Saturday, October 1, 2011

Successfully Faking It

Steamcon is coming up in a couple of weeks. Both Peter and I will be there doing a talk about ebooks and Steampunk, which I feel perfectly comfortable doing, as it's focusing in large part on ebooks. I know that topic pretty well now. Somehow it grew into me being an actual pro at the convention, though. I don't mind being a pro: you get a nicer badge, and access to the greenroom, and you're in the program if all has gone well. That's all kind of neat. It's been a while since I pro'ed at a con, like more than a decade of a while, but the process seems to be almost unchanging. The real problem comes in the fact that it was needful for me to sign up to do more panels (wait, they expect me to work?) and thus, I need to fake it.

Panels are great: people who know a thing or two talking about that thing for interested audiences. The problem arises when the audience (Steampunk enthusiasts) knows more than the panelists (me, in this case, a Steampunk dabbler, interested in the topic but really not deeply sunk into it.) I tried to pick panels that I at least knew something about, mostly from a historical perspective rather than a genre one, and that's worked out okay. But as so often occurs in ordinary life, I'm now obliged to fake it. Fake knowledge that I halfway possess; fake confidence that I should be up in front of people many of whom are more gifted and talented than me; fake ability to moderate a panel involving just me and this guy. So that's a problem.

On the other hand, I'm a writer. A writer of fiction, no less. My job is to fake it: to make it seem like I grasp what it's like to be in the 18th Century, or a woman, or slowly dying of blood loss. Or even to live in a city other than Seattle, which is about all the experience I have in that particular field. And I think I do pretty well in that regard. This is just the same thing, for an hour, with help, in front of people who will drift in and out of rooms as their level of interest and boredom dictates. Not even necessarily interest and boredom in me and what I'm talking about in a panel, either. I've walked out of perfectly good panels because I thought maybe there was something else going on. So it's easy, I know that. Easy to fake it, easy to put out an impression of knowledge, of competence. And really, I'm not underqualified or anything, I just know there are very expert persons attending who aren't panel participants at all, and never will be, and it makes me feel a bit of a fake all the same.

Doesn't matter though. I'm committed now. So let's get to the fakery. I suppose the night before, I'll have to be a busy bee at writing something different and odd, so that I really feel successful at making it up as I go along. But that's all right. It's what I do. It's what all writers do.

See you at the con. I'll be smiling, real or not. Hopefully by that point, it'll be hard to tell.

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