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Today is my golden blog birthday! Twelve years of blogging is ancient in internet time but I can honestly say I am surprised because it doesn’t feel like I have been doing this crazy thing for that long. When I began I just thought I’d try out a new thing called blogging and see what happened, I had no long-term plan. But it was fun so I kept at it. The years passed and sometimes I would wondered just how long I could possibly keep this up? I told myself, and I still do, that the day it ceases to be fun is the day I hang up my blog hat. Since I am still here you know I am still having fun. Quite a lot of that fun is because of all of you, leaving comments, telling stories, and sharing the marvelous obsession of books and reading we all have.

So thank you. You could all be in a gazillion other places, but for this little bit of time you have chosen to be here. I am honored and grateful and convinced that I must be one of the luckiest people in the world.

Maybe it is only appropriate that I tell you about my NerdCon Stories weekend. This was not a comic convention, this was a storytelling convention. It was organized by Hank and John Green. You may recognize the name John Green, yup, he’s the very same who wrote The Fault in Our Stars. Nearly 3,000 people turned out for this first ever event. There were nerds of all stripes and ages and from all over. I met a mother and daughter who had driven up from Georgia. There were lots of awesome nerd t-shirts, many of them book related, hair colors from every spectrum of the rainbow, a TARDIS dress, lots of fun shoes and boots that I coveted and I don’t even especially like shoes. There were a few people who arrived in costume but not many.

The days began and ended with main stage events that included various presentations on why stories matter. Some were funny and some were serious. There were storytelling games, rapid fires questions to a panel of writers, a mock debate on sock sock shoe shoe v. sock shoe sock shoe, some puppet theater, and musical entertainment and a little sing along.

There were breakout session panels throughout the day both days on a variety topics from adaptation to alternate media, activism and narrative, oral storytelling, storytelling through song, and writing about sex. There were so many people wanting to see this last panel that there were disappointed people who didn’t make it into the room including myself.

A little blurry Telling the Truth panel

A little blurry Telling the Truth panel

The panels I did make it to were mostly pretty interesting. One was called “Telling the Truth.” It was moderated by Hank Green and the panelists were Paolo Bacigalupi, Leslie Datsis, Jaqueline Woodson, Ana Adlerstein and Nalo Hopkinson. All of the panelists talked about how, fiction or nonfiction, they try to tell the truth as they see it. Bacigalupi put it best when he said fiction is facts that become a beautiful lie.

Another panel I attended was called “Honing Your Craft: Embettering Your Word-Doing.” Moderated by Holly Black, the panelists were Paolo Bacigalupi, Stephanie Perkins, Lev Grossman, and Nalo Hopkinson. Grossman works full time as an editor at Time Magazine and I was surprised to learn that he did most of his fiction writing on the New York subway to and from work. They all commented on how each book requires a different writing process and it never actually gets easier. One of the most interesting things about this session was how these obviously successful writers all mentioned at one point or another how afraid they are to show their work to other people and how their fear of looking stupid drove them to revise and revise and make their work the best they could. They all had strategies for overcoming their fears of writing badly. And while they all talked about being afraid, it also struck me that they were all quite brave as well. Both Grossman and Bacigalupi remarked that they had each just called it quits on books they had been writing for months that were not working and how they put all that work aside and started over.

One of my favorite sessions was “The Benefits of Diverse Stories.” The moderator was Liz Hara and the panelists were Desiree Burch, Jacqueline Woodson, Dylan Marron and Jacqueline Carey. They all stressed the importance of not having a single narrative to represent an entire group of people as if a gay man or a black woman could only have one kind of story. All of them talked about looking past the marginalized to the general and finding the humanity and the things that connect us all. Dylan Marron suggested that if you are telling a universal story you should use universal bodies to tell that story instead of defaulting to straight white man. It was all very inspiring!

This is starting to get really long so I will save a few more bits for tomorrow. Something to look forward to I hope!

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