So, Wiscon. I think I need a shirt that says “I Was At the Great Cultural Appropriation Panel of 2006 and All I Got Was This Lousy White Guilt.”
All in all, the con was fabulous. I got to spend actual quality time with Theodora Goss and circehellene, not to mention sharing a room and a car trip with erzebet. Many people actually knew who I was, in part because I’m starting to get to know the group of authors who regularly attend cons. Anyhow, to list the number of incredible people I met would be futile. Too many. ksp24, desayunoencama, charliegrrrl, squirrel_monkey, vschanoes, rushthatspeaks, and wicked_wish top the list of new-folk OMGHIII! But there were many others. Let’s make like barthanderson and Top Ten the con:
10. Discovering Parrish Relics and its lovely, soft-spoken proprietress. I saw more of her necklaces around more necks this year…and I could afford one for myself, and trade books for a second. Sadly, I am still not in an income bracket where I can afford elisem‘s lovelies.
9. Dinners. the first one with circehellene, erzebet, desyunoencama, grailquestion, and godlyperspectiv at the marvelous Afghan restaurant we had somehow missed at both Wiscon 29 and WFC, second with Jim Frankel, Dora Goss, 2muchexposition (who kindly arranged our room at the last second), and what I presume to be errant Frankel children, a meal of the sushi persuasion, a cuisine which always makes me feel homesick for Japan–and shut up, LJ. There is something distinctly awesome, however, about editors buying ice cream cones for wide-eyed young authors. Final dinner with erzebet and upstart_crow and the Kleveland Kidz, which did not, sadly, include goat, but included exhaustion and giggles.
8. Panels–my first one, Feminist Fairy Tales, went off smashingly, and we all sounded terrifically smart, and focused, for a change, on the princess archetype rather than ye olde standbye, the witch. Flawless panel, great audience, perfect moderation by Dora Goss. My second, which was on Monday afternoon, and therefore was made up of folk who weren’t even supposed to be working today, anghara, zellandyne, and my last-minute drag-in, ksp24, who took over moderation from the absent moderator. It was on Heroine Addiction, and it was a riot. Any flickr stream which features us shows non-stop hysterical laughter, because we were all loopy with tiredness, and come on, it was Monday, and a silly, incredibly broad topic, so we all just dove in. I do apologize for rather roughly smacking down an audience member who angrily responded to our discussion of Hermione with an assertion that Harry Potter was brave and daring experimental literature. But only for the roughness. The smackdown was deserved; HP is many things, many of them wonderful, but experimental interstitiality it is not. There were moments where the panel veered into booklist territory, but mostly it was fun and funny–and oursin and I got to join in a loud “squawk of rage” over Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell‘s idiocy in regards to female characterization.
7. I’m not sure how I got filed into a reading with two YA stories and a chick lit zombie story, but I gamely read my snake-eats-girl postmodern anguish-prose excerpt from The Grass-Cutting Sword, and I have no idea how it went off, since I am oblivious to such things during a reading, but one of the other authors came up to me afterwards to talk lyricism, then did an actual, honest to god double take when I admitted to being the authoress of Bones Like Black Sugar. “You wrote that?!” I never have any idea what to say when people express liking for my work, but it was sooperkool to have someone remember a tiny little story like that.
6. The Joanna Russ interview. Honestly, I found this interesting but kind of sad, as she didn’t seem at all willing to discuss feminism or literature beyond a liking for Buffy, and at one point went on at length about her long distance calling plan, and her favorite ice cream. I screwed my courage to the sticking place and asked about the issues in How to Suppress Women’s Writing, but she only said that she didn’t know, she didn’t really pay attention anymore, she was out of the loop. There was so much love for her in that room, but I left feeling nonplussed.
5. Cultural Appropriation. Oh yes, I was there. I went to see squirrel_monkey and yhlee, and stayed for the guilt and self-justification. Parts I found highly offensive, parts I found sensible, the moderation I found cruel, as any and all audience discussion was shut down–far more rudely than I have ever seen before. In the final ten minutes, when we were allowed to speak, I think everyone was a little scared. I have followed the discussion afterwards and found it much more illuminating–and telling that the white members of the panel dominated with justifications of their own appropriation, while everyone else has taken the hard questions into the more marginal space of LJ. What I have to add is little better–my appropriation of Japanese culture was always a working-out of my own experience as a minority in Japan, and not merely an intellectual exercise in breaking out of Eurofantasy. But I’m reminded of the Franklin quote, somewhat modified…cultural appropriation in the first person, our cultural appropriation, is always legal. It is only the third person, their cultural appropriation, that is illegal. Gotta get that t-shirt.
4. Kate Wilhelm and Jane Yolen’s beautiful, moving speeches, which, like the WFC speeches, made me incredibly proud to be a writer, a writer of the fantastic, a woman, and a human. I wish I could have met either of them personally, but alas, it was not to be at this con. However, between the two speeches, Terri Windling and blackholly sat down at my table, so I got to meet Terri, finally, and try to think of a way to introduce myself to Holly without seeming weird, and totally failing, so not actually meeting her at all.
3. Hooch. And by hooch, I mean the stuff barthanderson‘s agents made. Billed as homebrewed beer and cider, it came in massive and gorgeous old gin and lager bottles, which should have been a warning. I and all assumed cider meant, like, Mike’s or something, 4-5% alcohol. I have never seen a con floor so wasted. I have personally never been seriously drunk at a con before. Halduncan and I, I am told, were very, very loud in our praise of each other and off-color jokes, before we both simultaneously wandered off to find bathrooms. vschanoes, after a madly fun meeting of Prime authors, was hungover for the remainder of the convention, as were many others. Awesome? Yes. But label it hooch next time, guys, so we have some notion of what we’re swigging.
3a. The fact that murnkay, despite neither he nor any of the other Lunacon crew attending Wiscon, managed to get a message sent to me via the communal message board. That message? YOUR MOM!!! in big blue magic marker. Your minion-fu is impressive, young jedi.
2. Sitting with Dora Goss and barthanderson at the Sign Out, which, much like last year, consisted of them signing and me talking, because I had already signed so many books during the con that only one person had anything left unsigned. Note to self: stop that. Your fanbase isn’t nearly big enough for that kind of silliness. However, Barth and Dora are great conversationalists, and we gabbed about book sales, astrology, communes, and the hierarchies of conventions, and it was lovely. I had met both before briefly, but can safely say now that they number among my favorite literature-inclined folk. Barth is going to try to come to the OT launch part in October–fingers crossed!
1. Wiscon itself is always a wonder. Woman-friendly, queer-friendly, everyone is open and having fun and not under pressure, and this year I actually knew people and didn’t feel so much like a sore thumb, I showed around the Orphan’s Tales cover to the gasps which are now traditional upon seeing that work of art, and was delighted to find people actually knew it was coming out, talking about it, excited about it. I almost feel like I could make a life of this, that I could really have a career. Almost. Next year in Madison, y’all.
Not mentioned: the LJ party, which is always a zoo, and which this year I spent almost exlcusively with the surprisingly energetic and non-gothlicious wicked_wish, comparing the bizarre religions we were brought up in and stories about the nebulous no-man’s land of not-established author yet not n00b. The Haiku Earring Party, where rushthatspeaks checked out my cleavage and caused one of the biggest laughs of the convention, and I snagged fabulous earrings. Also, I finally got a print of marrael‘s brilliant tentacle-cookery painting, and magnets to match. Glee! I will not mention that I bought too many books, as that is the nature of Wiscon.
We didn’t arrive home till 6 am Tuesday morning, and I am still a little wonky between Wiscon and prom–wonky but happy.