So that happened.
My first WisCon was a terrific experience. I was honored to sit on two panels and moderate two others, bringing in large audiences and terrific discourse. I was humbled by the intelligence, passion, compassion, and articulacy of the panelists and attendees. WisCon really isn’t just a networking event for authors, but a community of passionate, intelligent people invested in social-justice. Inspiring stuff, I tell ya.
Here are some general impressions/salient memories I had of the conference:
- At least 4 instances of people describing intersectionality by reenacting the old Reese’s cup commercial: “You got chocolate on my peanut butter! You got peanut butter on my chocolate!” Conclusion: Feminists dig gastronomic metaphors, particularly when involving chocolate and peanut butter.
- Encountering my first anti-porn feminist in the wild. It was a great opportunity to have a small conversation because I realized that this woman (who was older- at least 60) had never heard of much of the porn I take for granted. To her “queer porn” was a totally new term, “lesbian porn” meant the ubiquitous fake stuff, and all of it was stuff women didn’t like to watch. She wasn’t angry about it; to her, porn was just an irrelevant side note to what “real” sexuality is. It was a nice reminder of what progress in porn looks like.
- Some people are reacting to the shift in traditional publishing in the wackiest of ways. Many folks, writers and editors both, are scared. Those that are making nice percentages off traditional deals, and those employed by large houses are the most scared. There was some lashing out and the new generations. Granted, I’m on the side of the new generations, so I may be biased.
- I LOVE the innovation happening among writers hip to new publishing and marketing models. I’m excited to find other writers who are doing things in a new way- connecting with readers directly and allowing reader/fan feedback to inform their strategies.
- I am so grateful for the lessons I’ve learned through cohabitation. In my living situation, I’ve needed to learn to find privacy even when surrounded by others. Sometimes this meant staying up late just to find a cozy spot in the hotel to read. Sometimes this meant putting on headphones and working on emails. Sometimes this meant not feeling ashamed to eat dinner alone or spend the extra bucks to get a hotel room to myself one night.
- I love hanging out with writers. Because most of us are introverts, the very frenetic energy of networking didn’t really permeate most of the spaces. In general, I felt that everyone was friendly and kind and open-minded while still being the guardians of their own privacy and solitude.
- We really are at the vanguard of a lot of these conversations. I contacted my buddy Dr. Charlie Glickman as I researched topics for the Princess Boys Panel, looking to him as one of the more qualified experts on discussions sex-positive masculinity. I asked him who else I should read regarding male femininity. “No one, really,” he said. “There really aren’t a lot of men out there taking on these kinds of things.” While it felt odd at the time, it makes plenty of sense. The reason why our gender role models are Chaz Bono, David Bowie, and Ellen DeGenerous, is because there’s a real dearth of conversation, even among feminists, about dismantling gender expectations to work for everyone, cis men and women included.
- I met some extraordinarily smart (and foxy!) writers. Rawr. Some of my favorites included Neesha Meminger, Alexandra Erin, Clarisse Thorn, and Xakara.
- I enjoyed the programming. My only complaint was that there was so much great programming that we all had to make too many difficult choices.
- I love moderating & sitting on panels, and enjoy getting to meet people that way. Since I can be rather shy, it’s a great way for me to show what I’m about and then have people introduce themselves to me afterwards.
- When you make it clear you accommodate certain groups of people, those people show up. I loved how clearly WisCon articulated access needs and how all the participants worked with them. I’ve never seen so many folks in chairs at a conference before, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised that it’s because WisCon is so clear about making it just a little easier for them to access all the good stuff.
- I love that, even though we are a highly political group, the discourse was in general unrestrained. There is some talk of various race-fails, but most of it seems to happen (I’ve got no first hand experience this year) within a supportive, constructive context.
- I came back from WisCon with 100% certainty that I want to self-publish my first book. I truly wasn’t expecting this result. Yet, after some convos with some not-so-charming editors, many writers who wished they’d done it differently from the outset, and writers who forwent the traditional model to great success, I know that self-publishing is going to be the best route for me. Stay tuned for more details.
- I bought so many damn books.
- You can bet you’ll see me there next year.
- OH DUH [UPDATE] – I can’t believe I forgot my favorite part of this conference. During the SFF and Erotica Panel that I was on, I mentioned that a very wonderful editor told me “If you get rid of the fisting scene, we can pitch this as YA.” This, I have decided, will be my slogan for life. If you just get rid of the fisting scene, we can pitch this as YA. You’re welcome.