|feo tales||SPECIAL REPORT|
|CONVENTIONS||SCIENCE MOMENT||HORROR MOVIES||RACIAL CLICHE||FEO'S GALLERY||HORRIBLE NEWS|
SPEAK NO EVIL, HEAR
Report by Eunice Magill
"All that free liquor at the Leisure Cocktail party Friday evening wasn't about the publisher wanting to do something nice for the writers and fans. They know our people skills are on the clumsy side so they were taking pity on us . . ."
If you were to ask what's the purpose of a con, someone might tell you that it's about letting yourself go, consuming as much free alcohol as you can get your hands on and partying with people you haven't seen in a long time. But if the event had to be boiled down to two words, they would be "speaking" and "listening". The former causes most writers* to manifest physical symptoms of distress-rashes, hyperventilation, shakes, profuse sweating - okay, to be honest, it's torrential down pour sweating.
All that free liquor at the Leisure Cocktail party Friday evening wasn't about the publisher wanting to do something nice for the writers and fans. They know our people skills are on the clumsy side* so they were taking pity on us by priming the socializing mechanism. My husband calls it "liquid courage", and I found myself on the verbose, but hardly eloquent, side after a couple of Dead Guy Ales. As writers the latter comes naturally. We observe and record. Put a person in a locked room from birth, give him a word processor and the command to write, and all you'll get in return is a blank page. We don't really make up anything. Listening is a component of observation. Since this was my first WHC, I listened and what I heard was priceless.
Thanks to Brian Keene (and the incessant nagging of some, myself included, on the HWA message board) the HWA business meeting was moved to a time that could accommodate more people's attendance. At least twenty-five people showed to exchange ideas-to speak and listen. The conversation was dynamic; ideas lobbed back and forth like a wicked game of racquetball. Tim Lebbon did an excellent job of refereeing, I mean, chairing. People spoke about the needs of affiliates, the needs of actives, ideas for next year's HWA weekend. Several people had pressing issues on their minds, began to speak, then decided to table their remarks, not wanting to "open up a can of worms." Edo van Belkom spoke some intelligent words that I hope the HWA board listens to and doesn't dilute with other "good ideas." Some ideas are just fine all on their own and only require listening to make work.
"We are all worthy of speaking and being listened to,"
If you were fortunate, you attended Friday evening's event with Simon Clarke and Michael Slade speaking on the subject "How to Write a Horror Best Seller". I can summarize the entire event by saying that if I had to leave the WHC at that point, the whole trip would have been worth it. Simon Clarke is a very tall, soft-spoken man whose British accent makes everything he says positively refined, until you remember that this is the man who wrote BLOOD CRAZY. He shared with us his "tricks" and techniques for writing a novel.
Michael Slade, on the other hand, speaks in anecdotes. But he never expounds upon his narratives. You, the listener, must infer the meaning, like butter drawn from cream. Together, they made you feel that you could rush right out of that room and write that best seller. If you listened, you really could do it. Not only was it important to listen to the masters but I also listened to the novices. At the Stoker party Saturday evening I met a man I dubbed "Ohio" for a mistake on his badge. He was actually from Oregon. Ohio asked me "Why?" So I shared my Night of the Living Dead story but added that my interest in horror had happened before then. Then he mentioned nightmares. I perked up and listened. Seems that he suffered them from a very early age. I did, too. Maybe all of us were just born "dark dreamers".
Speaking of dark dreamers, I shared a table with Stanley Wiater and Simon Clark at the Stoker Awards. At some point in the conversation Stanley Wiater talked about growing up Catholic and its de-emphasis on the self. My head jerked up from the salad I was grazing on. A chill went up my spine to hear another person give voice to something that I carried around inside of me. It seems that Stanley and I (and maybe you) share that voice that tries to deter us from our dreams by nagging us with "Who do you think you are?" Some things you shouldn't listen to.
"Hi, I'm Feo Amante." Does anymore have to be said? I will, though. Feo was the first person I met at the WHC. My husband and I were sitting alone in a room waiting for the Leisure Cocktail party to start (that's another story to ask Feo and myself one day). I was a little worried that the whole weekend would be a disappointment and that I wouldn't meet another person. Feo came right up, introduced himself and sat down. So why are his words important? They ride on the words of Stanley Wiater. We are somebody - somebody who can extend his or her hand and introduce themselves and form a new relationship, not out of an inflated ego but a healthy one. We are all worthy of speaking and being listened to, that applies orally and in our writing. A book or story is nothing more than a conversation with another person. A few minutes later Michael Slade joined our conversation at the cocktail party, and I was in HWA affiliate's heaven.
To all those who attended the WHC and all those who wanted to be there, at this point I have one last thing to say and I hope you're listening:
"Hi, I'm Eunice Magill."