David Sloma

writer

Category: fandom

Harlan Ellison – Memories and Lessons

Harlan Ellison was one of the first professional writers I ever met.

It was in the 80’s, during one of Harlan’s lecture tour stops. I was a wide-eyed teen, voracious reader (especially of fantasy and sci-fi), and also a beginning/aspiring writer. His talk to the large crowd was wild and entertaining, filled with outrageous stories – here was a real celebrity writer in our midst! His admonitions on the hardships of the writing life were not enough to deter me, but they did shock me at the time (I found out years later he was mostly right).

The highlight of the show was when he read one of his new stories! That put me in awe, not just because I got to hear a wonderful story from a master writer in his own voice, but he said afterward that it was “just how it came out of the typewriter.” No rewriting! He explained that he was able to do this after being a writer for over 25 years. I thought he might have been embellishing about his skill slightly, as some of his tales seemed a little far-fetched, but now I’m not so sure. I’ve learned from him and other long-term writers that this sort of thing is possible; I’ve even had my own experiences with it.

After the show, I lined up to get a book signed by Harlan and also got his infamous barbed wit/temper directed at me! Seems I was being a little too much the acolyte writer as I hung around at his elbow after getting my book signed, wanting to bask in his presence and collect any pearls of writing wisdom he might choose to bestow on those crowding around him. So he shooed me away like a fly! I believe he even said “Go away, shoo!” I can chuckle about it now, but at the time I was a bit miffed. Ah, Harlan!

Harlan Ellison gave me someone to emulate, showing that the dream I had, to also be a writer, was possible. For that I’m thankful, and also for the many stories of his I enjoyed and dreamed on.

Comic Book, Science-fiction and Fan Conventions

I started off going to comic book conventions (sometimes they were part of Science-fiction conventions, too) back in the mid 1980’s, when I was at the height of my comic book collecting. (Ah, the 80’s were a great time for so many forms of art: comics, movies, and music, but that’s another story!) These events were great fun, usually held in a big hotel downtown, where you got to meet some of the comic book creators and get your books signed, listen to talks, and meet other fans.

I made some good friends that way, and got some deals on books from dealers who had tables at the “cons” as we called them. And it was always amazing to find out that there were actual people behind the names that were printed in the credits of the books (hey, I was still quite young, so give me a break for being amazed at the obvious!). I got many of my comics signed by the people that made them, which only made the value of the books go up, both as collectibles in dollar value, and in sentimental value to me (I’ll never sell many of those beloved books, I’m sure).

Back then, any sort of “fan” conventions were few and far between, but not any more. I see all kinds ads for big fan cons these days, and hardly any comic book conventions – but I’m sure they are still comic book cons, just not as many as there used to be. I know there are, as once in a while I’ll see an ad for one.

I’ve been debating if I should go and spend the money to rent some table space at one of these big fan cons and display my books for sale. Couldn’t hurt, and I’m sure I’d pick up some readers for my books, and have fun doing it. But which ones to “table” at? I’ve not attended any such events for a few years now, so I’m a bit out of touch.

If any of you out there attend comic book conventions, fan cons, or similar things, would you let me know which ones you like to go to? Then maybe I’ll see you there!

-Dave

 

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