Last Friday morning I flew to Melbourne, meeting my Tin Man Games workmates in 3-D for the first time. I flew home Saturday night.
On Saturday I ran a social meet-up before the Participatory Storytelling Panel at the Brimbank Writers and Readers Festival.
I’ve been wanting to go to Melbourne for a while, and it was the Participatory Storytelling Panel that gave me the excuse I needed (thank you to Phil Minchin, on the left in the above photo, for all the hard work you do—and for this panel in particular).
I also took the opportunity to deliver 35 copies of “Heart of Brass” to a whole bunch of bookshops, starting at Dymocks Watergardens and including Dymocks Geelong, Geelong Market Square, Knox, Prahran, Southlands, Camberwell, and Doncaster, as well as Andrew’s Book Store (Ivanhoe).
The Watergardens books are signed.
How was Melbourne?
Rainy. It rained all day Friday, and loomed all day Saturday. I spotted small patches of blue sky after the panel was finished (as I was on my way to the airport). It was raining again by the time my plane boarded. (Do I even need to mention that every second person I saw told me how stunning and downright summery the weather had been just before I arrived?)
I really enjoyed the way so many of Melbourne’s central buildings were highlighted in brilliant colour, looking bright and beautiful even in the Melbourney weather. The buildings also worked incredibly hard to be any shape but rectangular. Some created optical illusions with paint. Some were actually curved. Others had random geometric shapes sticking out. The great thing about all the crazy colours and shapes was that they made excellent combinations when viewed from a range of different angles. You’ll have to take my word for it, because I didn’t take a camera (with over 40 books in my suitcase, I was keen to cut down on luggage).
Someone on a bus gave me their seat, presumably believing I was pregnant (absolutely worth it, for once). On another occasion two men got into a punch-up while I sat waiting for a taxi outside a shopping centre. It was terribly exotic, but not exactly a great advertisement for Melbourne.
How was travelling?
I was super, super excited about staying in a hotel. A clean room, AND a room I didn’t have to clean after myself or anyone else? A whole night without anyone screaming at and/or near me? A bed with only my own limbs to injure myself on? Waking up to the sweet tones of my phone alarm instead of spending the first ten seconds of my day immediately dealing with more urine and more screaming? Walking to the bathroom without noticing ten things I should probably fix/clean/move along the way?
Food delivered to my room, where I could eat in bed and watch TV, all without interruptions AND in my PJs??
I stayed in a hotel without room service (WHY EVEN BOTHER TRAVELLING?), that was so small I kept bumping into the walls. But it had a TV and a bed and an ensuite, and that was awesome. And I didn’t hear any screaming, and no one peed on me. So that was special.
Melbourne trains don’t go to the airport, which is stupid. Getting to and from airports is often surprisingly complex, so I picked a hotel with a shuttle bus—which turned out to mean catching the skybus from the airport followed by a “loop” bus that goes to a list of hotels. It wasn’t a fast or pleasant process, but it did eventually get me there. I left home at 7am for an 8:30-9:30am flight, and arrived at the hotel around 12. After five hours of travelling I was pretty tired, but I prettied myself up as much as possible in a short time and took out my home-printed google maps to make sure I got to the Tin Man Games office, SMSing as I left the hotel to let them know I was close by.
And so it was that I walked half an hour through steady rain to the place Tin Man Games used to be located, many years ago. I was exhausted, sore, sweaty, and in precisely the wrong direction.
From there I caught a taxi, and reevaluated my abilities—both physical and mental. Everyone does dumb things sometimes, but that was me at my best. I prepared for weeks. I was careful. I had backup plans.
I missed so many things, and made so many mistakes along the way… and I’m going to keep making bizarrely obvious mistakes for at least another couple of years (while my brain recovers from a long period of daily migraines). The simple fact is that I’m not mentally or physically capable of basic functionality outside of my own carefully-constructed routine.
From then on I didn’t really travel alone. People looked after me at various points, and the rest of the time I relied on taxis. Taxis are stupidly expensive, and they often don’t come when/where you need them most. I can’t rely on them to help me.
So I need to have a serious think about whether I can do that sort of thing—independent interstate travel—ever again.
On the other hand, although I’m a bit stiff and sore, I’m incredibly refreshed and optimistic. There’s something about travelling that refreshes me from the inside out. So I need to think about that too.
I very much enjoyed hanging out with my Tin Man Games people. They really are exactly as smart and funny and chilled-out in real life as they are on skype. The up side of networking is that people in the same creative industries as me are often really fun to talk to. We actually ran into a few other people at lunch, which was a nice bonus.
The official IF meetup was small but high-quality, with exactly one person representing almost every single facet of my interactive fiction life: a young adult fantasy author, a Choice of Games writer, a Tin Man Games writer/programmer, the organiser of the Participatory Storytelling Panel, and a coupla randoms. Most of us went to the panel too.
I had thought the panel would feel long, at 1.5 hours, but it didn’t. Each one of us could have easily talked the entire time, because we love our subject manner and spend a large chunk of our waking hours thinking about it. It may well have been the best panel I’ve ever been on. The audience was cool too—smart and thoughtful and involved.
Professionally, the trip was a raging success. I also had a great time in between the travelling parts.
The gentlemen pictured are Wade Dyer, inventor of the tabletop role-playing universe Fragged Empire, and Phill Krins, who is one of the organisers of the spectacular Swordcraft live-action games.
I hope someday we meet again.