I attended FogCon a couple of weeks ago. I had only attended one other con, and that was several years ago when I went to WorldCon in San Jose, CA. WorldCon was huge, taking up much of the McEnry Convention Center. There were lots of cosplay people dressed as Galadriel or Romulans or as people/creatures/characters I didn’t even recognize. And I met Terry Pratchett.
Yes, I know I said I was going to talk about FogCon, but I have to stop and talk about my encounter with Mr. Pratchett, who is one of my VERY EXTREMELY MOST FAVORITE fantasy authors.
You see, I met Connie Willis first. I was in the vendors’ hall when I happened to glimpse her nametag. Connie Willis is also a favorite author, so I introduced myself—and proceeded to commit every rabid-fan sin it is possible to commit in attempting to praise her work. Even as I heard the vapid words burbling out of my mouth, I knew I was doomed. The expression of pain on Ms. Willis’ face only confirmed my gauche blundering. I attempted to extricate myself by saying, “Well, I’m starting to drool on you, so I guess I’d better go now.” Ms. Willis nodded mute agreement, and I slunk away with my tail between my legs, feeling like a complete moron.
I was standing at a vendor’s stall wondering if it is possible to actually die of embarrassment when a tidy gentleman with a gray beard and a black fedora walked up. I thought he looked familiar, but when the vendor called him “Mr. Pratchett,” my suspicions were confirmed. He stood right next to me as the vendor handed him a CD and said, “I’ve been saving this for you, but I was afraid I might come across as a rabid fan.” (Like me, I thought.)
Pratchett took the CD and said, “I adore rabid fans!”
I turned to him and said, “Well, then, would you mind if I drooled on your shoulder?”
Pratchett responded, “Not at all—but would you mind drooling on this shoulder”—he patted his right shoulder—“as the other one is already rather damp?”
Instantly, the oppressive cloud of feeling foolish lifted and disappeared. I will never forget how Terry Pratchett’s humor and kindness brightened my day and turned my embarrassment into laughter. (Not that I mean to say Connie Willis made me feel bad. I made myself feel bad. I should’ve kept my mouth shut.)
Okay, back to FogCon, which is a very different con. I thought the topics appeared geared more to writers than to fans (“How To Create a Magical System” is one example), but there were probably more fans than writers. The sessions were a combination of panel discussion and group discussion. I introduced myself to several people, and sometimes got into conversations, but most people seemed to be there with groups of like-minded friends, and they were more interested in hanging with their posses than mingling. No one was rude or even cold; I just never clicked with anyone. I asked several people why they came to FogCon, and the answers were all along the lines of “I enjoy the discussions. The topics are so interesting.” Perhaps other cons are not as participative? I don’t know yet.
I managed to miss all the good parties because I didn’t know about the con suite. I handed out a few cards about “The Obsidian Mirror,” but no one expressed much interest. I finally just left a stack on the literature table. When I tried to talk about the book to a bookseller (from whom I was purchasing three books at the time), he just looked bored and pointedly set the card aside without a word.
By the time the “Non-Awards Banquet” rolled around on Saturday night, I was kind of done. There was a party afterwards, but I was tired and didn’t feel like trying to push myself onto more indifferent people.
I’ve done a lot of successful networking in my time, but I felt like a complete tyro at FogCon. I suspect that I am on a learning curve here. I went to the con to learn more about how cons work, and from that perspective, I was successful. I think I need to attend more cons and pick up on the culture (which I think differs from con to con, based on my limited experience). If I continue to attend, I’ll probably get to know others who go to cons and vice versa. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll have my very own posse.