Journal Entry #2


Maureen and I spent the weekend at Dragoncon. But things got off to a bad start. We had a communication breakdown with the con organizers. The result was that two events were scheduled Friday afternoon of which I was not aware: a reading and a signing. I apologize to anyone who showed up and found an empty room.

I've never seen so large a crowd at a con. The Atlanta Constitution estimated 5000. But I heard more than a few complaints from people who said they had to wait in line for hours to get in.

I participated in "Finding Your Place in Today's Tough Market," "Writing 'Real' SF," and "The Future of Fantastic Fiction." Also, I sat in on a group reading from Aberrant Dreams: The Awakening. It's an anthology, due out in a few weeks. I don't have a story in it, but I wrote the intro.

Selling to the market is of course the same as it's always been. Send your work to the top markets first. Keep in mind also that the task of the screeners is to get rid of the slush pile. That means finding a reason to reject a submission. Consequently, writers should put together a first paragraph that grabs the reader by the throat and won't let go.

I've learned something from the fact that, despite being away from Philadelphia — where I was born — for more than 40 years, and despite my awareness that the players on the Phillies would leave in a minute for a bigger contract, and that the owners are in it to make money, I still root heart and soul for the team. Could not switch, say, to the Cubs or the Braves — I've been in Brave country since 1985 — if my life depended on it.

So what have I learned? Tribalism trumps everything. We get indoctrinated at the age of five or six into an ideology — social, political, or religious — and most of us will fight to the death to hang on. No matter what. It explains why it's so hard to develop an open mind.

Let's go, Phillies.

— Jack

Journal Index