If you’ve never been to Dragon*Con before, you must go. Run, don’t walk, to the convention next Labor Day weekend. Why? It’s only the biggest convention for science fiction/fantasy fans ever! In my dream world every weekend would be Dragon*Con. I’ve been told many times over the past two weeks that I’m a nerd, or a geek, because I love Dragon*Con. What these people don’t realize is I take that as a compliment.
Now, I’m not one of those brainiac scientists, or even computer techies, who are advancing life on this planet as we know it. But seriously people, what would our world be like if it wasn’t for the true geeks, as you call them? It’s not the people who are watching reality TV every night that are making changes for the better. Hate to break it to ya.
So, when I go to things such as Dragon*Con, I wave my mini geek flag proudly and hope that someone inducts me into the geek club. At a minimum, maybe they won’t mind my presence while I absorb all that I can to take back to my lair and eventually do something with. And, did I get a lot of stuff this weekend!
First of all, I must say that I was quickly disheartened at my first panel on Saturday morning. I won’t name the panel that I attended, but this very popular TV series lost my respect and I don’t feel inclined to finish watching the series at this point. The actors spent almost the whole time on their cell phones Tweeting, and who knows what else, instead of paying attention to their fans. Yep, the fans who stood in line to get their Dragon*Con pass, who paid nearly $100 for the pass, stood in line for the panel, and some even stood in line for the Q&A section. You can’t put your cell phone away for one hour to show some gratitude to your fans? Really?
At any rate, the rest of my weekend was fabulous! What I experienced after this bummer of a panel totally surpassed my expectations. I took away so many encouraging thoughts, advice, and stories from artists, actors, and authors that my bucket is now overflowing.
Some highlights …
I really enjoyed listening to Mary Robinette Kowal at the “Writing Short Fiction” panel. She is the Vice-President of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (an organization I am not a member of … yet). There was a great debate in this session of whether or not writers use a different set of skills to write short fiction vs. long fiction. She was adamant that the skills are the same, but it comes down to economy of words. All panelists brought up excellent points and the jury is still out in my mind. I know that I struggle immensely with writing short fiction, but I intend to rise to the occasion and improve my short story writing skills. Her greatest words of advice, “Write, submit, rinse and repeat.” The biggest hang-up for writers is not finishing the story and then not submitting it. So, once again, “Write, submit, rinse and repeat.” I also got a lovely little flag that I stuck to my Dragon*Con badge that says, “I am all out of excuses.”
I am, too.
The other session that I loved was the “New York Times Bestselling Authors Tell All.” The panelists were Kevin Anderson, Terry Brooks, Charlaine Harris, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jonathan Maberry, and Nancy Knight as the moderator. These authors were true professionals. Nancy did an excellent job moderating the panel by leading the authors in a discussion that was so well thought out and applicable to writers who are starting out. The authors seemed open to putting it all on the table.
Guess what they spend their time doing? Writing.
The life of a NYT bestselling author isn’t all fame and glam. They get up in the morning, spend normal work hours writing, and then they have to promote their books. They also have lives outside of writing. Don’t forget families, too. The biggest motivator for all of them seemed to be a paycheck, which you can’t blame them for that. NYT bestselling authors have bills to pay like the rest of us.
One point they made that really popped out at me was how important it is to set the precedent that those around a writer respect writing time. Just because someone works from home, they are still working. Even if you catch the writer staring off into space, they are still working. It takes time to get into that writing zone and unnecessary distractions can quickly take a writer out of it, which leads to them having to spend more time trying to get into that place again.
Best words of advice … write, write, get honest feedback, write, and write some more.
I’m now going to wave my little geek flag as I head off to do as I was told … write.