Plankton

As I feared, I’m blogging to avoid real work. Well, not entirely, because I always intended to write up my Worldcon experiences, and the fact that it’s taken over a month to get around to it is partly due to catching up on ‘proper’ writing. That and the day job and organising the Big Trip. Not to mention the fact that Worldcon came in the middle of three crazy weeks which also included Milford, two festivals (one folk, one world music) and an all night rave in a church in East London. Really must slow down…

So, how was Worldcon? Good, I think. I arrived pre-sleep-deprived, partly due to the lifestyle as detailed above and partly due to having travelled to Glasgow on the inaccurately named Caledonian ‘sleeper’. And my unrealistic hopes about making useful career contacts with Important People were soon dashed. But I still had fun. As with all such events I now want to build a time-machine and go back to do all the stuff I missed, though this has to be the first con I’ve been to where I actually wanted to be a kid (as opposed to just behaving like one), as YAFA seemed to be having the most fun of all, blowing things up, being zombies and storming the fan room.

I’ve been to about a dozen British Eastercons plus all the European Worldcons since 1987, but this con was different, as I was trying to cross the great Fan-Pro divide. To do this I had to deny my Evil Costuming Past, because costuming is looked down on by most Important People. All right, so I still dressed up a bit, and helped judge the masquerade because, damn it, costuming is a creative activity too.

I also took to hanging around the hotel bar in the (frankly unrealistic and naive) hope of meeting new Important People. I meet a few Important People I already know, plus several Unimportant but Interesting people who I now know, and a couple of people who thought they were Important, but were just Irritating. When it all got too much I fled to the fan room, joining my Beloved in his attempt to drink the con dry of real ale.

I did manage to blag my way into a couple of ‘pro’ events, where I dressed sensibly, wasn’t sick on anyone, and didn’t say anything stupid in front of anyone Important. I particularly enjoyed the Hugos bash, mainly because several of my friends won Hugos. OK, so they’re ‘only’ fannish Hugos but I’m still impressed, and I enjoyed basking in their reflected glory. My final, rather blurred, memory of Sunday night (well, Monday morning) was playing ‘Hugo ring toss’ in the fan room, a game for which you need a line of Hugos (we had four), some lightweight silver bangles, and a better aim that I had by that stage of the champagne.

So Worldcon was good for me, even if it didn’t further my writing career in any discernible way. But going to sensible and literary program items (as opposed to fun and glittery ones) did make me realise just how far down the food chain I still am. On the last day of the con I got talking to another writer in a similar position and we decided that we were plankton. Not phyto-plankton, as we’d at least been paid for some of our stories, but still near the bottom. Zoo-plankton, perhaps. Getting off the bottom requires (all together now) hard work and good luck, and a professional attitude (so I won’t be getting a badge made up saying ‘Ligging Plankton Girl’, because badges are for fans, not pros). I worry that the upwards struggle might also require eliminating some of those floating at the same level to me. I hope not. I’d rather not have to eat my friends.

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