A Weekend at Worldcon

Happy holidays! I hope you and your loved ones had an excellent weekend, wherever the path may have led you, and that you’re getting lots of rest and festivities in this week as we head toward the New Year. The past few months since I updated the blog have somehow felt like they’ve flown and crawled by turns, but here we are at the end of the year. 2021 has been both extremely challenging, as well as the most exciting year of my writing career to-date. A year of juxtapositions, if ever there was one.

All I know is that I’m both extremely grateful and relieved to be sitting here writing this, and to look back on all the adventures the past twelve months have held. I’ll be talking more generally in my year-end reflection, which I hope to have up later this week, but for now I figured I’d updated on one particular thing while my excitement about it is still hot. (Aka, before I clear all the related swag and pamphlets off my work table.)

The weekend before the holidays, I attended Worldcon in Washington D.C. I’ve been wanting to go to a Worldcon for…gosh, I guess around a decade now. Considering that this year’s convention was a mere eight hours away and that I also made my first pro short story sale in 2021, it felt like this was the one. Due to general life upheaval, pandemic stresses, and whatever else, I waffled on whether or not I’d be able to go for months leading up to the event. But then the stars kind of aligned to let me know it was the right time. So Valorie and I packed ourselves up and road tripped down to Washington D.C., stayed with some family friends, and took the metro out to the Omni Shoreham Hotel for the con on Friday and Saturday.

(Yes, I did have to run up that escalator from the train station at one point during the weekend. No, I did not die — though it was a close thing.)

What an experience! I thought it might be cool to highlight some of my favorite parts:

  • Getting to meet tons of awesome people! This was absolutely my favorite thing about the convention. I got to meet some writers I’ve known for a while online, people in the publishing industry I’ve looked up to for years, and plenty of wonderful new acquaintances as well. Writing can be a lonely path, so to have an event like this where so many of us recluses can gather is really amazing.
  • I stopped by the Zombies Need Brains table in the Dealer’s Room! It was a real treat to get to catch up with Joshua Palmatier, the brains behind the zombies. We haven’t seen each other in person in years. Really, the fact that he was going to be there repping ZNB was one of the first factors that made me lean toward going. The Modern Deity’s Guide to Surviving Humanity looked pretty awesome on the table alongside all the other fantastic anthologies that ZNB has put out. It was also pretty cool to meet some of the other anthology authors, or to talk to people who were thinking about submitting to this year’s open call.
  • I also attended a pair of kaffeeklatches. If you want to get some time with a specific publishing professional in a small group, where you’ll get to ask burning questions and receive unequivocal answers, these are some of the most valuable events you can do at a convention like Worldcon. Just make sure to sign up early — they fill fast! I missed one I had been hoping to attend, but ended up going to another I hadn’t been planning on. The universe, and its ways.
  • The panels were fantastic, too. I didn’t really plan for it, but somehow I ended up attending more panels about short fiction than anything else. Hearing thoughts on the short fiction landscape from people like Neil Clarke and Lynne M. Thomas was really enlightening. Apparently, the gods are steering me toward writing more short fiction this year. I have had a few short story / novella ideas kicking around, so hey, the extra education is pretty great in my book.
  • The Hugo Awards. This is a large part of Worldcon that I had been excited about, and basically have been dreaming about going to for years. Valorie and I went this year, and while we were just two more faces near the back of the crowd, boy was it awesome to actually be at the award ceremony, especially in a year like this one. The Hugos have made some changes in the past few years, and it seems the event organizers are pushing even more to make it as inclusive and welcoming a space as they can. I hope this trend continues. I wrote up some thoughts about this over at Winter Is Coming, but generally, I’ll just say that it felt an awful lot like a lifelong ambition being fulfilled to even be there, and that it was wonderful to see so many extremely deserving creatives recognized.

There were many more highlights, and many that I’m forgetting, I’m sure. It’s hard to narrow things down when the whole damn weekend was just so fantastic. This was my first Worldcon — and my first in-person writing convention in general — but you can bet it won’t be my last. I’ve already been mulling over the possibility of going to Boskone, which is much closer to home.

For now though, filled with gratitude for all the memories, friends, and fun from DisCon III!

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