March 26th, 2008

Willow

Swancon

I'm procrastinating on my Swancon report cause I have a lot to say, a lot of it is disjointed and I also have a lot of just stuff in my head that I am still working through processing. But I'm also aware that if I don't get on and post it then I'll lose the moment and at the same time, the whole thing will grow into something far bigger than it is.

Which is to say, I drafted something about the Ditmars and Tin Ducks but I want to rework it before I post it so I could like, talk about other things in the meantime. Or I could just stream elevator music and you can come back later.

Swancon was indescribable for me this year. It was full of enormous highs and a couple of real lows. There were things that drove me over the edge and there were amazing moments and connections that have given me the energy to do this all over again till the next con (which luckily for me is later this year at Wastelands II). But pretty much, I had a darn good time. I think I smiled almost the whole time and that probably sums it up. Even when we were being serious, we were still laughing.

The biggest thing for me this year was the sense of community. I'd not felt it ever before and I'd not been a part of it before. But this year I really felt like I belonged. And I felt cared for and supported. I felt like I was in safe place to be the person I need to be. And I felt lucky and honoured to be there and to feel that way. Swancon at its best is like nothing else - it's a supportive, loving, creative, intriguing, inspiring, energising, amusing, fantastic ride. And I think I just got on board permanently!

Thank you to everyone. Thank you for all your congratulations. Thank you for the coffees, for the kind words, for the ideas, for the discussion, for the laughs and the hugs and the amazing time!

See you next year!
Willow

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Many thanks
Willow

Swancon Fallout

- not what you think -

I'm so lucky to get the chance to speak to so many people and for so many people to feel that they can come up and throw ideas at me. What's important though, is that I do something with all that information and ideas.

So that *should* mean a flurry of activity out my way in the next little while, which is just the antidote to the postCon blues.

So! The very very first thing I need to kick off is my contribution to the Ditmars process. Firstly I should note for people who were not at the Natcon AGM that some of the categories and wording of the Ditmar awards have been changed or tweaked. I don't have all that information at hand but hopefully that will filter out soon and perhaps we can get that up on ASif! as soon as possible. I chatted to a few people who participated in the meeting and they sounded quite positive in terms of what had been done. And yes, one of the major and important things is they have reduced the number of categories I will be eligible for in 2009. *grin*

Secondly, the nomination ballot can only be as good as the nominations we make to put on it. So there are two things I can do to contribute to this.

1. I can be an enormous and loud advocate for nominating and then for voting in the Ditmars. 67 people nominated works for the 2008 ballot. To put that in perspective, as kathrynlinge points out, we interviewed over 80 prominent members of the communiy in the Snapshot for which we won a Ditmar. What's more, only 57 people actually voted. So ... more people felt it worthwhile to put forward nominations than to vote on them. Sure you had to be a member of the cons to vote but you could either be a member of this Swancon or last year's Convergence to do so.

Often there's the complaint that people feel they can't vote because they don't feel qualified having not read or been exposed to the eligible works. This was the first year editormum and I attempted to solve that problem with the Ditmar Voting Package. This got a lot of support and appreciation and I would be more than happy to help work on this again for the next cycle. We could work on it earlier next year and hopefully get it out earlier. There were some complaints that need to be addressed. Some people felt that the file was too big and no warning came before it was sent out. Secondly, a lot of people, perhaps close to half of those eligible to vote, did not receive a copy. People told me that they became members of the con after the package came out and did not ever get their copy. There seemed to be some issue with the outdatedness and incompleteness of the email mailing list. That too is something that needs to be addressed.

2. We need a list of all the works eligible for nomination that is easy to access, easy to update and easy to use. The short story list on ASif! worked really well this year and I propose that ASif! continues to track eligible works in 2008 for the 2009 ballot. I'm looking to get into contact with similar, enthusiastic, list oriented people to help me compile eligible works in other categories. If you are such a person, or know of someone who may be interested, please drop me a comment or email me (girlie dot jones @ gmail dot com). I will use the Last Short Story list for the shorts category and I have volunteers for the novels and the fanzines (yes I am happy for people to take subcategories too). I desperately need to get into contact with people familar with the art categories.

What this will also achieve, aside from more complete lists to jog our memories at Ditmar nomination time next year, is a snapshot of our whole scene - a place where we can see what is going on and maybe discover new projects or publications or a tonne of other fan activities that we might be interested in checking out. Don't be embarrassed to self pimp - send it to my personal email for just me to add to the list. We *want* to know what's out there that we are missing out on simply bacause we don't know where to find it.
Willow

My tongue hurts

Seriously, my tongue hurts so much that I can't eat and haven't been able to since about Saturday. I think I must have a small Crohn's flare up and that can happen anywhere in the digestive tract. If this is what it's like when it's in my guts, no wonder it hurts so much. Even gorgeous and tempting foods hold no attraction to me right now. Licking my lips causes excruciating pain. I have been reduced to Yogo for lunch and omlettes for dinner.

Sigh. So much work to do and I'm gonna actually have to slow down, sleep more and eat properly.
Willow

Awards

I don't even know how to begin this entry. One post was never gonna do justice but I'm sorry for the spamming and for the repetition.

But I just had the best time ever at Swancon this year, which is a ridiculous understatement. I got to hang out with tons of my friends in real life for four days solid. I got to meet tons of cool people I hadn't yet met. I got to feel part of a vibrant and genuinely caring community. I got to exchange ideas, thoughts, emotions and inspire and be inspired. I got to talk passionately and be talked to passionately. I got to discover new writers, new artists and find out what people in this community who are neither writers and artists do and to see just *how* important and fundamental they are to the whole pulsating beast. In short, I got energised. I got to feed my soul. I got to take away so very much and I had just the best time ever.

Sure there were moments which sucked so bad I thought my head would explode. There were things that made me so mad I thought I would have to hunt someone down and kill them with my bare hands. There were times when I felt exceedingly messed around. But none of it mattered because I was just having far too much fun.

This year was different from last year. This year was different because I realised that I am part of this community and I am so happy and proud and lucky to be so. And that's why winning the awards I did this year mean so much to me. And to win them with some of my favourite people in the world who make getting up in the morning a joy and a reason and who I respect and love to work on makes them even more meaningful. But when I got up there to accept them and to say thank you, I was just utterly overcome. I had written a few words because I wanted to be sure that I thanked all the people who help and support me produce the work that I do. But in that moment when I got up there and looked (well squinted, the light in my face was so bright and kind of made me feel a bit sick) out at the audience, so many people were smiling at me and listening to hear what I had to say. And it just threw me because in that moment, the depth of support for what I do hit me smack in the head. And each time I got up there, it got harder and more and more humbling. I don't really ever remember being cheered on to do anything before and it was the most amazing and humbling of things. Also those bright shiny lights made me feel sicker. My head emptied of thoughts and I didn't thank any of the people I meant to and should have.

And then the awards moved onto the McNamara, Mumfan and Silver Swan and I was humbled all over again because really, what's one year of work compared to the body of work that Bruce Gillespie has done? And then to look at the Mumfan award winners who were awarded for who they are. It's the most amazing experience to be at a ceremony that awards the Mumfan - I've been to two and they have both been deeply moving and meaningful. The whole audience cries and you can't help yourself. And everyone leaves sniffling and gesturing "Mumfan, gets me every fricking time". And it does. And I am still tearing up when I tell other people about the experience. Because what could ever be better than being awarded for being you, and for being genuinely caring and welcoming and helpful and supportive for many many years and for people noticing and acknowledging it. And I guess that's the heart of Swancon. That's the kind of people that make up this community. And so, to then be there when Danny Oz received the Silver Swan is something I will never forget. Only the third ever recipient - such an amazing honour. And the way he is held in such high esteem that the presenters were so overcome with emotion they could barely get out the words they had so carefully prepared. And the way the audience got to their feet for a deafening ovation. Who better to be awarded a Silver Swan? I will forever remember that moment.

And so, when all is said and done, the awards ceremony was an amazing highlight of the con. Thank you to everyone who voted for me and for the Last Short Story and the Snapshot and ASif! I'm so proud of us and our work and what we achieved. And I'm so proud of Sue Isle and "The Sun People" from Shiny which won a Tin Duck and Lucy Sussex who tied to win a Sir Julius Vogel Award at the NZ Awards with "Mist and Murder" from New Ceres. And of Cat Sparks who won the best novella with "The Lady of Adestan". I'm reinvigorated to pick up "Saturn Returns" since Sean has explained to me the Cat's Arse phenomenon. But I think, my favourite award was the Best Collected Work.

It was a good night.