Millennicon Memories # 1: The Deadline

The finished manuscript, and congratulatory roses from Korea-by-way-of-Portland

Millennicon was the reward I gave myself for finishing the novel I’ve been working on for the better part of three years. It was also my deadline — if I wasn’t finished by March 20th, I wasn’t going to let myself go.

For some reason, John Scalzi had become my Muse. I’ve had a bit of a crush on him since the reading at WorldCon where Mary Robinette Kowal introduced us, but other than a chat in the taxi on the way to the airport, an interview, and a few scattered emails, we weren’t exactly bosom buddies. Mary’s very much like me, though — she can pinpoint certain qualities of certain misfits and she inherently knows which ones complement each other. She wouldn’t have introduced us if she didn’t think we’d hit it off. So I looked forward to one day getting to know Scalzi a little better.

I can’t tell you how bummed I was to have missed the "John & Mary Show You Their Shorts" event at Borderlands Books in January. Two of my favorite people in the world strutting their stuff in a pretty awesome town the weekend after my birthday…and I just didn’t have the $500 I needed to pull it off. So I waited, hungry for the pictures and the video and the audio that was promised by so many on Scalzi’s site.

Eventually, those podcasts arrived. (You can listen to them all here.) I spent an entire morning at work keying in buys and listening to all those awesome stories, one right after another. When I got to the "Petmaster 2000" I giggled so much it bugged my office mates, and when "Miss Kontis" met her untimely end, I smiled so big I pulled a muscle in my cheek. Here were my friends, and their stories, and ME…and it was wonderful. This was just another facet of my amazing, beautiful, and dynamite life. Why on earth would I put any of it off for one second longer?

A week later, Scalzi mentioned his Millennicon appearance, and I gave myself a deadline. It wasn’t unreasonable to finish my novel by March 20th. Completely doable, if I actually SAT DOWN AND DID IT.

I wrote "THE END" on March 9th. I had it edited and off to my agent by the 12th. (Here’s the part where we all keep our fingers crossed.)

Skip ahead to March 20th. I jumped out of bed that morning, excited about my trip. I got a bunch of last-minute things together, made some CDs, packed the car, and forced myself to slow down because leaving too early wouldn’t have made sense — no one wants to get stuck in Nashville at rush hour. I left around nine, filled up the tank, and set out on my fairly uneventful 5-hour drive.

Well…it was uneventful until I hit Cincinnati. The stop-and-go driving on 75N tore my nerves to shreds. I was so tired of being in the car and so close to the hotel…I just wanted to cry. I finally arrived, shaking from head to toe. Jason had been delayed an hour, so there was no room in which to put my stuff and no Apex table to help set up. Registration wasn’t open yet. I didn’t recognize anyone; I’ve never been to this con before. Not knowing what else to do, I plunked myself down in a corner of the lobby, pulled out my little notebook, and forced my scattered brain to jot down some ideas for my Harlan County Horrors story. In tiny letters on another page, I also wrote the sentence that kept racing through my mind: "What the hell am I doing at another convention?"

"Hi," a voice said, and I jumped up to collect my Scalzi hug. "How’re you doing?"

I summed up my harrowing drive through the city and, because I couldn’t help myself, those other silly words fell off my tongue. "Why am I here?"

"Because you’re going to have fun," said my Muse. I didn’t believe him.

Silly me.

[Tomorrow’s entry: The Queen of Karaoke]