Sooo…Nine Worlds.

 

My first convention.

 

It. Was. EPIC.

 

This WILL be a bit of an essay.

 

I headed off Friday straight from work. It was HOT out, and my suitcase lost a wheel on the way to the train station.  Joy.  That was not fun dragging it around.  But that was the only hitch of the weekend.  The train ride was smooth, the digs I got in Acton with Air B&B were easy to find and the landlady lovely.  I dropped my gear off.  Had a 20minute chill out, and headed for Hammersmith and the Novotel.  It was a little bit confusing finding the registration desk as the hotel lobby was fairly busy at the bar and restaurant were either side, but with some directions from my friend Kath and I got my pass and proceeded to case the place to find my bearings.  I didn’t get far. I bumped into some Rippers LARPers and had a chat with them before bumping into Annie, who was my mother in the Split Worlds LARP.  I got invited to join their group and someone bought me a round of cider before we all headed up to the Dreams & Nightmares Panel.

 

That was really interesting suggesting ways of writing via taking an idea and turning it on it’s head, bending rules, and the panel also discussed fears and triggers (the unknown is always one of mine) and monsters (the scariest by far are the human race by the way). There was talk of the power of conspiracy theories and mental illness invented to explain things no ‘normal’ person would do and various classical monsters and why they’ve stood the test of time.  I got a LOAD of ideas for plots mulling round in my head to make them better, and lots of suggestions for reading material/films to watch.  After that I caught up with Kath and Jez for an hour before catching the tube back to my digs.

 

One disappointment: The Pokemon Go pickings at the Hotel, the route to the hotel, and apart from the Tube stops (4) the route to my temporary digs, was remarkably sparse.  Having said that I DID catch a charmander, but that was one of the VERY few.

 

I didn’t sleep well – booze and a hot room that was right on a main road were not in my favour, but I still managed to have some strange dreams (as ever).

 

Saturday started early, I showered, dressed in my Rippers Victorian garb had some breakfast from the munchies I brought with me (vegan sausage roll for the win!) and headed back out. I didn’t go straight to the Novotel.  I had a quest to fulfil up Goldhawk Road first, so I also had aches toasty and chai tea latte in Costa while I waited for the haberdashers to to open.  Pokemon go was a touch more productive here, mostly because I dropped a lure on the nearest pokestop, and I also transferred and evolved my cache of pokemon getting up to level 20 (finally)

 

Once the shop was open I acquired some GORGEOUS taffeta for a bustle gown I have been wanting to make for a while, as well as lining and a satiny material to make a new dressing gown. Mums been moaning about my old one forever, and it is quite old.  THEN I headed for the Novotel in time to go to the first talk I wanted to go to of the day on Podcasting that my friend Jez was presenting.  I sat with Kath and her kids.

 

It was a really interesting talk. I got a lot of great tips on tech and software to use, and a lot of inspiration and encouragement on the podcasting project I would one day like to get up and running on the History of Geology.  I added a LOT of new podcasts to my list of stuff to listen to, and places to get music that is creative commons licensed.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was extremely informative and if I weren’t friends with Jeremy, I’d almost certainly be able to feel my way in making a podcast on my own (but I’ll pop over to visit them to get a crash course in podcasting).

 

I wandered around the expo after that and spent WAY too much money on books and interesting things and had some of my lunch munchies. Then I went to How to Idea. Emma Newman was on the Panel.  It was an interesting talk, and I got a few more ideas to improve plots on my to do list, but there was a few moments where the disco lights of the night before caused an interruption.  I’ve NO idea why they were unable to turn them off but the blue/green/red flashy lights gave me a plot bunny, and the strips of white almost strobe lights gave me a headache.  I was contacted with Uni Friend Lizzie while in there, so disappeared back down to the Expo for some tea and a catch up.  Their new baby is a cutie!

 

I was undecided between two different talks for the next session, and in the end decided on Dresses of Future Past. That was a fascinating talk, though I was surprised that costumes from The Children of Dune weren’t referred to. There was ample discussion of Star Trek costumes and their influence on or influence by modern styles of the time and how costume reflected a character – particularly in the case of Deanna Troi.  There was the discussion of futuristic fabrics that have been developed in modern times – antibacterial, self-cleaning, perfumed etc that the fashion industry put paid to because they wouldn’t make money with them.  There was also a very insightful discussion on cultural appropriation via costume and character in science fiction and fantasy and the current views on this which were very forward thinking.

 

I had a good chat with Christina who was my Split Worlds LARP sister, and then had a chat with Kath and a sit down. I needed the break, I was getting a little head-achey and in need of more water and tea. Also SO many people!  It’s a giant buzz, and a giant drain.  Next up was the Where does Myth and Superstition end and fantasy begin.  A fantastic panel, and SO packed I opted to sit on the floor.

 

The talk started by defining what urban fantasy was as compared with myths and superstitions. Basically the gist was it’s set in the here and now with a supernatural or fantastic influence, or set in the past, but tied to specific locations, with supernatural influence.  It’s got to have a hard edge of reality to the fantastic, and it needs to be plausible.  Mining local mythology of an area and making it your own while being aware of previous iterations was discussed and a strong theme throughout the panel was about how noone ever looks up in a city, and how you can get away with all SORTS of weird shit under the guise of “We are filming or LARP’ing” but at the same time it’s one of the most CCTV covered places in the world, so running around with swords and stabbing things is GOING to have consequences – which can be a story line all on their own.  Again, LOADS of reading suggestions to add to my reading list and then, quite importantly there was a discussion about what the line is between inspiration and cultutral appropriation.  The gist was, for it to be inspiration, you MUST pay your respects to the culture you wish to employ, and do your research so it’s not all standard tropes and stereotypes.  It was really great, full of fantastic advice and inspiration for my own plot ideas.

 

After the Panel I had a chat with several of the panellists about points that interested me. I’m AWFUL with names, but one cool journalist was from New Zealand and was impressed I knew about Kiwi’s and Moa, and of course there was Emma Newman. Emma (who is such a lovely person even on barely 3 months of knowing her and chatting occasionally on facebook messenger) and I left together so we could have Afternoon Tea with the rest of the Split World LARPers who were at 9 worlds. I provided cake which went down VERY well.  We all had a bit of a chill, and a good chat in what was quite a busy lobby area.  I would have liked to have stayed longer but I wanted something more solid in my stomach than cake, and my headache was building.  Kath and Jeremy were going down to the expo floor for dinner and I joined them for a baked potato and more tea.  We sat with the Escape Artists podcasters Marguerite and Alistair who are realy lovely, and it was nice to just chill.  Matthew Kath’s eldest was VERY impressed with the number of ponies and shops I have on my My Little Pony game (yes I am that geeky.  I also Love Dragonvale to pieces too) alas the interlude did not last and the final panel of the day approached and I /really/ wanted to go to the Re-Envisioning History as a genre panel as I’ve got some real keen to do regency era fantasy stuff.  So I gave Kath a hug and we split up, planning to meet up later that evening for more adult friendly beverages once her kids were asleep and Jez back from the panel he was going to and our friend Faye had arrived.

 

My headache was pretty bad by that point and I was a bit peopled-out tired, and the room the talk was going to be held in was mostly empty so I found a seat near a wall which had a plug (Pokemon Go /really/ drains the batteries!) and stuck my headphones on with some soothing piano music and let myself drift for a while until the talk started. That was a nice interlude.  That and drinking water helped lessen the headache and recharge me a bit and the talk was great.  I didn’t take many notes, but got a few ideas for improving on historical pieces.  The main take away’s from this were;

 

When it comes to well known history, such as the Napoleonic era, get the timeline right unless you are going alternate reality and REALLY breaking the rules and the wars are merely a guideline.

 

The Past is WHAT happened, History is what we THINK happened.

 

And He who controls the present controls the past, He who controls the past controls the future.

 

Also I learned it IS possible to write an entire novel as a series of drabbles – one drabble per scene!

 

I might have to steal that idea. I get lots of scenes in my head.  Writing them and linking them up later might be a way forward.

 

So after the presentation I met Faye and we chatted until Kath was free and repaired to the games room for a good natter. I acquired some munchies while Faye filled Kath in on her rather drama filled recent history (You seriously could NOT make this up and get away with it!) and we had a most important thing for adults at a convention – booze – but not excessive booze, because us geeks are, generally a sensible lot, and/or have learned from hard experience (definitely the latter in MY case) that Hangovers are the WORST.  It was so much fun just generally chilling and chatting, and It wasn’t that late a night either.  I was in bed by about half eleven.  Slept despite the noise and woke RIDICLOUSLY early with a dehydration hangover.  I knew it was dehydration because there’s no way a single bottle of even really good cider can do what generally takes a full bottle of wine.

 

I had such NOBLE plans of going for a run that morning in Gunnersbury Park which was quite literally across the road from my digs. As it happened, I packed my bags, washed dressed and downed as much fluids as I could, and ate the munchies in my box before writing a nice note thanking my landlady for the Stay (it still being about 7.30 am at this point) and heading out to find a Starbucks and buckets of tea.  I had the intention of doing some writing, but the effort of luging an even heavier and wheel-less suitcase plus backpack and day off the shoulder bag with stuff in it across the tube system for however short a period was killer, especially as it was already warm and quite humid.  I made it to a Starbucks, I even did a little Pokemon on the way, and I got my bucket of tea.  But I literally just sat there, feeling sorry for myself scanning for random Pokemon on my phone screen for an hour while I woke up.

 

I decided that I may as well go to the first panel of the day at 9 that sounded vaguely interesting despite still having a severe dehydration hangover. I must have guzzled something like 3 litres between 6am and 10am when it finally abated.  The talk was on “Historical Head Cannons”

 

It was quite well attended given it was 9am on a Sunday morning. And was exactly what I needed to  get me going again, as I was feeling rather flattened.  It was light hearted, full of laughs, not too taxing intellectually despite discussing things like Kit Marlowe being a spymaster, almost certainly very gay (in both se4nses of the term) and didn’t ACTUALLY die in a fight, and how he could have given Shakespeare hints, how Shakespeare was probably the first fan writer.  One of the others had a head cannon about the cold war.  To be honest I zoned out of that because it holds little interest for me – too modern.  It discussed conspiracy theories versus head cannon – the conspiracy theorists being described as My Theory is supported by people on the internet screaming THIS IS THE TRUTH!!!111 in bold garish flashy colours.

 

Then I went to the next talk (a back to back, rather than with a break between like other panels because it’s so early) I had a bit of drama with this, not IN the panel, which I will describe shortly, but with my friends.

 

The talk was on PTSD in Recovery Fiction – with reference to The Winter Soldier. Now, one of my friends HAS PTSD from her former job, and I was aware of this as I posted on facebook how I DESPERATELY wanted a bucket of tea, but it would have to wait because this talk on PTSD sounded interesting.

 

Another friend PM’ed me on Facebook messenger asking me to remove the last sentence referencing the PTSD in case it ‘triggered’ a friend and it came across as very condescending (yes yes it’s SO much harder to tell with text rather than speech) but I didn’t think mentioning that PTSD existed, and that I wanted to learn more about how it was dealt with in fiction was likely to trigger our mutual friend. I told her so.  But, that massively served to undermine my self-confidence anyway, something this friend is particularly good at doing without realising it. I can be stubborn on some things, I was not editing a simple post that was largely about nedign a bucket of tea. I did however message the friend WITH the PTSD to tell her that I hoped she wasn’t upset by the post one of our friends suggested it would, and if it did, I apologised.  She literally did not know how to respond to that, which made me feel even worse.

 

 

Did I do the right thing there?

 

 

I don’t know, and it’s done now and will almost certainly blow over quickly because I’m not the type to make a mountain out of a mole hill, but…it was self-confidence denting.

 

The PTSD talk was quite interesting, it discussed why people write and read fiction with so much trauma – a lot of it is self-therapy and catharsis rather than from self-destructive or people who want to glorify the trauma suffered by the characters..

 

The discussion was heavily Avengers focussed, particularly on Bucky, covering his emotions, and how he’s trying to recover from the trauma he suffered, and how he displays the different stages of recovery, and how he is learning to be him again. It discussed the differences between Bucky (no money for therapy) and Tony Stark (all the therapy ever) and how badly portrayed PTSD recovery is dealt with in the films and how in the real world people deal with this kind of trauma.  I posed the question about NON superhero trauma, and Sherlock Holmes was touched upon, but in my mind he’s still technically a superhero only from a different era/genre.

 

I was disappointed with was that this talk was ALL about superheroes with mental health issues. Not once was a ‘normal’ person with PTSD touched upon, and only in fan fiction, not original fiction, which has some excellent works out in recent years that deals with this topic in a very sensitive light. Otherwise it was excellent.

 

 

I met up with Kath and Jez in the Games room where their kids were playing for my much needed tea, and had a bit of a chill out while trying to decide which of the two talks that looked interesting I wanted to go to. Kath suggested the Tricking the Reader panel, so I went to that.

 

It was a decision I didn’t regret.

 

The talk started with different types of way to ‘trick’ a reader, including a naiive narrato, the beguiling rogue, who is a known liar, the character that lies to themselves and the character that is in self denial or delusional, or even has amnesia. The Rashemon method was discusses – several characters presenting accounts that are very similar, but bifferent – and only one is correc and how powerful the scene where the haracter dawns on the truth.

 

I have to admit it was this talk that inspired me to consider suggesting a panel to present next year. On Geology and how  it is interwoven into, influences and is used in fiction.

 

I had lunch with Annie & Adrian and their friends at the buffet which was really good, and lovely to make some new acquaintances (and discover a new podcast to listen to) and then went to make some geeky cookies. I did a star scape, a mimikyuu and Twilight Sparkle’s cutie mark on rich tea biscuits.  I gave two of the cookies to Kath’s kids who were very much appreciative, especially the MPL loving elder one ^^ then said goodbye to them before heading to my final panel.  Not what I thought it was with the title Surviving in Writing.  As it happens it was about how to get into publishing rather than writing survival fiction and I knew most of what was talked about from previous research and experience.  I got some good book recommendations from it though and exchanged twitter details with a podcaster, and put my name down as a volunteer next year before heading on the long trek home.  I stopped in Paddington for over an hour, partly to drift in starbucks (I was flagging BADLY) by that point, partly to consume another bucket of tea.  I also caught a fair number of pokemon – magicarp mostly, and battled for the Paddington Gym with some brief success.  The train trip was very relazing and I got home easily enough despite a broken suitcase.

 

9 Words weren’t wrong about the “have a shower” being a good item to have on the post con checklist. I felt SO much more human after that (and more tea did I mention I was pretty much fuelled by tea today?).  Needless to say I crashed out.

 

Tdoay I have started with the sniffles which is probably a mild version of Con –crud, but it’s not too bad and I’m only flagging at work because it’s bloody roasting in the office. I’m pretty much caught up on myself.

 

So yeah,

 

Pretty epic weekend :D