I went to Dublin on Thursday; flew back Monday. We were staying in the Grand Canal Hotel in Dublin (which was lovely) and were mostly based at the CCD (amazing building!) for WorldCon 2019. Obligatory “the organisation and volunteers rocked!” – it must be so much hard work to plan and organise something like that, and even though there were hiccups and problems, most of the ones I saw got resolved very fast, and everyone was very open to listening – everyone was wonderfully helpful when we needed it, and most of the events I saw were going very smoothly. So huge kudos to the con staff and volunteers for an amazing – if ridiculously huge! – job.
But as for my personal Con experience: I’m now back, and need to update after Friday’s somewhat grey post… and I’m really struggling over what to say or how to un-tangle the tangle, as it was definitely a love/hate feeling.
The LOVE is that it was amazing to see people: I had an absolute blast meeting so many people (I’m going to fail to namecheck so many so let’s just go with “ALL OF THE PEOPLE”) and EVERYONE was AMAZING. Everyone was chilled, enthusiastic, happy to geek out over books or reading or the people they’d met or travelling or just whatever was on their mind; I chatted and listened and geeked and it was awesome. I got to meet a whole bunch of friends I knew; met people I’d only met online, which was fantastic; and met people whose books I’d read or edited or simply want to read. The people were AMAZING, and that absolutely rocked.
And professionally, it was also amazing: I met agents and authors and didn’t embarrassingly fangirl over anyone (ok, I managed to keep it together until they’d left and then I did, so I don’t think anyone noticed) and got to talk books and schedules and future projects, and I met a whole bunch of industry people (how are there so many Kates?!) and I came back with half a box of cards instead of a whole one and that rocked too. So the people and meetings were so good, and a definite highlight.
The HATE is… everything else, I guess. I saw one panel, and that was mostly by accident; and actually when I looked at the schedule, there weren’t that many I thought “yes, that looks like one I really want to see!” They all looked interesting, and the lines and queues and huddles and chatter suggested that a wonderful amount of people saw them and enjoyed them – but just… not for me, I guess. (A complex situation with work also meant that I ended up having no time to see panels, but that’s a separate problem, although it definitely added to the frustrations.) The kaffeeklatsches were the same; there were some by authors that I love, but I have no idea what I’d say to them! I don’t know what I’d want to talk about, and felt that I’d be taking the place of someone who did have a desire to be there. And readings I struggle with anyway, as I struggle with audio (I’m not much of a TV or audiobook person due to that) so… and I got into the Dealer’s Room once (again, work issues) and that was frustrating, as there was stuff I wanted to buy but felt I couldn’t and…
(Ok, yes, I did buy some books – I’ve wanted Becky Chamber’s Wayfarer‘s series in hard copy since I read the first one, so I got those, and Marie Brennan’s latest. So I did get some treasures, despite ending up thinking I’d come back for others and then not being able to.)
I don’t know what’s wrong with me, really. It should have all been so exciting and interesting and it’s my world and my people and my subjects, and I just… felt grey. I was grey while I was there; and I’m grey now I’ve gotten home and decompressed. I’m not sure why I can’t just be pleased to have just spent a weekend in the company of fantastic people. I’m feeling like an ungrateful, miserable lump and I don’t really know where the feeling is coming from. I just mused over whether I’d go again, and my feeling is actually “I’m not sure” which… isn’t what you’re meant to do after cons. You’re meant to be drained and tired and have Con Crud but say it was wonderful! and brilliant! and ALL OF THE PEOPLE! and Look At My Book Haul! and I Went To Amazing Panels! and… I’m just “meh.”
I don’t know what I was expecting, so it’s not let-down expectations; I don’t think it’s come-down from a Con high of meeting people, as I had the grey feeling there too. It seems to be a complex tangle of Imposter Syndrome and feeling like I only half belong; a mix of feeling like I was always doing the wrong thing (work! rest! see everything! talk to everyone! why are you here? go there!) and feeling that I was doing too much, or not enough. It seems to be being talked over and overlooked by some people, and having too much attention given to me by others when I’m too small and unimportant to deserve it. It seems to be not knowing my place – writer? publisher? fan? – and somehow not managing to ever fulfil any of those roles with the right degree.
I always had slightly the wrong mask on or the wrong tools in my hands, wherever I was; I didn’t know what I was allowed to be, and ended up not being able to be any of it.
But overall, I guess that even though I’m not sure about my Con experience, I’m very glad I went, and I’m so glad I got to meet people and chat and smile and geek out. I have an amazing set of people who surround me, and I’m so so pleased to have been able to add to it, along with actually meeting so many of those I hadn’t before.
My friends – both old and new – absolutely made the trip worthwhile.