Writers of the Future, Day 5: Don’t Bring Me Down

Friday was the last day of the workshop.  One might expect things to wind down a bit.  One would be wrong.

Friday was a loooong day.  It started with the critiques of the three 24-hour stories, followed by some closing remarks by Tim and K.D.  By this time, others began filtering into the room, starting with judges and former winners.  As the day progressed, folks from Author Services and Galaxy Press turned up.  Then the illustrators arrived.  Every time I turned around, I had to ask myself where all these people came from.  It got kinda eerie.

Then came a slew of guest speakers.  Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta gave a presentation on professionalism while we all ate pizza.  Doug Beason and Yoji Kondo (Eric Kotani) talked about putting science in your SF.  We also heard encouraging words and career advice from Dave Wolverton, Sean Williams, and Steve Savile.  Amelia Beamer and Gary K. Wolfe told us all about Locus–nothing I didn’t already know, really, since I’ve subscribed for years.  Robert J. Sawyer, he of Flash Forward, spoke at length about options and film rights.  And Jerry Pournelle . . .

Well, apparently, it was something of a tradition for the late Charles Brown to give a little speech about how few if any of us would ever really make it in publishing–intended as a dash of cold water in our faces, I guess.  Since Charlie is no longer with us, Jerry Pournelle took it upon himself to do the honors, in his inimitable fashion.  I suppose that after a week of having sunshine pumped up your skirt, a dose of reality is a healthy thing. 

Yeah.  Don’t do me any more favors, Jerry, OK?

(I’m kidding here.  I’ve actually heard the "this business is so tough, your chances are practically nil" speech before.  Harlan Ellison gave it to us at Odyssey.  And you know, for going on two decades now, I’ve been kinda living it.)

As the speeches went on, we departed in shifts to be individually interviewed by XM/Sirius, which was fun.  And at some point during the day, Dave Wolverton came up to me and said he recognized my name from Facebook, and that he dug my taste in music.  Dude.  The magic of social networking.

The presentations ended, and then it was time to finally reveal the artwork for our stories.  They ushered us out of the room so they could set up the illustrations, framed and matted, on easels arranged in a semicircle.  Then allowed us back in and let us find our own art.  Am pleased to report that I found Luke Eidenschink’s illo for "Gone Black" in short order.  See?

If you’d like a better look at it, guess you’ll just have to buy the book.  (Or you could come by my house.  I get to keep the print you see above.  It’ll be shipped soon.  So there.)

We broke for dinner shortly thereafter, so I got to eat with the wife and the parental units.  But the Marathon Day wasn’t done yet.  After dinner, we had to report back to the Roosevelt for awards rehearsal.

This is the part where I freaked, a little.

The awards were to be held in the Roosevelt’s Blossom Room, the very same place the first Oscars were handed out, lo these many years ago.  I got one look at the stage, at all the people scurrying hither and yon, at the dancers (!) rehearsing the opening number (no, I’m not kidding), and the heart started racing just a bit.  I had been taking all of the hype and hoopla with a certain degree of equanimity, but in that moment, the reality finally sunk in.  In just over twenty-four hours, the awards would be on, and I would be walking onto that stage to accept a trophy and give a little speech.

What can one say at such a moment of realization, except . . . dude.

(There’s a writer for you.  Always able to capture the moment.)

I got over it, but still, it was wild. 

Rehearsals were mercifully brief.  The choreography was simple enough:  up the stage right steps, shake hands with the presenters (being careful not to present your ass to the camera), accept the trophy, stand on your mark for pictures, then head to the podium for your speech.  Water bottles made amusing substitutes for the trophies.  We all gave funny little faux speeches.  Sasha Barysheva beat-boxed her way through hers.  Yep, we were a little punchy by that point.

After rehearsal, John Goodwin of Galaxy Press gave us all some tips on our acceptance speeches.  He also advised Jordan, Emery, Don, and I that we’d better prepare two, because one of us was going to win the Gold Award.  Several of us were still playing Handicap the Gold, trying to pick up clues from John’s body language and such.  The game was mostly an intellectual exercise for me.  Mostly.  As I’ve said earlier, whether or not I would win the grand prize was out of my hands.  I’d done everything I could do.  Best to just enjoy the ride.  Even so, it was fun to imagine.

The Marathon Day finally began to wind down.  Sean Williams graciously hosted a party in his room.  Wine and conversation flowed, a welcome and hard-won respite.  (Thanks, Sean!)  I was pretty wiped by that time, so I didn’t stay very late.  I made it back to my room and collapsed shortly thereafter.

Next installment:  What It’s Like To Be Famous.  Kinda.

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