Back to the ConFusion

I had the pleasure and privilege of attending ConFusion in Detroit, again, this past weekend, and OhMyGod, was it excellent. My friend, Andrea, who runs the Little Red Reviewer blog and writes for SF Signal and Apex Magazine (she’s just awesome like that), was there, and she took me under her wing, introducing me to many excellent folks.

I was super geeked to have the opportunity to meet Joe Abercrombie, who lives in the UK and doesn’t get to the US, often, but it was meeting Kameron Hurley (I may have mentioned my adoration for her more recent works, a time or two) that threw me over the edge. I did my best not to completely lose my shit as I explained that WE HAVE ALWAYS FOUGHT changed everything about the way that I write, but… well, let’s just say that I wasn’t as successfully cool as I would have liked to have been. There may have been hand flapping and fangirl tears. I might have squeed, just a little.

But the thing that I took away from hanging out in the same space as all of these excellent writers… They’re not so different from me. Once upon a time, they were a newbie. Once upon a time, they were looking for an agent, scrabbling for some sense of destination. They were overwhelmed and uninformed, and they were all so incredibly cool to talk about it with me, to share stories of their struggles in getting published. They were nervous, once, and some of them still are. Over and over, I was told, “Keep at it. If you want it bad enough, you’ll keep working at it, until it happens.”

I had the opportunity to talk with some relative newcomers (Ferrett Steinmetz has his first novel, FLEX, coming out in March, and Brian McClellan is finishing up his Powder Mage trilogy… AUTUMN REPUBLIC comes out in three weeks, and they were both super cool guys.) And I had the opportunity to talk to those that have several books under their belt, including some seasoned veterans of publishing. I got a TON of book recommendations from people whose work I appreciate, and I had a blast. (And I got to meet Robert Jackson Bennett, who is just as funny in real life as he is on Twitter, and whose work I really admire.)

And as always, it was such a comfortable, welcoming environment. I’m not good at small talk. I don’t have a lot in common with the other soccer moms, or the PTO parents. But here, in the midst of a thousand geeks and nerds of all varieties, I could make small talk about the things that I love… writing, or gaming, books and words. I could comfortably and proudly be myself, and let my freak flag fly. It was awesome. It was amazing. It was invigorating. And I am counting down the days until next year’s con, and I just want to thank everyone who put together such an amazing convention, and everyone who was so welcoming and willing to talk.  Cheers!

mMHuOaOb

What I Learned: Adventures at my first SFF Convention

So, I was lucky enough to get to spend this past weekend at ConFusion in Detroit. It was my first con, and I was a little nervous/excited because I didn’t really know what to expect. I had read through the program notes, but I really had no frame of reference, so I was still in the dark.

What I found was honestly more awesome than I could have expected. I spent the last three days listening to panel talks given by some of the SFF industries greats. I learned a ton about writing as a profession, about getting published, and about social responsibilities that we as writers have. It was excellent. I met some amazing people, and I really, really had a ton of fun.

Things that I took away from my first con experience:

– Bring Airborne, next time. Not In a ‘There are creepy germs everywhere’ sort of way,but because I wanted to bask in every minute, not missing anything, I slept about five hours a night, and I’m paying for it, now. “Hello, Headcold. Thanks for joining us.”

– Pack less. The whole thing was really laid back and comfortable, and I didn’t need half the clothes I brought. My baggy geek tees and jeans were plenty.

– The biggest thing I took away from the experience, though, is hard to quantify. I guess it can best be called a sense of tribe. I’ve always been a little odd (Thanks, mom. I appreciated the snorting laughter that erupted, just then.) My mind works in ways that other people’s do not. I’ve made writing friends, and of course, I have some excellent non-writing friends, but there are very few people who really “get me.” I am very fortunate to have found a husband who does.

The thing is, everyone there was a little odd. Everyone there gets a little excited about swords and magic and spaceships. Everyone there has wondered whether they were dropped off by the mothership. Everyone there has felt self-conscious because they play RPG’s or they obsess about the magic system in Mistborn or that they dress differently, talk differently, look differently, think differently, whatever. For three days, the world was full of people just like me, and it was glorious. For three days, I didn’t hide my quirks, I reveled in them. For three days, I was unabashedly myself.

And in that time, I met and had meaningful conversations with best selling authors, award winning short story writers, amazing people who work in comics, awesome academics, and a whole string of people like me, who went there to learn, and left with a sense of renewed purpose.

I cannot express how grateful I am for the experience, and I will definitely be back *insert Terminator voice, here*.