Convention Report: Ad Astra, Day Two

Sandra and I slept in just a bit, and began the day with a nice breakfast in the hotel. Then my schedule kicked in for what felt like two straight days. I had four hours of panels, one blog TV shoot, numerous conversations in the halls, and I think I was running my mouth (and my brain, fortunately) non-stop. By 5:00pm I was wiped out, but all I had time for was a power-nap. Following said power-nap, we hit the Guest of Honor Dinner, which I think I kind of dozed through in spite of the fascinating conversation happening at our table. Liana K. and Christopher Golden managed to keep everyone entertained there while I managed to appear awake. You know I'm worn out when I'm too exhausted to talk. While the day was full of memorable moments during the panels, the one I'd really like to share happened early in the day during the "Working As A Creative Professional" panel. A smart-looking, attractive young woman asked the question: "When do you know that it is time to quit the day-job and try to be a writer (or artist, or musician, or whatever) full-time?" The question clearly stemmed from a measure fear and insecurity. This girl had a good job, and a comfortable lifestyle, and was afraid that if she chased the dream, she'd end up out on the street and homeless. Here's the advice I gave her, and it applies to most of you. If you're smart enough to have a good job, and have enough energy left over to pursue something in the creative arts, you really don't need to fear becoming unemployable. Don't be afraid of falling down, because that will happen. You need to trust that if (when!) you fall down, you will be able to get back up. If the creative thing doesn't work out, you're still going to be employable. You may even land a better job than the one you left. You're smart enough to figure out what needs to be done to make it work. Knowing when to make the transition is tricky, and it'll be different for everyone. I left Novell long before I felt financially ready, but if I hadn't left when I did, I may never have made the switch. For Sandra and I it was a matter of prayer. That's probably a good idea if you're the sort of person for whom that works. Okay, enough with the preachy motivational therapy... On to the LARP. Following the banquet we were at loose ends. I rested a little more because I wanted to hit room parties and the like. I ended up joining the Shadowrun LARP. LARP = Live Action Role Play. I threw on some dark clothing and a prop or two, and became "Gash," the dwarven street mage. I adopted the thick, pseudo-scottish brogue I use in my IK role-playing on Thursdays, and wandered into the "tavern" where the rest of the players were. I suppose one measure of how effectively you role-play is how often you knock the other players out of character. In this LARP, when you wanted to say something as the player, rather than the character, you put one hand on top of your head. Gash was so thickly rude and shockingly witty that hands would literally FLY to the tops of heads after he finished regaling the tavern with anecdotes of dwarven culture. Interestingly, for all his talk, Gash never fired off a single decent spell (though he tried, and just about killed himself doing it.) Another measure of effective role-play is when you're having fun WITHOUT being buried in game mechanics. We all had a great time, and I'm really, really glad nobody was taping me. If I had any hair to let down, it would have definitely been let all the way down between 11:00pm and 2:00am at Ad Astra. Gash's performance won me a goody bag that included some cool roleplaying swag and a very cool Hellboy trade paperback.