2015 Year in Review: Busyness, Burnout, and Balance

People are asking me, “So, will you be at such-and-such-con this year? You should really come to so-and-so-con!” 

At first, I would say, “maybe”. Then it was more “I don’t know. And now? Honestly, it’s more “I don’t want to do this con thing anymore…” I could chalk it up to finances, but really, Jaym put in perfect words what I’ve been feeling for the past two years. Which is sad, because I’ve only been to cons since 2009. But with what happened with WisCon, last year’s Hugo’s fiasco, and general SFF drama, has made me leery to go to any more. 
 
I was also in this place where I didn’t have the energy to post anything I wrote. See, the drama I was dealing with the past couple of years went beyond the SFF world. Much of it mirrored what’s happening in the genre world: dealing with diversity, anger and outrage over many things. Some of it was also personal stuff. I had totally forgotten that it was around this time last year that I stepped down from Podcastle because of dealing with issues in my life. And then there’s the dayjob. Last year, we became short staffed, so my workload intensified. It’s a little better now, but things will still be heavy for me work wise, not just in my department, but organizational wise (things have been pretty interesting as of late).
 
And, okay, I’m just going to admit it, I got a little salty last year. On top of that, last November, I started working on a new short story, which meant putting off working on the novel. Why can’t I do both at once? Oh yeah, dayjob is sucking up most of my headspace. So here’s me, dealing with stress and drama, struggling to find time to write with my dayjob, and working on one writing project at a time. Then I get to watch other people coming out with great stories, new books, winning awards, having fun at cons, and I’m feeling that that the genre world is passing me by, and I’m making no progress, which must means I’m sucking as a writer and it makes me want to just and hide in my room and play Skyrim forever…
 
It got to the point where I started to wonder what, exactly, is my goal of being a writer? Is it really writing fantasy fiction? Do I continue to move towards becoming a professional science fiction writer, when it feels like I’m not making any progress at all? Do I give up my dream of being a full-time writer when it’s obvious that’s not going to happen this year, or next year, or even at all?
 
It’s not like I don’t want to stop writing. Ever. I love writing fantasy stories. And as a whole, although I didn’t produce scads of stories, I did indeed do a lot of writing, mainly because I learned how to do so while under dayjob stress. And I did publish a couple of things in 2015. My short essay “The Danger of the False Narrative” published in Jim Hines’s anthology Invisibility 2, and my flash story “The Summation of EvilCorp Subsidies HR Meeting Agenda Minutes, Compiled by Olivia Washington” I wrote for PodCastle 384: Flash Fiction Extravaganza! Vintage PodCastle:  (and which I haven’t even updated on my blog yet, I see. Whoops.)
 
Last week I got around to reading Jaym Gates’s latest blog post about cutting back on cons and freelancing and stepping back from the SFF world for a while. And as I read it, I was like, “Burnout? Wait…that’s it. That’s me. THAT’S WHAT I’M FEELING.”  Shortly after that, I stumbled across John Klima’s post, which basically said the same thing about burnout. And I realized that maybe it wasn’t just me. Our genre, as a whole, had a really, really sucky couple of years and there are people out there who feel it. And that includes me.
 
The thing is, it’s not so much I’m burnt out because of the whole SFF drama. It’s more due to sheer busyness.
 
So…how do I balance that?

First I think I need to fall back to the lesson I learned at Viable Paradise. I can only control what I write, when I write, and when I send it out. I can’t control where I get published or what awards (if any) I get. I need to remember that everyone are in different points of their writing career paths. I just so happen to be in a busy time of life where the full-time writing dream will have to take a backseat. It sucks, I know, but I just need to keep writing. My output won’t be the same as a full-time writer, and I’ll just have to accept that for now. The good thing is that there are others like me in the same boat. So consider this post as an encouragement shout-out. Although really, I think I’m writing this post for me…

That said, I do need to look at how and when I submit things. There’s a couple of stories that I was submitting a year ago before dayjob intruded, and I haven’t really found a place for them. I think they’re really good stories still. The question is, how do I proceed? Submitting them to new genres I think they’ll fit? Self-publish? I also have a couple of reprints too that I need to get out there. 

As for cons,  I do plan to be at Oddcon on Saturday April 9, and I’ll definitely be at WisCon the entire time. I’m even thinking about going to Convergence, mainly because I now know people up there. But this year I’m scaling back on volunteering. I feel like after what happened last year,  I need to remember why I like going to cons in the first place.

So, there you go. I’m still around, still writing. You probably won’t hear much from me, but I’ll try to keep things posted. Best place to keep track of me would be on FB and Twitter. I still post there. I like to think of it as creating a small oasis of fun amidst all the drama and hate. And I’ll just keep on writing. Because I’m a writer. Just keep on keepin on…

(And maybe because the whole Hugos slate thing appears to be starting up again, maybe it is best to keep my head low for now…)

Initial thoughts from Urbana 15

1. #BlackLivesMatter 

2. Writing for Urbana Today: Probably the most balanced Urbana Assignment I ever had for my introvert and extrovert side.

3. Being in a black space to process #BlackLivesMatter through the use of song, spoken word, and poetry. Wow. Wowwww…

4. My hotel had an underground casino. Did yours?

5. My hotel had so many more black people chillaxing by the casino. Did yours?!

6. BLACK PEOPLE BLACK PEOPLE SO MANY BLACK PEOPLE IT WAS AWESOME.

7. Being with my family for my uncle’s funeral completely fit in with Urbana’s unspoken “Being Present” theme. 

8. Ferguson looked exactly like my neighborhood. Not the one I grew up in. The one I live in now. 

9. Still processing the trip to Ferguson. So many feelings.

10. I am incredibly tired.

and 11. So. Many. Black. HAIRSTYLES.

 

Urbana First day (sort of)

Currently in St Louis, attending the Urbana Missions Conference, and based on my job here, thought I should get back into the habit of doing quick journals. So I’m going to post these at my journals and FB. Let see how it goes.

So. Urbana. This is going to be a most interesting week. My job here at the conference is writing articles for Urbana Today, the daily newsletter. My schedule will basically be like this: at 7pm, all the writers meet with our editor Lisa, who will give out assignments for the following day. The assignments range from quick statements from students focused on a question of the day, to full blown interviews, to seminar write ups. The next day, we go out to our respective assignments, then first drafts of article write ups are due by 4pm. The articles get sent to proofreaders, yada yada yada, and we re-convene at 7pm to get our next assignment. The articles go to print at night and are ready the next morning.

This works well considering that tomorrow I’m going to be taking the Greyhound to my Uncle’s funeral and coming back the same night. Our assignments are flexible, so I can make it super light, such as just talking to students, or more involved. Wednesday, I’ll be covering the “Ferguson is Now” panel. I also hope to get to the different ethnic lounges. 

It feels weird that I’m finally putting my Journalism degree to work…19 years later.

Right. Off to my first assignment, which involves interviewing the IVP bookstore. BECAUSE BOOKSTORES.

My whopper of a doozy Wiscon 39 report

It’s done! It’s all over! I can finally relax!!! Actually, no I can’t because my brother in law comes in two weeks but ALL MY CONS ARE DONE (for now).

This was the most intense con season I had. Not so much because of the work I had to do as WisCon’s GoH Liasion for Alaya Dawn Johnson. That was fun and easy. A big part of it had to do that that WisCon took place during the same week that my dayjob moved to a new building, which was a culmination of six stressful months in the making. But the biggest part of why it was intense was because WisCon, like so many other things happening in other circles of my life, is going through a shift, mainly due to fallout from the last couple of years and people leaving the concom, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Too long a story: you can catch it here and here.

Being on the ground here in the Madison, I got to hear a lot of views .I listened to those pushing for change. I listened to those who were hurt and outraged at what was going on. I listened to those who didn’t understand what was going on. I listened to people on the concom, those who left and those who came on. I listened to people here in Madison and those who came to WisCon from far off. I’ve listened and watched and had numerous conversations with people. 

I’m going to be up front. I don’t know feminist movement history well. I can’t even say fully that I’m a feminist. My reluctance of labeling myself as such falls in line with the whole feminist/womanist discussion, the latter of which I gravitate more towards. (Note to self: add Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mothers’ Garden: Womanist Prose to the to-read pile.) So it was interesting to hear all the different opinions of how WisCon was in regards to first wave feminism versus second wave feminism versus…whatever wave we happen to be in now. I think, however there’s more to it than that. 

Before I get into that, first, I feel compelled to give you a back history on my own experience with cons. Because context and all. 

My first con was OddCon in 2009. It was the first time I met an editor, Jim Frenkel. We wound up talking for a while about the writing biz. I thought him an odd bird who swore too much, but it was neat to learn that there was an actual editor who lived in my town. Later, I was taken aside and given the missing stair talk. You know what I mean. Since I had just met him, I duly noted it and decided to keep an eye on him, just in case. I should also note that to me, he was professional, courteous, and generally friendly.

To me. That’s something you should note.
 
My next con was Wiscon. Although Oddcon was my first con, WisCon I consider to be my home con because it was there I meet other geeks of color. I didn’t feel like I stood out in the crowd as the only token black geek person. For someone who grew up in a Christian household, WisCon shook my worldview by introducing me to people I would have never met otherwise: atheists, Muslim. queer, trans, poly and yes, feminists, mingling with straight, Christian, monogamous folk. For the first time, I begun to get a glimpse of what the words ‘mullticultural’ and ‘diversity’ meant. Not just in a racial sense, but in a community sense.
 
Here’s the thing about diversity, though. When people talk about wanting more “diversity”, they seem to have this this magical kumbaya utopia of happy smiling people of all hues holding hands. Look at us, we’re all different and yet look how we’re all the same. In reality though? Diversity is messy. Complicated. Filled with groups stepping on each others toes and then looking hurt when those groups yelp in pain. A community could either let that happen and alienate the very diversity it is trying to draw in, or they can work to make all the groups within itself feel safe. It’s a tricky balancing act, especially when have a group who have worked for years to get the community to its diverse state. 
 
In the case of Frenkel, that was a no-brainer. With all the testimony and evidence that’s out there, there’s no question that he needed to be banned from Wiscon. The problem with that is that it felt to me that everyone dusted their hands off and said, “Well done. We don’t have to deal with Frenkel anymore.” And that was that…until I saw him at a local function three months later. Just because he’s barred from Wiscon doesn’t mean he’s barred anywhere else. 
 

And that’s the thing. Being local, Frenkel always shown me that side of professional courtesy because 1) I’m local, 2) I’m not his type (thankfully). A lot of people are yelling online for his head, but here, in Madison, he acts different. There are people who’ve known him in Madison and have always seen that friendly side. And if they never go online, they don’t know. So yes, they find it hard to believe when they hear the stories. I’m not excusing his behavior. Nor of those of his supporters. But I want you to see what I’m dealing with. 

So what do I do? Treat him like a pariah? Go out of my way to avoid him forever and ever? Or do I keep on doing what I’m doing now, keep a wary eye on him,  Those who know his harassing side have done their best to warn others of his behavior. I reckon I’ll fall in the same boat. I don’t know.

And if you are someone like me who’s conflict avoidant, that can be a hard thing.
 
It’s almost the same thing with Richard Russell, to a lesser extent. I’ve only seen Richard at cons. In fact, got to play a zombie game with him at this year’s Oddcon. I also was on WisCon’s concom last year, so I got to see the emails he were sending regarding the POC safer space. That was disappointing, because I remember him coming to the first panel I ever moderated (Why are all the Black Kids Sitting in the Middle of the Cafeteria). I could’ve sworn he was the one who sat and listened to our stories, and then him speaking up saying now he understood why safer spaces were a good thing. Maybe that wasn’t him. I don’t know. I do remember the emails from him in the concom leading up to that panel, which intimidated me a little.  He saw POC safer space as us ‘segregating ourselves’. 
 
I don’t heavily use the POC safer space, but as a black woman, I totally understand why there’s a need for one. We have something similar at my dayjob when we do conferences in that we present ‘lounges’ for staff of different ethinicities to sit, chill, and process what’s happening at the conference in a safe place. It’s not exclusive; technically, anyone of any ethnicity can come into the lounge at any time. But here’s the thing–the privacy is honored, because everyone respects the space and its purpose. Everyone knows it’s to provide a safe surroundings for those People of Color to talk and process what’s happening around them in a safe environment, without the eyes of other (read: white) staff.
 
I would love to have the same thing happen at WisCon, but I don’t think we’re at that point. I would love to explore more on how culture dynamics change when another group that is not the normative comes in and grows, but that’s a whole other blog post, and this is supposed to be a con report. Interestingly enough, at this year’s WisCon, I don’t think the POC safer space room wasn’t used all that much. Because this year’s concom was committed in limiting microagressions, a lot of POC felt safer and were able to interact more outside the room. That didn’t mean everything was hunky dory, but it did feel that this year’s WisCon was a lot more relaxed, at least from my perspective. 
 
Which in itself was interesting, because again, I was hearing reports from those who were local who weren’t having the same experience–they reported that people were being rude, challenging them when they brought up Richard Russell. There was one point where I was checking out my social media, and it was as if there were two WisCons–the first being where a lot of my POC friends were saying this was the best WisCon they’ve been, and some of the local friends saying that they would never attend WisCon again. I don’t know how to bridge that. I doubt if I have the responsibility. And right now, frankly I just don’t have the time or the energy to do so. 
 
There was a panel that addressed the whole thing very well, I think: the “What Happened at WisCon Last Summer” panel on Sunday. I was only able to attend the last 20 minutes of it, but I was heartened to see it packed with people from all different sides of the issue. There were many people who spoke at the panel, including myself, who shared some raw things and feelings that should not have gone outside of that room. And as I tweeted, it was a hard panel. But it was a necessary one. Jeanne Gomoll was up on the panel, bless her heart. She did a hard thing, being up there in front of everyone, but I was glad she was there, as well as Mikki Kendall–who, may I say, was absolutely a rock star as a com chair. She took a hard hard job, but she did it. A lot of people voiced their hurt, and there were misunderstandings that needed clearing up. Debbie Notkin was also on it. I wanted to hug her.
 
I wished it was taped, though I understand why it wasn’t, but Kat Tanaka Okopnik tweeted most of it and its up in storfied form, thanks to Sasha_feather. I highly suggest reading it, even if some parts would be difficult to take in. But that is what the true meaning of living in diversity means. It’s recognizing that there are others who don’t see things the way you do, and then working through those hard bits to make things easier for everyone. I was so heartened to see not just remote fans, but local fans, in that room, and it gave me hope. It showed me that both sides were willing to fight for WisCon. The direction it’s going is ultimately going to be awesome. And for those who said that they aren’t going to Wiscon ever again, that saddens me, but it’s within their rights. There’s always Oddcon, and that seems to be where they’re gravitating to.
 
I had the privilege of going through not one, but two rough church splits. This is a pretty much par for the course.
 
One more thing. There was almost a period last summer that I seriously did consider stepping down from the concom–that was when I saw I also saw people railing against others on the concom who, while not innocent, were also working the best they could under the circumstances. But the amount of anger was so great, so vitriolic, that it made me wonder: if I screwed up in my job, would they talk that way about me?
 
I’m not going to wring my hands and cry out “Can’t we all just get along?!” I’m not that naive. If there is one thing I got out of what happened last year is that anger can have its place, and when it’s used to address a wrong, it has power to bring about change for the good. I don’t show anger easily, but I respect the ones that do. We need their voices, desperately, otherwise the harmful things will continue unabated.
On the flip side, it doesn’t do any good to attack people just because you don’t like the way they do things. I had enough going on in my life without watching the people I care deeply about trash other people who I care deeply about. So because I am nonconfrontational in nature, I disengaged. I don’t speak for all concom volunteers, but I’m pretty sure many are conflict averse people like me, preferring to keep quiet, stay to the sidelines, and if things don’t look like they’re going to change, they quietly slip away. You get enough of that happening, and that can kill a con. 
 
The reason I stuck it out was because there were a few who, despite their anger, were dedicated in making WisCon safe for everyone, even those who made them angry in the first place. They also acknowledged the hard work that the former concom members had done, and wanted to honor them. It was those gestures that made me stay on. And thus, I’ve come full circle to the main point of this report. It’s all about respect. Cons are hard work, and there needs to be a balance between anger and restoration. And yes, I’m letting my Christian tendencies show, but really. If WisCon is going to move full steam ahead, we need to acknowledge the hard work the local fandom has done to get Wiscon to the point where it is now. And yes, local fandom needs to understand that WisCon needs to change, needs to make itself safe for all participants, if it is to make any difference in the future. 
 
So how was my WisCon this year? I had a blast. It was a real joy to serve as Alaya Dawn Johnson’s liaison. It was good to see friends again, and make new ones, and even see ones that weren’t attending Wiscon. I am looking so forward to next year, with Justine Larbalestier and Sofia Samatar and (gasp) Nalo Hopkinson. 
 
And I’m going to keep on figuring out how to do the local con thing. And oh yeah…I went to the Nebulas. Fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. But that will have to be in the next post. This con report has been two years in the making, see, and frankly, I’m exhausted. Y’all can wait until next week for that report, can you?
 
Sure you can.

On Hiding, Taking Care of Oneself, and stepping down from Podcastle

Hey, remember back in December when I said I was going through some stuff and at some point I’ll write a blog post about it? Looks like today’s the day. I wrote about it at my dayjob’s blog entitled Peace in the Changing“.

For those who want the shorter, less Christianese, tl;dr version: I had an early miscarriage back in December. It happened smack dab in all the Ferguson and New York turmoil. And it pretty much messed me up good.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the writing community, it’s that we are serious when it comes to taking care of ourselves mentally. When I realized I was at a point I couldn’t deal, the first thing I did was talk with a couple of professionals (read: doctor and chaplain). I also gave myself permission to lay low…real low. Played a lot of video games. Read a lot of books. Stayed away from Twitter, although I did a little interaction on Facebook. I also realized that there were a lot of things I were doing that were just too much for me, so it was time for me to let them go. One of those things were, sadly, Podcastle.

So if you listen to today’s podcast, you’ll hear that, yes, I’ve decided to step down as Associate Editor. A bummer, because I looooooved being part of the Podcastle family. But it was a good time to go–Dave and Anna are also stepping down (and if you haven’t heard Dave’s love letter to Podcastle readers, please, have a listen. It reduced me to a puddle of gooey tears, but in a good way this time). It’s been an awesome run. I had so much fun at Podcastle, and it gave me insight into the editorial process. I still might do a narration every now and then, but for now, I’m gathering the little time I have to redirect it towards finishing the novel, and I’m getting close. I’m getting surprisingly close.

At some point, I’ll talk more about the miscarriage. Yes, yes, I know, there’s a culture of silence that should be broken about it. But you know what? I don’t feel like talking about it in public yet. As I said in the blog above, I’m still healing. But you know what I would like? Stories about ‘onlies’. I think that would help tremendously. 

Also, let me tell you this. My son has been an absolute trooper during this time. He’s been sweet, helpful and caring. Just like his father. Who has also been absolutely wonderful. I’m going to slip back into Christianspeak and say that God has blessed me with two wonderful guys who took good care for me. And it was God who kept me sane throughout that entire time. Well, okay, there was that moment when I had that breakdown on Christmas Eve…but there were reasons for that…ask me about it offline if you want to here me go off on a nice long rant).

So anyhoo, that’s all I wanted to say. I’ve been easing myself back onto Twitter again, slowly. And I’ve been writing a lot. A LOT. So thank you all for being patient. Oh, and other thing about taking care of myself? Shorter blog posts.

“The Danger of the False Narrative” up on Jim Hines Blog

Jim Hines has been running a series of guest blog posts on Representation in SF/F. And oh, hey, look at that, here’s my contribution on black representation, “The Danger of the False Narrative“. Check it out, and definitely check out the other essays on there too.

Oo, short post. I should do this more often.

ETA: Oh, and I updated the nonfiction section of my “LaShawn’s Works” page to include links to this and other guest blog posts I’ve done. Because, yeah, I did those things. Also I suck at updating things.

ETAA: Well, no, I don’t suck. I just forget and…crap…this was supposed to be a short post. Never mind. Forget this. You’re not reading this. YOUUUUUU ARE NOT READING THISS…..

::performs handwavy gestures::

::runs off::

2015 WizardWorld Madison Comic-Con Report (with PICTURES!)

So Wizard World finally decided to stick a Comic-con in Madison and see how it goes. Now mind–I’ve been going to cons since 2008, butI’ve never been to Comic-con, so seeing that there’s one now pretty much in my backyard. I had no excuse. I had to go see it. I also took my 10 year old son and his friend, because kids 10 and under were free. Couldn’t pass that up.

 Boys at Pokemon booth

Size: So, obviously, Comic-con is larger. Much, MUCH larger. I don’t know what the final total was, but I can easily see 10,000 people alone being at the con. 

Venue: They held most of Comic-con in the large Alliant Center exhibit hall, which is pretty big until you realize what it really is: A gigantic Dealer’s Room. I mean, big, big biiiiiiiiiiiiig Dealer’s room. And I’ve been to Chicon, and that was pretty huge. But at the same time, they had things in there that you wouldn’t necessarily find at a regular con’s dealer’s room. For instance, they had a gaming area towards the back where you could do board and card games. I had read in the programming that they would have Pokemon card battles, but I didn’t see anyone playing it, so I was disappointed. But the boys and I had a rousing game of Clue, so it actually turned out all right. 

The rest of the floor was devoted to dealers, comics…and celebrities.

Celebrities: So this is something that I absolutely have not experienced before. When I first started going to cons, most were all literary, so there were many places that had my favorite authors right there. In fact, the very first person I met at my very first con was Nisi Shawl, where I proceeded to have my very first fangirl experience (and startling her in the process, I’m sure). But most of the cons I’ve been to have been literary, and my celebrities–famous authors–were mostly down to earth folk who were easy to approach, and love hanging out in bars. 

Comic-con is so very different. It’s a pop-culture con, so no literary folk. Heavily media oriented, particularly film and TV shows. And they had stars. William Shatner and Edward James Olmos stars. And we saw them all from a distance. Because the difference between authors and celebrites are a good $50 to get even close to a celebrity. 

That had to suck for them. Because for the most part, you had to pay to even get in line to talk to them. Which worked I guess if people are watching your show, or if people still love you. But if you’re a nobody, or worse, a has been, well, no one pays to see you. I saw a lot of celebrities sitting there, looking bored, playing on their phones. (Omigosh, George Wendt. For the longest time I was trying to figure out why the heck George Wendt from Cheers was there. I learned that he had actually done a lot of cartoon voices, but come on. George Wendt? Really?)

That said, I was able to wave at Ernie Hudson. And shoot, I totally missed Billy Dee Williams. But really, ain’t no way was I going to pay to get up close to them. Which is sort of sad.  But I did get to see Shatner and Olmos.

Panels: So Panels were held in the meeting room portion of the Alliant Center–meaning one large room and two smaller rooms. Which means the panels were pretty much held one after another. I actually liked that. Single panel programming made it easier to attend. The panels with the celebrites were short–only 1/2 hour long. 

We got in line for the first panel, which was Edward James Olmos. I was thinking that would be packed, but surprisingly, all of us was able to get in with room to spare. I really enjoyed Olmos’s session. He talked about not just Battlestar Galactica, but also Blade Runner, West Wing, and other shows. And he also talked about the value of diversity in shows and even a bit about how BSG was used to explore racial tensions, which could be used in Ferguson (I was deeply, deeply impressed by that. Even Olmos gets it).

After Olmos’s time was up, Shatner was next in the same room, so we basically stayed put. Which was awesome. Okay, yeah, I did feel a litttle bit sorry because I heard the line for Shatner coming into the room was twice as long. But NOT SORRY ENOUGH.

Besides, they showed Shatner’s session on a big screen TV in the food area, so it all worked out in the end.

Shatner. Well. What can I saw. With Olmos, he and another guy sat on stage across from each other and talked in an interview format and also took questions from the audience. Shatner came out and dragged a stool out to center stage, where he talked to the audience–well, monologued the audience for most of the session. But he’s a showman, first and foremost, so while it wasn’t much about Star Trek, and more about this motorcycle he’s building he still had us rolling in laughter.

There was a moment thought that I considered to be my favorite part of the day. As I mentioned, I had brought along my son and his friend. So whereever I went, they had to go with me. This included Olmos, which neither of them had heard of (because no I did not to show my son the rebooted BSG. What’s wrong with you?). So while I was listened to an engaging, thoughtful commentary on race in media, they were bored as rocks.

My son, on the other hand, did know Shatner from watching the old episodes, so he was quite excited. So he clapped and cheered when Shatner came. Then he started talking, and he’s talking about UFOs and riding his motorcycle in the desert and hallucinations and quantum physics and so on, and at about a good seven minutes into his monologue my son, my beautiful, darling son, heaves a sigh and says in a whisper loud enough for everyone around us to hear: “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT.”

Which, let’s face it, we were all thinking that.

The evening panels were more indicative of ones I was used to. Attended a hilarious comedy show put on by Cthulu’s Comedy Collective, and I checked out the costume contest, which was fun. Speaking of which:

Costumes: I like this part of science fiction cons. The ones I go to are usually geared towards serious discussion (and there are a few who outright discourage wearing costumes). So was neat to go to Madison Comic-con and satisfy that part of my inner geek. Not just seeing all the awesome costumes, but participating in it myself along with my son. It’s not everyday that I get to dress up as a delinquent catholic school cat girl.

  

But the costumes were phenomenal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, many selfies:

 

And of course, Dr Who. 

The boy was in heaven. There was a moment when we came to an intersection in the exhibition hall right at the same time as two other Dr Whos and a walking Tardis. My son and the other Dr Whos all looked at each other, then whipped out their sonic screwdrivers and pointed them at each other. I’m still trying to decide if that was a geeky Dr. Who thing or a male thing in general.

 

Also, for some reason, a whole lot of Harlequinns. Which is interesting, because none of the movies have featured Harlequinn. But a lot of women apparently like dressing up as her. Huh.

Overall: I had gone to Comic-com with low expectations and left pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had. Would I do it again? Hmm. I don’t know. The steep membership (or weekend pass, however they call it) and all the add-ons you have to pay for to get like VIP access to events to me wasn’t that much worth it. I’m not a big TV person, so I didn’t care much about the celebrities who were there, and the ones I did know, I was like ‘meh’ (well okay, I was bummed I missed seeing Billy Dee Williams, but even there I would’ve seen him from a distance.) Also, there was the fact that there were TOO MUCH PEOPLE. There were no quiet places for introverts like me to go and recharge. I also missed my standard author hangout at Barcon. In fact, the Comic-con pretty much shut down after 9pm. There were several bars that hosted afterparties where you could get in free with your wristband, but by then, I was so burnt out, I didn’t want to hang out with a bunch of other strangers at a bar blasting loud music. I just wanted to go home. And finally, yeah, the comic-con felt pretty…commercial. Many of the emcees were obviously not from Madison, and they were pretty blatant about it. It got irritating after a while. Most of the panels were celebrity based. There were only a few panels that had local people–the aforementioned comedy troupe from Milwaukee, for instance. (Okay, Milwaukee isn’t considered local to Madison, but I’m not complaining).

That last reason, though, is something that absolutely can be fixed. I think the good thing about the WizardWorld comic-cons is that they conform to whatever cities they’re in by the use of local volunteers. For instance, I know at the Chicago Comic-con, there is a whole group of authors who appear as special guests, and the panels are more numerous and diverse–heck, they even had a few panels that discuss diversity in fandom. So if I do go back, I wouldn’t mind going in as a volunteer panelist or something. The thing I liked about Madison Comic-con was that it pulled in a bunch of people who aren’t necessarily into the local con scene, but want that con experience. And if they come back next year, that might actually boost attendance at the local cons. Win all around. So yeah, I’d go back to WizardWorld Madison Comic-con in 2016.

Especially if Jesus comes again.

 

 

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