So there is this thing called “con drop,” the totally tired semi-depressed feeling you get after a Con. Yeah, it’s a thing and I have it. I’m tired and feel like I’m getting a cold… I may be getting a cold. Touching all of those people… oh well. I’ll take the hugs and the germs. Anyway, I need to gather my thoughts about RainbowCon 2015, the LGBT+ (I so hate the word QUILTBAG) convention held here in Tampa. I need to get my thought together because I’ll be on a special edition of the 3 M/Musketeers podcast with Angel Martinez and J. Scott Coatsworth doing a post-con breakdown.
Since the Con ended Sunday, I’m still processing and these observations are pretty stream of consciousness. And, of course, they only represent me and my individual experience.
Have realistic goals and explications
The reality is I’m still an unknown writer and I need to have realistic expectations about what will happen at a Con, especially a small one like RainbowCon. If I went there expecting to sell a lot of books or have people lining up to have me sign books, I’d be devastated with the Con experience. I see it as a networking and relationship building time.
I’m also an introvert, okay, an extreme introvert, especially in one-on-one situations with strangers. It’s odd, I find it easier to speak in front of groups. Anyway, this means I suck at talking about myself and my books in the table environment. I really need to work on this. How do I talk about certain aspects of “Dark Love” without it sounding weird? I mean it is weird, but in the story context, it works… at least for most people. Yeah, work on selling myself and my work. But, it was still cool to have a table. I will do that again.
Networking and Relationships
Writing is a solitary craft. Social media helps us connect with other writers to a point, but isn’t a substitute for sitting at a table and talking about the writing life with people that get it. I’m not talking about the craft here, I’m talking about the “lifestyle” thing. Writing is weird. You have people living in your head. People that are very real to you. Most people that don’t write don’t get that. It’s nice to share the crazy.
The other thing is sharing resources, from the best places to get cool swag to ideas on finding new beta readers. (Beta Readers are folk who read your book before the final round of edits and give feedback from a reader perspective, about things such as pacing, plot points, and characterization. They help you get the suck out of your story. NOTE: I’m always looking for new beta readers, if you are interested shoot me a note.)
Craft and Craft Talk
In the end, writing is craft. You need the creative inspiration, the imagination that forms characters, places, and plots in your head. But, if you can’t get your butt in a chair and get the inspiration into an organized story, and finish it, you aren’t writer. Well not one on the way to getting your story out to readers. Writing for yourself is a cool thing, don’t mean to knock that.
The best part of the Con for me was the Saturday afternoon workshops. I sat in on two and lead one. It didn’t really matter what the topic was because all narrative elements are organically tied together to some extent. We only pull them out to discuss them. Even though I was facilitating the Writing Action workshop, we talked about plotting, dialog, characterization, and, of course, setting. It was such a privilege to sit around a table or in a small group and chat with diverse and talented people about the craft of writing. Those four hours were worth the price of admission. Next time, I will try to spend more time in the workshops. The panels were great but I much prefer the roundtable craft discussions. Which may be odd due to the whole introvert thing, but hey, I’m allowed contradictions and layers.
The Conclusion/Summary Bit
Like any event, there were ups and downs, things that could have been done better. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed RainbowCon and I’m looking forward the next one in 2017. It was small and very writer focused and that worked for me. It recharged me for writing. It strengthened previous connections and forged new ones. Again, I think you have to know what a particular Con is about and have realistic expectations going in. I had a blast and a few more people know who I am. In my book, that’s an excellent ending.