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Once I understood what the World Fantasy Convention actually was — all professional conference of industry insiders, no speck of fan-convention-ness — I realized I’d better attend in a state of beginner’s mind. It’s very nice when my Vortex of Schmooze powers manifest, but this looked like a good time to deploy my Shutting-Up-And-Listening powers. (Hey, not everybody has those, and they’ve served me very well.) I offered to be a moderator, but never expected to be a panelist.

Only now I’ve been asked to fill an unexpected gap in the program, take a spot on a panel about fantasy literature in 1914 in its wider cultural and political context. Back in 2003, when I left academia, I still remembered enough about 1914 to be tenure-worthy as a scholar of modernist poetry. It’s been a while since I thought about that stuff. Plus, my 1914 is the 1914 of the high canon. I’m shamefully ignorant about literature in my own actual genre from that period. And…

Can you tell I’m hyperventilating?

…just to make things more intimidating, the two other people who are already on this panel are a Very Important Reviewer Who Knows Everything and a Guy I’d Never Heard Of But Should Have. I’m way out of my league.

It would be true and kind of a relief to say I can’t make it on the first day of the convention, I have family obligations and hadn’t planned to arrive until Friday. There’s just no way to get out from under my child care commitments, right? I said I’d be home for the boys until mid-afternoon Friday, and there’s just no way I can be presentable and on a panel in Pentagon City Thursday at 2pm.

But if someone asks you if you’re a god, you say yes.

I haven’t quite said yes yet. No running off and playing at godhood until there are babysitting arrangements.

So, um, if you’re someone I know in real life, in Maryland, to whom I would in the normal course of life already have entrusted with my children, and you’re available on November 6th and/or 7th…

I should practice asking for things more often. This part is probably harder than the panel would be.
Source: Dr Pretentious

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