I tried to figure it out this year. I try to figure it out every year but I really have lost track by now. However, I think my first WisCon may have been WisCon 20. WisCon was my first SFF convention, has been pretty much my only convention, save for a couple of forays into MinneCon and even one World Fantasy Con, the year it was in Saratoga.
For the first decade or so, I would leave WisCon energized, ready to get to my next project, finish my current project, read all the good stuff, do all the writing. In those days I came off of WisCon on an incredible high! There were years I did readings, I participate on panels. I met some really great authors and made some long-term friends there. Smokey Wizard Bacon, my writing group, was formed out at WisCon (alas, like my first WisCon, I don’t remember which year that was, either. I remember it happened during one of the “Living Room” sessions with Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner. That narrows it down to a few years) and I wouldn’t have accomplished what I have with my writing if not for SWB.
But for the last several years, going to WisCon has ended with the blues. I’m not sure if my expectations were too high or my goals unrealistic. I know I was focused on selling my writing and maybe that was the issue. I’m not sure if its because fewer of those friends formed in the early years are going any longer, that I’m going to more panels alone. I’m not sure if it is because WisCon management treated my friend Elise really poorly or if, because of that total failure to do the right thing for a harassed woman at a feminist convention, I stopped going for a few years and haven’t been able to get back in to it.
Whatever the reason, by Memorial Day I feel entirely let down. I’m disillusioned, I’m ready to pack it all in. This year was no exception. I read on Friday but found no panels that I was interested in going to or at times I could attend. None. Zero. I’ve always been focused on the writing and business panels and I saw nothing that was of interest to me this year. I went to the Tiptree auction and the new auctioneer Sumana Harihareswara did a great job. She entertained and did the auction her way, and it was great. But she isn’t Ellen Klages (she wasn’t trying to be) and that just pointed out how much has changed.
The good is also the bad, I’m afraid. The GoH speeches were jaw droppingly amazing this year (I think they are pretty much every year). I was blown away by the power of those words, the power that words have to move people. (I’d link to them, but in another dissapointment, I don’t see them on the WisCon site).
At least my blue feelings didn’t last as long this time. I’m back reading and researching, I’m moving forward with my writing which is less and less focused on fantasy. I’m hoping to publish a mainstream novel in the next year and I’m working on a medieval murder mystery series. I’m sure next Memorial Day weekend I’ll think about heading downtown Madison to the Concourse. I’m just not sure I’ll make it all the way in or how I’ll feel afterward.