ACES 2017: The rest of it

Friday night, as I said last time, was the banquet. Because so many of us editor women have embraced colorful hair, there was a group photo taken before we were seated. Eleven of us assembled in front of the (old) ACES logo sign in the hallway for our moment of fame. The largest discussion focused on whether we should line up in ROYGBIV order. (We did not.) As most of us are purple of some flavor or other, we were in the middle, with the green, blue, orange, and red on the outside. Molly McCowan (@InkbotEditor) has rainbow streaks in her blonde mane, and took center position. (I envy her ink.)

We dashed back into the banquet hall and reclaimed our seats at the table, having left our stuff there to claim it before the photo. Shortly afterward I tweeted my fangirling at sharing the table with Kory Stamper of Merriam-Webster, who apparently started the whole purple-hair thing a year or two ago.

Dinner was very good. I ordered the vegetarian option simply because I wanted to, and was not disappointed. A bed of quinoa with sliced, toasted almonds and halved cranberries was topped with a portobello mushroom cap mounded with sauteed kale and onions, that being topped with a tomato wedge, rather like the cherry on the sundae. I was the last served at our table by several minutes, but it was well worth the wait. The beef looked mouthwatering, being just shy of rare (to my eye); the chicken came wrapped in puff pastry and stuffed with spinach; and the salmon appeared to have a light sauce of some kind. I wasn’t close enough to any of the salmon-eaters to really tell, and too busy enjoying my own meal to ask.

Following the banquet, Anne Curzan of the University of Michigan gave the keynote. A linguist speaking to editors. A match made in proverbial (adjectival?) heaven. Her speech’s title was “Going Grammando: A Linguist’s Look at Language Peeves.” I shall hereafter refer to myself as a grammando, on those increasingly rare occasions when I indulge in peeving.

Also at the banquet, Henry Fuhrmann announced the establishment of the Bill Walsh Scholarship fund. Later, at the closing session, he told us the funding had reached $16,000. Not bad for something so new. I’m sure Bill would be pleased.

Afterward, some of us gathered in the lobby for Scrabble and poker and alcohol. There was a rousing singalong of “White Rabbit” at the table where I watched Dan Sosnoski (@mededitor) and James Harbeck (@sesquiotic) and Clare Fitzgerald (@EditressClare) and a fellow whose name I have utterly forgotten playing Texas hold’em with Scrabble tiles for chips. And by “singalong” I mean we did the entire song, and I provided percussion. And when we finished, all was silent for a moment. I think we awed the others. Or stunned them. I’m not sure.

This brings us to Saturday, the final day of the conference proper.

I was first into the room where Kory Stamper, Anne Curzan, and Peter Sokolowski were to present “The Art of the Possible: Dictionaries and Language Change.” As the last folks were making their way in, Carol Fisher Saller (@SubvCopyEd) of the CMoS took the seat beside me. (More fangirling, but silently.) We exchanged hellos again, and she mentioned she hadn’t had time for breakfast. I produced a breakfast bar from my bag and handed it to her. I’ve never seen anyone so grateful for a NutriGrain bar. Ever. The session itself was, as one might expect, fascinating and amusing and enlightening. The tightrope that lexicographers and their dictionaries have to navigate between prescriptivism and descriptivism has been and will always be there. People want nice,  neat boxes and lists and rules, and … well, no. Because English. And because language change.

I was personally delighted to explain “on fleek” to the women behind me, who clearly have no teenage girls in their lives.

Then I got lazy. None of the second-slot sessions appealed to me, so I didn’t attend any. I’d rather leave the seat open for someone who really wants to be at one. I took my bag up to my room and headed over to the farmers’ market across the street, and wandered the stalls for a time. I bought a batik scarf to remember my trip by, and then hit the Ethiopian food stand for an enormous vegetarian platter (red and yellow lentils, collards, and cabbage, served with a choice of brown rice or injera). I was so pleased to finally try the bread! And the strawberry-basil drink was refreshing and not too sweet.

The first session after lunch was presented by my colleague Karen Wise (@wisekaren), a cookbook editor. I may have gone initially for moral support, but I was so glad to have been there. I am not cut out to be a cookbook editor. Give me fiction or give me death. She had told us she was very nervous about her presentation, because she’d only ever practiced in front of her cats. We offered, very helpfully I thought, to try to make her comfortable by meowing quietly during the session. I even said I’d go sit in the corner and ignore her completely while bathing myself. We also thought someone should push the water pitcher off the table while maintaining eye contact, and someone else should stretch out on her laptop and accidentally advance the current slide before she finished it.

None of that happened.

The last learning session of the day for me was sentence diagramming. I am a total nerd for the old-fashioned Reed-Kellogg method, with its solid lines, dotted lines, vertical lines, slanted lines … you know, the one you likely learned in school. This is what Lisa McLendon (@MadamGrammar) presented. The room was packed beyond SRO; people were sitting on the floor and leaning against the walls. After about 15 minutes, I realized that I really did remember everything she was discussing, so I vacated my seat for someone who needed it more. Nothing at all against Lisa! She is a fantastic teacher. I simply didn’t see the need to stay, when there was nothing new for me. (I was surprised that I remembered it so clearly.)

I’ve already said a little about the closing session. During the PechaKucha presentations, Roy Peter Clark once again showed off his musical abilities and led us in a singalong. His slides focused on using music to inspire, renew, refresh, and more. Use music to help you define your setting, your purpose in writing and editing. So many authors are creating Spotify playlists! (That’s something I know, not something he brought up.)

That session concluded the conference proper. A couple of hours later, we walked up to The Canopy for the after-party. The food was delicious, but the venue was overcrowded and I left quite early with Julie Wilson (@EditsByJulia) and Deb Ring (@WordBirdEditor). Back at the hotel, I again wandered into the bar and ended up sitting with Dan and James and Courtney (whose last name I don’t remember), who had been Bill Walsh’s boss at WaPo. THAT was a memorable conversation. After she left, the three of us hung out for another couple of hours. I think it was just past midnight when we gave up.

So, today, Sunday, I was a tourist.

It began with a delightful breakfast at the Wooden Rooster, a small “casual cafe” in downtown St. Pete. I tagged along with Ashley Bischoff (@FriendlyAshley) and Kate Karp (@Kate_Karp). By the time we headed back, we’d talked about a rainbow of subjects from the pronunciation of “CMoS” (sea moss) to film adaptations of Lovecraft’s work. That might not sound very colorful to you, but trust me. It was colorful (and appropriate for general audiences, too).

I went to the Dali Museum, had a delicious lunch in their cafe, got to say goodbye to Sarah Grey (@GreyEditing) and meet her dad, and wanted to buy one of everything in the gift shop. I settled on two T-shirts. When I got back to the hotel, I lay down with my feet up on a pillow and did nothing. (Well, almost nothing. I had a nice, long call with my husband, Shawn (@ShawnPConlin), while I rested my tired tootsies.) For dinner, I took the short walk to Gratzzi, a classic Italian restaurant that some of the others had eaten at earlier in the conference. The mahi-mahi was superb. Back at the hotel again, I sat out by the pool for a short while and listened to Slaughterhouse Five on my spiffy Bluetooth headset. (Did I mention that’s how I took the call from Shawn? I didn’t? My bad. That’s what I did. It was cool. I’m slow, sometimes.) Up in my room again, I napped for a bit and then went back to the bar for one last drink.

And then I wrote this.

It’s bedtime. Tomorrow I fly back to WI, and I start plotting for next year in Chicago.



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