Confluence was a blast. I didn't get to all the panels I wanted because I took the time to catch up with friends (that seems to take more and more time). And for some bizarre reason on Saturday and Sunday there were panels first thing in the morning that I wanted to go see.
But first a picture.
That's John Scalzi up on stage. Yes, the photo is in focus, John is a blur of energetic raconteurism. Seriously, he's blurred in real life. The only reason his publicity photos aren't blurred is because he took them himself, and it's like those steady cams attached to people with a camera looking back at them. How their head and body seems strangely still but the background is moving like crazy. He kept the audience in the palm of his hand for the hour he did his Guest Host panel which consisted of taking questions from the audience and telling stories of his life. You may know the story of how he met his wife, but it is much more hilarious to hear John tell it in person.
And here I want to thank John Scalzi for being a wonderful guy. I met John, what, three years ago. I was just a commentor on his blog. John networked me within the first three minutes of meeting him in person. He's given me plenty of insight into the business of writing. John's a giver. I hope when my turn comes I'm as gracious and as helpful as he is. I also got to spend plenty of con time in his presence.
Oh, and he has a wicked knife. Just saying (and yes, he demonstrated opening it one handed).
One of the first panels I made it to was on Magic Systems. Here are some disjointed notes beyond the big three ideas (magic must follow rules, you need to compensate for magic within society, and there's always a price to magic). Magic can be a metaphor for or an antithesis of science. With magic you should keep in mind the conservation of mater and energy. There was lots o' bagging on JK Rowling's magic due to ease of use, lack of rules, and lack of price (although I personally think this is not exactly true). There is ceremonial, mental, internal and "power of the Gods" magic, choose one for your world (not all). only with the Gods is magic a panacea. SC Butler made an interesting comparison between Bond Trading (his day job) and sacrificial magic (having one account lose money to move the markets higher to make more money for the rest). Magic can be gnostic, if you have the wisdom you have the power. There's a note to look up Plasma Cosmology as a potential magic system (given by John DeChancie who also used it for his books).
At the end I have a personal note, something I thought of slightly tangental to the conversation. How about a magic system akin to drug addiction. That is after a time you have to do it more and bigger to get the same buzz until eventually it fizzles and you need it just to feel normal (like meth addiction, with all it's side effects).
There was a panel on Fantasy and Folklore. There are differences in story telling between written and oral traditions. Spoken form needs to remind people where they are in the story (if it's over multiple nights). Urban myths as our modern folklore. Truth versus fact or fiction; Truth has resonance, fact or fiction is dry. There are some real stories that don't work for fiction because nobody would buy it as "truth". There was a discussion about areas of politeness and that "niceness" varies with cultures.
The panel of being a full time writer was interesting. Let me sum it up. Have a supportive spouse. Even then, if you want to make a living at it do other writing than genre because you're not going to make a living unless you publish six books a year (3 authors, all male, two make more from non-fiction writing which supports their fiction habit, one all time fiction author publishes 6 or more books a year under several pseudonyms). And you can do everything right, and still not succeed.
Random thoughts. 1) What is the morality of wolves where it concerns the sheep. 2) The meager lens of the past (lack of full documentation).
So, like I said, on the way home I was energized, baby. Ready to kick ass and take names. And here's one reason why.
That was on the way back. Huge full rainbow stretching across the horizon.