GenCon is the world's largest gaming convention. This year it was held over the weekend of August 15-18, 2013 at the Indianapolis Convention Center and a number of the downtown hotels. Since it's local, we commute each day, which makes for a happy kitty who gets fed and petted each day.
We had agreed to work the manga library in exchange for our badges, so we went over to Anime Alley in the Westin on Wednesday evening to pick up our badges and clarify certain logistical issues. The manga library was still being set up, but the arrangement looked good.
On Thursday we thought we'd have a fairly leisurely morning, since the manga library didn't open until noon. Then I got a phone call from the body shop that's been working on our car ever since it was hit back in July while it was sitting in our driveway. The car's finally fixed, so we head over to the body shop to pick it up. Even as they pull it our for me to pick up, they discover that there's a problem with one of the tires and it's going to need remounting. There's no time to wait around while they do it, so I call my husband to pick me back up in the van and we head downtown in it.
We still made good time and were even able to stop at Subway to pick up lunch before we reported for duty at the manga library. Someone on a blog I follow had recommended Makoto Yukimura's Planetes as a really good manga, and when I saw two volumes of it on the shelves, I decided to take the opportunity and read it. I was happily surprised to find a well thought-out near-term hard-sf story, especially since most of the sf anime and manga I'm familiar with tends toward space opera (Star Blazers/ Space Battleship Yamato, Robotech/Macross/Mospeda, etc).
Once I got finished reading the two volumes the manga library had, I got my notebook out and worked on plans for a story for an anthology with a relatively short deadline. I had a bunch of ideas, but they weren't really wanting to pull together into a coherent story.
When our shift ended, we headed over to the convention center to take a look at the dealers' room. As always, it's something of an overwhelming experience, because it's the size of a Worldcon dealers' room, but a lot of the space belongs to the big displays of the major game companies, and they put together setups on the level of sophistication of the corporate exhibits at a professional conference like the American Library Association.
We talked to one of our wholesalers and discussed upcoming shows. Then we looked at some other booths, but there wasn't much time before we needed to get supper. We went to Steak 'n Shake, which is just down the street from the convention center, and got a good, solid meal.
After that we had a little time to go back to the dealers' room before we needed to report to the manga library for our evening shift. While we were at the manga library, someone brought additional donations to the collection and we had to file them in. At least things went pretty smoothly, but I was trying to prevent some of the problems we'd experienced the previous year. All the same, by the time we finished, I was ready to get home and get to bed.
On Friday we had to get up extra early so we could go over to the body shop and pick up the car. Still, it was nice not to have to drive the van downtown and get it parked. We then picked up sandwiches at Potbelly's, a sub shop on Monument Circle and headed over to the manga library to work our first shift.
During our afternoon break we went over to the dealers' room to look around. Since we had a little more time, we went through the artists' alley and writers' table areas. I also stopped by the tables of a company that's publishing an anthology I have a story in. When I mentioned the anthology, the guy working the booth didn't know anything about it, which alarmed me. I said I'd look up the information when I got home for the evening.
Then we headed back over to the manga library to do our evening shift. I tried to get some work done on a story for an invitation-only anthology, but it was slow and frustrating going. When we finished our shift and went home, I entered the text into the computer in hope that I might be able to get the story to flow. However, it proved less successful than I'd hoped, so I printed up the results to work with the next day.
Saturday morning we wanted to get a good start so we could get to the dealers' room when they opened and pick up some of the freebies from our coupon books before the day's supplies ran out. We also took a look at the rest of the artists' alley, which we'd missed the previous day.
I also dropped by the publisher's booth with a printout of the contract for the anthology, and found out that yes, it was in the publication pipeline. I was very relieved, because I was worried that I might have been scammed, having been the victim of a fraud related to a publisher back in the 1990's.
Afterward, we headed over to the manga library to do our shift. I went back to the mall to pick up our lunch at Subway so we could eat before we actually opened.
I got some work done on my story while we were there, but not as much as I'd hoped. However, during the afternoon my husband wanted to use a coupon for a free gaming session, and I wasn't really interested in playing games, so I found a quiet place and wrote. I actually got several handwritten pages done.
For supper we went back to Steak 'n Shake. They were crazy busy with both GenCon and MotoGT in town, and they were out of one thing we wanted to get, but we were able to get our meal in a reasonable time and get back to the manga library for our evening shift without any trouble. I got some more work done on my story.
Because the Circle was crowded with MotoGT motorcycle riders, we decided to take a more northerly route. We got home fairly quickly and I even had time to enter the new text for my story into the computer.
Sunday we got up and headed downtown for the final day of GenCon. We made fairly good time and stopped at the Potbelly's sub shop on the Circle to pick up sandwiches for lunch before reporting to the manga library for our final shift.
Since we had four unbroken hours, I was looking forward to some productive writing time. Instead, I squeezed out about two sentences. After considerable unproductive struggle, I got out another story that I'd been holding in reserve and tried to get something done on it. When that proved unproductive, I figured I was just too tired for my brain to work at the level I needed.
Then one of the senior event staff came in about an hour before our scheduled closing time and told us we had to start packing the manga library so the room could be returned to the hotel. So we retrieved the boxes and started loading them up. Since we'd received a number of donations of books to become a permanent part of the collection, we were concerned that we might run out of boxes. Instead, we managed to get them packed tight enough that we had one box with almost nothing in it.
Once the boxes were hauled off to be stored until next year and we were out of the manga library, we sat around in the corridor and visited with some of our friends. When we got word that the dead dog party would be held in a nearby Chinese buffet, we walked back to our car and headed over. We really pushed ourselves because we were concerned they'd get finished and arrive before us, but we got there to find no one at all. After sitting and waiting for a while, we finally decided to go ahead and eat, and if we missed them, those were just the breaks.
As it turned out, they just took longer than anticipated to finish carrying their stuff out, and arrived when we were about halfway through our meal. We ended up staying quite a bit longer than we'd planned, chatting about cons and business and life. Overall, it was a good finish to a good con.
Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated September 29, 2013.