2016 Confusion report

Confusion is my home science fiction convention. It’s held every year in January in the Detroit area. I went to my first Confusion in 1998. I have not been every year since then. There were a lot of years I missed. I would say I’ve been a very regular attendee since the early 00’s. Something amazing and bewildering that has occurred is that Confusion has become a major literary convention, drawing dozens of authors from all over the country. Editors and agents have begun showing up, too. It’s awesome because it’s great for the convention, and it’s great to have another option for a networking event in the industry.

On the other hand, I’m feeling wistful about the cozy community we used to have. For many years there was a core group of writers attending Confusion, with a rotating writer guest of honor joining the group. There was usually one writer table in the bar, and I always knew where to go when I wanted to decompress from a panel or just get a hug from friends.

Confusion is not like that anymore. There’s no “home base” clump of writers in the bar, and the familiar Michigan faces are spread out among many other writers. That means it’s not that easy to walk into the bar and find “my people,” which is a little sad. On the other hand, that old “writer table” thing was probably overly on the cliquish side, so it’s not all bad that new people have shown up to disrupt the old default rhythms. I also spend a lot more time with fans these days, both because fans are what it’s all about and because so many of them have become friends in my everyday life.

At any rate, I had a great convention and enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and making new. All of the panels I was on seemed to go really well, with great topics and great audience participation. I felt a bit spread thin because there were so many people I wanted to see and so little time to squeeze it all in, but that’s a good problem to have. I am beginning to question my introvert identity. It seems like the reason I used to be so fatigued by social stuff and new people has been due to anxiety–overthinking interactions, worrying too much if I was offending or pleasing or even making an impression. Now that I’ve cleared some internal stuff, I find I don’t spend any energy at all on that old overthinking, and socializing and meeting new people doesn’t drain me like it used to. In fact, I wouldn’t say I find it draining at all. I still enjoy my alone time, and quite times with one or two friends, too, so I am probably more of an ambivert these days and enjoying having the option to meet new people without the need to “recover” after.

Staying up too late and having an inadvisable number of drinks? That still requires recovery time.

tl;dr: Confusion was great, but I now need a new cozy writer relaxacon.

I feel great

I feel fantastic lately, and as far as I can tell, there are three factors at work. 1) My previously unknown asthma is under control. 2) I’m a week into a 60-day bikram yoga challenge. 3) I finally finished a memory in EMDR. All three are connected, I think. Finishing the memory got a lot of negative, self defeating baggage out of the way. The positive cognition we installed was “I am fine as I am.” Simple as that. Doing yoga every day for the past week has helped, but I’m not sure I’d have had the courage to commit to and attend that many classes if I hadn’t finished the memory. I’ve been doing bikram yoga for 5 or 6 years and never got my act together to get this far into a challenge. Lastly, I think the asthma treatment has helped me finally achieve real results and progress with the yoga. In the past, I’ve had trouble staying in poses long enough to push my “edge.” Yoga is all about breathing, so now I’m working with fully functional lungs. There’s also a bit of fear of sensation, pain, or “getting tired” that I no longer deal with, possibly either because of the asthma or the now-processed traumatic memory. (Processing has made me a lot more comfortable with emotions and bodily sensations.) It’s a lot easier to just go to class and do my best in each posture without overthinking or stopping early…well, it’s hard to describe. But it’s great!

The initial impetus for doing the yoga challenge was to give my ankles some much-needed rehab after spraining both Thanksgiving weekend. (I fell down some steps–nothing terribly interesting.) The ankles are indeed improving, and the side effects are unbelievable.

I’m getting a lot done, working more, enjoying my work more, enjoying people more, feeling more social, rapidly losing weight without trying, and, yeah, just feeling pretty good. It’s actually kind of hard to make a blog post about just feeling good. There’s so much less to say about it than when I’m struggling or in a down mood. I guess because low moods lead to rumination which is perfect for really long blog posting.

I’m full of ambition, though. I’ve decided now is the time to reorganize my office. I’ve started a new novel, and I’m approaching it in a much different way than ever before. I would say I’m strongly trending away from the more commercially oriented style I’ve favored in the past. I find myself wanting to explore character much more deeply, and riff on the conventions and tropes of genre fiction. Like in a nearly satirical way. Freelance work is rolling in, after a long dry spell. I’ve heard it said many times that if you sort out your inside stuff, the outside stuff takes care of itself. Is this how it happens? I hope so.

I certainly hope the inside stays sorted, or becomes more sorted. I have another memory package to clear in therapy. The positive cognition I’m going for is “It’s not my fault.” I would say I believe it about 50% right at this moment. What changes will happen in my life when I fully believe this? (And before you ask “What’s not your fault?” …it’s everything. I feel like everything is my fault. All the time. Well, only about half time now.)