Saturday, December 3, 2011

Loscon: Attending As Part Of A Writer Couple

For much of my convention-going, I have come on my own (or occasionally in the past with one or both kids in tow). It is a strange and wonderful thing to attend with a spouse, but more particularly a fellow writer spouse. We've long since worked out the subtle communication of when we're available for conversations, when we are deep in writerly-concentration mode, and when we would like to discuss what we're working on (not asking for a critique or UnHelpful Suggestions, but a space to vent and brainstorm, for someone to listen thoughtfully as we thrash our way to our own insights). We also know when it's encouraging to ask, "How's it going?" and when such a question is annoying and intrusive.

I have always loved communal-writing, that is, being in the same space as other writers as we all work on our separate projects. This was my version of a fun way to hang out with my friends in high school. We used portable manual typewriters and composition books, so you can imagine two or three teenaged girls, sitting cross-legged on a bed, typewriters on our laps. When you do this often enough, the group finds its own rhythm, so that it seems you all feel the need to pause and chat at the same time. I never attended Clarion, but I expect the participants had much the same experience, only at a much greater intensity.

I've shared rooms at conventions with other writers who would get up way too early so they could get in their daily word count no-matter-what. If you have such a friend, I highly recommend this as an inspirational experience, much easier to try when someone else is already doing it. When I'm attending with my husband, we move through the day mostly but not entirely together, and some of those bits of time will be waiting for this or that, or needing a quieter environment than the public spaces. A glance, a few words convey an interest in returning to the room for the purpose of getting some work done. It strikes me that these occasions are invitations to a spontaneous writing workshop, with many of the supportive aspects as my old high school hang outs. They present yet another option of "how to do" a convention, a balance of creative output and community, of outer play and inner focus.

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