Living for the Revel (catvalente) wrote,
Living for the Revel
catvalente

ringsnake posted a comment to my nattering on about Melbourne. I started a reply several times but in the end though I'd put it here, because I think it bears repeating into the LJ megaphone.

I think that it's these stories of international travel that cause us lesser mortals to have a skewed idea of the writer's life. The very idea of traveling internationally to go to sci-fi or games cons captures the imagination more than the reality of slogging away at a keyboard trying to make characters and plot behave themselves.

Right now I wish I was you. I'd let you have your life back once it gets back to the daily slog.


I think ringsnake is right--it's stories like this that make us all seem to glamorous and carefree. I try to post happy things about my travel, so that you all can experience a little of my wonder. It is, of course, not so very glamorous to have ankles swollen up so big from a 15 hour coach flight that you can't put a pair of shoes on, but it is pretty awesome to be in Melbourne, to do what I do. There's a reason everyone wants to be a writer--it is, even at my level, pretty much the best life I can think of.

But I want to be clear--cons are tremendously hard work.

I'm not paying for this one. Expedia gave me an I'm Sorry coupon after my honeymoon debacle that covered my flight and hotel. But it's true--I do pay, out of my own somewhat anemic pocket, to go to several cons a year. Only GoHs, generally, get their expenses covered, though very occasionally a con will extend that to me, it's not the normal way of doing things. Cons are expensive. We go because we love our fans and we need to network and a whole host of other reasons. But where you might go to one or two cons a year, the costs of attending many more--five, six, ten--is just part of operating costs for an SFF writer.

And we work at cons. I have to tell you, most of us are destroyed afterwards. It's physically and mentally punishing, especially given that most authors are not in their 20s when they start publishing (I was, but I'm not now). The body rebels against all nighters and constant screaming to be heard and the mind rebels against answering the same questions nineteen different ways. It is a performance for fans, and it is very often a rewarding one, but it's not a vacation by any means, and we pay for the privilege of it all. There's a reason many authors have assistants or handlers at a con--not because they're snooty, but because we run ourselves to the bone, forget to eat, forget to stop when our body tells us, forget what we're supposed to be doing half the time because we're so tired by day two. (I do not have an assistant at this con, before you ask. Usually my husband helps me not die, but I'm on my own this time.)

We don't talk about it so much because you should have an experience of meeting an author you like that is free of their crankiness and pain and exhaustion, their irritation at the thousand little tortures of travel. It's for you guys--so that the world of books will shine for you, and we will, too. And least we try. We do try, so hard, to be the authors we wanted to meet when we were younger. Kind and generous and beautiful, all those things, and none of the rough edges.

So yes, Melbourne is wonderful. I wish you were all here. I will remember this con so very fondly. But my body is prepared to take a hit with a science fictional shovel, and I will be in a lot of pain by Sunday, between my foot injury, my back, walking the ridiculous distances big convention centers love about forty seven times, jet lag and the voice loss that's already started. Is sexy, no? Hot grrl author, with Audrey glasses and the flash of ze camera?

Not so much.

This isn't meant to be complainy--I could have stayed home. It is a huge privilege to get to fly to other countries and have people care what you say, have them want you to write your name on things and have dinner with them. There is glamor and gorgeousness. But we usually keep the price tag hidden, so that our readers can enjoy our tales of life on the road rather than listening to me go on about my weird arch foot thing and how I am more or less constantly dehydrated. The icon that says Undestructable? It's as much a prayer and a hope as a statement.

I'm going to dry my hair and go register. Worldcon is going to be awesome--it already is. I'm going to share it with you because dude, I blog. That's what I do. I overshare. And then I will go home and write, which is even less sexy than appearing at a con. I rarely wear my lobster pajamas and monster slippers to a panel, after all. I will have deadlines that would thick your blood with cold. This life takes your breath away sometimes, with the grace and beauty of it, with the luck to be able to make a living on your mind and heart alone, but like any theatrical dance and shuffle, what goes on behind the scenes is a good deal less sparkling than it appears when the author executes her double flip and lands on her feet, smiling, shining, flowers in her hair, laughing as if it didn't hurt at all.
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