Wednesday, December 12, 2012

World Fantasy: Finale

The other night, my wife and I watched "Field of Dreams" for the first time in a decade. I'm not a sports fan so I'm always amazed at how much movies like "The Natural," "Field of Dreams" and "Remember the Titans" get to me. I have no personal memory of being on a baseball diamond, feeling a ball connect with a bat or smelling the dirt and grass after a dramatic base-stealing, so what was it about this movie that made me cry; no offense to Costner fans, but he's not that great an actor. What I realized was that the movie wasn't triggering memories of stolen bases and crowds and team sports, it was triggering memories of my life as a writer and, specifically, my experiences at World Fantasy.

"I am pitching to 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson."
Ray Kinsella, by all accounts a grounded, sane and responsible family man, follows a bizarre and illogical compulsion and is rewarded by meeting one of his childhood heroes. He sits in the stands that he built and watches a historical Dream Team play in a field that he created. Not only that, he becomes friends with these men, getting to know them in a way he never conceived possible.

For the last 6+ years I've been following a similarly illogical compulsion and have been rewarded by walking among a Who's Who of the creative community. Just like Ray's nostalgic recollection of his father's baseball stories, the names on the spines of my father's library have come to life--I've gotten to meet them, shake some of their hands, share my admiration and, most significantly, gotten to spend time with them. Unlike Ray, though, I've also gotten to spend time with my own heroes, both newly met and from my own childhood.

My not-so-inner gamer geek has gotten to meet luminaries like RPG legend Monte Cook; James Sutter and Dave Gross from indy-giant Paizo Publishing; and Todd Lockwood, revolutionary artist for Magic and 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons. At breakfast on Sunday morning, Mercedes Lackey asked if the seat next to me was taken. Sunday night I sat at the hotel bar with Irene Gallo, Greg Manchess and Todd Lockwood flipping through the unbound pages of Charles de Lint and Charles Vess's newest incarnation of "A Circle of Cats"; got to talk gaming and writing with Garth Nix and Sean Williams; and had a hilarious dinner with David B. Coe and Sarah Beth Durst.

Story Editing
Holly Black, Charles Vess, Greg Manchess and Irene Gallo
As incredible as those experiences were, the highlight of my 2012 World Fantasy was being asked by Greg Manchess to join him and Holly Black (author of the Spiderwick Chronicles) as they edited a prose/art project he's been working on. It's always a challenge battling "impostor syndrome" no matter what career you're starting. It's particularly difficult while standing in a room surrounded by proven success. At first, I just sat and listened to the great advise Holly was offering. It wasn't long, though, before I settled in and started offering up my own insight (Holly and I were on the same page 99% of the time, which made things much easier).

The three of us spent five hours in that bar and I walked away with more energy than I walked in with (as well as a higher blood alcohol level). There is something deeply satisfying about piecing a work together, weaving creativity and craft into magic that will evoke feelings in someone else. It's in those moments that I know in my heart that I'm not an impostor. I'm Ray Kinsella, pitching balls to "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and having a catch with my dad, all at the same time.


You can find more pics of World Fantasy 2012 here.

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