Chicon 8, aka Worldcon 80, Report

*–Disclaimer: I’m not going to name drop anyone, because I hung out with too many awesome people, met so many awesome new friends, and I guarantee I’d forget some really important names. So, let’s not, and say I did.

It’s been literally forever since I put up a blog post! Okay, so not forever, and let’s not overuse the word “literally,” but it’s been a long time. Heck, it’s been nearly a year since I’ve put up an official convention report, and I’ve been to Discon, Balticon, and Confluence since then. That’s some major-league slacking right there!

Enough lamenting about the past. I won’t make excuses for failing to blog. That would be boring. Chicon 8, and my trip surrounding it, was anything but boring. I crashed at a friend’s place in Pittsburgh–in Squirrel Hill, which had solid representation at the con–on Monday night, and Tuesday was a leisurely drive to Toledo, Ohio. An excellent fast food breaded pork sandwich and a lovely stroll through a ginormous antiques mall later, and we were off to Chicago on Wednesday, a day before the con. There we enjoyed the river walk, a wonderful architectural boat tour, and a nice lazy night refreshing from a ton of exercise and sun.

Then the con began! Oh, how confusing the hotel and all its colors and levels was–at first. Intimidated, squinting at the map, I couldn’t have guessed that I’d be giving out directions to confused congoers within a day. Yes, there were hiccups, and no, it wasn’t fun going to the green room pre-panel when my panel was in another tower and on another level. Still, I wouldn’t have changed out a single thing, save my struggles with bad legs/feet.

My disabilities hindered me, as usual, though I took great care to rest and recuperate. These disabilities kept me out of action for the awesome Friday night room parties, and subsequent famous giant closet picture, yet I sat on two disability panels that absolutely rocked my world. I hope I rocked the audience’s world with my deep thoughts and pithy insight, although I’ll be content with the fact that I made new friends at these panels that led to wonderful convos.

I also got to run my first workshop at Chicon 8! This workshop focused on novel beginnings and what all the words were doing as it relates to world building, description, character, and plot/conflict. Yes, I found some wrinkles to iron out. Yes, the workshop attendees loved the workshop. I’d been nervous that no one would show up (like no one showed up to my table talk); I was so wrong. More than a hundred people tried to register! I ended up with several more people than I’d intended, but I didn’t wish to exclude anyone. We all had such a great time that the workshop attendees all wanted to go out together for lunch. I couldn’t, though I hope they remain in contact with me, and I’m glad I brought such writerly joy to their convention and craft.

Other panels I was on included a fun romp reading page 119s from random books to see who would or wouldn’t read said books, action scenes in fiction, and writing authority figures, which had a great eclectic mix of experience. Every panel did! From stunt people to scientists, municipal workers to military members, and of course writers, I couldn’t have asked for better people around me. Truly, I was in good company on programming. Plus, my favorite author crush was in attendance, and on one of the few other panels I attended. Hell yeah!

On a professional note, lots went right at Chicon 8. I sold all but one copy of my short story collection Legio Damnati, the “true” history of Julius Caesar’s supernatural squad that battled the druids in the Gallic Wars. I almost completely outlined a novel. I also got some very good news indeed while checking emails before my last panel. News I can’t share publicly at this time. More to follow on that front in 2023, I promise!

The food in Chicago was to die for, the con was incredible, but the people, well, the people are what makes it all worthwhile. My friend’s brother crashed with us, attending his first con like this, and I think we have him hooked. I didn’t mind the giant wait outside Lou Malnati’s pizza, because there were places to sit and incredible chats to be had. I can’t count the number of side conversations, people talking to me after panels, random flybys with friends, the “oh, hey, you’re here!” instances, and other encounters that tickled me to death. The vibe and creative energy were so intense that I was caught in my usual con dilemma: inspired to go write but wanting to remain social. I compromised as best I could and worked on novel outlining while resting up.

Getting home could’ve set me up for a lousy return to work, as I foolishly didn’t take the next day off, and Labor Day driving in a major city might’ve worked against me. There was a traffic pileup at the Indiana/Ohio border, but GPS got us around that smoothly and with little time lost. My copilot did good service keeping me awake. Thankfully, I got home in time to unpack essentials and observe a decent bedtime. Sure, I felt plenty of comedown and con drop. That’s to be expected and totally unavoidable. What I have carried forward, and will always remember, are the good times and the good vibes. Who can ask for more?

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