Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hypericon

A while back, my friend the small-press publisher, while admonishing me in how I needed to get out and promote myself, twigged me to this yearly "speculative fiction" convention held every year in Nashville, Hypericon. "It's your style," he said. "Not a horror con, not really a sci-fi con, and it's in the South." All of these are somewhat true. He was right about it being my style, though. I don't fit in with the horror writers because, well, all the stuff I've looked at is too obsessed with grossing you out or scaring you, and I don't really get that grossed out or scared by a book, anyway. I don't fit in with the sci-fi writers because I don't write about spaceships as a rule. But these days the genres are getting kinda big and open. And I am from the South. So I figured maybe I can crash this thing. I've never really belonged anywhere anyway.

I think Hypericon can best be classed as a "fancon", i.e. a convention for fans, as opposed to others that are held that are intended more for authors or aspiring authors, artists, etc. The fancon is what the "con" was originally created as, a bunch of crazy people who like the same TV show or whatever getting together in a hotel ballroom and hanging out. They've been doing it since B'Jo Trimble got the Star Trek cons rollling in the sixties and probably before then.

The modern con still traces its roots back to the sixties, though, if you ask me. I've only been to a couple - once as a kid I went to a comic-book convention in Pittsburgh, and snagged bootleg copies of some great Jacky Chan movies, and a couple of years ago I crashed DragonCon with my brother and friends, figuring you didn't need a badge to really get into the action. Overall both were pretty similar and from reading the programs and tellings from others I figure the same model holds. They are all culturally derived from the sixties idea of the "happening", like Woodstock, outwardly aspiring to be totally unscripted "be-ins" where everyone gets laid and does the Vulcan mind-meld on each other, there's no real program and it's just a fun time.

Of course, this never happens. DragonCon's badge-sniffers blocked us at every turn into an area we should have paid to be able to get into, like the concerts. Hippie anarachy quickly breaks down into hard-nosed totalitarianism, or at least that's how it looks to the hippies. Reality has to set in eventually, even if the organizers do their best to hold it back from the throngs that attend these things. So the whole vibe still runs through a con, even though you can sniff out the undercurrent. It's the kind of thing where you can just try to enjoy yourself for a while and not worry too much about having to show your badge everywhere.

I have no idea what Hypericon will be like. The schedule is the standard "be-in" fare, lots of informal descriptions. I figure it'll be just like any other con.

With one big difference.

The Big Difference is that I will aim to not be invisible for once. Instead of being the guy who fades quietly into the background, the anonymous guy in the black-and-white picture taken at some historical event that can be listed only as "(13) Unidentified", I will be promoting a goddamn book. I will have no choice since DA WIFE will be riding me like a pony the whole way and doing her best even when not around me to hand out my cards and annoy everyone with tales of how I should be the one on the panels instead of these nobodies. Well, women can get away with that kind of stuff.

I went to work on the book the other day and couldn't. It was a different feeling than usual. I wasn't walled off from the Infinite, that source of all creativity, frustrated in my efforts to write a story. It was just that, I finally figured out, the story was over. Either that or I was sick of working on it.

I guess we'll see. My only first reader is my wife. I don't know anyone else who has time to sit and read a book. Here's hoping that she's not so far off the deep end that her liking it actually means it's good.

And now I have to find another project. I must have fifteen stories sitting around, half-finished, more like a quarter finished. I could write any one of them, or fold them into something else ...

The other day I went to a local used-book store. As with most used-book stores, it was mostly a waste of time. God bless these people but seriously, their shelves are full of shit. I guess they can't help it. All the good stuff is on eBay now. And, walking through the rooms, looking at all the books, I thought to myself, why not me? Most of these books are shit. But someone published them, someone bought them, someone else will buy them on the used market.

So it's put-up-or-shut-up time. I figure I'll either succeed or commit ritual suicide. Follow it all here! Heh.

Up next is the first chapter of the book I've been slaving over. I call it:

HARD

BOILED

VAMPIRE

KILLERS

2 comments:

  1. I'm going to have to disagree with you a little here, Jim. Hypericon has a lot to offer for every fan, but I think we have a strong writing track as well. This year's topics included Self-Promotion, Writing Strong Endings, Developing Realistic Characters, Writing Characters of the Opposite Genre and many others. I think we have a lot for the new or recently published writer and the author-to-be. If you didn't find these panels on the schedule, or didnt check out the schedule, you missed some great opportunities. Maybe next year.
    Also - I don't know who you spoke to but you were pretty invisible to me. I don't think I met you. There was a guy named Jim who staggered drunk into the con suite and talked to me and my wife. He had a hat and glasses. Was that you?

    Fred Grimm
    Chairman
    Hypericon 5

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  2. Fred, thanks for the comment! I actually had a blast at Hypericon, this entry was more of a post about what I was expecting before I went there. As usual I was too pessimistic by half. All the writer's panels I went to were great and overall, if you sold lifetime memberships I'd seriously consider buying one.
    Anyway, hope you read through my senses-shattering blow-by-blow commentary of one man's adventure of fear, self-loathing and eventual triumph at your convention.

    Also, unfortunately yes, I was the guy with the hat. My wife tells me I wasn't as bad as I feared when she started filling in my lost time. All I can say in my defense is that Tycho slipped me a Mickey as I've never been that blotto that Evil Jim took over. I truly apologize because apparently I buttonholed you and your wife and chattered my head off.

    If I'm banned for life please let me know if the bylaws have an appeals process or something. I'd even be a volunteer at the consuite or maybe even follow you around carrying a little tray of refreshing drinks and other notions. It was that fun to be there. On the chance I haven't been added to Hypericon's Hall of Shame I plan to be back next year and only touch drinks I made myself.

    Hope you come back and read this and read my other entries often, I'm told they make perfect bathroom reading.

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