Mar 1, 2011

Conventions and Mile Markers

Good morning, world!

Uusually, I have some idea of that which I will be blogging, before the first character hits the screen; in fact, I usually begin the darned thing with a title which I will ascribe (I actually considered both proscribe and prescribe before settling on that one. More coffee, please, miss?) to either hubris or folly. Though I suppose you can't go wrong with "folly", since it goes with everything. It's like a good black leather belt, I suspect. Today, however, it took me until nearly the end before I realized what this blog was about. All I did know when starting out was that I needed to write.

I'm of a silly mind today. I quite literally stand with feet stretched out into both careers - a situation in which I find myself more and more of late. For example, I'm taking the next week off from my day job so that I can work as staff for the Emerald City ComiCon. The gentlemen who own the show are some solid folks; I look forward as much to hanging out with them for a few days each year as much as I do working towards making the con an enjoyable event for all the attendees and guests.

It makes me think back to riding in the car on long family vacations. One of the ways I'd pass the time was to count (up or down) the mile markers along the highway. Every once in a while, the big "Miles To..." signs would whoosh by, and I'd keep myself from asking "Are we there yet?" by actually doing the math on how far we'd gone and how much further we had yet to travel. I probably asked a few times prior to that and was told to keep my mouth shut or something. At any rate, I busied myself in my mind, keeping the brain-numbing effects of the open road at bay.

Over the years, I learned to enjoy the spaces between those mile markers as well, though. They were the bits that made the mile markers mean something, you know? It's in line with that saying of how it's all about the journey, not the destination.

So, back to ECCC - one of the elements that has meant so much over the years has been the apparent diminishing of perceived space between me and my creative aspirations and all the great and talented artists and writers who attend this con each year.

My first year of volunteering, we also had Peter Mayhew as a guest - Star Wars fans may recognize the name as the actor inside the walking carpet, Chewbacca himself. Let me say, Peter is a fairly awesome and impressively tall gentleman. He and I chatted a bit during and after the con, and I had the chance to thank him for being part of a movie which - when I'd been all of seven - had quite convinced me of the plausibility of life on other planets. And even now, I can kind of track it to the performance of Chewie. Something about how he played that cracked a hole in my young and burgeoning imagination. Yeah, I knew it was a guy in a costume (I wasn't a total gundark. Yes, I said it. I embrace my geekdom), but for just a moment, it made me wonder how "aliens" really were. And were they sitting there, wondering how "aliens" were. And so on. It just kind of connected the constellations for me.

But also, shaking Peter's hand was a trip. It is just freaking huge, I'm telling you. I literally felt like a child again, shaking his hand. So it was a weird juxtapositioning of a span of 30-some years from then to now. But that illusory temporal wormhole - being simultaneously 7 and 37 - brought it all into a sharper focus, like some sort of time capsule of imagination and youthful, undaunted and unlimited capacity for dreaming.

Successive ECCCs have had a similar sort of effect - it's like having a high school reunion now, but a new one every year. And much like we do each month with our daughter, I line myself up along a sort of mental/professional wall and chalk off the line atop my head to see how much further I've grown.

Two years ago, for example, I was struck by the realization that, after more than ten years out of college, I still hadn't finished a book. Last year, I had one completed. This year, I've got 4 - plus anthology and short story work. Plus, developing an e-publishing coalition. A fifth book is in edits, a sixth is being written, and more anthology work is forthcoming. Five non-fiction collections are being sorted, and even my children's story anthology has taken more shape. I've made a lot of friends in the writing and publishing biz, now, my twitter account went from about a dozen followers to just under a thousand, and I've even been interviewed. That's not a bad year. A crazy good year, in fact.

It's just a funny thing about mile markers. On their own, they're just a number. Taken on their own, they represent a fixed point, and, when speeding by, only account for a moment in the large journey. They spend more time in your memory than in your vision, but the journey needs them. You can't simply arrive, else there is no journey at all. And after all is said and done, the journey is what crafts you, molds you, makes you into something more than the moments. It turns you from the image of you into the fully realized film.

So, that being said, here we go. I'll take good notes at the convention, though I suspect I'll be working hard and coming back to my hotel each night exhausted, aching, and most likely a little bit drunk.

Until then, friends, have a spectacular week, and enjoy the journey until we speak anew.

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