Nebula Weekend and Going Home

I am at the airport. My Nebula weekend is over and I’m waiting for my flight home. Once I get there I’ll have to unpack my suitcases full of clothes and my brain full of thoughts. At this very moment my brain is trying to do post-convention imposter syndrome where I rethink half of my conversations and decide that people were just being nice to me because they are nice people rather than because I was actually interesting. Fortunately I am too tired for these thoughts to gain much traction. They just start to get rolling and then slip away as I stare out of the airport windows and various memories parade across my consciousness. Keeping a train of thought for a coherent blog post faces similar challenges, so I give you scenes instead.

The keynote speech at the Nebula banquet was given by Mike Fincke who is an astronaut. He’s spent a year in space. He showed us some video which amounted to the astronaut version of home video. However my favorite moment was when Mike stood at the podium and said “We at NASA actually believe every single thing you write. Then we try to make it happen in the real world.” Mike’s tone of voice and demeanor clearly showed that he was in awe of those who write the fiction which inspired him to become an astronaut. At the end of his speech all the writers in the room gave him a standing ovation. To us he was a rock star. To him, the writers were. It showed me the power of ideas and that writing matters.

Neil Gaiman showed up for the event. Once again I did not meet him. He was always surrounded. Perhaps I should keep count of the number of events that we mutually attend where I do not meet him. The truth is that I don’t actually have anything I need to say to him. I just suspect he is a fascinating person to converse with. Rather than futilely attempting to have that conversation, I spoke with people around me and found dozens of fascinating new people and conversations instead. This is one thing that new writers often get wrong. The person on the stage is not the most fascinating person in the room. In fact you’re more likely to find good conversation and career help by talking to whomever you end up standing near. I did not expect to forward any business purposes during this trip. I’m coming home with leads on half a dozen things simply as a result of talking to people. Some of these leads are career related, but I’ve got at least three parenting ideas to apply, new knowledge about care of the elderly which may be helpful for my grandma, and some recommendations about foods. My life is going to be improved and changed in lots of small ways because of conversations at the Nebula weekend.

At one point during the Nebula evening I stood back from talking with people and surveyed the room. Like at the Whitney Award ceremony this represented a chance for me to assess how award ceremonies as events impact me emotionally even if nothing is at stake for me. The impact is significant. There are lots of emotions flowing around the room and I pick up edges of them whether I want to or not. Once we exited the hall, this effect was much reduced. By this morning people had either accomplished what they’d come for, or they’d given up on it. The vibe was much more mellow and relaxed. I spent a leisurely morning wandering around and talking with people.

Next I go home and as good as Nebula weekend has been, that will be even better.