When I woke up on Monday (hangover-free, although certainly not fatigue-free), my “costume” was still mostly intact, so after re-attaching the ear I slept on, I headed out to Monday panels. I wanted to squeeze what remaining drops of Dragon*Con essence I could out of the day before embarking on the 6-hour drive back to Raleigh.
Over a week later, as I type this up, I’m still surfing the Dragon*Con high, although it’s mostly faded into a bit of post-con depression. Real life is just so boring when you aren’t constantly walking past Star Trek characters, remote-controlled R2D2s, and beautiful women in chainmail and/or bodypaint. Here, the most pressing issues of the day have nothing to do with whether the eleventh Doctor is adequately stepping into David Tennant’s shoes, or what’s coming down the pipeline at Tor Books, or having to pick between the Adam Savage Panel and the Jim Butcher signing. Instead, if you follow the “real world” news, the biggest stories are either depressing (Afghanistan: Still a Moneysink Run By Corrupt Warlords!), pointless (See Pics of Kim Kardashian Going Shopping!), or just plain idiotic (More Inanity Spewed From Sarah Palin’s Pie-hole!).
Go on… tell me Dragon*Con isn’t an improvement.
Back in reality, the thousand pressing details of day to day life take a dreary precedence over the images and stories that conjure brilliant, fiery passion in the minds and imaginations of countless people. And in my opinion, the world is a duller place for it.
For me, Dragon*Con was an affirmation and a release. It was a release because when confronted with situations that make my inner introvert quiver– like a party, or a group of professional writers going to dinner– I didn’t retreat into the corner. I stepped up and joined in. I made friends. And I had a hell of a lot of fun.
It was an affirmation because for four days, I was surrounded by fantasy and science fiction fans, by writers, by geeks of all shapes and stripes. Here, if you say “I want to write fantasy novels!” people will cheer you on and encourage you. In reality, people will often look at you as if to say, “Don’t most people get past that stage by the time they’re out of high school?” For someone like me, not always comfortable with the oddities of his own personality, it was affirming to be around thousands of people with similar oddities, indeed, celebrating them.
And in a broader sense, it’s not just being geeks that unites us. I think it’s something even bigger. The people who attend Dragon*Con are people who, by and large, live their lives, set their values, and define their happiness according to their own rules, not the rules that society tries to impose. Whether that means spending hundreds of hours on elaborate costumes, or writing novels and stories for years simply because you love to, or even skeptically thinking about the religion you grew up with– it all comes down to thinking your own way, finding happiness in unusual places, and living life the way you want. I think in one sense it’s a side effect of being a geek, but it’s also deeper than that. It’s an all-too-rare combination of independent thought and passion, but at Dragon*Con for four days I was completely surrounded by it. It was incredibly energizing, and affirming, and I miss it already.
So there you have it. This whole Dragon*Con series of posts has been a little more personal in nature than might ordinarily belong on what is supposed to be a writing blog, but to the extend that my journey as a writer mirrors my journey as a person, then they belong just fine. And the trend’s probably going to keep up, because a lot of plans that have been in the works for a long time are finally coming to fruition. (Stay tuned for a blog entry about why I quit my job.)
But regardless of where I end up in a year, if I can make it back to con, I’ll be happy.