I’ve been home now about two hours, which for me is just enough time to really begin the deeper marination process of feelings and memories. I’ve put some of my thoughts already up on Facebook, but those are the first blush at these ideas. I’ve had delicious lasagna and a pint of iced tea, so I think there’s more to say.
I want to start by saying this was a good convention for me. I came home with far fewer business cards than I left the house with, and I’m hopeful that with all the people I’ve met, the horizon will have some good work ahead. While I didn’t walk the convention floor nearly enough for my liking, I have to recognize that lengthy periods of walking, even with a cane, aren’t easy for me anymore. I had quite a few moments of exhaustion and “Let’s just sit down/lean right here” and I am sure that I should have done it more than I did.
This was the first year I didn’t have some rushed sense that I was running out of time or that I should have been doing something else (more on that in the next paragraph), and this was the first year I didn’t have something looming over my head while I was there. There wasn’t a big spectacle at an awards show this year, I didn’t have to spill too many guts out for the first time at panels, I didn’t have to worry about staying high or drunk or anything like that. I just got to be me, and I liked that.
A funny thing happened when I stopped living and acting for other people and made myself a priority – I started having a lot of fun. I started laughing at jokes again. I started making jokes again. I started liking things that I somehow convinced myself were “beneath me”. Like peach cobbler. Like pickled jalapeños. Like 90s music. And all this liking gave me a renewed sense of purpose towards what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I don’t think I lost sight of that entirely, but I know it got obfuscated by a lot of people and paranoia and pettiness. Without a feeling like I should be doing something else because it would have been boring for other people to stand around and watch me hand people business cards or chat with people I see once or twice a year, I let myself enjoy things. And that’s … good. It felt good. Also, it saved me a ton of money in bar tabs and loads more in frustration.
I’ve never had a good sense that my panels help people. Sure, I get a few people who follow me on twitter after a panel. I get maybe some passing bit of information that so-and-so did something, but more or less, I leave a seminar thinking I’ve reached no one and left no evidence of an impression. It can be tiring to think about the days of prep and the hours of rehearsal all amounting to nothing, so I try to make sure that I did do something that helped, even if asking or thanking people grows annoying. This year though, I am confident, so absolutely confident that I helped people. Not just because I gave them a place to sit for an hour, but because they got answers to questions, or they made new friends or they got to put a voice to something they had been sitting on for a while. I watched people get hugs (seriously, hugs happened). I watched people do a lot of nodding to the people seated next to them. I attribute this to two things – I stopped making panels about me and how great I am, and I didn’t overload the panels with information.
See, I used to think that my panels were boring, so I’d jam them with material, far too much material, and leave people in an overwhelming cloud of “what do I take away from this”. Partnered with a sense of “Yeah I just spent sixty minutes talking about how cool I am, this is sure to bring me work”, I am pretty sure this often made me an asshole, and as I step away from that now (somewhat, I mean, leopards and spots, guys), I realize that the panels are there to help people. And I like helping people. So I did.
Oh! That brings me to the awards portion of the blogpost. Something I worked on, the Designers and Dragons industry encyclopedias, was up for a few awards. I was very eager to win one, as I was closer to this project than many of the other things I’ve done. And I’m happy to say, the book won an award.
I could not have won this award without the hard work of so many amazing people at Evil Hat Productions, but I would be lying if I said this award didn’t also feel like some personal recognition too. These books had A LOT of words in them, and they took time to edit. No, don’t take that to mean the words all sucked, just that there was a lot of reading and checking and little corrections like commas or unclear sentences to trim up. And yes, I did ask for my own copy of the certificate and medal. Call it an early birthday gift to myself.
((At this point in the writing, I’ve written and deleted a few paragraphs about something that happened about the awards show (didn’t involve me), and I’ve decided that warrants its own post, probably later in the week. So instead of paragraphs of words, look at these doughnuts))
I miss my friends. I miss the family I left back there. I miss being woken up early. I miss the way the shower I used all week creaked underfoot. I miss the stink of sewage that seems to drape over downtown Indianapolis but no one ever seems to be talking about it. I miss the sight of 61,000-something (!!) people milling around a few blocks in a city I’ve come to really like (except for the smell).
But, I am glad to be home in Jersey. I missed my dog. I missed my garden. I missed my iced tea and my video games and my music.
The inbox is crowded and dense, and there are many thank-yous and replies to messages to write. Better get to it.
Be good to each other, and make awesome things.