I am terrible at the kind of con reports that are the next best thing to being there, but I did have lots of nice moments at Minicon. There were a couple of really quite good room parties (including one that actually was worth being squeezed in like sardines–first time in my con-going experience that that’s ever been worth it, and I’ve been to a lot of sardine-parties), and every meal was with at least two people I like and do not see enough of, sometimes more. An anonymous benefactor included me in the Cats Laughing pre-concert dinner, so that was unexpected and great fun, much hilarity ensuing, etc. (If you’re reading this, anonymous benefactor, it was as lovely as you could have wished. Thank you.) I don’t actually eat enough to just spend entire conventions at meals, but socially I sometimes wish I could.
I didn’t go to very many panels, but the ones I did ranged from uncontentious to quite good. I don’t really enjoy panels that purport to be recommendation panels and devolve into nerd plumage displays, so the Anime and Manga for SFF Fans panel Alec was on was not really my jam. Since I can’t do light shows, I took in a bit of the Cats Laughing concert from just outside the room and another bit on the TV, but I spent most of that time at a panel about “Why Are We Still Having This Panel?”, because I feared that it would be underattended and my friend Michael was on it. As it turned out, the audience was not crowded but was quite enthusiastic and engaged, and we had a good discussion about how to keep programming fresh–and when, at a large regional con, not to bother, since the repetitive programming does serve some people’s wants/needs.
Other than those two, I went to two panels I was on and moderated. The first one, the collaboration panel, was filled with entertaining anecdote and also with Jane Yolen’s kids doing imitations of her voice. (Heidi wins at this.) It managed to cover somewhat different ground than the previous panels I’ve done on collaboration, so go team on that front. (See above re: keeping programming fresh!) The second was the last panel of the day on Sunday, talking about middle grade optimism, YA dystopia, middle grade dystopia, what teenagers want and how we find that out, what adults let younger kids have…all sorts of good stuff. I really wish it had not been the panel right before I had to leave for Easter dinner, because there were lots of new faces listening intently and some asking interesting questions. (If this post gets to the attention of the young writer asking about how to find your own boundaries with vulgarity/profanity and writing for teens: come to Fourth Street! We get into all kinds of questions like this. Perkele.)
At our reading, Alec and I read one jointly written story in alternating sections, and then with time constraints we chose to have me read one of my solo stories. That seemed to go pretty well. We were followed in the same room by Pamela Dean, Naomi Kritzer, and Michael Merriam, so a) lots of good stuff read and b) the cookies I brought got eaten. Pamela’s astronomical werewolves were amazing, Naomi had me on the edge of my seat about whether the Berlin Wall would actually fall this time, and I’m all excited about Michael’s new thing. Yay readings. I like readings.
On the up side, I didn’t really feel crushed by walls of people at a Minicon that was twice as large as usual. I was a bit worried about that, so it was a relief that it didn’t actually happen. On the down side, it was very, very easy to simply never see a friend, or to lose them Saturday morning and never see them again. At most Minicons, there’ll be one or two people who fit that description. At this one at least a dozen. This is why I don’t like big conventions. At a convention of 50-150 people, if it’s a good con, you will of course have the problem of not having enough time for everything fun. This is a good problem to have. But at a convention of 1000 people, you not only don’t have enough time for everything fun, you don’t even have any idea what’s going on where at any given time. You don’t have the chance to prioritize, “Hmm, I said I wanted to catch up more with X at lunch on Saturday, but I haven’t even said a single word to Y, so I’ll go talk to Y and hope there’s still time after that before X goes to the airport.” Because where is X? Where is Y? I’m good at algebra. This is supposed to work out for me. So…I’m not going to refuse to go to conventions of this size, but this is why I am more than a bit ambivalent about them even when they go well.