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WisCon Friday


I've only been at the con for, basically, one day, and already I'm exhausted but have had a multitude of cool experiences.

For one thing, though I was really nervous about posting that entry the other day asking for hugs, it turned out to be totally the right thing to do. People keep coming up and giving me hugs! Many of them ask politely first, which is charming and to be encouraged in the general population (but not necessary wrt me personally--but, yeah, if anyone here at WisCon this weekend wants to practice asking for hugs in a context in which there's an extremely low risk of rejection, feel free to practice by asking me for a hug). And I met a certain writer whom I had not met in person previously, who, about ten seconds after we had met, offered me, and then gave me, a lovely back rub.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. (Hi, me! Hey, wait up!)

This morning I did some editing and ordered room service (I suspect the eggs had been cooked in bacon grease, but I was too hungry to care), and poked around online, and read some more of the Tiptree biography. I eventually wandered downstairs around 2ish p.m., looking for food and friends. Stood outside the Gathering talking with people for a while, went in, stood inside talking for a while, never actually looked at any of the Gathering stuff.

I think it was during that chatting-at-the-Gathering period when Tempest handed me a flyer advertising a new venture she's associated with, the SF Bookswap, which is a way to pass around books and stories written by women, in an attempt to raise the profile of such works and maybe avoid future years of minimal female representation on the Hugo ballot. I think it's a fascinating idea, and I expect I'll probably participate.

Also during that period, had an interesting talk with Ben and several others in which Ben attempted to convince me to try instant-messaging again. My experience with IM has generally been that within seconds of my signing on, I get IMs from several people, and since I think of IM as being like a phone call or other mostly-realtime conversation, I feel like I have to spend some time talking with them. (It's been pointed out that if I were on all the time rather than only once every few weeks, this would be much less likely to happen.) Which means I can only sign onto IM when I don't have other things I should be doing, and since I pretty much always have other things I should be doing, I pretty much never sign on to IM any more. (Except at work, where it nicely facilitates getting work done. Though even there, there was a period of a few weeks when I wasn't signing on to IM because as long as I was on, I would get pinged every twenty minutes or so by colleagues asking me when I was going to be done with the document they were waiting for, which kept interrupting my attempts to finish said document.) But Ben said that from his point of view, it's more like sitting working in the same space as some friends, and every once in a while someone tosses off a comment; in his model, it's much less intrusive than, say, a phone call, and much less conversation-based. We veered off into discussing the potential future issue of having to establish a protocol before having a conversation, where the protocol might involve choosing both a medium of communication and a paradigm for using that medium. But the main thing that I've felt I was missing wrt IM was a paradigm about how to use it, so at some point I'm going to give Ben's paradigm a try for a day or a week and see if I can get it to fit my head.

Eventually I wandered off to the Fey Faerie Fiction reading, a set of authors reading their queer fairy stories; was sad that Aynjel wasn't there, but finally got to meet Steve B in person, and heard about his forthcoming anthology So Fey: Queer Faery Fiction.

After the reading, met up with various folks for dinner, and finally got to meet SarahP's daughter Maud, who's attending her first WisCon. Since arriving at the con, I've run into quite a few people for whom this is their first WisCon; for a fair number of them, it's their first con ever. I keep asking them what led them to pick WisCon, and why this year; it seems like for most of the adults, they've been hearing a lot of good things about WisCon and just decided it was time to attend.

I hung out in the hotel lobby allegedly working on my notes for my panel, but actually ending up chatting with various folks who wandered by. Finally got to meet Chris N-B, though sadly he showed up only a few minutes before I had to head off to my panel.

The panel was, as I noted the other day, about touch at conventions, especially unwanted touch, especially at WisCon. I thought it was really good--a lot of fascinating discussion, some very funny moments, excellent moderation by Debbie N as usual. I think several of us would have liked to also talk more about the whole inappropriately sexual touch at conventions thing, especially when there's a power differential between the people involved, but the panel didn't go in that direction, and I think Debbie was wise in not trying to push it in that direction. I think we laid some groundwork for some future panels: possibly a workshop on body language (how to speak it and read it effectively), maybe a panel about that inappropriate-sexual-touch stuff, maybe a couple others. Fascinating topics. Unfortunately, not everyone thought it went as well as I thought it did; still, I overheard snippets of conversation about the topics up to an hour or so later, so it seems to have provoked discussion.

(Side note: one of the things I mentioned was a phrase I heard twice on Friday morning, from two different people in unrelated contexts: they each mentioned having been asked, "Are we on hugging terms?" I kinda like that.)

After some post-panel discussion, I set out to wander through the parties; figured I'd do a quick pass through the 6th-floor ones, then go down and say hi to the karaoke people, then probably head for bed. Instead, I almost immediately fell into a great long conversation with tacithydra at the Think Galacticon party, where all the party organizers were dressed to the nines, and there was chocolate fondue. (I had met her before, but I hadn't connected her with her LJ.) Leah C showed up at some point, and we discussed Clarion for a while, and then Maureen M and Trey and a couple other people arrived and there was some discussion of Austin, and then eventually I went off to wander through the rest of the parties.

Picked up Ellen Klages's new collection Portable Childhoods, but Ellen was too immersed in conversation for me to say more than hi to her. Eventually headed down to the karaoke area, spent a couple minutes catching up on the latest developments in Cliff W's life, went into the karaoke room and was immediately led out of it by the aforementioned writer who gave me a back rub. We ended up talking about writing and science fiction and cultural appropriation and all kinds of stuff.

By the end of which I was even more exhausted than I'd already been, so I did a quick circuit of the karaoke room to say goodnight to everyone, then a quick circuit of the 6th-floor parties to say goodnight to everyone there, then came back to my room, where I should've gone to sleep immediately but for some reason I'm still typing this entry.

I have personally spoken with at least twenty-eight SH fiction authors here so far (at least three of whom have never been to a WisCon before), and I think there are at least six others present who I haven't run into yet. (We've bought stories from a total of a little over 200 authors, so something like 15% of all the authors who've sold us stories are here.) I think we have about six staff members here, though there may be more I'm missing. I have no idea how many of our authors from other departments are around, but I think probably a fair number.

I feel bad about not mentioning by name most of the multitude of cool people I've been chatting with. Yay, all of you! It's very nice to see you all.

Okay, me for sleep. But as a parting note, I want to reiterate just how lovely all these hugs have been. Yay for (consensual) touch!

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I noticed during the reading that a handsome fellow with a beard came into the audience. I hoped we would stay until the end. Then I shaw him... you approach me. I had a double smile when I realized it was you, Jed. You look terrific. Seriously terific. I think that, and your sweet-mannered request to see me... err, no my writing again... that's it, made me bashful and flummoxed.

Thanks for thinking about me. I'll do everything I can to avoid disappointing you.

A smitten STEVE

Thanks for the long WisCon one day post. Very interesting.

See you,

Peter :-)

[URL removed by Jed because this appears to be a comment in aid of a commercial site.]

Steve: Aww--that's very sweet. I was glad to finally meet you, too.

Re "Peter": For those who don't know, "Klettergriffe Hersteller" apparently means "Climbing grasps manufacturers" (sez Babelfish), and the URL that was attached to that comment led to an apparently commercial site in German, which leads me to suspect this is another case of that human-powered comment spam I was talking about the other day. (Though certainly much less spammy than most such comments, because the linked-to site appeared to be a legitimate business that sold an actual product, not just an AdSense click harvester.) So I removed the URL. "Peter," if you'd like to protest that decision, lemme know, but be forewarned that I'll quiz you about feminist sf to find out whether you actually have any interest in WisCon or not. Other readers, if you want a link to a German site for buying climbing-holds, drop me a note, though I imagine you can find one more easily via Google.

me: I should have mentioned that the "Austin" I referred to in this entry was Austin, Texas, where two of the participants in that conversation had lived and one was going to live, not a misspelled Jane Austen.

By the way, in many IM methods you can "hide", y'know, or be online monitoring who else is on IM without allowing them to ping you...?

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