WisCon actually ended yesterday, but between travel and tiredness I didn't get the chance to write about it. I definitely want to, though, because I wrapped things up with my favorite panel of the entire con -- Rethinking the "Gift Economy" for Fanworks. The panelists led a fantastic conversation on the history of the gift economy, the limitations of the model, the differences between fanfic (where many people recoil from even the idea of monetary gain) and fanart (which gets bought and sold all the time). There's an expectation that professional genre artists create fanart, especially in the world of comics (it's even expected that you'll have fanart in your portfolio), whereas it's only recently become acceptable for a pro writer to admit to writing fanfiction (except for official tie-in novels). We talked about all kinds of things, from the presumption that capitalism is the default economic model (newsflash: it's not!), to the relationship between IP holders and fans, to the backlash fans (especially female writers) can get for going pro, to the growing popularity of Patreon for fan creators, and how expectations change in male-dominated corners of fandom. I could seriously have spent another two hours in that room, talking with those people, and I hope to see the conversation continue in other venues. The Twitter tag
is, as usual, excellent.
Things started winding down after that. I packed, checked out, and then dropped by the Sign Out, which is a tradition of setting up tables for creators to sign their work. Because I neglected to bring anything, and didn't want to buy a ton of books to lug back, I decided to mostly skip it. Naomi Kritzer was signing cat pictures, and those I couldn't resist. After one last meal with pierceaholic
, it was off to the airport and back to real life.
To sum up... I don't know that I can really sum up. To say that I enjoyed myself, that I found the panels thought-proking and energizing, that I emerged with a sense of having rediscovered my people, would be an understatement. And yet I did have my moments of newbie angst -- feeling like an outsider, the fear of breaking into a group that already coalesced long before I arrived in the room. Multiple times, I thought of going up to someone and saying hello to someone, to complement them on their work, or something they said on a panel, or to renew an acquaintance from FogCon, and then didn't. A con is a tough place to be a social introvert, especially when you want to be with people but aren't sure where to start. Fortunately, I knew enough people there who were able to introduce me to other people, and I came out feeling both like I'd made a couple of new friends, and like I've laid the groundwork for next time.
Because there will definitely be a next time. I'm already hoping to make next year work, and although I can't promise that I'll become an every-year attendee (if nothing else, BMC reunion is also often on Memorial Day weekend), I certainly hope to do my best. This is a community I would like to be a part of, and that's worth some effort.