I managed to drag myself out of bed at 8:30 AM after the laaaaate night before. I showered and packed up the suitcase (cram it all in), put on some normal clothes (jeans, but still tie-dye shirt) and wandered down to the Dealer Room. Uh Oh. The Dealer Room didn't open until 11 and I had a session at 11 that I wanted to attend. So, I browsed the Art Show for a bit.
At any sci-fi convention Art Show, you will have the usual suspects of art: portraits of characters from tv shows and movies; various "celestial landscapes" of planets, spaceships, and stars; long-haired men (with hairless chests) and shapely women, in outfits from all different genres.
There were a couple new things at this Art Show:
- Animals with Wings, ie pictures of cats and dogs and wolves and reptiles with wings like dragons;
- Victorian Monsters, old-style portrait prints and drawings but with ghouls, demons, and zombies instead of people.
The Victorian Monsters were strangely disturbing and quite compelling.
11:00 was approaching so I went ahead and checked out of the hotel, put my bags in the hotel bag check, and went off to the session "The structure of Writing: What does a good story require?"
There were three panelists: Dianna Rodgers, Sara A. Mueller, and Mary Rosenblum. They participated in a one-hour discussion about the elements of a story and how those elements come together to make a story work and make a story good.
There was so much in this panel that there's no way I can even begin to summarize it all. Overall, many of the statements about story elements and getting a story on the page really rang true for me especially after my talks with Jay and Mary the day before. You want the reader to have the experience from a story that you have in your head, and to do that you need not only need the elements of the story itself, but you also need the craft (the ability) to get the words on the page to accomplish that goal of communicating the story.
This was a repeat of what Mary and I talked about when discussing "Walls of Stars" and on this second listening it really hit me deep. I was surprised that I had a very strong emotional reaction on reaching an understanding of this aspect of the craft, which is something I am currently struggling to do.
My history is that when I try new activities, I usually get to the point where I'm "pretty good" and then I stop. I think I'm near that point with writing - I get mostly positive comments from readers, I get encouraging from authors to "keep going", I got accepted to VP, etc. But now it's going to get difficult. It's going to be a challenge. I usually don't challenge myself. But I need to and I'm, frankly, scared of the challenge. There is an interesting road ahead.
Once the panel was over, I needed to finish shopping. I went back to the Dealer Room and found gifts for E, A and C. I also picked up a custom something I had ordered the day before which I can't describe here in case *someone* (C) reads this blog as I don't want to spoil it and I've said too much already.
Lunch was peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla, which I ate while attending the "Critiquing Writing" session. The panel (Richard Lovett, David Levine, Michele Avanti, Kami Miller) discussed why you get critiques, how they get critiques, and good critiquing form for both critiquers and critiquees. This session was many things I'd heard before, but it was good to hear that I'm on the right path with my critiques and why I get and give critiques.
It was almost time to leave but I wanted to hear part of the "Asia's Space Race" session. This was apparently cobbled together as several of the scheduled panelists had to get to the airport, but there was interesting basic information about the state of the Indian and Chinese space programs. Given my interest in the internationalization of space, I received some good starter information and pointers to things I can look up on the web. About halfway through, it was time to leave and get going for the airport. That was fine, as the conversation was moving into the state of various Asian governments.
I picked up my bags and headed outside. It was raining again! Apparently it rains in Portland. A lot. I made it to the MAX and then to the airport safe and sound, including being on the train with a couple guys who were very down on their luck. It's easy to forget about the part of society that most people forget about and the train ride was a real reminder that some people have it pretty hard. It reminded me to make sure to continue my donations and look into some volunteering as well.
I checked in at the kiosk, zipped through security, grabbed a latte and a baked treat (the standard con meal), then sat at the gate and blogged and surfed the net. The flight was quick, the drive home quick and then I was at home again! It was good to be back at home and everyone got nice long hugs. I missed home and C, E, and A. They liked their con presents (earrings and necklaces).
Finally, Fun T-Shirts. At every con, there are tons of t-shirts. Here's some of the ones that made me laugh:
- FAHRFRUMNORMAL (in the VW fahrvergnugen style)
- The text "PARTY" and under the text a dial switch with two settings "ON" and "OFF". It was set to "ON".
- (My favorite) Two lines in computer terminal font: "$> cd /pub" followed by "$> more beer"
Thus endeth the Orycon. What started slow ended up strong and valuable. The writing road ahead will be tough and challenging, but I have more energy and desire to make it work as a result of Orycon and my experiences there.
UPDATE: I found a note I made on the Rudest T-Shirt. Here tis:
"Things to do:
1) Your sister
2) Your mom"