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I'm a writer, a freelancer, a crafter, a nail polish mixatrix, a tea drinker, an unconventional life-liver, a journaling junkie, an introvert, a chronic-pain-sufferer, an idealist, a geek, a TV-lover. Welcome to my corner of the web!

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

ICFA-34: Day 1-2 report

This is the account of my time at ICFA 34, March 19 to 24, 2013. You can see all of my posts on ICFA-34 here.

DAY 1: March 19 Travel

(I apparently packed fear and nerves as well as clothes)

I was wildly nervous coming in--I mean, I was excited, of course, but I was also nervous. I loved this conference so much when I went before, that I went every year for five years straight, and would have kept going for another five years straight except that my money situation deteriorated and I couldn't afford the cost of it until this year--and I didn't know that I'd be able to soon enough this year to have a paper proposed or ready. Which is to say, I didn't present. The night before, I was a mess of nerves--what if it wasn't how I remembered? What if I was too dumb? What if things had changed a lot and I didn't like it? What if what if what if?

But the trip was basically eventless; I made all my connections, and I found my room-mate, Emma England, who I'd never met, easily, and we got checked in without incident. We met our third roomie, Audrey Taylor--and we all hit it off almost immediately, which was amazing for three unknown people!

Emma is the head of the new LonCon academic track at WorldCon for next year, which I didn't know before we met, and which I already wanted to get to. Audrey is one of Farah's--a doctoral student in England, studying Patricia McKillip for her thesis.

We poked our heads in the pre-conference party at the President's Suite, and talked some with some interesting people--Stefan, The Other Stefan, a lovely Swedish girl named Rut, Chrissy Mains, some other lovely Canadians...It was a blur at the time, what with the exhaustion and the travel, and it's a blur now, but it was nice and friendly and a great welcome back to the event.

(Florida when I got there; foreshadowing!)

(The airport here in Raleigh. It's all new and architectural and shiny. Not a bad place to wait in, eh?)

DAY 2: MARCH 20, First Actual Day of the Conference:

Emma had a meeting with Chrissy, so Audrey and I walked up to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. When we left, it was a little blustery, and sort of drizzly, but it didn't look or feel like it was going to really rain...until we were a third of the way there and it was suddenly a monsoon. Like, we had to go plant the rice soon, monsoon. We could hardly see where we were going, and we were soaked by the time we got there, but we managed to get dried off moderately well--well enough that we weren't dripping anymore--and had a lovely warming breakfast and some hot drinks before heading back. Of course, the rain stopped right after we arrived and didn't start up again. We spent the next two days with clothes drying all over the bathroom!

(The carpets at the Marriott are epically bad. I literally took pictures of how bad they were the whole time I was there; it was amazing.)

I got a little revising in while we waited for the day to kick off. 

The opening panel was on transformations--the theme of the conference this year--and Audrey, Emma and I sat right in the front row, very bravely, I thought. Kij Johnson was charming, and probably the nicest person I've met in a long time; I'd sort of heard about her--her name, at least--but I really knew nothing about her until this panel and the conference that followed. Constance Penley, I knew even less about, but she had some really interesting things to say about feminism and genre and sort of set the tone for everything involving the word 'pornography' the rest of the conference. 

And Neil Gaiman was every bit as charming and self-deprecating and full of interesting turns of phrase as I always thought he'd be, from watching YouTube videos. And he looked right at me, sitting there taking notes in the front row. He's one of the few people I've seen at ICFA that I already knew about before I met them, and it was sort of dazzling; I was definitely starry-eyed!

I wish I'd taken more pictures. I don't know why I didn't; shell-shock, maybe. I'll be looking periodically over the next few weeks for others' pictures to come up on the web, and I'll post them as post-scripts once I find them!

Panel: Rut Blumqvist, Andrew Fergusson, and a missing panel on magic (comment on hearing that it wouldn't be there, "Have we lost the Magic?")

Rut talked about the three functions of fiction, which I thought was very interesting:
  1. Stories make statistics into people
  1. Stories make us understand ourselves so we can act
  1. Stories reveal the world in new ways so we can make sense of the world
(I think; this is what I wrote down, and it comes to my attention that I take copious, but poorly organized notes; I need to do something about that) 
Andrew talked about "Sunbird" as a study on story and as a story itself. I can't remember if I've actually read the story or just the stuff about it--it did sound familiar--but I definitely want to read it now. Or reread it. It sounds amazing.  
He also talked about consumption of story as a literal consuming of something, and how we have to also allow ourselves to be consumed as writers and by ideas to get the writing done. It's a big chunk of stuff to chew on, so this'll most likely crop up again in a musing post some other time.
Jude and Erica came while we were waiting for the opening reception to start, and it was so good  to have most of a week to see them, instead of just a few hours. The reception was lovely, and I talked well into the night with a collection of interesting international people--I mostly hung out outside, where the smokers were, but also where it was quieter and easier to carry on a conversation. I met some more Swedes, a Finn with the curliest accent I've heard in ages and a nice-smelling pipe, and I got to see Jeana and Helen before I went to bed, which was great. And I met Jennifer and Sarah, two amazing folklorists, who took me under their wings and made me much less lonely when I was on my own for the days to follow.

At one point, we opened the door to go to the bar inside, and the change of air pressure caused a bottle of seltzer to explode--it was very exciting, and slightly alarming when I was already a little drunk.

I have a very clear image of looking up at Stefan--he's about six feet tall, more than a foot taller than me--and the moon slowly coming out of the clouds over his head. I wish my eyeballs took pictures that look the way I actually see things!

Sessions attended today:
  • The Transformative Fantastic
  • Gaiman: Magic, Death and Pastiche

Ideas generated and questions asked today:
  • The importance of keeping track of what we consume and what consumes us
  • Story as a way to make sense of the world
  • The uses of literature: recognition, enchantment, self-knowledge, shock
  • Writing / storytelling as a way to create a sort of immortality, in as much as the ideas you produce can keep affecting the world and being incorporated and staying relevant
  • Lit Crit as a kaleidoscopic view through which to look at a piece from dozens of angles at once without distancing it
  • Is reconfiguration a point of view / a way of treating a work, or is there something inherent in certain works that allows reconfiguration?
  • Baudrillard and the idea of the Hyper-real--when something is more real because of the layers of associations and meaning we have on it


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