Saturday, May 27, 2006

Balticon 40 update, #2

Did a signing and a reading today, which was recorded for a podcast. The reading, not the signing. The audio for the signing would go something like this:

Me: (humming "It Ain't Me" by Bob Dylan)
Me: (shuffling papers)
Me: (whispering) Please, God, let someone talk to me...
Footsteps approach.
Me: (whispering) Someone's coming! Thanks, God.
Dude in a Darth Vader T-shirt: Hi.
Me: Hello. How are you?
Darth Dude: Where's Ann Crispin? Isn't she supposed to be signing at 3:00?
Me: Uh, yeah. I don't know where she is. Would you like a free sample of my upcoming novel?
DD: (suspiciously) How much is it?

Anyway, I met fellow Luna author Maria Snyder, whose novel Poison Study won the 2006 Compton Crook Award--woo-hoo! The Compton Crook goes to the best first novel in speculative fiction. Don't ask me who Compton or Crook are.

I don't know if I'll be eligible for CC next year. Requiem makes things kind of odd: it wouldn't have qualified for many first novel awards because at the time e-books weren't considered real novels, and yet its very existence might disqualify me from some first novel awards. Not that I really care. Except the ones with cash awards--those I definitely care about.

Attended a fun panel on Rock 'n' Roll in Science Fiction. One of the panelists was Adam Stemple, an author and musician who is now on my Check 'Em Out list.

Fantasy luminaries Neil Gaiman and Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn, A Fine and Private Place) gave a joint interview this afternoon. They both spoke about finding jewels of brilliance in their work and not knowing how they got there and worse, not knowing how to make them happen again.

Gaiman added that one moment there would be that spontaneous magic, and then the next moment you go back to bricklaying, laying down one heavy, solid word after another as best as you can.

All I can say is Amen, brothers.

They said that all the success in the world doesn't make it easier to face the blank page. If anything, it makes it harder, because you face a whole new set of expectations from readers, publishers, and yourself.

My thoughts: People often compare writing a novel to having a baby. The effort to get published is like being pregnant. It's painful, nauseating, occasionally humiliating, and you become desperate for it to end. But childbirth is just the beginning and presents a whole new set of challenges. Be a good parent without going nuts.

Same with writing and becoming published. You've got to nurture your career without losing your sanity, without losing yourself. I feel lucky that so many decent author-type folks have trod this path before me and are kind enough to share their experiences at events like Balticon.

More tomorrow.



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Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

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