I’m writing, that is to say dictating, these thoughts starting about four hours after my last panel of Metatopia 2015. The experience is still very fresh and watercolor in my mind, and I have a wealth of things to say. I don’t know where to begin chronologically, so I will begin with what sticks out most thinking about it right now.
I am mortal. I mean this not only because it’s barely 7pm on Sunday as this sentence unfurls and my body is pretty convinced I’ve just spent a week running a continuous marathon with an elephant strapped to me, but because any notion that I knew a lot about a lot of things is now completely gone. It’s vaporized (ooh, maybe that will help me breathe …), leaving this combined feeling of shame and excitement. It’s shame over the fact that I don’t know a lot, and other people can so fluidly and expressively capture turns of phrase, metaphors, and definitions about all manner of things while I’m just sitting there working with words and an understanding of how they get arranged so that people like them. It’s very much a feeling of not-good-enough-when-in-their-company. But that’s also the source of excitement: I don’t know these things, so I get a chance to learn them, and I love to learn things. I have no official logo. I have tens of thousands of generic business cards and three (I found them in my backpack) of the higher quality ones left. I have no Adobe InDesign. I can barely spell GREP. I don’t outline the way other people do. I can teach a variety of construction methods for adventures yet am intimidated to admit my preference for the more conceptual over the linear, even if it’s the scarier option for writers and publishers. My understanding of graphic design at times feels like fumbling to stay within the lines while painting by numbers.
I don’t know everything, and there are loads of things I can learn, and that last paragraph is just the technical stuff. This doesn’t even cover things like humility, patience, appreciative listening, and the value of more silence.
Yes, I pushed myself physically, which isn’t always the smartest thing to do when you’re dealing with health issues. I know I’m going to be dragging my ass around for a few days. Yes, there will be many naps between bouts of editing and reading. Yes, there will be early bedtimes and consistent meals. I don’t think yet I taxed myself so severely I’ll never recover, but I do know I did a lot in three days, and I take pride in that.
My best topics of discussion happen when I stop trying to be a panelist and start being a person in a conversation. It’s a strange thing to sit behind a table (doubly so when that table is elevated even in a small room), then speak about topics bigger than what kind of ice cream I like or my preference in bathrobes. Yes, I can be the center of attention and I can still put eyes on me and hold them there while I talk about marketing strategy or pitches or editorial concepts, but this was the first year I really shared the majority of my panels with people.
And it was good to sit and listen. I’m a fan of so many games and designers and developers and do-ers that it’s a pleasure to sit there and listen to them talk about things that seem like alchemy and sorcery or just plain foreign to me.
Is there a downside? Yes. There’s still that pull to talk, to be seen, to be heard, to feel not like some invisible child, even though in a lot of conversations I can realistically contribute little more than snark or profanity. I’m learning to deal, learning to be okay with not having stuff to say every moment. Not easy, but I bet it’s a useful skill.
I give good panel. Can I pick a favorite panel? No. They all stand out to me for one reason or another. The questions were insightful. The conversations went deep into rabbit holes. Burritos are delicious. Meeting new people is always amazing.
I will probably part 2 this, so stay tuned.