Well, Bubonicon 44 has come and gone. That’s the local (Albuquerque area) convention of fans and authors of science fiction that took place August 24-26, 2012. Always lots of fun, this year didn’t disappoint.
I went to a lot of the sessions and talks this year as I do every year, in fact I was at the Con for virtually all the time it was in progress (except for a short lunch or dinner break). The theme of the Con this year was “It’s the end of the world as we know it,” related to the Mayan prediction that the world will end in 2012, though it hasn’t so far. Oddly, this year I found myself going to more of the “reading” sessions, that is, when a (usually) well-known author reads from his/her work for almost an hour. (It’s not as boring as it sounds.) In years past, I’ve been to reading sessions where only two or three people showed up, but all the reading sessions I attended this year were far better attended. The session with George R.R. Martin was attended by, I estimate, several hundred people. You can imagine why.
In going to all those reading sessions, I missed many of the panel sessions which are usually interesting and fun, but I made that choice deliberately in an attempt to get a feel for the various types of writing of many of the Con guests, perhaps to subconsciously absorb some of their technique. After all, they’re all published authors and I’m on that track too. But so much of science fiction today is fantasy (magic, kings, sorcerers, dragons, demons, rings, swords, etc.) and even the Guest of Honor, Brandon Sanderson, was a well-known fantasy author. But I write straight scientific-type science fiction, and in many of those sessions I felt somewhat out of place. Not that the writing wasn’t high quality, certainly it was, but the only thing that kept me in my chair was the fabulous ability of the authors to string words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs, and so on. One more, I guess, of the tribulations of writing True Sci-Fi.
I went to one workshop at the Con, given by Jane Lindskold, on writing the ending to a story. Mostly directed at the ending of a novel, the advice she gave could be applied to any story from a short-short story to a G.R.R. Martin epic. I have trouble with endings, largely in short stories though, not so much in novels, and her best comment was, if you are having trouble finding an ending, look back at the initial impulse that drove you to start the story in the first place. In the ending is the beginning and in the beginning is the ending. Find your passion about the story–what is it you want to say? An ending must do two things, it must draw the story to a conclusion, but it also must bring a sense of closure. Those aren’t the same thing. I’ll be sure to try it some day on some of the short stories I have still sitting in a drawer that are driving me nuts because I can’t construct a good ending.
Well, I better end this rambling essay before it gets too big. I’ve reached my self-imposed limit of around 500 words for blog posts. See you at the Con next year.