Nerdcon: Stories

I left Nerdcon: Stories on Saturday afternoon (yes afternoon, even though it went until Saturday night!), but it’s been taking up a whole lot of mental real estate and I’m going to try to write down a little bit of why.

The people
Nice!  So nice!

And just so CHILL.  I’ve been to events with John Green before and people were totally freaking out.  I was in the story circle and Hank Green kind of meandered out as a guy was telling the story of how he got a job working FOR HANK GREEN, and Hank kind of smiled in a slightly confused way and everyone remained seated and I took out my phone to maybe take a picture?  And my daughter (age 15) gave me a stern look and said that would be rude.  And everyone else seemed to be on her wavelength ’cause Hank just kept meandering and everyone smiled and waved and there was absolutely no freaking.

The access
I’m deaf.  My daughter wanted to go to Nerdcon: Stories because four of her favorite people in the universe are John Green, Hank Green, Rainbow Rowell, and Maureen Johnson, and she wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to be in the same building as all four of them at once.  I wanted to go because of my book (see below for details).  I’d gotten a myintent bracelet that said “STORY” as a reminder both to focus on the book and to remember that everyone has a story.  A month later, Nerdcon: Stories was announced and I was like yeah, gotta go.

But, I’m deaf.  I put in my request for an ASL interpreter right when I bought tickets, but didn’t hear back.  I followed up about six weeks before the con, and got a response this time.  No.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

Eh?

Long story short, there were several exchanges in which I tried to be nice about the fact that this isn’t really something you can legally say no to and looked into paying for interpreters for at least one session myself (because I desperately wanted to have access to “The Benefits of Diverse Stories” panel because hello?!) and eventually got a yes.  Yay!

It’s so delightful when karma is instant.  The interpreters were fantastic and became superstars in and of themselves, especially David.

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(And that’s just a selection! There were way more.)

I’m so used to accompanying my daughter to events where I get the general gist but miss almost all of the details. It was so lovely and incredible to be right there laughing along with her (the bagpipes thing… DAMN that was funny) and not miss a single thing. Not to mention that I got to be right up front for everything! I truly feel like I was just kind of hanging out with all of these wonderful people for a couple of days. Pat Rothfuss especially seemed really interested in the interpreters and how they did their job — in the “Is This a Kissing Book?” panel, I noticed a couple of times that he would say something, glance at the interpreter to see how he signed it, then glance at me to see my reaction.

It was great. Thanks so much Hank, Nick, and anyone else who was responsible for providing full access.

The book
I’ve been writing a book for the past couple of years.  I know, who hasn’t, right?  This thing started out as a single chapter written in a fit of pique.  I’d read a quite popular YA book on my daughter’s recommendation, and man did it STINK (not by any of the authors at Nerdcon btw) and I decided that “I could do better than that!” was, while fun to say, empty if I didn’t in fact do better than that.  So I rattled something off, a beginning to a story that had been sloshing around in my brain for a while, and it was super-fun.  And kind of credible.  And my daughter read it and said “OMG YOU MUST WRITE THIS BOOK!”  And then she showed it to some of her friends and there was more OMG-ing.  And I went hmmm.

I do have a degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing.  I’ve always wanted to be a writer — it just seemed like something that was vanishingly unlikely to actually HAPPEN.

But this chapter, book, story, whatever it was, just wouldn’t really go away, even though I had no time for it.  I’d get back to it whenever I could and slowly the characters stopped being people I was creating and started being people.  It wasn’t that I was telling them what to do, they did stuff and I recorded it.  (Does that sound weird?  It sounds a little weird.)

And then I had a couple of mind-blowing plot point revelations.  (Well, they blew my mind.)  And a real-live book started coming together.

I had hoped to have the entire first draft of the manuscript done by the time I went to Nerdcon; I know that’s the first step, and I can’t contact agents or do anything else really until that happens.  Didn’t quite manage it.  (I’m using Scrivener and I have like 400 pages total but a lot of that is character notes and research and crap like that.  I have probably 3/4 of the book writing done.)

But now, post-Nerdcon, I am SO MOTIVATED.  It was just so incredibly… clarifying.  To see these authors, to see them speaking and thinking (the seeing-them-thinking part is in my book — it happens).  To learn about the process, to identify with so much, to start to feel like I’m not a breed apart from these exalted people, necessarily — it might be more degree than kind.  And that if I apply that nose to that grindstone (that’s really a pretty icky idiom isn’t it? gotta be bloody), this is something that can actually happen.

So.  Thank you Nerdcon: Stories (and thank you Rainbow Rowell, whose “Fangirl” I read the day after and which added to and reinforced all kinds of writerly feelings).  I’m gonna do this.

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