I just had a wonderful weekend: writing, artwork, and poetry. Every year, Austin hosts a literary science fiction / fantasy convention called ArmadilloCon. This year’s venue was the Renaissance Hotel in the Arboretum. Almost 400 people attended this year; there were also several dozen authors and poets; and over 30 artists including John Picacio (see http://www.johnpicacio.com/ ).
The art show boasted 595 works of art: somewhat over a quarter of the con-goers bid on the art, with prices from $1 to $1000. My wife actually bid on 7 of the cheaper items, winning 5, and looked longingly at another four before deciding to not spend the money. A hundred of us voted on the art and artists we liked best. Julie Dillon did quite well at the Art Show, winning three awards including Best in Show (see www.juliedillonart.com for examples of her work). Victoria Shipman and David Pancake also won awards.
My major interest was in learning to write better. So Sharon and I went a day early, and attended the writer’s workshop: 28 students being taught by 18 pros. Each student had submitted up to 5000 words of unpublished material. In my case, I submitted the immediate sequel to “A Dish Served Cold” (Page 38 of the July 2012 issue of Bohemia; see http://www.bohemia-journal.com/electronic-copies to check it out on-line). Sharon submitted the first 5000 words of an 8000-word story called “Adoption”. We spent the morning discussing generic advice for new writers and participating in various exercises. We then spent a working lunch and afternoon split into smaller groups: 4-5 new writers and up to three pros.
Two weeks before the workshop, everyone in the smaller group had received the submissions from each of the students in the group. These we were tasked to review. I was amazed at the depth of the comments I received: approximately 2500 words, generally quite positive. It *will* take me some time to assimilate all that, but I can already see ways I may improve my writing. I appreciate the time spent by my fellow students (Thomas Burbridge, Aaron DaMommio, Leigh Berggren Reinhart) and the professionals leading us (Melissa Tyler and Martin T. Wagner). One advantage of this approach is that I received five stylistically very different reviews, and while they were often making similar comments, they focused on different aspects.
Besides the writer’s workshop itself, I attempted to get to as many panels on writing as I could . I also caught readings by several authors, visited the Con Suite and some of the evening bid parties, and bought several things in the “huxter” room (a/k/a, the dealer’s room). Some panels I just attended for fun, but even those turned out to be interesting. For example, there was a panel amounting to an hour of poetry readings by six poets, led by Juan Perez. Talking with Juan afterwords, I found out that he is looking for poets to fill 8 hours of time at the 2013 World Science Fiction Convention: is anyone interested in having a *large* audience, next year?
In short, I had a blast, and I think I learned a lot. I spent some time with old friends, and met some new ones. While I am looking forward to the much bigger convention in 13 months (25 times as many people at the world con!), I am also looking forward to future writer’s workshops and the annual ArmadilloCon.