It started out Saturday with my reading (well, technically it started Friday, but I didn't feel like dealing with traffic). My reading went well, though there were only a handful of people or so in the room, so very small, but that's fine. I read a bunch of my poems, and got a good response from those present. I also got to hear Alyc Helms read from her unpublished novel, The Adventures of Mr. Mystic and the Dragons of Heaven, which seems like it will be a rather fun urban fantasy/superhero novel when it's published (she's shopping it at the moment).
About midday I went to Nalo Hopkinson's presentation on everyday culture. So many people tell her they don't have any culture, and she asserts that they certainly do. As a way of presenting that, she had the group play ring games, hand clapping games, and other yard school games, which filled the morning with rhyme, rhythm, and laughter. It was very joyful.
I also saw here do a reading of her new book, a YA novel called, The Chaos, which I had to immediately go our and buy. She signed it for me with a smile. I'm eagerly looking forward to reading it, as I recently read her book Brown Girl in the Ring (which was wonderful and I'll review later).
The first panel I was on was called "You Are Not Your Rejection Slips," in which a couple of editors and my fellow authors and I discussed how to handle rejection. It was a good panel, I think. It's a hard subject for me to feel that any new insights to discover, because rejection is just so normal for a writer; there's no getting around it. It's hard for me to judge, because I was one of the speakers and I was rather nervous. At one point, I opened my mouth to speak and then froze up entirely, but I think I finished well.
That night, I attended a panel about Body Image and it was absolutely amazing. It didn't deal so much with body weight, but rather delved into more difficult topics, such as how gender (male, female, transgender), race, disability, or many other factors in a person's life can contribute to how people see themselves and how they are seen by other people.
One of the things discussed that sticks with me is the concept of "helpfullness," and how it can actually be very injuring or harmful, especially if the help is unasked for. It can be things like telling someone a new diet for them to try out, telling a transgender man that if he cut his hair he would look more masculine, or telling someone with a health issue about this great new thing that might fix it. The problem with helpfulness like this is that it assumes that the person being addressed hasn't had the presence of mind to think of this "great new idea" before. But even more so, the panel said, it stems from a place of discomfort and fear, because the underlining message is, "Who you are makes me uncomfortable, so here are some things you can do that will make you fit how I think you should be, so I can be more comfortable."
Much, much more was covered and discussed. The entire discussion was very respectful of each opinion throughout, and the result was incredibly powerful.
That night, mslorelei also gave a rather awesome (and x-rated) reading a story she wrote. The story is (I believe) a part of a new ebook of hers that just came out, which is very cool. I really liked how the story was about two people holding on to love, as well as being rather sexy. :)
On Sunday morning, bright and early, I was on a panel called "Loving Something Problematic," which discussed how you balance loving a book, movie, game, etc., when that thing you love clearly has some elements that are troubling, such as racism, sexism, or other isms, sometimes subtle, sometimes overt.
Again, I was very nervous about being on this panel, especially as it was a more challenging subject. I kind of approached the discussion from the point of view that I was new (within the last couple of years) to the concept of white privilege and issues of racism, transmisogyny, ablism, and other new isms that I had been recently learning.
My fellow panelists, Nalo Hopkinson, M. Christian, and Carolyn Cooper, were great, and Liz Argall was fabulous as the moderator. I started to shrink into my shell at the beginning, and at a well timed point, Liz addressed a question directly at me. As soon as I started speaking, I started to relax into a little bit more and was able to better insert myself into the conversation.
I wish I could present you with some of the great things my fellow panelists said, but I was so busy trying not to dissolve under my nervousness and trying to be present enough to communicate that I don't exactly remember the details all that well. I'm told the panel went well though, and before we knew it the time was up and we had to let another panel come in. Pretty much everyone there wished the discussion could have gone on longer, so that's a really good sign.
So those were the main highlights of the con for me, though there was a ton more that went on and several times I wished I could time travel or duplicate myself so I could go to more than one panel at a time. I can't wait for next year, and I'm eager to try out some larger cons.
For the future, I will definitely be getting a hotel room, rather than drive back and forth from the con. The late night and early morning drives was torture, and contributed to my state of absolute exhaustion. It was worth it, though. SO much fun. (^_^)
[Cross-posted to my webpage.]