This was going to be a recap of my awesome weekend at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, but something happened that put a little damper on my enthusiasm. When I got home, I discovered that some people I know had made comments suggesting I was not being a responsible adult, that I was somehow shirking my duty to my family by going. This is not the first time I’ve heard comments like this. Usually I just shrug and say, “whatever,” but honestly I’m a little fed up. The comments I’ve heard are based on really ugly assumptions that aren’t even remotely true. Hang on. I’m going to get ranty.
The first assumption is that my interests are somehow less valid than the interests of other people. I am a geek, a nerd, whatever, but all that means is that I am passionate about the things that interest me and not afraid to show that passion. You know what? Everyone is a geek about something. Why should I have to apologize or explain my particular geekiness?
If I knew all the stats for all the quarterbacks in the NFL, I wouldn’t be expected to apologize or explain myself. If I wanted to paint myself green and go shirtless to a football game in December, I wouldn’t have to apologize or explain myself. If I went to car shows every weekend or knew all the parts to the engine of a ’64 corvette, I wouldn’t have to apologize or explain myself. I’m not going to apologize or explain myself because I like Star Wars or Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Farscape or Babylon 5, or because I like to read books by Jim Butcher or Timothy Zahn, or because I like to write stories about vampires, werewolves, and other assorted monsters.
The next assumption is that I went to Atlanta to goof off all weekend. (Because, you know, it’s nerd stuff, and you can’t take that seriously.) Is Dragon*Con a big party? In some ways it is, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t look forward to having fun with my friends. (By the way, the friends I’ve made since I moved to Charlotte are some of the most incredible, genuine people I’ve ever met, and I will be forever grateful for having them in my life.) But the weekend meant more to me than that. I spent almost four days surrounded by a staggering amount of creativity. I saw amazing writers, artists, actors, costume designers, cosplayers, jewelry makers, woodworkers, t-shirt designers, leather workers, sword makers, even furniture makers. Guess what? Many of these people make a living pursuing their passions. Isn’t that the Holy Grail? To do work you love? These people inspire me.
I also went to panels. Hell, I was on a panel. I met publishers, editors, and other writers. We exchanged ideas and knowledge and contact information. In other words, I networked, just like people who don’t have anything to do with nerd stuff.
The last assumption is that pursuing my passions somehow gets in the way of being a good husband and father. This is the one that bothers me the most. I am devoted to my wife and children. I missed them while I was gone, but pursuing my passions makes me a better person, and I believe anything that makes me a better person makes me a better husband and father. I’m teaching my children that it’s okay to be themselves, no matter what others say. After all, people who conform don’t change the world.
I love my wife with all my heart, and I want to thank her for “letting” me go to Dragon*Con. (“Let” is not the right word. We don’t have that kind of marriage, even though some people think we should, but that’s a completely different rant.)
It has taken me thirty-eight years, but I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I’m comfortable with who I am. I am not going to apologize.
Also, I found Waldo.