ArmadilloCon wrap up

Being pragmatic is a wonderful thing. For instance, having a day job — not a bad concept. I need financial security in order to create. That’s just the way it is. The trade-off is time and energy, and that most definitely has taken a toll on my creative output, if nothing else. I know there’s a good chance I sacrificed creativity for financial security.

Enter ArmadilloCon. Because just this past weekend I was rejuvenated and re-energized by the outpouring of creativity surrounding me. I came in Friday night a bit tired and exhausted from the workweek, a bit demoralized about my writing and art, and stayed almost until they kicked us all out on Sunday afternoon.

And I had an epiphany. This is my tribe. These are my people. Work is where I cosplay. Conventions and writing groups are where I find my mojo.

The convention this year was amazing. The interview with Tamora Pierce was so much fun and interesting, and my reading was a hit. The panels were a rousing success, and the ones that weren’t — well, we gossiped plenty about those. So that’s a success too!

I left with a renewed vigor and a story idea that is going to be my next novella. By the way, on the short story vs. novel panel, we talked about how do you know when an idea is a short story and when it’s a novel, and this one is a novella.

I’m excited about starting it.

But first, the new project. I read from a section of the new project at my reading, and the audience was receptive, and I continue to be excited and happy about it. It’s working and humming on all cylinders, and there’s nothing like it.

So this week has been work re-entry, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But kids, I’ve got my mojo back, and I have ArmadilloCon to thank. *

See you all next year.

* Seriously, thanks to all the volunteers who make the convention go. It’s a thankless job, and you all do great work. ArmadilloCon is 40 years old next year. You bet it’s going to be a doozy.

ArmadilloCon 39 — August 4-6

ArmadilloCon is almost here! I can’t believe it — it’s come up fast. First and most important, You ask: “Patrice! When are you doing your reading?!”

Why, that will be at 9 pm on Saturday night. So come to the reading for some pre-party floor fun and we’ll kick off the Saturday night revelry in style. I’ll have snacks and beverages and a selection from the super-secret new project.

The next thing you ask: “Patrice, what are you second-most excited about?”

Why, that will be the interview with Tamora Pierce, special guest. Bring your tattered copies from the Scholastic book fairs that you bought with your babysitting money, clutched to your chest, and let’s all fangirl for a while. It’s good for the soul.

Sa1100 Short Fiction, Magazines vs. Online
Sat 11:00 AM-Noon Ballroom D
D. Afsharirad, D. Cherry, G. Faust, Ma. Finn*, T. Quachri, P. Sarath
Gardner Dozois has been warning of the extinction of SF magazines for decades. Are online venues the nail in the coffin, or a possible chance for regeneration?

Sa1600 Special Guest Interview
Sat 4:00 PM-5:00 PM Ballroom D
T. Pierce, P. Sarath*

Sa1900 Short story vs novel
Sat 7:00 PM-8:00 PM Ballroom D
T.E. Bakutis, U. Fung, M. Muenzler, L. Marley*, P. Sarath, W. Spencer,
What makes the short story so different from the novel? Panelists discuss the characteristics of each genre, including pacing, plotting, character development, Big Idea, and other aspects, and how they differ in each format.

Sa2100 Reading
Sat 9:00 PM-9:30 PM Southpark A
Patrice Sarath

The Big Shuffle: July 4 Ruminations

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” — Mark Twain

So I’ve been mulling a fix for our political situation. So what I propose is this: We’ll call it The Big Shuffle*. Every five years, people will be reassigned new places to live, so that at any given time, 10 percent of the population has been shifted somewhere new. Kids have to start new schools, city folk have to move to a rural town and vice versa.

You’d have new people moving in all the time, and you’d have new ideas, new cuisine, new friends and enemies. You’d have to make people welcome and help them find their footing, and in turn, when you moved, you’d get the same welcome. And most importantly, you’d have to learn to think the best of everyone, because you’d find yourself in the same situation eventually.

People would have to learn to say Coke instead of pop, hoagies instead of heroes. They’d learn new favorite pizzas. NASCAR fans would become IndyCar fans. I know, right?!

It would take such courage, to both arrive in town and to meet the new arrivals. On Shuffle Day, everyone would come out to Main Street or Market Street or Fifth Avenue, and applaud the moving vans coming to town. When your new neighbors settled in, you’d bring over casseroles and tell them about their predecessors, and ask where they’re from and say, “I was there in 2017! That was the first year of The Big Shuffle! Do you know–”

And they would know! And you’d talk about these folks who were friends and neighbors and how you still keep in touch.

And you’d teach them where the best coffee is and the best diner and the best date night restaurant (all of which change, because of course business owners would shuffle too.) And your kids and their kids would become friends, and if you didn’t have kids, your dogs and their dogs would become friends.

And you’d have to learn to live light, right? So maybe all the things tying us down, both physical and metaphysical, will have to be released, allowing us to move about with freedom and lightness. We could become a nomadic culture, and instead of viewing strangers with suspicion, since we will all be strangers at some time, we would view them with recognition and welcome.

Oh, it would take such courage, but can you imagine what we’d get in return? No longer would we exist at the mercy of those who want to build walls (yes, I’m going there) between us, as if these walls had any value other than to keep us frightened of our own humanity and unable to recognize humanity in others.

It’s a crazy idea. To leave behind everything I’ve worked for, you cry. This house, this home, this yard, my roots. But that’s just it — nomads bring their roots with them. And you won’t leave behind who you are. Just stuff that you have.

So what do you think? Who is ready to make the first move? Can you imagine, moving in next to someone you’ve never met before, and they offer you a casserole and hold out their hand in welcome? “Hello, ” they will say. “Where are you from? Oh, my sister lived there five years ago. Did you know–”

And you will know.

*A spin on The Big Sort, which is how Americans have settled into these tribal districts and we don’t talk to anyone outside of our own echo chamber anymore.