Burning Candles


There was a time when staying up all night was not only possible, it was routine. In University days, I often pulled all-nighters to get a critical assignment done or at least drafted – unlike some I would do the 24-hour thing a couple of days before an impending deadline. Even then I wasn’t dumb enough to think I was brilliant at 4 a.m. Revisions were a daytime thing.

Through the years I’ve stayed up late to party with friends, to explore a city’s late night culture (an absolute must in Madrid) or just to say I did. I can recall one memorable weekend when I stayed up drinking with political cronies until five in the morning and then grabbed an hour’s sleep and a quick shower before flying off to attend a Premiers’ conference – an event that started the minute I got off the plane and continued well into the next night. Was I groggy? Not in the least – oh, to be 31 again.

These days my candle has been burned down to a mere stub (at both ends) which makes attending a literary convention all that much harder to bear. But all the really interesting conversations take place after midnight so what can you do but try to limit the wine intake and set the alarm as close to your next morning’s events as you can possible get away with?

It doesn’t help when convention planners schedule your morning panels for the crack of ten o’clock. I guess they look at my greying hair and figure I probably eat at 4 in the afternoon and hit the sack by 9. An absolute slander I say. I never eat before 5:15.

Still, you only have one life, so why bother trying to make it long one? Frankly I’d rather spend a couple of late nights with friends – even if I do feel like death warmed over the next day. And I’d far rather stay up to see the sun rise than get up for the same experience.

Which is all to tell you that I’ve been attending When Words Collide – a great little convention held every August in Calgary. I’ve been selling books (a few at least) in the dealers’ room between appearances on panels with topics as diverse as Eco-Fiction and Cyberpunk and Social Order. More than anything I’m getting a chance to reconnect with friends from all over western Canada and beyond. Though I have to tell you it sometimes makes me feel like the grand old man of Canadian SF when I can’t get from the restaurant to the programming rooms without having to stop a half dozen times for a handshake or a hug.

I certainly haven’t had a chance to talk to everyone – but maybe I can catch up tonight.

And that’s ten minutes.


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