Saturday was the day of gumbo soup for lunch – delicious! Possibly the best thing I ate all weekend.
Pros party – vids, mini Swiss Rolls, wall pics to admire… there was a quiz and a door-prize but I was too busy chatting to notice who won what. Karen came back with a small swag of prizes, though.
Panel – Life on Mars (General Discussion)
Interesting readings of the series ending, who the slash pairings were (if any – there were dedicated slashers in that room who didn't see a particular one), pure enjoyment of the series.
Panel – "The editor is your friend… maybe"
Overall, I was disappointed with this panel. It began well. The moderator started a 'good' and a 'bad' list on the whiteboard, invited contributions and discussion kicked off. The first thing I noticed was that most of those who spoke seemed to have had experience from the 'zine editing/production side of things. By inference, the 'beta' process common to internet writers was somehow 'not editing' for several of these folk. This was the first thing that was hard to take. I know people who dislike the term beta, saying that editing (whether done well, badly or not at all) is the correct word to use, always. I think I agree. There are many elements of the 'zine publication process that are different from internet production – however none of these seem to me to be intrinsic to the actual editorial task, which is essentially the same in both settings.
The panel touched on the basics of the editor's role (checking continuity, grammar, characterisation, usage, according to my notes) and there were comments about good/bad editing that people had experienced (but nothing much to add to the discussions that are already available on 'zinelist). There was a useful exchange about what should happen when editor and writer simply can't agree on whether a change should or shouldn't be made, including the option of withdrawing gracefully from an arrangement that isn't working. I didn't take notes, because at the time it simply seemed to me to be good common sense and courtesy – negotiate, negotiate, send texts back with comments and "let's discuss", but at the end of the day (i) the editor shouldn't change something in the work without the author's consent yet (ii) they do have the final say about whether it's included in the 'zine in the form the author wants. Oh, and being clear about time-frames, and so forth.
There was some talk about what editors do when they need to edit works that require specialised knowledge: of a time period (e.g. when the word 'gay' began to be used); of a technical matter; cultural references (e.g. Brit-checking) or foreign/minority group language and slang. Regarding these, I got the feeling that odd/unusual words were frowned on, unless there was a very very, very good reason to include them. At one point I found myself saying "why can't they look it up", because I was thinking about questions I'd seen elsewhere, discussions where people wanted to know simple things, things that anyone could have found out through the Internet a whole lot faster than by writing an email. I was told (emphatically) that the reader "shouldn't have to look things up". That floored me – and I had a little rant about it later, in a sympathetic ear (you know who you are!).
As a fan fiction reader I like being challenged by unfamiliar words as well as ideas. I don't mind pausing to check something out – if it breaks my flow, I go back and re-read as much as I need to. I only have a problem with 'clever' word usage when it detracts from the story that's being told (meaning that when I re-read, knowing what is being said, I still find it jarring). And something I saw on a list today makes sense – I can't quote the source, but basically the writer said that commercial publishers want writing that is comprehensible to someone with a 4th- 8th grade reading ability. Is this attitude/presumption commonly held by fannish editors/betas? Are other commercial publishing "rules" being taken up as "received knowledge" and promulgated in a way that actually stifles creative expression rather than encouraging and honing it?
*shakes head and moves on*.
Panel – "The Professionals – Canon vs Fanon"
This was a reprise of a panel held at the 'Close Quarters' con that I missed. Hampered by lack of a whiteboard/writing surface, it was still enormous fun. I direct you to paris7am's journal for the Quote of the Day!
The Bon Voyage party was great. I had tears in my eyes at the end, singing "The Rose". Never mind that I'd never been to Zebracon before, there was so much feeling in the room.
Stayed up way late and had a ball talking, listening, talking.
I missed the 'Dead Dog'. I only mention this because I don't know what a "dead dog" is, in context (and yup, I Googled it).
The best part of Sunday was spent in just talking with various folks (I was so glad I could let the_shoshanna know how much I'd enjoyed "Never Let Me Down" and I loved the discussion of "Love Lies Bleeding"), saying goodbyes and feeling as though the weekend had been too, too short.