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WFC Do's and Don't's - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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WFC Do's and Don't's [Nov. 2nd, 2011|10:00 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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If you're a writer with a recent or forthcoming first novel, do talk about the other writers who have inspired you. Lissa Price was on my panel, and her comments about which writers had led her to think she could not only do this but have fun at it were a very good way of placing her context and the likely audience for her book--and were gracious besides.

Don't promote your book by tearing down the entire rest of the field. The gentleman who talked of his book being different from the entire rest of the fantasy field, which is composed of quest tales of young white orphan boys and their swords--not only has he not done his research, he's just gone and offended half the room at World Fantasy, because some of them write and like that stuff, and some of them have been writing and publishing completely different kinds of fantasy for ages now and don't like being told they don't exist.

Do plan ahead. Saying to a friend, "Are you free for lunch tomorrow?" or "How about dinner Friday? Where shall we meet?" may be the difference between seeing them for a happy few hours and never finding them again. Knowing that I would definitely get to see dear friends I hadn't seen in a long time was a steadying point and a high point.

Don't make those plans vague. "Oh yes, I'll see you later! And meet your fiancee!" Um. Not so functional, that. Sorry!

Do leave space in your bag for books. Wheeee!

Don't buy a membership to a con that has a capped membership and a waiting list if you have publicly expressed scorn and loathing for its subject matter. Tacky, tacky, tacky. Seriously, people, how hard is this? I don't really like horror. I don't go to World Horror. There! Done! How hard was that? I do not trip and fall and find myself on the membership list. Similarly, if you don't like fantasy...and you have been very clear that you don't like fantasy...and the convention is World Fantasy...well, you do the math.

Do try crazy nearby restaurants. The top of Neiman Marcus was surprisingly not overpriced, and brought us lovely things; the weird iPad-themed restaurant worked well and was easy for a group that was not paying all together without actually being fast food. (But Boudin Bakery is also still good.)

Don't go to an event at the Town and Country. Seriously. It sucked, lo, mightily. I didn't even have the worst issues with it, of all the people I know. But even minor things like the Which Towel Type Won't We Get Today? game were annoying, and the disability issues were far, far worse. This is everyone's problem.

Do tell writers you meet if you like their work. Even if it's little things. They will appreciate it. In some cases it may get them through tough weeks.

Don't grab somebody by the thigh as she is walking to get her attention. I...feel like all the qualifications on this one are a bit moot. Other people's thighs: they are not yours. When you're male and they're female; when you're an editor and they're a writer; when you just met the previous day and are not old friends; when they have a balance disorder that affects their mobility--all these things are additional problems. But in their absence it's still not okay to just--in person I tend to go into rant voice on this. Because we do not! We just don't! We don't grab other people by the thigh! What the hell! Other people's children!

(I also feel obliged to say that it is not an editor I have worked with or would work with. The folks from Shimmer, Fantasy, and Tor.com were all great.)

Here's the thing. I was watching hockey last night, and one of the Red Wings came crashing into the Wild net, straight into Josh Harding. And the announcer was saying something about how he was not sure that this person intended to interfere with the goaltender. And I watched the replay and said, "No, but he sure didn't intend not to." And that's the standard. It is his job to attempt to steer clear of mowing down the goalie. And that's kind of how I feel about this. Did the person in question mean to sexually harass me? Probably not. But he sure as hell didn't put in even rudimentary kindergarten level effort to respect my personal space, either, and that's quite enough. It was not incumbent on the ref to ascertain that the Red Wings player had great evil and malice aforethought; it was enough that he did not make an effort to avoid the thing that was over a line. And this? This was over a line.

Nor was it the only such incident I experienced at this con. It's just the one I can describe most clearly at the moment: I was walking out of my reading, and this guy grabbed me by the thigh as I was walking past, to tell me that he liked my story. And the stuff I said above, about saying nice things to the writers you like? It goes out the window when you invade their personal space first. Truly.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: alecaustin
2011-11-03 03:20 am (UTC)
I am the Alec, and I endorse this list. Zodiac in Neiman Marcus was, in fact, amazing, and thanks to Daniel for pointing us there.

As for the personal space incident, said editor is even deeper in my bad books than they were before. I am not entirely clear on how people can be unaware of that line, or make up their minds that it doesn't apply to them, but... it does. And all the sputtering and wittering about intent in the world doesn't matter.
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[User Picture]From: dd_b
2011-11-03 02:43 pm (UTC)
I can't remember ever having to dodge the thigh when trying to get someone's attention before they got away, either. The way walking works, the thigh is just not the easy obvious thing to grab.

(In fact I don't get stranger's attention by grabbing them, or most friends. Too much training by people with defensive reflexes and some with some PTSD, I think. As a general rule I would advise against grabbing strangers to get their attention.)
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[User Picture]From: nihilistic_kid
2011-11-03 03:47 am (UTC)
Stacked made a good burger, but that iPad ordering system was monstrously stupid. I expect one day a waiter is going to be stoned to death by flung iPads.

Sorry you too were manhandled; it's always shocking to me when I hear of such things, which says a lot about how out of touch I must be, since I hear about them after EVERY convention.
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[User Picture]From: wshaffer
2011-11-03 04:18 am (UTC)
My verdict on Stacked's ordering system: "I would like to have words with the person who designed this interface. And the first of those words would be 'What the hell were you thinking?'"

The food was good, though.
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[User Picture]From: dd_b
2011-11-03 02:48 pm (UTC)
That does seem to be the question. I seem to have missed being invited to the secret male training sessions where these behaviors are taught; I was out where everybody was being taught that these are things you don't do.

I also fail to get where people find this fun. Other people's kinks are always strange, I guess; but I don't see the allure of taking a brief grip of even a specially nice thigh as being all that tremendous.
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[User Picture]From: wshaffer
2011-11-03 04:32 am (UTC)
I keep looking at most of your "Don'ts" and thinking, "Wow, I don't believe somebody actually did that," except that I've been to enough conventions that I completely believe that somebody actually did that. (I'm guilty of the occasional Vague Plan myself, but I'm trying to break the habit, because it just leads to disappointment.)
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[User Picture]From: mkille
2011-11-03 06:03 am (UTC)
I have no sympathy or patience for harassers. None.

Unfortunately, even librarians get this: http://librarianinblack.net/librarianinblack/2011/10/creepy.html

Librarian harassers! That's a deep ingrained social pathology, that is, that men think they can do this, ever.
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[User Picture]From: wordweaverlynn
2011-11-03 10:35 am (UTC)
Oh, man. Terry Pratchett needs to add a rule for that. (His other librarian rules are on my icon.)
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[User Picture]From: finnyb
2011-11-03 11:53 am (UTC)
Thank you for reminding me--I am so gong to WFC in 2012!
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[User Picture]From: finnyb
2011-11-03 11:53 am (UTC)
Going, rather, not "gong".
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[User Picture]From: sartorias
2011-11-03 12:32 pm (UTC)
I've got to be better about the first one. My telepathy skills are . . . not. At least I do not grab thighs. (Even if I might quietly admire them.)
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[User Picture]From: blythe025
2011-11-03 05:48 pm (UTC)
There's been a lot of talk at WFC this year, which is very disappointing.

I have yet to go to a convention, but I'd like to and I appreciate all of your very good advice.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-11-03 07:24 pm (UTC)
For me one of the main things about conventions is this: if you pick a good convention for you, it will be full of people who are congenial and share interests with you. But that doesn't mean you can assume everyone will behave well. This sounds obvious, and yet people get disappointed.
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[User Picture]From: ashnistrike
2011-11-04 12:02 am (UTC)
I am failing to find words in response to your last point that are not capslock-y swearing. I am so sorry that you (or anyone else, goddamnit) had to deal with that kind of nonsense.

-Nameseeker
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From: swan_tower
2011-11-04 05:53 am (UTC)
Do plan ahead.

I was extremely glad to run into you and Alec at Delia's party, because after your panel you got peeled off by somebody you wanted to greet, and I didn't realize until it was too late that I'd walked on without making Actual Plans for getting a meal with you at some point.

The rest of your points . . . nod, nod, nod, and OH MY GOD I HOPE NOBODY EVER TRIES THAT ON ME. I don't actually know what I would do if somebody grabbed my thigh out of nowhere, but I doubt it would be good.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-11-04 01:01 pm (UTC)
The thing is, it takes a minute to process when someone grabs your thigh out of nowhere. You're not walking around thinking, "I bet someone I barely know is going to grab my thigh...now!" So my initial thought was that I had accidentally walked into someone's gesture, and by the time it registered that this was deliberate and he was hanging on, he finished saying what he wanted to say and let go, and the entirety of my instinct was GET AWAY. (Note: this was not the entirety of alecaustin's instinct; he asked, "Do I need to go back and kill him for you?" But the paperwork. So I said no.)
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From: vcmw
2011-11-05 01:26 pm (UTC)
I know my reaction isn't universal, but I feel like a minimum standard of personal space is that it ought to start at, y'know, the edge of the person. Brushing against shoulders in a crowd, non-optimal but sometimes inevitable? But thigh grabbing? Ick.

I'm very sorry this happened.
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[User Picture]From: cissa
2011-11-06 11:58 pm (UTC)
My daughter recently has a somewhat similar experience: she was at a party, and dressed up as a Gothic Lolita vampire. A guy approached her from the back and grabbed her. She turned her bloody, fangy face to him and hissed "Do not EVER touch anyone WITHOUT CONSENT!!!!!" Apparently he turned pale and fled the premises.

But- her costuming had much to do with that result. Still, I hope he learned a lesson.
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[User Picture]From: dd_b
2011-11-07 12:31 am (UTC)
Hey, in a fight (and that was an assault), use your strengths! She probably didn't consciously consider that the costume would help, but it's great that it did (if she did consider it, even better).

I think that's an excellent response. Hard to misunderstand, NOT likely to get the police against her if they get involved, makes clear to everybody in the vicinity what happened (good model for others, reminding anybody who needs it that this is not the venue to try such shit, doing reputational damage to the grabber).
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