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09 August 2009 @ 07:48 pm
WriterCon - The Saturday Edition  
Part I one of my WriterCon report can be found HERE.

I’ll give you all one guess how I was feeling when I woke up Saturday morning after my prodigious night of drinking. That’s right. The dreaded H word – hung over. Pass is an early riser, so while I was still drooling on my pillow, she was out and about at 6AM walking Nicollet Mall and greeting the day. By the time I began to stir at 9:30, she was already back with a bottle of juice and a bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwich from Brueger’s waiting for me, bless her heart. I’d been eyeing the large bathtub the day before, so I decided I’d take a float and continue to read Stiff, my current non-fiction book of choice, which chronicles the various uses of cadavers in research, forensics, munitions and surgical fields in the United States. It’s an informative and surprisingly humorous read. I wholeheartedly recommend it, especially for any fic writers out there who are interested in injury and what exactly happens to the body when you’ve been shot, fallen from an enormous height or gotten into a car accident. Nothing good, that’s for sure.
 

Once I had bathed and Pass had gotten her nicotine fix several times over, we got ready to meet up with Mere and Philips at noon for a little bit of local shopping. Since we were on a time crunch to get back to the hotel by 2PM for a panel, the ladies limited the excursion to a single destination – The Smitten Kitten. I can’t say how Mere and Philips got wind of this particular uptown Minneapolis destination, but Pass had mentioned it before to me on the phone. The storefront is pretty non-descript, but walk inside and you’ll come face to face with an assortment of sex toys, erotic books, accessories, apparatus and other questionable paraphernalia. What sets it apart from any other shifty-eyed porn shop is that there’s nothing shifty about it. It’s owned and operated by women, is well lit and laid out like any other PG rated boutique with cute shelving units, helpful labels and a smiling clerk. Next to the front entrance is a cork board with flyers advertising parenting resources, workshops, and other women and family-friendly businesses. Set off to the right is a red couch and a few seats that scream book club rather than sex store. Here’s Philips, Mere, me and Pass smiling for the birdie.
 

 

Lest you forget where you are, there is a framed and autographed picture of transgender porn star Buck Angel near the sofa and a dildo planter with a sprig of flowers sprouting from the wall.

 

Like kids in a candy store, we spread out to poke around and play with the toys. Vibrators and dildos got the most careful scrutiny as we stood about trying to figure out how to turn them on and off, as well as discuss the merits of shape, size, intensity and durability. Here’s Mere holding us up with a black gun-shaped dildo. I wonder what the local police force in Arkansas would say if they found a dildo toting gunwomen gallivanting about with nipples clamps in one hand and mistreated action figures scattering in all directions.


 

While Pass and Philips admired the strap-on harnesses, I rocked out with my purple cock out. My nickname isn’t CoC for nothing!


 

Once the ladies made their way to the cashier to make their final purchases, including a wee flogger to use as a prop for poor doll!Spike, I flipped through The Best Erotic Fiction of 2009. Lemme tell you, what I see on LJ is a hell of a lot more erotic than the content that managed to get published in this anthology.

 

Back on the bus, we talked about fandom and kerfluffles and shared the front seats with two marathon runners and a bike messenger. It’s worth mentioning that the buses in Minneapolis, unlike New York, are equipped with bike racks. There were several spots on the streets that I passed that featured bike racks with a glimmering, colorful array of 20 or more bikes locked side by side. In general, bike culture is big in Minneapolis and some people use them as principle vehicles of transportation, though doing so in the winter seems a bit hazardous. Get your ski masks and Carhartt’s ready! There are also vocational programs for homeless or transient youth that teach them how to build and maintain bikes, a testament to their wide use and a need in the local economy for them to be serviced.

 

Back at the hotel, Mere and Philips went off to prepare for their Spuffy event later in the evening and Pass and I went to our first multi-fandom panel moderated by executrix called “Slash: Gay, Queer, Both, Neither?” Perhaps you ask why I, a het writer, would go to a slash panel. First of all, my interest stemmed more from a personal interest in gender and socio-cultural studies than from a belief that I would be aided in my writing. As Pass has mentioned, slash is often not slashy enough. It fails to bring to bear true issues of homosexuality and how that might affect the characters or ensemble cast in any given story. And this fact, the lack of slash representing a community’s experience, was something that was heavily discussed. Where do we draw the line at fantasy and titillation versus an incorporation or approximation of what being gay or being in a gay relationship means for our characters? A number of other points that were brought up was who’s writing slash and for what audience? Is femslash categorically part of M/M slash? Are they separate? Do we consider these stories genres or categories within genres? Are characters of the opposite sex treated detrimentally to validate the existence of the slash couple? Is there a thing such as “queer gen?” What’s the difference between top/bottom and sub/dom? Does our fic rating system, based on the movie rating system, do justice to slash fic? Is it a broken system? Must we warn for het or slash?

 

My open-ended question of the evening was why slash tends to have far more BDSM content than het fic does and what that says about our views on homosexuality and violence. I’ve often felt that BDSM fic is oddly portrayed with a leaning toward torture, rape and H/C. My BDSM fic, Wool Over My Eyes, which I posted last Fall, was my response to a lot of the fic I’d been seeing and tried to depict an alternative – pain as a coping mechanism rather than a weapon.

 

Overall, I thought the discussion was pretty interesting and well moderated. A number of fandoms were represented, which did occasionally make it confusing, since I had no idea who the characters or ‘verse was that the attendee was referencing. Again, I had this desire to want to split up by fandom so that I could have the opportunity to discuss issues specific to my characters versus fanfic as a whole. After some yogurt, sushi and a quick nap, I had the opportunity to do just that at the fan-led event “We Dorkazoid Spuffy Shippers,”

 

From what I understand, this event was a hallmark of WriterCon 2006 in Atlanta and, because of its rollicking success, deserved a repeat performance. Mary5958 was scheduled to moderate, but due to unforeseen circumstances was not able to do so last minute. What to do when you’ve got 30 some-odd BtVS fans eagerly awaiting two hours of nonsense? Call the queen dorkazoid Spuffy ‘shippers themselves – Mere and Philips, of course! Thanks to their volunteering, they saved the day and put on a great event featuring Badfic Bingo. Many props go to missmurchison for lending a helping hand in finding ludicrous phrases such as cockzilla, womb ferret, oozing vagina, scrotum pole and dangling fury for the bingo cards – see st_salieri’s hilarious crack fic HERE for a taste of what we endured.

 

Prior to the hilarity, Philips also ordered up a number of pizzas for us to eat, which gave us some time to chat. I was greeted by kcarolj65, who was one of my earliest commenters and supporters back in 2007. While fishing for pizza I bumped into st_salieri for the first time and we both gushed to each other how much we liked one another’s smut. Given that I’d had a conversation with someone earlier about how they just skip sex in a story and don’t care for it, it was encouraging to meet a like-minded harlot that appreciates my erotic contributions to fandom.  I also chatted with swsa and confusedkayt, who had an awesome Flash inspired red and yellow sweatshirt complete with hoodie and yellow lightening bolts. Denny_dc made an appearance to snap a bunch of photos of us eating – there’s a picture of me somewhere standing behind Mere resting my boobs on her head.

 

Back in the conference room, we pulled together a number of tables to play bingo. However, before Mere could utter the phrase “spasm chasm,” I asked that we go around the room and introduce ourselves since I hadn’t met many people there. Magista has a videotape somewhere of everyone’s introductions and how each of us got into fandom. Those that I can recall being in attendance aside from the people I already mentioned were slaymesoftly, rahirah, cindergal, lilachigh, ezagaaikwe, enigmaticblues, missmurchison (who was sitting next to me) and 10-15 other people. One thing that stood out was, well, me. I must have been the youngest person in the room by at least a few years. I did feel a little self-conscious about this. No one else watched the show when they were 10 with their mom? Anyone? *silence* No? Alrighty, then.

 

In addition to all the giggling and chocolate consumption that was going on, Mere’s dollies also made guest appearances. Here’s me with Spike and Buffy on my shoulders. St. Salieri can be seen pouting to me left. 



They whispered that all the talk about “muscular monoliths” and “wands of copulation” were making them a bit randy, so they took it upon themselves to release the tension.


 

Rebcake’s menagerie also made a guest appearance, followed by a confrontation between punk!Spike and Captain Jack over who had the privilege of copping a feel of rebcake first.
 
       

 

Admitting defeat, punk!Spike busied himself with seeing to Pass’s needs. He’s a generous soul.
 

 

Directly following the Spuffy event, Pass, rebcake and I attended “The Language of Love: How Sex Scene Descriptives Color the Overall Story.” I was excited about contributing to this conversation since it’s pretty much my bag and thought I might have something useful to impart. I wouldn’t say that the panel got off to a good start. One thing that got me down was that each of the four panelists wrote male slash. I'm not sure if this really makes any difference when writing sex since I only write het with occasional femslash, but I was a little concerned that there would be a skew toward tropes, themes, whatever that apply to slash. I also tend to tell my stories from a woman’s POV, which a m/m slash writer obviously wouldn’t do. There also seemed to be a uniform appreciation for BDSM by the panelists and they didn’t hesitate to make this known. In the future, I think the organizers should be mindful of having panelists with a broad selection in tastes, including a het writer, a femslash writer, etc.  

 

The content of the panel I’ll skip – if anyone is interested, I’ll try and recreate what was said in a different post – except for a particular incident that truly upset me. One audience member mentioned that she often used heat and temperature metaphors during her sex scenes and expressed interest in hearing other options. I’m a big fan of using water themes or other organic metaphors that are grounded in the natural world. Water has sound, texture, movement, smell (if it’s the ocean), can be rain or ice, hot or cold. It’s flexible, which is why I enjoy returning to it and using it as a central and grounding theme to bring my characters back to. See Landfall and Off Route 17 for examples of water motifs.

 

As I started to explain why I found this suggestion helpful, I was rudely interrupted by a woman across the room who said something to the effect of – “No! You should never do that!” In essence, she implied my contribution was stupid and proceeded to babble about some fic she once read that had some sort of nautical theme and used harpoon metaphors, which were horrible and didn’t work. Not only did the moderator let her go on, but she and the panelists didn’t speak up about how her response was inappropriate and never brought the floor back around to me so I could finish my thought. I was insulted, upset and felt pretty deflated on top of the fact that I hadn’t completely recovered from my hangover and felt lousy the whole day. Though there were some good things said afterward, I wrote off the rest of the panel and let it fuck up my mood.  However, two women sitting behind me passed an encouraging note my way, so if you’re reading: thank you to Tania and Al for the kind words. They really helped.  

 

The event ended at 9:30 and Dirty Drabbles was scheduled for 10PM, so Pass and I hurried back to our room to change. We had planned to briefly drop in and then meet up with Pass’ sister for a night on the town, but I was too exhausted to make it back for the drabbles. I dozed until Pass’ sis showed up and managed to rally enough to go clubbing with them.

 

The nightlife scene in Minneapolis appears to be concentrated to several blocks of back to back bars and clubs. In New York, any neighborhood you go to you can find at least several bars; everything is just that much more spread out. However, the concentration in MN makes bar hopping remarkably easy. You can just saunter next door or down the street to try out someplace different. Our first destination, the Imperial Room, was only a few minutes walk from our hotel and was a bar/club with several different levels, one playing hip hop, the other house. I wasn’t drinking, so I grooved along to the ADD dj as best I could. I don’t think he let one song play through to its completion the whole time we were there. None of us were enjoying the men or the music, so we left and waited on line at a bar across the street.

 

It was entertaining for me to take in the people on the street – I’m not exactly used to seeing guys walking around with Twins jerseys or girls hobbling off of party buses. There were at least two that were parked along the curb, their fluorescent purple lights glowing through the dark, tinted glass windows. Where did the girls come from, I wondered? The suburbs? Some other nearby city, like St. Cloud or Duluth?

 

I was also struck by the youthfulness of the crowd littering the street. I don’t think anyone out was over 30, which has not been my experience at New York bars at all. I often find myself with a fairly mixed crowd, but then again that might have something to do with the older company I keep or the particular bars I frequent.

 

An interesting local gesture that I saw on a number of occasions was a person flashing the peace sign sideways and saying the word “deuces” as they departed. I’ve never heard this on the east coast before and asked about the origins of the phrase. Apparently, like the West Side symbol, it originated as a gang sign and then trickled down to the general populace as a way to say goodbye.

 

Our last destination for the evening was a martini bar down the block from the Radisson called Seven. This place was very much my speed. It was upscale with a beautiful, Asian decor, handsomely dressed waiters, comfortable lounge couches and a loose groove that reminded me of New York. Pass and I milled around and danced while her sister waited online for entrance to their roof deck, which was three stories up and overlooked the modest, but still tall Minneapolis skyline. While on line, she met a friend from Aveda, whose corporate headquarters are located in the city. (I love their products!). He knew one of the bouncers and gathered together a small posse of friends that led the way to a back door at the rear of the lounge. A guy quickly doled out yellow wristbands to us and waved us up the stairs to the roof. Who doesn’t love a good hook up?

 

The roof was teaming; each of us had a drink and took in the fresh air and night sky. One area of the roof was decked out in red lounge couches, some of which were canopied with white swags of fabric. It reminded me a lot of the pool area at the resort I stayed in during my visit to Cancun

 

 

Part of my excitement had to do with the fact that there isn’t a lot of roof access in New York, since people have been known to jump. The opportunity to party on a roof is far and few between (though I have done it and it’s always a blast because of the view) back at home, so I was thrilled to get the chance to do so in Minneapolis. Honestly, it made the evening for me.

 

Tomorrow evening I’ll post my third and final con report to cover the events of Sunday!

 


 
 
 
Rebcake: hellorebcake on August 10th, 2009 03:14 am (UTC)
Jah, the heckler was rude and unpleasant. I had been at an event with her earlier in the day, when she announced that she had brain damage (from an accident?) which seemed pretty obvious in retrospect. I think that everybody was giving her a free pass, to some extent. I remember you rallying to add some more good points to the discussion later, though! Go you!

Oh! And my McDiva has been watching Buffy with her mom since she was 10! Does that count? No? It's the best I can offer, alas. More converts, just not early adopters. I was very happy to have you there, ya whippersnapper! (Please take that all the ways you can think of.)

*squeezes you tight*

ClawofCat: spikedru dancingclawofcat on August 11th, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
I had been at an event with her earlier in the day, when she announced that she had brain damage
I think I sat in some other discussion with her, too. It must have been the Slash one and it did occur to me that she didn't look altogether well, but it's hard for me to really find the sympathy to excuse her. *shrug* I sound like a whiney little bitch complaining about it, but sometimes people need calling out on their shit.

On a totally unrelated note, I regret not getting more time to talk to you. What events and/or panels did you go to? I've been eagerly awaiting con reports and haven't seen very many detailed ones :(

And my McDiva has been watching Buffy with her mom since she was 10! Does that count?
Hee. It looks like you and servus_a_manu are grooming the next wave of Buffy fans. So it does count, but they're like 2nd or 3rd wave fans. Where were all the first wave inaugural WB-watching tweens that I came up with? I had no one to share my stories with without looking like a baby, like when I was in 6th grade. I watched the show with my friend Michael and have vivid memories drifting about Mr. Punjabi's photography class murmuring "Spoike??" to him while he effected an embarassing British accent. Ah, those were the days. Dawson's Creek and Buffy. *is wistful*
Rebcake: wrongrebcake on August 10th, 2009 05:56 am (UTC)
P.S. Your report about the make-up of the "Language of Love" panel makes it even funnier that they spent so much time agreeing that there are no good words to describe female genitalia. *snerk*
ClawofCat: fangel stakeclawofcat on August 11th, 2009 06:08 pm (UTC)
I honestly could not believe that! I mean, I suppose there aren't a ton of gorgeus words, but there are words. It's a matter of tone and intent in how you have a character or narrator use them. Or! Novel idea here. You just don't use the word. Sometimes showing is better than telling. During the sex scene between Buffy and Faith in "Severed and Sewn" I don't think I referred to their genitalia once. Readers aren't stupid. They get the gist through action.

Anyway, don't get me started. I wanted to leap up and shove the second one from the right aside. Invisible_lift, however, was very cool and humorous. I approved.
missus_gracemissus_grace on August 10th, 2009 08:15 am (UTC)
Nice to see the dolls make an appearance!

So sorry about your experience getting interrupted. I happened to think your water metaphors are interesting and a good fit!

ETA: Happy Birthday!

Edited at 2009-08-10 08:45 am (UTC)
ClawofCat: fucktherestclawofcat on August 11th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
Heh, oh yes. It wouldn't have been WriterCon if there wasn't some form of doll abuse. I have a video of Reb making punk!Spike wank off as he watched Buffybot hold shackles out to him. It was pretty wrong.

So sorry about your experience getting interrupted. I happened to think your water metaphors are interesting and a good fit!
It happens and doesn't sound nearly as bad as whatever went down at the -ism panel on Sunday. There was some fur flying from what I understand. *grimace* And thanks about the water stuff! I get really excited when I see other people use them, too. They're just so preeettty.
servus_a_manu: Clapping TWservus_a_manu on August 10th, 2009 11:03 am (UTC)
#1 I love Aveda, too. An old boyfriend got me into those products! I used the chamomile shampoo for years when I was still blonde.

#2 My husband does that "deuces" thing, tho his stemmed from a reference to 2nd platoon at his previous post in NY. I kind of hate it.

#3 On BDSM: although not a practitioner myself, I have over the last few years taken a keen interest in exploring the culture as best I can as an outsider. One discrepancy between the real life culture and fic that is beginning to bother me increasingly is the use of BDSM as "therapy" in more and more fic with those themes. That's not to say it doesn't work that way at all in RL, or in fic. Actually, your story is a good example of how it does work, but it's also a relatively brief one-shot. Not 26 chapters of trying to break someone down to their id and then pet them like a kitten. From what I understand, a large part of the appeal of BDSM is the joyful endorphin rush that occurs in situations of controlled pain.

The canon Spuffy sexual relationship is closer to the spirit of BDSM than Xander weilding a whip over chained Spike, or what-have-you. But I'm getting off track. Where I was meaning to go with this is that I agree with your assessment of how BDSM in fic is treated in slash fic, find I'm not very satisfied with the BDSM-as-therapy trend in het fic, and would like to see it go more realistic places overall. I'd like to see a comm or even ficathon with that purpose in mind. Perhaps the panel stirred some thoughts on that for others as well.

Thanks again for another wonderful recap! Btw, Smitten Kitten reminds me of Babeland in Seattle. There are three Babelands in NY, can you compare? :)
servus_a_manu: BtVSservus_a_manu on August 10th, 2009 12:16 pm (UTC)
p.s. My kid was 10 and watching Buffy with her mom! Well, now she's 12 and anyway that's probably not what you meant. :P
ClawofCat: family funclawofcat on August 14th, 2009 01:31 am (UTC)
It seems that you and rebcake have something in common - raising 3rd generation fans of Buffy. We need more converts!
ClawofCat: Dru Angelus cruelclawofcat on August 14th, 2009 01:29 am (UTC)
#1 Ha! And I got my sorta boyfriend (lover?) into Aveda when we went to Cancun this past January. Now he swears by it.

One discrepancy between the real life culture and fic that is beginning to bother me increasingly is the use of BDSM as "therapy" in more and more fic with those themes.
Interesting. Are you finding this in BtVS fandom or another one? I generally just stay away at this point and hadn't noticed a therapeutic trend, more of a "terrorize you until you're chop meat and only I can have the power" sort of thing. As for my shot, I pretty much used my own experiences to write that. It can be a release and an exercise of trust with your partner. It can also be many other things depending on what you're after.

From what I understand, a large part of the appeal of BDSM is the joyful endorphin rush that occurs in situations of controlled pain.
That's probably true, but I can't say I ever felt "joyful." Sated would be a word. Like all this tension has been building and then it just bursts, is over, seeps from you and it's not your responsibility anymore. I was never part of a scene and I don't lead any sort of BDSM lifestyle, but for the time I participated it was cathartic. It felt good to let go emotionally. I was in a sad place and the pain helped me cry and it was a relief to just let myself be vulnerable and get it all out so I didn't have to carry it about with me all the time. It felt good too. Certainly the erotic elements were there as well.

The canon Spuffy sexual relationship is closer to the spirit of BDSM than Xander weilding a whip over chained Spike
Yes. Buffy was going through a lot of pain and sometimes you need pain to combat pain.

I'd like to see a comm or even ficathon with that purpose in mind.
If you want to run it, I'll write a fic for it! I actually have a Faith/Angel story set during "Sanctuary" that would be perfect, though perhaps a bit on the therapeutic side.

Btw, Smitten Kitten reminds me of Babeland in Seattle. There are three Babelands in NY, can you compare?
It definately had a Babeland vibe (no pun intended), in the sense that it was family-friendly and not sketchy and very sex-positive. But there was something in the air that made it different and that was that all the patrons were women and so were all the clerks. It felt like a very safe environment, something that wasn't going to be encroached on. So, while they shared a similar spirit, I thought the female ownership added something to the experience.
servus_a_manuservus_a_manu on August 14th, 2009 05:01 am (UTC)
No wonder your one-shot worked so well, as it was informed by your own experience. And like I said, it's not that catharsis isn't or shouldn't be there at all, just that it doesn't have to be the sole reason for participating in that aspect of sexuality.
It can be a release and an exercise of trust with your partner. It can also be many other things depending on what you're after.
- like this. Which is why one person can call it "joyful" and another "sated", I think.

As for BDSM as therapy trending in fandom, I do see it BtVS, but also Doctor Who & Torchwood. Mostly TW, where the darker themes lend themselves to the subject. And again, it's not that it can't be done well in fic, just that it takes a sure hand. Since BDSM is still relegated to an underground and shock-value place, it doesn't surprise me that the vision most people have of it are either fuzzy handcuffs or a pvc-clad dominatrix. Certainly that's what I thought until I set out to do my research. I guess I'm being somewhat of a snob, wishing people would take their subject seriously enough to learn about it if they don't have any personal experience.

It definately had a Babeland vibe (no pun intended),

Rly? Because it's a very cute pun! :D
KSena: Phonography by velociraptorx@piinkcupcakkseenaa on August 11th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
Not all good, but not all bad either it sounds like. :-) Also, Buck Angel? Never heard of him! But damn, he sounds cool! :-D
ClawofCat: think sexclawofcat on August 11th, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC)
Yup, Saturday was a mixed bag, but I don't have too much to complain about.

So, Buck Angel. Back in college I was writing for a sex and culture mag. Transamerica had just come out, so I was interested in transgender SRS surgeries and the like. I decided to write an article profiling two high profile trans men - Loren Cameron (a FtM photographer) and Buck. I got a phone interview with him and he was hilarious! Anyway, if you're interested in reading it, I could email a copy to you. I'm not sure that it's online anymore.
KSena: Me Moonface by unique_thesame@coffeeclutkseenaa on August 11th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
Oh, I would love to read that! :-D You can send it to ksena77 at gmail dot com. ;-)
Desdemona's Space Station and Bait Shop: The Long And Winding Road by Kazzy_Ceedesdemonaspace on August 12th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
Hey, my name! I'm sorry I didn't introduce myself (I am not good in crowds--too introverted). Did you know we have something in common? We tied for runner-up in the "Best Angst or Dark" category in Round Nine at the Fang Fetish Award. I'd love to read yours.
ClawofCat: Spaith Make Meclawofcat on August 14th, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)
Don't sweat it :) I got the sense that a lot of people felt a little twitchy in crowds. I was glad we had the introduction, of sorts, or we all would have gone on starring at each, a bunch of strangers in the room. Awkward!

I can't say that I remember anything about the specific Fang rounds, but I believe you're referring to my Faith/Spike fic Window-Dressing. Feel free to read and comment if you're moved to. That fic, though a bit grey-haired now, is still one of my favorite stories.