Friday, September 3, 2010

Blog the 13th: I Love to Go, but I Hate to Leave

Today I leave for my last Con of the year, Horrorfind Weekend, down in Gettysburg, PA.  Should be an excellent time.  First of all, for fans of horror, the dark fantastic, or Halloween - this thing is an extravaganza, a wondrous, spooky thing to behold.  

I mean, the vendors alone are ridiculous.  There's the film festival.  A magnificent costume contest. Then, the celebrities - goodness.  Bruce Campbell?  Both Buseys?  Kristy Swanson? Those two guys from the Phantasm movies? Unreal.

Finally, of all the Cons I've attended, this is the biggest because it's FAN driven and not necessarily attended by writers and writer hopefuls.  The place should be crawling. 

It'll be an awesome time.  I'll hang with some excellent authors and even more excellent friends, I'll read on Sunday, hopefully sell some copies of Hiram Grange & The Chosen One and The Midnight Diner, and enjoy my last "hurrah" before the work of the school year begins.

And it'll kill me inside to do it.   

There, in all its contradictory glory, is the pull-and-tug of attending Cons: I love being around writers, doing writerly things, but absolutely HATE leaving my family behind.  

It's not something I'll ever get over, I don't suppose.  I deal with it, because regardless of what future I have: as an author, I'll have to travel.  At least a little.   That's the nature of the business, and I like to travel.  I like visiting new places, meeting new people, and especially like sharing my work across state lines.  I just hate leaving Abby and the kids behind.  

There's lots of reasons why.  Basically, I want to be around my family all the time.  I miss Abby and the kids terribly when I'm gone, and that Sunday drive after a Con always feels like a manic homeward dash that passes way too slowly. 

Also, the kids are in a very high maintenance stage right now.  Honestly, it's a labor of love that Abby lets me atttend these things at all (in a self-pimping moment, for a really DETAILED account of this, buy this collection with a story of mine in it about this very thing) because I know how the kids get when I'm gone. much fun and as eye-opening and educational as the last two years has been, (2 Borderlands BootCamps, 2 Necons, 2 Contexts, 2 Horrorfinds, 1 MoCon and several bills later), I'm not sure how necessary these Cons are for me, right now.  

Let's not quibble: we're basically broke.  One car dead, the other car dying.  I work for a small private school, Abby's a nurse, and the bills are mounting.  And only twice have I sold enough at these Cons to offset travel expenses (not counting Borderlands, because both times were strictly educational, and worth more than all the other Cons put together).  How much more can we afford?

And is it worth it?  The emotional AND financial strain?

Yes, I've met lots of cool people.  Yes, I've taken micro-leaps in my career. And yes, (now that I've talked to Tim Deal and gotten his blessing), I can share this: I may or may not have chance at a book contract with a midlist publisher.

But that's been because of the writing.   Not the Cons.  (Again, excluding Borderlands because that's ALL writing).

So, what if I do land a book deal?  Do I tour?  Keep going to Cons?  There's a balance to this, I think.  Author and Editor Maurice Broaddus blogged recently about the realities of book tours, and author, Geek Princess, and all around Faerie Queen Alethea Kontis blogged yesterday about the contradictory reality of Cons: if you don't attend regularly enough, people forget who you are and you forget how to network, if you attend them too much you get no work done - and my amendment to that is you miss family like crazy and imperil the already sketchy family budget.

So I don't know.  Regardless of potential midlist book deal, I may be done with Cons after this for maybe a year.  Or more.   Even if I nail the deal - if the story is right for the publisher and the publisher right for me and vice versa - the novel wouldn't see print until mid-late 2012 anyway, which would give us time to gain perspective on the whole Con thing, as well as repair our battered finances.   

Probably the only Con I could manage this next year is World Horror in Austin, Texas, and then only if Hiram Grange manages the impossible and receives a nomination for the Bram Stoker Award in the "Long Fiction" category, and that's such an unbelievable long-shot, it's not even worth dreaming about.  However, unless that happens, Horrorfind will have to be my last "hurrah" for awhile - in more ways than one.