Gone learnin’

It’s that time of year again. “Life, the Universe, and Everything” begins in Provo today. I’ll be there, taking two days off from work so that I can subject myself to three days of panels, presentations, and speeches around the art of writing.  (By the way, why do we shorten it to LTUE, and not LTUAE?)

I’m excited, even though I remember just how grueling those three days can be. They pack the day with classes, often as many as eight different events at a time, and they don’t let up, not even for lunch. As much as I would have liked to attend a class every hour, I had to skip some here and there last year just to recharge. But that’s okay, because there’s plenty going on outside of the formal sessions, as well. For example, last year I got to meet the fascinating and genial Michaelbrent Collings by hanging out in the vendors area for awhile. I also got to chat with D. J. Butler, author of the “Rock Band Fights Evil” series and a new series of LDS Steampunk. Both were very encouraging, and darned decent fellows.

This year I’ll be taking on an additional challenge. On Saturday I’ll be bringing not only my daughter (I’m too mean of a dad to let her take any days off from school), but two of her friends also. Actually it shouldn’t be that bad. They’re old enough to not need my supervision, and they’ll probably be hanging out together, which will help me worry even less. I was concerned about how Emma would do in some of the workshops by herself last year, but I needn’t have been. She’s got enough guts to ask questions in front of hundreds of adults, and the presenters took her seriously. Not that they shouldn’t have–she asked questions as intelligent as many the adults asked. But it’s always nice when people treat your kid well. I think they saw an opportunity to encourage the next generation.

Last year was my first year. This year I’ll hopefully be able to relax a bit more. I’ll be a little less obsessive about making sure I get to every class I’m interested in. Hopefully I’ll be a little less fan-boy-ish when I encounter people I admire (although Orson Scott Card will be there this year, so if I get the chance to meet him, all bets are off–if there is one writer I can assign credit for my being a writer it’s probably him). And I’ve seen on this year’s schedule that a number of classes are repeats. If I keep going every year there’ll eventually be less new classes to take in.

But mainly I’ll purposely try to take it easier this year. I need to pace myself. It’s not like I won’t get my money’s worth. At work I’ve (or rather my company has) paid $1200 for a twelve-hour class. Here I’ll get as much as 33 hours of instruction for $45. And my daughter gets in free. Seriously, that’s a fantastic deal. Salt Lake City Comicon is $60 for three days, and won’t be nearly so educational (not that it’s intended to be).

So yeah, I’m excited. Not as excited as my daughter, but only because I’m too old and tired to be that excited. The little kid in me is getting the giggles.