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Convention Diary: The Glamorous Life

A few years back, I released Rejection, Romance, & Royalties: The Wacky World of a Working Writer, a collection of my columns for Nink, the in-house monthly publication of Novelists, Inc.

I recently realized how many columns I’ve written since then (precise figure: a whole bunch) and decided it’s time to sort through them and start preparing another volume describing the trials and tribulations of this weary writer’s wacky world. 

Here’s a sample of one of those pieces. I hope you enjoy it!

Convention Diary

Thursday

Leave home for weekend away, to be guest at writers convention.

At airport security, am mistaken for terrorist and am required to become uncomfortably well-acquainted with security team.

Am eventually released to go sit in lounge, trapped among people screaming into cell phones (“I’m at the airport now. The airport. The airport. Where are you?”) and televisions screaming thrilling world news (Obama puppy learns to walk on leash). Then airline employee starts screaming out “group numbers” for boarding plane.

Employee never screams my group number, evidently having grown weary and disillusioned before reaching it. So I board without permission, moments before plane pulls away from gate.

Flight attendant barks at me: “Bag! There! Now!”

I stare in blank confusion. “Pardon?”

She again barks, “Bag! There! Now!”

“Pardon?”

We do this several more times.

I then propose she experiment with complete sentences. She does (and I am now Troublemaker). It turns out I have been assigned only seat on plane without place to stow cherished personal belongings, which I must now give to barking flight attendant for duration of flight.

We fly to distant airport, where I have five-year layover among screaming cell phones and TVs before boarding next plane. Upon “deplaning” at final destination, sturdy young soldier recently returned from Iraq untangles himself from his tiny seat next to my tiny seat and says he feels like we’ve been imprisoned on a slave ship. I agree.

Arrive at convention hotel. Having spent entire day in transit, I unpack suitcase and fall into hotel bed.

Friday

Hospitable convention committee takes guests sight-seeing. In vehicle, I wind up sitting next to colleague of one of my former agents. (I have so many former agents, this sort of thing bound to happen.)

Also on today’s tour is editor from publisher that dumped me. (Ditto.)

And a tall youngster, too shy to make eye contact or talk, accompanies us. Turns out to be another New York agent, not teenage son of local convention volunteer. (Oops.) Works at one of my former agencies. (See?) Also turns out not to be shy, just unwilling to waste conversation on me.

Return to hotel in time to do workshop where another agent (from agency I once queried), another editor (no one I know!!), and I evaluate attendees’ prose. I am always uncomfortable commenting on other writers’ work. But acquit self as best I can, then head for bar.

At dinner, am required to sit at assigned table and be available to interested attendees.

Overhear attendees say, “All the good seats are taken, I guess we’ll have to sit here,” a moment before they sit down at my table.

Table gradually fills up with disappointed attendees who had hoped to sit with someone better than me at this meal.

No one at table sits next to me. The chairs are empty on either side of me. I suggest someone might like to sit closer to me. No response.

Nearest person on left asks me, “Are you any relation to Mike Resnick, the science fiction writer?”

I respond, “Yes, he’s my dad.”

Ten minutes later, nearest person on right asks me, “Are you any relation to Mike Resnick?”

(Old man will enjoy this. Must make sure he never finds out.)

Otherwise, not much said to me throughout meal.

I go to bar after dinner. Friends who live nearby (and who know from long experience where to look for me) show up at hotel bar to say hello. Nice surprise!

Later, preparing for bed in hotel room, discover that—due to national shortage of terrycloth?—only one towel in bathroom.

Saturday

Give morning workshop that is surprisingly well attended, considering that no one at convention, as far as I can tell, has ever heard of me.

Also give luncheon speech. Realize halfway through speech, which is aimed at writers, that literary agents—of whom there are about ten in audience—come off slightly less well in speech than, for example, diseased pimps. Notice that, for rest of weekend, no agent makes eye contact or comes within thirty feet of me.

However, many compliments on speech from attendees. Therefore, confidently expect better dinner experience tonight…

At assigned dinner table tonight, overhear attendees say, “All the good seats are taken, I guess we’ll have to sit here,” a moment before they sit down at my table.

Not much said to me during dinner.

Dinner speaker is bestselling novelist Jeffrey Deaver, who gives hilarious speech in manner of Bridget Jones Diary. Decide to steal idea for this column.

Sunday

Arrive at airport for epic journey to humble home. After obligatory mistaken-for-terrorist incident, am trapped in lounge among people screaming into cell phones (“I’m at the airport. The airport. Where are you?”), televisions screaming thrilling world news (Obama puppy resolves Middle East crisis), and airline employee screaming at all of us (“Do not board the plane until your group number is called!”).

Spend full day in transit. Return home to find… have received invitation to be guest at another writers convention.

Heigh ho, the glamorous life.