Conventions really suck for anyone who’s either got a smaller readership or is going for the first time. They should be a great place to meet people, but I’ve seen a lot of “deer in headlights” folks wandering around with nobody to talk to. No, I’m not talking about that creep in the corner, either, and as much as I would love to say crowds are all filled with happy, shiny people — I’m a realist. You get a group of 1,000 people together, and it’s simply pure math. There will be that “one.” Just going to happen. But I don’t want to talk about “the one.” I’d much rather look at the 999 other folks!
I feel the “push to market oneself” is often a mistake. Sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense to always network, network, network and push, push, push — especially if it’s early in your career. Even then, it really depends upon how others perceive you that makes a difference. Just because you show up at a con doesn’t make it automagical that you’ll get readers or fans of whatever it is you want to do.
I’ve given up on cons for the most part unless I can go and be a human being. It’s just not worth spending the time and energy going because I’m more productive writing my ass off instead. That’s not to say that I don’t go, but I have to pick and choose which cons I do go to.
When I’m having fun, being myself, then I can collect stories. See what folks are up to. Meet unusual people. I don’t worry about impressing people because that doesn’t matter to me. (It only becomes an issue whenever everybody says: “But, that was so-and-so… Why wouldn’t you bow and scrape?” I’m so far removed from whatever I’m “supposed” to be doing, because I’m focused on what I “am” doing.) As a writer, I’m more inclined to focus on the experience. If that changes? Where I have to worry about throngs of fans and whatnot? Well, then the experience is different. Then it turns into a scheduled performance due to “work” and that’s another thing entirely. Most cons are work for me, anyway, which means there’s a separation of Monica-me and Monica-workme.
Still, I feel that there’s ways to make conventions better, to highlight the best of what this community can do. Activities like:
- Attend readings for writers you’ve never heard of.
- If you see somebody who looks lost, ask them if they’re okay.
- Bring games along and keep a slot open at your table.
- Make it a goal to meet one new person.
- Share a fan squee.
The thing is, the fans of today are the George R.R. Martins and Ursula Le Guins of tomorrow. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: You don’t know where someone will end up and people have long memories — especially in this industry. Plus, how boring is it to only go to see your existing favorites. There are so many awesome wondering experiences waiting to be had in fandom. Why wouldn’t you want to try something new?
Does that mean you should be a pushover? Gosh, no. I can be pretty acidic at times when my blood sugar is low or I haven’t slept enough (this accounts for a lot of my crabbiness at cons), but also if I’m tired of getting hit on or pissed on from above. (The “I’m better and more powerful than you.” superiority complex is part of what’s called “punching down” and it’s an abhorrent practice, in my opinion, but it does happen.)
But, I don’t go out of my way to be a bitch. I’ve been told often enough, even outside of cons: “You have such an unusual personality.” Translation: it’s a fight for me sometimes to meet new people and not feel like I’m starring in my own circus. You mean, I have my issues? Yeah, just like everybody else on the planet. (Unless you’re a megalomaniac!)
Still, for all these reasons and more… This is why I hate hearing about people who have bad experiences at cons, because for a community that’s so incredibly awesome, we only hear about the bad things. We’ve all got our shit to deal with, but there’s a lot of positivity that can come out of connecting with like-minded people and meeting new folks to expand our view of the world.
That’s where my interest lies. I’m much more interested in the connections we make. For me, those last a lot longer than the negativity, and I hope that’s true of most people.
Mood: I have curry on the brain.
Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Enough to keep me up all night.
Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Some steps and a fuck ton of laundry.
In My Ears: Digging In The Dirt Peter Gabriel
Game Last Played: Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed
Book Last Read: Hellboy: the Fire Wolves by Tim Lebbon
Movie Last Viewed: Pan’s Labyrinth
Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures…
Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology and for gaming, a fun Scion: Extras (Supplemental Yet Can Be Somewhat Useful On Occasion Scions)