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Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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GoH GoH Grrl
ConFusion was awesome. Next post will be all my thoughts on being a GoH--but it was a blur of friends and panels and love and Peter Beagle and lots of chocolate.

One of the best moments, though, was my GoH speech, which I was so nervous about. I am told it went over well, Twitter tells me people cried--and ultimately, I couldn't get through the end without choking up and squeaking the last words, and Mr. Beagle just about fell off his chair at...well, you'll know the part. I want to post it here--there will be video, but it takes time to process all the tape. So here it is, for everyone who couldn't be there, both Fusion folk and not.

ConFusion 2010: Islands In the Stream

Hi! I'm Cat. For those of you who don't know me, I make books, which come in many exciting sizes and colors. I'd like to thank the con com and everyone involved with ConFusion for bringing me here and being so extraordinarily kind—this is my first Guest of Honor appearance, and I kind of feel like a little kid at Christmas. And I could do the thing where I recite my CV and then make a Doctor Who reference and sit down, but I want to talk about something else.

Some of you may know that about a year ago, I moved to a small island off the coast of Maine. I'm being completely serious when I say it's one of the last true fairy countries, a place where memory plays tricks on you, where if you wake up early in December you might see a girl in white walking on the shore with a crown of candles on her head, where the power goes out regularly, and your neighbors come bearing the gifts of the Magi: coffee, candles, and a spare generator, where people take care of each other, and share a history, where everything changes, and everything lasts forever. It's a very strange, very uncanny, very wonderful place to live.

And in places like that, you spend a lot of time thinking about the nature of home.

Because this, right here, you and me and all of us in a hotel once a year, this is an island, too. Fandom, all over the world, is a secret country, a Brigadoon that comes together once in awhile, where we all know each other, we're all up in everyone else's business, and we share this history, this imaginary geography that becomes real when we enter those big glass doors. We have this huge neighborhood, and we all know how the streets lie.

Grandpa Tolkien lives in that big giant house down on the back shore that we all look at with envy but will never be able to buy.  Grandpa Asimov throws these amazing parties on the landing, and he even get girls from town to come. Auntie Rowling is summer folk, and the kids gather round her house in June, hoping for a bit of homemade candy. Old man Ellison just keeps kicking up a fuss every time someone walks on his lawn. Mama Atwood keeps saying she doesn't live here, but her mail gets delivered, all the same. Just any old day you can find Uncle Scalzi down at the pub ranting about one thing or another. Cousin Resnick's out in the bay wrestling whales. There's this crazy girl with a guitar that you can hear every night, when the wind blows right. And boy, you should see our library. But most of us live in clusters, in the forest, by the beach, near the old graveyard where we can still go and remember who we were, so long ago. In houses that need a bit of insulation, a new chimney, fresh paint, but they're home all the same. We have our ways, we island folk. We have our own dialect, our own rules. When one of us is hurt, when one of us needs help, we all head over with our spare generators and a lot of love, and we make it better. We take care of our own. We know it's hard to live on an island. Not everyone understands, in the outside world. You have to love it, and keep loving it, to make it out here. But we're all connected by this island we make when we come together, and just like you can find someone just about anywhere who has some relation to an island in Maine, you can find us, islanders of Fandom, everywhere you look.

And to me, that means home. So my gratitude at being invited up to the big house, so to speak, to stand here and talk to all of you, is probably quite a bit bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside.

I'd like to end by telling you the very smallest story about the connections our island can make. You see, when I was fifteen, a man came to my high school creative writing class. It was the first time I'd ever met a real live person who'd written a book, and I was in total awe. He talked about what it meant to make a living as a writer, in both romantic and practical terms. He talked about his books, and how he'd come to write them. I still remember most of what he said that day, because it was the first day that I really thought about becoming a writer myself, when it seemed like a thing that could actually be possible, and not a superpower, and you either got bitten by that spider or you didn't. It was the first time I thought: maybe. Maybe I could.

And that man was Peter Beagle.

So you see, today comes full circle for me. Standing up here, my first time as a Guest of Honor, with the man who put me on this path, whether he knew it or not.

And really, that's the kind of magic that can happen, if you live on an island, and you keep the faith.

::grins:: That's truly beautiful. :)

That is amazing in so many ways.

I sadly missed Opening Ceremonies and your speech, but I'm crying now at work reading this. It was great seeing you, however briefly, at that little island.

It was a lovely speech, and I totalled cried (no shame!) and fell in love all over again with the magic of connections and circles and con-li-ness of being. Small worlds make for the best stories.


I wish we could have been there.

And boy, you should see our library.

I would like that. I'm on pretty good terms with one of the librarians. ;-)

Awesome. Just for that you deserved your GoH spot.

What a wonderful speech, and a wonderful sentiment. Well said. <3

Reading this is making me cry. AGAIN. (I cried when I heard it, too, though also laughed at many spots...good ol' Uncle Scalzi.)

"I am told it went over well"

This, my dear, is what we call a massive understatement. It was a fine and glorious thing to have seen, and I am incredibly fortunate to have been among those present to hear it. You spoke from the heart and to the heart.

Last night I returned to where I live...but I had to leave home when I did so.

Okay, that made me get a bit teary-eyed just reading.

And I don't do that.

Damn you! It is plausible that I misted a little when you unwrapped it for us beneath the opening ceremonies tree...but then you linked it...and I had to read it.

Now I sit in my car, sleep deprived bags under my eyes filled with teary, red puffiness. Well played...

...and thank you for honoring us with a bit of you for one moment...we can't wait for your next visit home.

What a beautiful speech, and an amazing coming-together of things.

I'm awed.

Beautiful, though in a way glad to have missed it because you filled my crying in public quotent for a while at Arisia. ;)