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Completely unsatisfying 4th St. con report - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Completely unsatisfying 4th St. con report [Jun. 27th, 2014|07:43 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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Look, folks, I’m terrible at con reports. I never take good panel notes, and I feel like I’m name-dropping if I list the people I talked to. Worse, I feel like I’m name-dropping incompetently, because I’m sure to forget some of my favorite people and make them feel like they aren’t valued, which is just plain unacceptable. So we can’t have that.


But Fourth Street! It was a Fourth Street! And Fourth Street is my favorite con. I am an introvert, and I like very chewy nerdy theory conversations. The single-track mode of programming at Fourth Street sets that up perfectly. Everyone is pretty much in the same place, where you can find them easily, so there is no wandering through hordes and hordes of people looking for the ones who might be talking about things you like. There they are. If you’re looking for one in specific, there’s a very limited number of places that person might be. And the conversation is not limited–it’s very far-ranging, in fact–but it does tend to have all sorts of ready-made entry-points from panels and the little extra things that spring up around the official programming.


This was the first time I’d done anything like the writers’ seminar that precedes Fourth Street. It was basically like being on panels solidly from 9-2:30, with one fifteen-minute break in the morning and one hour-long break for lunch. Lunch was provided–which was good, because by the time lunch rolled around, I was literally shaking with exhaustion/hunger. (Keep in mind that I was really sick for the week preceding the con. Wednesday was the first day I was well enough to shower standing up. Thursday was the first day I was well enough to wear clothes. Then Friday I did the seminar! Um, go team!) So having the lunch provided was great…except that it was with the seminar participants, so it wasn’t really down time per se. I’ve talked to the organizer, and things will be slightly different next year, to allow for value for the participants while still allowing the seminar leaders a minute to themselves.


Every year I try to encourage people to come to Fourth Street. This year is no different. Every year I meet new awesome people. Every year I reconnect with some of my old awesome people, and lament the ones I didn’t get enough time with (both at the con and the ones who couldn’t make it). Seriously: think about this con for next June. There are all sorts of ways to stretch and grow as a writer. Fourth Street is one of them. I came back with six pages of notes for different projects, ideas that had been sparked by things various people had said. It’s that kind of con.


One thing I remember saying on one of my panels that I do want to repeat here: I was talking about how my agent reacted (well! she reacted well!) when I told her I’d been struggling with some health stuff. I said something like, “Everyone in this room deserves to work with people who treat them ethically. All of you. You deserve someone who treats you like a person, with consideration and respect.” That was not actually meant to be limited to that room. Wherever you are in your career–whatever your career is–you deserve ethical treatment, consideration, and respect from the people you work with. Don’t let anybody tell you differently. It matters. There was lots of theorizing and arguing about craft and story and art, and all that is important. It really is. But I really want that point to be heard, because sometimes I think those of us who have been striving for something in the creative professions can want it so badly for so long that we can lose sight of other considerations, including some incredibly important ones.


Anyway. It was Fourth Street, it was lovely, and then I came home and found that I’d sold my 4H kids in space story to Analog. It’s called “Blue Ribbon,” and it’s much darker than it sounds; these things happen. Anyway, it was a great ending to a great con. You should think about coming next year.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: desperance
2014-06-28 01:13 am (UTC)
And we so nearly came! If Mjölnir unemployment hadn't come down on Karen at exactly the wrong moment, we'd have been there this year. Damnitall.

Next year in Minneapolis?
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-06-28 01:44 am (UTC)
That would be lovely! I do hope you can make it.
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[User Picture]From: rushthatspeaks
2014-06-28 01:53 am (UTC)
I very much hope for next year. It will depend on several things, including family stuff and whether Specific Person I Don't Interact With is going, but Fourth Street is at the top of list of cons I want to go to and haven't managed yet.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-06-28 01:54 am (UTC)
We would really love to have you.
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[User Picture]From: sprrwhwk
2014-06-28 02:28 am (UTC)
Really wish I could have made it this year. I had a great time last year. Sadly surprise!work trip and vacation the week before meant that quiet weekend at home was about all I had energy for.

then I came home and found that I’d sold my 4H kids in space story to Analog.

You have my attention!
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-06-28 02:52 am (UTC)
I will let you know when I have a pub date on it!

And I hope you can make it to 4th St. next year. Sometimes we really have to prioritize the quiet weekends at home, though.
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[User Picture]From: sprrwhwk
2014-06-28 02:59 am (UTC)
Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: takumashii
2014-06-28 04:05 am (UTC)
“Everyone in this room deserves to work with people who treat them ethically. All of you. You deserve someone who treats you like a person, with consideration and respect.”

Yep yep yep, and thanks for that.

And my agent, and my editor(s) did treat me with consideration, and respect, and yet -- I wanted so badly to be the kind of writer who was easy to work with and never gave anybody any trouble, that I couldn't manage to say "This is not going well with me emotionally, and we need to figure something out."

I wish I had figured out sooner that I was allowed to say that.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-06-28 01:19 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you've figured it out now.
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[User Picture]From: sartorias
2014-06-28 01:16 pm (UTC)
I love Fourth Street, too. I just wish it was in commuting distance.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-06-28 01:18 pm (UTC)
I wish you could commute here for more than Fourth Street! We'd have you over for tea and supper and all sorts of things.
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[User Picture]From: sartorias
2014-06-28 01:24 pm (UTC)
Mmmmmmnummy! Every year I set it as a goal, I even get a bit of savings going . . . and then some household emergency comes along, sigh. I would very much like to break this pattern!
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-06-28 01:46 pm (UTC)
No kidding, fie on household emergencies!
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[User Picture]From: ethelmay
2014-06-28 08:03 pm (UTC)
I wish I could have been there, too. I am going to be in Minneapolis this summer, but far too late.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-06-28 09:14 pm (UTC)
Sometimes that's even more frustrating, to feel like it's so close and yet so far.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-06-29 01:32 am (UTC)
It was Sunday! Yes! Good to meet you too, and I'm glad you had a good time.
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