Sunday, September 08, 2013

Week 1 AWC (After WorldCon)

I knew I was back in the "Real World" when I started imagining myself killing the driver of the shared van I was riding in. It was going to be an execution style killing.  It was going to be after he told me he was going to pick up someone else before taking me home. 
In the hopes of being fairly evaluated for this imagined killing, which I assure you was never carried out, I need to tell you that I was exhausted after 10 hours of travel.  The airline that I took to get home from San Antonio, where I attended WorldCon, United Airlines, had pushed back every single flight I booked with them.  Getting to WorldCon the week before, they turned my 8 AM departure to one around 12 Noon, which I didn't find out about until I checked in for my flight online and printed my boarding passes.  My connecting flight out of Houston to LAX had started boarding a half hour before my flight from San Antonio was scheduled to land.  The next flight they put me on was scheduled to depart 3 hours after the one I was supposed to be on, though it didn't actually lift its wheels from the ground for another 45 minutes or so after that.  
But that's OK.  I got home.  About four hours later than expected, and with only about five hours before I had to get up to go to work the next day.  But I did get home.  
It was that day-dream execution, sitting in the back of the shuttle bus as I kept checking the GPS on my phone to see how much longer it would be before I got home, that told me I was out of the imaginary world I'd entered going to WorldCon and back into the nitty gritty of daily existence.  And by reminding me of that, it reminded me of the promise I had made to myself, inspired by the experience of going to WorldCon, that I wanted, still want, to carry forward in my life.
I want to be Perfect in All Things.  
I've already blogged about the panels that I went to at WorldCon.  At least one of which, the Screenplay Structure for Novelist, is already impacting my writing.  The novel I'm working on, A Spell of 13 Years, is getting a new outline because, after reviewing my story with the Screenplay Structure tenets in mind, I decided that I had chosen the wrong character to be the antagonist.  This also changed who needed to be the "relationship character," or "impact character" as I knew the concept from the story creation program, Dramatica Pro.  As I go over my notes and work on different stories, I'm sure the panels will give me more leads and suggestions, or basic things to consider.  
The desire to be "perfect," though, comes from a realization as to how differently I think and behave when I'm at a WorldCon than when I'm going about my "real life."  
At WorldCon, for instance, I talked to strangers.  Quite often.  I say "good morning" and "Hello," to everyone that stepped into the elevator I was riding.  I would take responses as invitations to say something more, and would often find myself talking at length to someone who was just passing by.  
I recognize the fact that while at WorldCon I was, 1) On vacation and 2) Had a reasonable expectation that the person I was talking with had interests and attitudes that broadly paralleled mine.  But wouldn't I have a similar overlap with someone I meet walking their dog through my neighborhood.  They're an animal lover.  They live in Pasadena.  Those are things that we have in common, right? 
I feel like I'm starting to preach now, and that isn't what I wanted to do with this.  
I had a number of very stimulating conversations with one of my convention going friends, Jo Rhett.  It is the most we've talked together since first getting to know each other through our shared experience with the writing workshops at the WorldCon that took place in Montreal, Canada in 2009, and the online Anticipation writing group we both joined subsequent to that.  Most of the time we were talking about stories and writing.  But we also talked about our real lives, too.  
One of the things I got out of these conversations was a realization that I am pretty good at what I do to earn my living.  It may sound odd, but I've been struggling to come to terms with that.  For years upon years, my hopes and dreams, my sense of self-identity and self-worth, was tied to my creative life.  I was a writer.  The stories and comic books I published represented who I was.  "That" over there, that activity I did to feed and clothe me, was "just my job."  When I was praised by someone for what I did doing "just my job," I would often shrug it off.  Because it was, "just my job," and because what I really wanted was praise for the stories and comic books I created.  
I am thinking now that this was a mistake.  Not because I'm thinking of giving up writing or I'm changing what I think is important.  Writing is very, very, VERY important to me.  Going to events like WorldCon, talking about writing with my writing friends, reaffirms that for me.  Never was it more clear than when I was at the Hugo Awards presentation ceremony, watching someone win their first Hugo for something they created, and feeling in my gut the twisting burning desire to be on stage in their place.  
But just as I'm not "just" a writer, what I do is no longer "just a job."  When I first took over the production department for my company, the unit had not met the monthly goal set for it for the previous 15 months.  After taking over, we beat the goal for the next 11 months in a row and processed a million dollars worth of work in a month for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th time in the company's history.  
That's not bad.  Not at all.  
What is bad is that I've not taken advantage of that accomplishment.  My writing life and my work life have been kept separate.  Kept at bay, is perhaps a better way of saying.  By doing that, I haven't allowed my work life the benefit of what my writing life has given me.  Nor have I allowed my work life to teach me how to improve on my writing.  
My first inkling along this lines came in a panel about running a convention.  It was the first time I had attended a "fannish" panel.  At one point, the moderator asked the audience, "Who here has experience running a large project?"  
I sat there for a moment, not raising my hand.  Then it hit me, I run a department that produces three million plus pages of documentation each year, with a level of accuracy high enough to satisfy attorneys as clients.  
I raised my hand.  
After the panel, based on questions I'd asked during the discussion, a number of people came up to offer me suggestions.  Apparently I struck them as someone who could run a convention and was thinking of doing so.
Running a convention...?  Huh...  But if I did...  I know the theme I'd use.
Whether I follow up on this inkling or not, I do want to bring these parts of my lives together.  I want to be more like the person at WorldCon, who is genuinely curious about the people I met and is more engaging.  I also want to be more like the character I've portrayed at work, who thinks through problem, anticipates disasters and stays on top of monster sized pile of work.  
In short, I want all parts of my life to benefit from the other parts.  That way, I am doing more of what I want to do, without imagining murdering the people that frustrate me.
Unless, of course, they deserved to be killed. 
But that's another discussion for later. 


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