Well, I am home again after visiting Lisbon Portugal for FESTIVAL BANG! and Lucca, Italy, for Lucca Comics and Games. I want to thank everyone for the warm welcome and to thank my publishers for their support on those journeys. Saida de Emergencia of Portugal and Fanucci of Italy assisted me in reaching out to many readers and signing books for them.
Festival BANG! is only in its second year, but I predict that this event in Lisbon, Portugal is going to grow geometrically as people become aware of it. What is it like? Take a quick look at this lovely video. (Stay until you see the footage of me at the end, I bid you!)
And of course Lucca Comics and Games organized a wonderful event. They’ve been creating that event for 52 years, and this year, it is estimated that close to 500,000 (half a million!?!?) enthusiastic people attended. One question that was asked of me was, “Why is it that so few US writers and fans know about Lucca Comics and Games when it is such a large event?” My answer was, “I have no idea, but I’ll be sharing that information with people now!” If you’ve ever wanted to see fandom successfully conquer and inhabit a walled city in Europe, this is the con for you! Lucca has an intact city wall, and many of the booths and kiosks are set out all along the top of it. All the little shops have surrendered to our greed, and feature appropriate merchandise for the rampaging fans who seek T-shirts and mementoes and of course Italian Ice Cream during the visit. Truly the crowds outside the wall looked like a siege overtaking the city as they poured in through the old gates! Go! You need to see that!
But now I am home again on my little farm. It is so quiet and green here. And I am wiide awake at 3 AM as I try to readjust to my own time zone. When I can’t sleep, I don’t fight it. I get up and do some of the things that may be making me too anxious to sleep. Pay the bills that came in while I was gone. Put things in the kitchen back where I keep them. Have long private conversations with the dogs and the cat. Draw pictures of what I want to do with my garden next spring, and make lists of what I must do now for those dreams to come true.
And sometimes, in those sleepless hours, I face some hard realities. The fractured bone in my foot that is aching as it Very Slowly heals, not improved by my eager desire to see as much of Lisbon and Lucca as I could. My right thumb that now makes interesting little poppings when I sign books for too long. I am having to come to terms with my aging body. I will have to make compromises, and delegate my time and physical abilities more sensibly than I have in the past.
The last few conventions I’ve attended in Europe have made me very aware of my aging body. The heart is willing, but the flesh is weak. I’ve realized that I’ve been grumbling to myself about the conventions I’ve attended recently. (Why did they book me on this early flight? Eleven hours in economy on a plane? Who thought that was a good idea? There’s not enough time between panels and signings! I forgot to make a dinner reservation and now I have to prowl about a strange city at night looking for food! This party is too noisy! I can’t hear anyone! Why isn’t the print on badges larger, because I can’t remember who I just met! Not another Porta-Potty! Why are Kat and Alex having a wonderful time when I am so tired?) And then the realization comes, that is just the normal wear and tear and ups and downs of a convention. It’s not the conventions doing things wrong. It’s me, aging. I can not go to a late night dinner that lasts until 1 AM and then spring out of bed at 6 so I can eat breakfast at 7, be ready to leave at 8 to find and walk to an event at 9. Very soon after entering a noisy party room, my hearing just turns all conversation to random noise. It’s hard to solder through skipping a couple of meals in a day, or signing until the line is gone, no matter how long that takes. I really want to do those things.
I just can’t.
So, with regrets, I will be looking very hard at invitations for events as they come in, and limiting my Across-the-Ocean to one or at most two a year. I’ll be telling all conventions that my hands will no longer tolerate a 3 hour signing session. I have to insist that the hotel room be ready when I arrive after a long flight and it’s still early in the day. I have to admit that I need at least an hour between events for water, bathroom and finding my way through the crowd to the next location.
These are difficult decisions for me. I’ve loved going to conventions and I always want to see more of the city and country I’m visiting. I love the rare quiet conversation with a reader who recommends a book or move to me that I would never discover on my own. I love encountering a fellow gardener who also happens to collect Wolverine comics, and the thrill of seeing someone cosplaying one of my characters. But I need to slow down. To balance it a bit, I hope to make road trips to some of the US conventions and comic shows that I have neglected in the past few years.
In nicer news, let me make a suggestion to you for the long winter nights that are soon to come. I always think of winters as being a wonderful time to be near a fireplace, doing quiet pastimes with real people. Assemble a Lego kit with a grandchild, or take out the old Red Box and escort them through their first D&D adventure. Jigsaw puzzles and sketch books. And coloring books! In case you love the tranquility of coloring, I’d like to remind you of the Farseer Coloring book from the Dabel Brothers Publishing.
I hope you’ll enjoy keeping company with them on the winter nights to come.