I’ve been trying to remember when I first heard about Worldcon. I’m pretty sure it was back in high school, while I was growing up overseas. I was a nerdy kid addicted to fantasy, and I’d heard rumors about some sort of dream-realm where all my favorite authors got together, engaged in witty repartee for a few days, and shared their wisdom with beginners. It sounded too good to be true.
Back then, my main window into the fannish community was reading author blogs and listening to the Writing Excuses podcast. Worldcon consistently popped up as an important place in people’s careers. Still, I despaired of ever getting to attend: the costs and distances involved were prohibitive.
I took part in a couple of niche publishing conferences during college, but the closest I came to a science fiction and fantasy convention was the Writers of the Future workshop last year. Being among all those likeminded souls at WotF was inspiring, exhausting, and a touch terrifying, as I’ve described in previous posts. It whet my appetite for more.
I’m incredibly fortunate that Worldcon happens to be in Chicago this year, and that my wife and I just so happen to have moved to Chicagoland a few months ago. Worldcon tickets are quite affordable, especially for first-time attendees, but the travel and hotel costs would be a hindrance.
I’m fortunate in other ways, too. Attending WotF last year gave me some of the skills and knowledge I need to navigate a space like this—which would otherwise be terrifying for someone who easily feels overwhelmed in unfamiliar settings. It also taught me a thing or two about humility. If this were a few years ago, I would mostly be attending Worldcon in hopes of finding people to pitch my novels to. I’d still love those opportunities, of course—I’ve prepared business cards and every conceivable piece of information that an agent might ask for—but I realize that it’s more important to make friends and to spend my time listening.
Speaking of friends, that’s another thing I’m grateful for. Andy Dibble, my roommate from WotF, is staying at our house during the conference, and he and I are driving in together each day. Having a good friend along will make things less intimidating. Plus, I get to spend more time with Andy; he’s a terrific editor and short-story writer who’s going to be taking part in two panels this year about The Witcher and the philosophy of The Good Place. You could do worse than to go hear what he and his co-panelists have to say.
All that to say, I couldn’t be more jittery or excited. I have all my just-in-case pitch materials ready, my schedule printed out, and I’ve spent the last several weeks researching what to expect and how to socialize in this type of environment (honestly, after the past couple of years of isolating due to Covid, being social in any environment feels more intimidating than it used to).
I’ve waited a long time for this, and I think I’m as ready as I’m going to be. I’m looking forward to chronicling the experience on this blog every evening.