my opinion on stories. That’s a hold over from NOMMO, Kalamu’s workshop. I spent more money that I intended to spend, considering that I didn’t go to Worldcon this year for exactly that reason. This was supposed to be a cheap vacation after going to Israel in the spring. It was not as cheap as I had originally intended. If I am going to rent a car, which I don’t usually do, I guess that I do need to go ahead and buy a GPS unit. I rented one and the total for the week for one third of the cost of a new one. And actually, once I got to the convention, the car stayed parked for the entire 3 days.
These are the last two snippets of videos from the con: